|Previous Section||Index||Home Page|
19 Jan 2004 : Column 951Wcontinued
Mr. Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what estimate he has made of the breakdown between public sector finance and private sector finance towards the costs of delivering the millennium development goals in sub-Saharan Africa. 
Hilary Benn: Several estimates of costs of reaching the millennium development goals (MDGs) have been made using differing methodologies and assumptions about developments over the next decade. Uncertainties include how rapidly the policies of African countries might improve, how rapidly countries which have been in conflict emerge from it, how severe the longer term impacts of HIV/AIDS will be, and what impact shocks such as droughts might have.
Improved policies can make a big difference to the costs of achieving improvements in social indicators, but undoubtedly much more money is needed to achieve the MDGs. Both public and private finance has a role to play. Public expenditure is needed to help fund social services such as health and education, and the money for this can come from domestic taxes as well as from external aid. How much domestic revenue is generated depends on how fast the economy grows as well as on the tax system. Private investment, domestic and foreign, can help finance social services too, but also has the potential to accelerate economic growth.
More analysis has been done on how much extra foreign aid will be needed for the MDGs in sub-Saharan Africa than on how much extra private sector money would be necessary. The aid estimates suggest that two or three times the current total annual inflows of $13 billion might be needed. The scale of this challenge suggests that we need to focus on four things. First, we should encourage African countries to develop sound policies for reducing poverty and the capacity to implement them, while continuing to follow prudent macroeconomic policies and to improve the environment they create for private investors. This will enhance their capacity to use aid effectively at the same time as raising their economic growth potential. Second, we should promote higher inflows of aid to countries with such policies. Third, we should seek to improve the quality of aid, in terms of its predictability and
19 Jan 2004 : Column 952W
flexibility, for instance by directly funding national budgets. Fourth, we should work to make international trade and finance systems more supportive of economic growth and poverty reduction in low income countries.
Good progress continues to be made at the peace talks in Naivasha, Kenya. Both parties have now described the peace process as irreversible and they are hoping to conclude a framework agreement very soon. Although problems persist in some areas, and we continue to be very concerned about the situation in Darfur, there is, at last, a real chance for peace and stability in Sudan.
Mr. Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what estimate he has made of the number of people in the world living on (a) less than one dollar a day, (b) between one and two dollars a day and (c) between two and five dollars a day. 
Hilary Benn: DFID does not produce its own estimates of the number of people living in poverty. This is a complex and resource intensive task. We use estimates produced by the World Bank. The latest estimates are that in 2000 there were 1.1 billion people in the world living on less than a dollar a day and a further 1.6 billion people living on between one and two dollars a day. A figure is not given for the number living on between two and five dollars a day.
More information on the analysis, including regional breakdowns, is in Chapter 1 of the World Bank's Global Economic Prospects 2004. This is available at: http://www.worldbank.org/prospects/gep2004/toc.htm
Hilary Benn: Since my appointment, I have not had any formal meetings with members of Zimbabwean opposition parties. Although I did have a brief conversation with the Secretary General of the MDC during his visit in November 2003. The Foreign and Commonwealth Secretary and other FCO Ministers have had regular contacts with the Movement for Democratic Change, most recently during the visit to the UK of the Secretary General of the MDC. DFID officials also have occasional contact with representatives of Zimbabwean political parties.
Mr. Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what recent discussions he has had with Amnesty International about (a) the level and (b) the nature of human rights abuses in Zimbabwe. 
19 Jan 2004 : Column 953W
Hilary Benn: The British Embassy in Harare is in regular contact with a number of human rights organisations operating there who are monitoring the situation on the ground. Embassy officials in Harare and in London regularly receive reporting from Amnesty International about the level and nature of human rights abuses in Zimbabwe, but have not met Amnesty recently to discuss Zimbabwe.
Norman Baker: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills how much his Department has spent on the acquisition of works of art in each year since 1997, broken down by amounts spent on (a) paintings and (b) sculpture; what the single most expensive piece of art purchased by his Department since 1997 has been; how much it cost; and what the total revenue raised by his Department through sales of works of art has been since 1997. 
