31 Oct 2002 : Column 952Wcontinued
Mr. Simon Thomas: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what contribution her Department has made to (a) the World Food Programme for Saharawi refugees and (b) the additional appeal by the WFP for funding for Saharawi refugees in the last year. 
Clare Short: DFID has not contributed directly to the World Food Programme (WFP) funding for Saharawi refugees. Our assistance to the Saharawi refugees is channelled through contributions to the European Community Humanitarian Office (ECHO). A new global plan agreed by the EC in May will provide Euro14.34 million of assistance to the Saharawi refugees over a 15-month period. The total assistance provided since 1993 is over Euro95 million, including over Euro79 million in food aid co-ordinated by ECHO, the office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and the WFP. ECHO works in close co-ordination and
31 Oct 2002 : Column 953W
Clare Short: I visited Belgrade on 7 October 2002, to meet with various Republic of Serbia and Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (FRY) representatives; I then flew to Pristina to have meetings with Kosovo and UN representatives, returning to the UK on 9 October. Meetings held were as follows:
|Vojislav Kostunica, FRY President
|Miroljub Labus, FRY Deputy Prime Minister
|Goran Svilanovic, FRY Foreign Minister
|Goran Pitic, Serbian Minister for International Economic Relations
|Rory O'Sullivan, Head of the World Bank Office, Belgrade
|Richard Zink, Director European Agency for Reconstruction
|Gordana Matkovic, Serbian Minister of Social Affairs
|Dragan Milovanovic, Serbian Minister of Labour and Employment
|Aleksandar Vlahovic, Serbian Minister of Economy and Privatisation
|Dejan Popovic, Serbian Deputy Minister of Finance
|Gordana Lazarevic, Assistant Minister, Serbian Ministry of International Economic Relations
|Discussion with DFID funded consultants on Privatisation, Banking, Social Policy and Justice projects
|Ibrahim Rugova, President of Kosovo
|Bajram Rexhepi, Prime Minister of Kosovo
|Charles Brayshaw, Principal Deputy Senior Representative of the Secretary General, United Nations Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK)
|Richard Zink (Director), Michael Doyle (Head of Programming) and Thierry Bernard-Guele (Head of Operations), European Agency for Reconstruction
|Jean-Christian Cady, Deputy Special Representative for UNMIK Pillar One (Police and Justice)
|Gerard Fischer, UNMIK Pillar Two (Civil Administration)
|Freidhelm Frischenschlager UNMIK Pillar Three (Institution-Building)
|Andy Bearpark, Deputy Special Representative for UNMIK Pillar Four (Reconstruction)
|Sidi Boubacar (World Bank), Earl Gast (USAID), Robert Piper (UNDP), Peter Rondorf (German Office), Anna Maria Madsen (Danish Ministry of Foreign Affairs), Tamara Sorger (CIDA), Christoffer Sjoholm (SIDA) and Valerie Sluitjer (Netherlands Office)
|Young Kosovar Representatives:
|Arianit Shehu (National Democracy Insitute), Jetemir Balaj (Forum(NGO), Arieta Emra (British Council), Leon Malazogu (Kosovo Civil Society Foundation), Albin Kurti (student leader) Jehona Gjurgjeala (KACI(NGO), Fisnik Abrashi (Chevening Scholar), Tanja Martic (OSCE) and Vladimir Josifovic ('Just Do It'(NGO)
31 Oct 2002 : Column 954W
Mr. Evans: To ask the Parliamentary Secretary, Lord Chancellor's Department what preparations he has made to ensure the safety and continuity of service to the public in the event of a firefighters' strike. 
Mr. Edwards: To ask the Parliamentary Secretary, Lord Chancellor's Department if the Public Guardianship Office public service agreement contains assurances about the time it would normally take to deal with cases; and if he will make a statement. 
and by 2004, to collect 65per cent. of accounts within two calendar months of the accounting end date, 85 within four calendar months of the accounting end date, and 100 per cent. within six calendar months of the accounting end date referring cases to the Court of Protection where necessary or taking other steps to ensure proper accounts are produced on behalf of clients [applies to Protection clients only].
Dr. Naysmith: To ask the Parliamentary Secretary, Lord Chancellor's Department what steps he is taking to encourage employers to enable employees to undertake service to the community for magisterial and other duties without being out of pocket; and if he will make a statement. 
Yvette Cooper: Many employers view service as a magistrate as a valuable contribution and allow their employees paid time off to undertake their duties. Where magistrates do not receive paid time off they can claim a financial loss allowance linked to average gross earnings. The LCD is working with the Magistrates Association, with whom it has produced a guide for employers, and through local Advisory Committees, who are in touch with businesses in their area, to encourage employers to support staff who wish to serve the community in this way
31 Oct 2002 : Column 955W
Ms Hewitt: The Cross-cutting Review of Government Services for Small Businesses, published earlier this month, reinforced our commitment to encourage more women entrepreneurs. Yesterday I attended the launch of Prowess, an organisation promoting women's enterprise, which is supported by the Small Business Service's Phoenix Fund. The SBS is working with Prowess and key Departments to develop a strategic framework to foster women's enterprise.
Ms Hewitt: My hon Friend the Member for Hornsey and Wood Green (Mrs. Roche) last week published a summary paper setting out the Government's plans to take forward implementation of the Race and Employment Directives, and a consultation paper on creating the right framework to support equality legislation.
Ms Hewitt: In the last month I have launched the public consultation on the Equal Pay Questionnaire. My hon Friend the Member for Hornsey and Wood Green (Mrs. Roche) and I have hosted the first annual Castle Awards ceremony, which recognised steps taken by employers to address issues of pay inequality. Because the provisions of appropriate childcare for working parents can help in closing the gender pay gap, I have also been working with my noble Friend the Baroness Ashton of Upholland and colleagues in other Government Departments on developing a delivery plan for childcare.
31 Oct 2002 : Column 956W
Ms Hewitt: The Government has set in place a number of measures designed to tackle the gender pay gap. We are leading by example, through our commitment to equal pay reviews in the Civil Service'; we are making it easier for women to get equal pay through changes in the Employment Act 2002; we are making it easier for employers to pay fairly through the work of the Fair Play Champions and the Castle Awards, and we are tackling the wider causes of the pay gap by helping mothers stay attached to the labour market, investing more resources than any other Government in childcare, improving the skill levels of those already in the labour market and helping employers make the most of their female workforce.