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4 Mar 2003 : Column 949W—continued

Palestinian Authority Area (Living Conditions)

Mr. Gareth Thomas: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what action she is taking to help those living in the Palestinian Authority area to (a) secure employment, (b) access healthcare provision and (c) improve opportunities for improving literacy and numeracy; and if she will make a statement. [100586]

Clare Short: We are working, in close cooperation with our international and Palestinian partners, to support a range of initiatives to help ease the humanitarian situation in the West Bank and Gaza. We have supported the World Bank's employment generation project and a wide range of healthcare and education programmes. Our contributions to the World Bank's Emergency Services Support Programme help the Palestinian Ministries of Health and Education to continue to deliver services despite the economic and social decline. And our support for UNRWA delivers vital health and education services to the Palestinian refugee population.

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Police Training

Andrew Mackinlay: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what consultation takes place with (a) the OSCE, (b) the United Kingdom's mission to the OSCE, (c) other regional international agencies and (d) the United Kingdom's missions to other regional international agencies prior to the commissioning or making of grants, in relation to police training and civil society building in the area of the OSCE; and if she will make a statement. [99448]

Clare Short: The UK Government-supported project concerned with community based policing and community safety in Serbia has been designed in collaboration with the OSCE. Consultation was also carried out with theSerbian Government and other interested bodies such as the EC and the Helsinki Committee for Human Rights. Close links will be maintained with all interested parties in the course of project implementation.

World Food Programme Supplies

Dr. Tonge: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what assessment her Department has made of the impact of the Israeli Defence Force's activities on World Food Programme supplies. [99993]

Clare Short: Over the last two years there have been significant disruptions of the delivery schedule of food aid by the World Food Programme (WFP), and other providers such as UNRWA, due to Israeli military actions and movement restrictions. Food consignments have been held in Israeli ports for considerable periods, and in November 2002 the Israeli Defence Forces (IDF) destroyed a WFP warehouse in Gaza. 540 tonnes of food supplies were destroyed. High level representation by the international community has led to Israel's agreement to reimburse WFP's losses as a 'humanitarian gesture'.

Written Questions

Mr. Burstow: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development how many named day written questions were tabled to the Department between 15 October 2002 and 24 February 2003; how many that received a holding answer were given a substantive answer (a) within three days, (b) within seven days, (c) within 14 days, (d) within 28 days and (e) over 28 days later; and what procedures the Department has in place to monitor performance on answering (i) Parliamentary Questions and (ii) ministerial letters. [99430]

Clare Short: Between 15 October 2002 and 24 February 2003, 119 named day written questions were tabled to my Department.

For those that received a holding answer substantive replies were given as follows:

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The Cabinet Office, on an annual basis, publishes a report to Parliament on performance of departments in replying to Ministerial correspondence. The Report for 2001 was published on Friday 24 May 2002, column 674W. The Report for 2002 will be published in due course.


Mr. Gibb: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development if she will make a statement on foot and mouth disease in Zimbabwe and assistance from the UK in supplying vaccines. [100050]

Clare Short: The foot and mouth disease outbreak in Zimbabwe is another problem directly attributable to the lack of law and order and mismanagement of a poorly conceived land reform programme. Fences around wildlife reserves have been destroyed, and domestic cattle allowed to mingle with wild buffalo that carry the disease.

The problem cannot be fully solved until the fences are restored and the movement of indigenous cattle regulated effectively. In the meantime, the FAO have imported 340,000 doses of vaccine, which are being used in the worst affected areas. This contribution was funded by the Dutch Government. Although more vaccine will be needed, my Department has prioritised support for the humanitarian crisis affecting 7.2 million Zimbabweans, and work to prevent and mitigate the impact of HIV/AIDS.


Departmental Annual Report

Norman Lamb: To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland how much producing her Department's latest annual report cost; how many copies were printed; how many copies of it were sold at its cover price; to whom copies of the report have been provided free of charge; and how many copies were provided free of charge. [100816]

Mrs. Liddell: I refer the hon. Member to my answer of 27 February 2003, Official Report, column 657W.

Gaelic Language

Malcolm Bruce: To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland how many Gaelic speakers there are in Scotland; and what proportion this is of the Scottish population. [100619]

Mrs. Liddell: Census figures for 2001 show 58,652 people aged three and over able to speak Gaelic, which is just over one per cent. of the Scottish population.

Malcolm Bruce: To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland what plans her Department has to protect and promote the Gaelic language, with specific regard to broadcasting; and if she will make a statement. [100620]

Mrs. Liddell: The Government recognise that Gaelic is an essential part of the UK's cultural identity and heritage. On 27 March 2001, we ratified the European Charter on Regional and Minority Languages, making clear our commitment to the support and development

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of the Gaelic language. We set out our plans for Gaelic broadcasting in the Communications Bill, published on 7 May 2002. We believe our proposals will put Gaelic broadcasting on a more stable footing and will result in a better co-ordinated service for the benefit of the Gaelic television audience.

In addition, colleagues in the Scottish Executive have established the Gaelic Development Agency (Bord Gàidhlig na h-Alba), which will have responsibility for co-ordinating and funding activities of the various Gaelic organisations.

Malcolm Bruce: To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland how much money the Government are giving to support the Gaelic language in Scotland in the areas of (a) education and (b) cultural organisations in 2002–03. [100621]

Mrs. Liddell: Expenditure on these matters is for the Scottish Executive. For the current financial year, Scottish Ministers have allocated £3.334 million to Gaelic medium education, £1.6 million through the Gaelic Organisation Fund for cultural organisations and £8.5 million for Gaelic broadcasting.


Sure Start

Tim Loughton: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills if he will list the Sure Start programmes in operation, and their budget. [96109]

Maria Eagle: The information requested has been placed in the Libraries.

Tim Loughton: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills if he will list Sure Start programmes which have ceased operating. [96110]

Maria Eagle: No Sure Start programmes have ceased operating.


Mr. Gibb: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills pursuant to his answer to question 97151, what his assessment is of the interrelation of the finding in Mike Tomlinson's final report into A level standards that criterion-referencing has significant implications for the design of the A level framework with proposed changes to the 14–19 curriculum, as outlined in the Excellence for All White Paper. [99726]

Mr. Miliband: As recommended by the final report of the inquiry into A level Standards, the QCA is establishing an independent committee to advise publicly on whether or not standards are being maintained. The 14–19 Working Group, chaired by Mike Tomlinson, will be considering how best to ensure that reformed 14–19 learning programmes reflect the need to maintain standards over time.

Assisted Places

Mr. Brady: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what estimate he has made of (a) the number

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and (b) the percentage of undergraduate students at UK universities who had been recipients of assisted places in independent schools. [100574]

Margaret Hodge: The information is not held centrally. Figures published by the Universities and Colleges Admission Service (UCAS) show the number of students accepted for entry to higher education who came from independent schools, but do not indicate whether or not they had received an assisted place

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