Lembit Öpik: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills by when the Government are due to report to the Committee on the Convention on the Rights of the Child on what the UK is doing to fulfil the Optional Protocol on the Sale of Children, Child Prostitution and Child Pornography; whether the Government have submitted this report; when this report will be made publicly available; and if he will make a statement. 
The UK has not yet ratified this Optional Protocol, so is not required to report on it. However, we do intend to ratify at the earliest opportunity. The UK will then be required to submit a report to the Committee within two years of the ratification coming into force, in accordance with article 12 of the Optional Protocol.
Mr. Sayeed: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills if he will list information technology contracts in his Department and its predecessors with a value of above £20 million in each of the last 10 years; what the inception date for each system was; when it became fully functional; when it became fully debugged; and what the cost of over-runs has been. 
Mr. Stephen Twigg: Neither the Department for Education and Skills nor its predecessors have let an information technology system contract in the last 10 years with a value above 20 million euros. A number of contracts for services have been let with a value above 20 million euros in that period and some of those contracts have included information technology elements as an integral part of the delivery arrangements. In no case has the implementation date
19 Jan 2004 : Column 954W
Mr. Flight: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills how much his Department has spent on the recent research conducted by Jigsaw Research into what customers think of the quality of the Department's replies to letters. 
Mr. Stephen Twigg [holding answer 14 January 2004]: The Department's Strategic Framework Delivering Results-A Strategy to 2006, sets out a commitment to deliver prompt, responsive and consistently excellent services to our customers. The Department receives over 200,000 phone calls, letters and emails from the public every year. The recent research conducted by Jigsaw Research cost £18,000 and is our way of measuring the service we provide and identifying areas for improvement in our responses to letters, telephone calls and emails.
Mr. Willis: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills if he will propose an amendment to the Higher Education Bill to require the annual report produced by the Director of Fair Access to be accompanied by an annual debate on the floor of the House; and if he will make a statement. 
Alan Johnson [holding answer 15 January 2004]: We have no plans to make such an amendment. Members of Parliament are always free to seek debates in the House. We have also said that we will establish an independent review, working with the Director for Fair Access to report to this House, based upon the first three years of variable fees, and I am sure there will be an opportunity to debate that report.
Mr. Willis: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills how the Director for Fair Access will safeguard fair access to higher education if top-up fees are introduced; and if he will make a statement. 
Alan Johnson [holding answer 15 January 2004]: From 2006, no institution will be able to charge higher fees without having an Access Plan approved by the Director of Fair Access. This will include details of the action they will take to safeguard access, including offering financial support (including bursaries) and running outreach activities. The Director of Fair Access will also have the responsibility for renewing and monitoring reports on the implementation of Access Plans.
Mr. Rendel: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what information must be contained in the plan that a higher education institution must provide to the Director of Fair Access in order to increase fees above the basic rate; and if he will make a statement. 
19 Jan 2004 : Column 955W
regulations, that an institution should include in its access plan details of the financial assistance (including bursaries) they will offer; how it will attract applications through outreach activities; how it will inform prospective students about financial assistance available to them; and set out its own objectives in widening participation. Institutions will also need to set out how they will monitor their compliance with the plan and progress against their objectives.
Mr. Rendel: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills if he will break down the planned expenditure for the proposed Office for Fair Access by (a) salaries and staff, (b) office, (c) personal expenses and (d) other costs; and if he will make a statement. 
Alan Johnson [holding answer on 15 January 2004]: We have said in the Regulatory Impact Assessment which we published alongside the Higher Education Bill that OFFA's costs will average around £500,000 per year. We will provide further detail in due course.
Mr. Yeo: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills whether the Office for Fair Access will continue the system of fining universities that do not meet their benchmarks for participation from under-represented social groups. 
Mr. Yeo: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills (1) whether he intends to set a cap on the level of specified financial requirements that the Higher Education Funding Council for England can impose on universities breaking the terms of their access agreements; 
(3) what estimate he has made of the average length of time that an access agreement between the Director of Fair Access and each individual university will last. 
|Next Section||Index||Home Page|