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New Partnership for Africa's Development

Mrs. Spelman: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development if she will make a statement on the strength of the peer review mechanism of the New Partnership for Africa's Development. [102749]

Clare Short: At the Abuja meeting of the NEPAD implementation committee in November 2002, 13 countries signed up for peer review. There has been considerable debate since then clarifying the objectives of peer review; and on 9 March 2003 a Memorandum of Understanding was signed agreeing the mechanisms. The Africa Peer Review Mechanism (APRM) will be launched in April 2003. A group of Eminent Persons will oversee reviews carried out by technical experts. The UNECA will be involved in the technical reviews of economic governance and has had a series of useful exchanges on the process of peer review with the OECD DAC. The APRM should develop into a good mechanism for long-term sharing of best practice; African ownership will be key to its success.

Southern Africa

Mr. Key: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what assessment her Department has made of indigenous staple crops in Southern Africa; and what programmes there are for the re-introduction of such crops. [103082]

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Clare Short: My Department has provided £12.5 million for research into indigenous staples (sorghum and millet) in Southern African countries over the last 10 years. We have supported the inclusion of sorghum and millet in seed packs distributed during the humanitarian crisis.

While sorghum and millet are more drought resistant than maize there is a problem of sustainability due to a general preference for maize. This affects the marketability of sorghum and millet and the extent to which they can become a part of a country's longer-term food strategy. We are following closely a joint CARE/FAO study in Zambia, which is assessing future market opportunities for sorghum and millet.

Mr. Key: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what assessment her Department has made of the development of root and tuber assessments in Southern Africa on (a) a national scale and (b) a regional scale; and if she will make a statement. [103083]

Clare Short: My Department has provided £2.8 million for research into roots and tubers in Southern Africa countries in the last 10 years. We have not supported an assessment at the regional scale.

The potential of roots and tubers to produce in poor soils is well recognised. As part of our response to the humanitarian situation in Southern Africa, my Department is supporting a number of food recovery programmes, some of which include cassava and sweet potato multiplication components that are aimed at increasing their availability in drought prone areas.


Malcolm Bruce: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what reports she has received from (a) the World bank and (b) the IMF with regard to their assessment of the impact on development of Sudan of the purchase of an air traffic control system; and if she will place copies in the Library. [102885]

Clare Short: We have received no reports from the World bank or the IMF about the purchase of an air traffic control system by Sudan.

Ugandan Presidential Peace Team

Mrs. Spelman: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what assessment she has made of the effectiveness of the Ugandan Presidential Peace Team. [102983]

Clare Short: Although the Peace Commission was established late last year, it is only recently that it has become engaged in attempting to negotiate with the LRA. It is too early in that process to judge the effectiveness of their activities but my officials in Kampala continue to carefully monitor events.

United Nations (Humanitarian Activities)

Llew Smith: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what additional donations have been made by the United Kingdom to the

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United Nations Office for the Co-ordination of Humanitarian Activities Hypothecated in Support of Iraqi Citizens. [103132]

Clare Short: We are providing OCHA with £150,000 to support their contingency planning for Iraq. We are also providing an information management specialist to OCHA's Humanitarian Information Centre, which is being established in Larnaca, Cyprus.


Architects Registration Board

Mr. Win Griffiths: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister how many architects have been referred to the disciplinary committee of the Architects Registration Board (a) before being taken to court and (b) after court proceedings in each of the last five years. [103313]

Mr. Leslie: The number of architects referred to the Professional Conduct Committee (PCC) of the Architects Registration Board (ARB) in each of the last five years is as follows:

Number of casesRemarks
20036To date

Data are not held centrally, and may not have been disclosed to ARB, on whether legal proceedings have been taken after a finding of fault by the PCC. Data on whether legal proceedings material to the case have preceded a hearing by the PCC would be available only at disproportionate cost.

Council Tax (Armed Forces)

Bob Russell: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister if he will instruct local authorities to exempt members of the armed forces from paying council tax while serving in the Gulf. [103126]

Mr. Leslie: The Office of the Deputy Prime Minister has no plans to change the primary or secondary legislation concerning council tax exemptions, discounts and disregards other than those set out in the Local Government Bill currently before Parliament.

Departmental Energy Policy

Mr. Pickles: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what capacity of electricity used in his Department's buildings is generated in a combined heat and power plant; and what plans he has to increase that capacity. [103228]

Mr. Leslie: Two of the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister 's HQ buildings have combined heat and power plant, the total capacity of this equipment is 960kWhe.

The Office presently has no plans to install equipment to further extend this capacity, but reviews the situation on an annual basis.

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Domestic Violence

Mr. Ben Chapman: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister if he will make a statement on support for victims of domestic violence. [102541]

Mrs. Roche: Tackling domestic violence, and supporting those who are victims of domestic violence, is a priority for the Government.

The Office of the Deputy Prime Minister, in partnership with Comic Relief, have each allocated £1 million funding to set up a national freephone helpline for victims of domestic violence, underpinned by a 'refuges on line' database. This will bring together the advice services currently provided by Refuge and the Women's Aid Federation of England and will offer instant access to information on refuge accommodation and specialist services. It is anticipated that the full system will be fully operational towards the end of 2003.

In July 2002, the main homelessness provisions of the Homelessness Act 2002 and the Homelessness (Priority Need for Accommodation) (England) Order 2002 were brought into force. These required local housing authorities to take a more strategic approach to preventing and tackling homelessness, placed stronger duties on authorities to help homeless people, and extended the groups of homeless applicants who have a priority need for accommodation, including, among others, people vulnerable as a result of fleeing their home because of violence. The Homelessness Directorate will be allocating £70 million in 2003–04 to local authorities to help them address homelessness. This will include some support for domestic violence schemes where local authorities have identified this as a priority.

The Office of the Deputy Prime Minister has also announced at the end of last year a £7 million capital investment programme through the Housing Corporation to extend and renovate the national network of women's refuges in England. Initial allocations are being agreed with the Housing Corporation for 2003–04 and it is hoped that further schemes will be supported in the following two years.

The Supporting People programme, which begins on 1 April, will put in place a new integrated policy and funding framework for housing-related support services, including those for people experiencing domestic violence. Current annual expenditure is £34 million for a total of 5,000 places. Local authorities have now submitted their shadow Supporting People strategies. These are currently being analysed and will provide valuable data on the supply of refuge and support services for people experiencing domestic violence, so helping to inform and direct future action.

Supporting People guides have also been issued on addressing the accommodation and support needs of households experiencing domestic violence; and two dedicated co-ordinators are working with providers and local authorities to ensure that the sector is prepared for the new programme.

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