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Aid Priorities

Mr. Jim Cunningham: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development which countries are classified as priorities for international aid. [206089]

Hilary Benn: DFID is committed to spending 90 per cent. of our budget in the world's poorest countries by 2005–06. This includes spending £1 billion per year in sub-Saharan Africa.

DFID's Public Service Agreement for 2005–08 identifies 16 focus countries in Africa (Democratic Republic of Congo, Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Nigeria, Rwanda, Sierra Leone,
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South Africa, Sudan, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe) and nine in Asia (Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Cambodia, China, India, Indonesia, Nepal, Pakistan and Vietnam). DFID is working with country governments and other donors in these focus countries to reduce poverty using international aid.

In addition, DFID provides aid to countries in Europe and Central Asia, Latin America, the Caribbean and across the Middle East and North Africa. Within this group, DFID is currently providing significant support to both Iraq and the Palestinian Authority.

A full breakdown of expenditure across all the countries DFID supports is provided in the recently published Statistics on International Development (2004 Edition), which is available in the House of Commons Library.

Chief Technical Advisers

Tom Brake: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development how many chief technical adviser posts there were in (a) 2002–03 and (b) 2003–04; and how many such posts have been abolished in the past year. [205880]

Mr. Gareth Thomas: DFID had nine chief technical advisers in 2002–03. No posts were abolished, though internal restructuring saw these posts redefined as heads of profession in 2003. There are 10 heads of profession. The increase in posts arises from these being separate heads of profession for rural livelihoods and environment, a schedule previously covered by the chief national resources technical adviser.

Departmental Expenditure

Mr. George Osborne: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what the cost of refurbishments in his Department was in each year since 1997; and what the planned expenditure is for 2005–06. [205668]

Hilary Benn: The following projects have been carried out on DFID UK buildings, over the period in question:

The estimated expenditure for 2005–06 is £300,000, being the balance of the completion of the Abercrombie House refurbishment.

Departmental Properties

Mr. George Osborne: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development how many properties are held by the Department; what total floor space these properties provide; how many properties are vacant; and how much floor space vacant properties comprise. [206493]

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Hilary Benn: DFID holds the following four UK properties:

None of the properties are vacant.

Information on our overseas properties is not readily available and cannot be provided without incurring a disproportionate cost.

Departmental Staff

Keith Vaz: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development (1) how many women there are in senior positions in his Department; [205859]

(2) how many of the staff employed by his Department have a declared disability. [205858]

Mr. Gareth Thomas: The Cabinet Office collects and publishes annually statistical information on the civil service by Department. These include data on the number of women in senior positions in Departments.

The latest available information at April 2004 is available in the Library and on the civil service website and the following addresses:

Freedom of Information

Matthew Taylor: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development how many staff in his Department were employed to deal with Freedom of Information Act 2000 issues in (a) 2001, (b) 2002, (c) 2003 and (d) 2004; and how many staff are budgeted to deal with Freedom of Information Act 2000 issues in (i) 2005 and (ii) 2006. [205042]

Hilary Benn: The numbers of staff employed to deal with Freedom of Information Act (FOI) and other information access issues in DFID in the years in question are as follows:

Beyond those staff directly involved in the ongoing implementation and application of FOI within a Department, it is difficult to identify precisely the number of officials who will be dealing with FOI issues from 1 January 2005, since it is potentially part of every civil servant's role to respond to FOI requests.
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Ms Keeble: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development when his Department will publish a strategy for meeting the needs of HIV/AIDS orphans and vulnerable children in developing countries; and if he will make a statement. [204817]

Mr. Gareth Thomas: Taking Action, the UK strategy on AIDS published in July 2004, set out a clear and ambitious agenda for the UK Government to tackle HIV and AIDS in developing countries. The strategy commits the UK Government to ensure that DFID spends at least £150 million over the next three years on programmes to meet the needs of orphans and other children, particularly those in Africa, made vulnerable by HIV and AIDS.

A focus of the strategy is to ensure that the needs and rights of women, young people—including orphans—and marginalised groups are adequately addressed in the action we take.

The UK's approach is to get behind internationally agreed targets. Hence one of the seven key targets for the UK strategy is to achieve a United Nations General Assembly Special Session (UNGASS) target:

We have endorsed the UNICEF/UNAIDS Framework for the protection, care and support of orphans and vulnerable children living in a world with HIV and AIDS. We will follow this direction and not publish a separate strategy.

Ms Keeble: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what plans he has to support community-based organisations providing support for HIV/AIDS orphans and vulnerable children in developing countries. [204818]

Mr. Gareth Thomas: DFID fully recognises the importance of civil society in tackling HIV and AIDS.

NGOs have a vital role to play in meeting the needs of children, and the families that care for them.

In addition to the work of NGOs directly supported by DFID's country offices, we are currently renegotiating Partnership Programme Agreements with key UK organisations such as Voluntary Services Overseas, HelpAge International, the Panos Institute, Save the Children and the International HIV/AIDS Alliance, all of whom work with orphans and vulnerable children.

Across all of our Partnership Programme Agreements we will increase their funding by £16 million in 2005—many new agreements will include AIDS-related work as a key objective and some will include work with orphans and vulnerable children.

We will also increase our Civil Society Challenge Fund from £10 million to £14 million next year, and we will continue to encourage proposals from NGOs to support vulnerable groups such as orphans and vulnerable children affected by AIDS.
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