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28 Nov 2002 : Column 436W—continued

Maternal Mortality (Africa)

Mrs. Spelman: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what recent assessment her Department has made of rates of maternal mortality in

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Africa; and what recent evaluation she has made of the impact of her Department's programmes on rates of maternal mortality. [80550]

Clare Short: Improving maternal health is a Millennium Development Goal (MDG) and the most difficult goal to meet. DFID is committed to working towards achieving this goal and the associated target to reduce the maternal mortality ratio by three quarters between 1990 and 2015.

Maternal mortality is difficult to measure and most poor countries have poor systems and lack reliable estimates of the number of women who die in pregnancy. We have to rely on standard surveys of maternal mortality as and when they are undertaken. Monitoring and evaluation of the impacts of DFID's programmes tend to be against proxy indicators. An internationally accepted proxy indicator for maternal mortality reduction is the proportion of births attended by skilled attendants. Using this indicator we can see progress in Latin America and the Caribbean, but in Sub-Saharan Africa where poverty is deepest and HIV/AIDS makes progress more difficult, there has been no significant change. DFID has and will continue to work with the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), the World Health Organisation (WHO), the World Bank and others to develop new and improved tools and methods to measure maternal mortality and evaluate the effectiveness of maternal and neo-natal healthcare strategies.

We will continue to work bilaterally and with multilateral agencies towards the reduction of maternal mortality. Greater investment in health and more political commitment from national governments and international development agencies is needed to address this issue.


Mrs. Spelman: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what recent reports she has received about displaced Zimbabwean farmworkers and their relocation; who is responsible for their relocation; how many people her Department estimates will be affected; what impact she believes this will have on the humanitarian situation in (a) Zimbabwe and (b) bordering countries; what representations she has made to (i) SADC and (ii) EU countries on this matter; and if she will make a statement. [83042]

Clare Short: My Department is working closely with the UN and other donors who share our concern about destitute farm workers in Zimbabwe. They are among the most vulnerable people in the current humanitarian crisis. EU member states and SADC countries are aware of this.

At present the large majority of commercial farm workers remain on site, or with neighbouring farm worker families, alongside new settlers. Their longer-term future is uncertain. Some are moving to take jobs with new employers, often on a casual basis. Several thousand people have been forcibly evicted, particularly from farms allocated to new commercial scale farmers. But there is no present evidence of systematic displacement. The UN plans a new survey of the situation in January.

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DFID is already supporting supplementary feeding for 49,000 children in farm schools, and general feeding of 50,000 people in farm villages. We are ready to increase our support as agencies scale up their operations.


Libra IT System

Dr. Cable: To ask the Parliamentary Secretary, Lord Chancellor's Department how much the overspend was on the Department's new Libra IT system; what fees were paid to the consultants on the system; and if she will make a statement. [83649]

Yvette Cooper: The contract with Fujitsu Services for the delivery of Libra has been varied twice since initial completion in December 1998. This has resulted in changes to the baseline making it inappropriate to compare spend to date across an original and two variants of the contract. The actual spend against the contract can be summarised as follows:

Original ICL Contract Dec 1998

Total contracted charges expected to arise over contract life of 10.5 years—£184m

Negotiated ICL Contract May 2000

Total contracted charges expected to arise over contract life of 14.5 years—£319m

Negotiated Fujitsu Services Contract July 2002

Total contracted charges expected to arise over contract life of 8.5 years—£232m

Total contracted charges paid by 30 Sept 02—£64.8m

(This is included in the £232 current contract)

In addition, the Department has spent £9.6 million on the management of the project over the same period, of which £1.4m covered consultancy costs.

Witness Payments

Mr. Mullin: To ask the Parliamentary Secretary, Lord Chancellor's Department when he plans to publish the results of his consultation on payments to witnesses; and if he will make a statement. [83539]

Ms Rosie Winterton: The Lord Chancellor intends to publish a paper summarising the responses to the consultation early next year.


Drugs Funding

Mrs. Iris Robinson: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland if he will make a statement on how additional money for drugs was distributed to boards and trusts in Northern Ireland by the Department of Health in the last 12 months. [83040]

Mr. Browne: As regards illicit drugs, additional resources from the Northern Ireland Drug Campaign have been allocated to targets in the Regional Action Plan, which were agreed as priorities by the Working Groups, set up as part of the Joint Implementation Model. The Executive endorsed the Joint Implementation Model in May 2001.

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The Treatment Working Group has allocated resources for priority services through the eight Community Addiction Teams, based in Health and Social Services Trusts. No additional resources were supplied to Health and Social Services Boards who are all members of the Treatment Working Group.

In relation to prescribed drugs, on 21 August 2002 Boards were allocated a further £3 million to help meet the cost of new, effective but highly expensive specialist drugs already being prescribed in the hospital sector. This money was, as is customary, issued in accordance with the Department of Health, Social Services and Public Safety's capitation formula for sharing out resources between Boards.

It is for each Board to decide on the distribution of its share to the Trusts concerned, in light of the needs of their respective populations. I understand that these resources are being directed towards a range of existing pressures including those related to severe mental illness, high-risk infections, cystic fibrosis, Crohn's disease, Fabry's disease, rheumatoid arthritis and multiple sclerosis.


Mrs. Iris Robinson: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what action is being taken to ensure the livelihoods of fishermen are safeguarded. [82027]

Mr. Pearson: I fully recognise the concerns about the future of livelihoods of those depending on a viable and sustainable fisheries industry in Northern. I have recently met representatives of the catching sector, and with processors as well as local elected representatives concerned with the future of the industry. They have briefed me in considerable detail on the difficulties which the industry faces at the moment, and of the responsible efforts they have made in recent years to allow declining stocks of fish in the Irish Sea to recover. In acknowledging the gravity of the current situation, and the seriousness of the scientific advice on the state of key commercial stocks in the Irish Sea, I also recognise that a viable and sustainable industry is important, not just for those directly involved in fishing and fish processing, but for the wider community. I have given a commitment to work energetically in the interests of the Northern Ireland fishing industry, particularly between now and the Fisheries Council meeting in Brussels just before Christmas, to ensure that the Northern Ireland dimension to this complex and difficult problem is not overlooked. I will meet the DEFRA Fisheries Minister to ensure that the Northern Ireland dimension is fully recognised in the UK position during the Fisheries Council bilaterals later this month.


Mr. Dodds: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what measures are in place to combat poverty in Northern Ireland. [83102]

Mr. Browne: New Targeting Social Need (TSN) is Northern Ireland's main policy for tackling poverty and social exclusion. New TSN aims to tackle social need and social exclusion by targeting efforts and available resources within existing Departmental programmes towards people, groups and areas in greatest social need.

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New TSN is being implemented by all Northern Ireland Government Departments and relevant agencies providing a co-ordinated and comprehensive approach to tackling poverty and social disadvantage.

Action Plans have been developed by each Department containing the actions and targets through which they deliver New TSN. Every Department reviews its Action Plan every year and updates it to take account of progress, building in new targets to follow those completed.

The New TSN Annual Report 2002 will be published week commencing 1 December 2002. It will provide specific examples of the measures taken by Departments to combat poverty in Northern Ireland. We have commissioned an independent external evaluation of New Targeting Social Need in order to assess the way in which the policy has been implemented so far and to examine its impact. The outcome of the evaluation will feed into future thinking on New TSN.

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