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24 Jan 2005 : Column 14W—continued

Video Conferencing Units

Sue Doughty: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how many video conferencing units are installed in (a) the Department and (b) each agency of the Department; what percentage of offices have these facilities in each case; and what plans there are to increase the number. [204110]

Alun Michael: The information is as follows:

(a) Defra has 43 video conferencing units installed and this covers approximately 30 per cent. of core Defra sites.

(b) Information on agencies is as follows:

Defra is actively promoting the use of videoconferencing across the Department and additional units will be installed as demand increases.
 
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Warm Front

Mr. Pike: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how many households in Burnley have benefited from Warm Front; how many pensioners have been assisted by the programme; and if she will make a statement. [209050]

Mr. Morley: Since the launch of the Warm Front scheme in June 2000 and the end of December 2004 approximately 4,300 households in Burnley received assistance under Warm Front of which 480 were pensioner households.

Of the total households that have benefited some 1,250 pensioner households received assistance under Warm Front Plus.

Water Infrastructure

Mr. Bill O'Brien: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what estimate she has made of the amount of the (a) water supply and (b) sewerage infrastructure in England which is in unsatisfactory condition; and what estimate she has made of (i) the cost of necessary repair and maintenance of the infrastructure and (ii) the length of time at current levels of investment to clear the backlog. [208885]

Mr. Morley: In 2003, companies reported to Ofwat the profile of their assets across condition grades 1 (best) to 5 (worst). Around 5 per cent. of water mains, 3 per cent. of critical sewers and 5 per cent. of non-critical sewers were reported in condition grade 5.

Each year the Director General of Water Services (the Director) assesses the trend in serviceability of the water mains and sewers in England and Wales. The assessment is that serviceability is currently stable and Ofwat does not consider there to be a 'backlog' of work.

At the 2004 price review the Director has assumed in price limits that water companies in England and Wales will spend around £1.87 billion on water mains and £1.03 billion on sewers to maintain their assets in the period 2005–10.

Waterways

Norman Baker: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what obligations there are on British Waterways to ensure that waterways under its jurisdiction remain navigable; and what action she has undertaken during her Department's current statutory review of British Waterways to ensure that waterways remain navigable. [208167]

Alun Michael: In recent years British Waterways has made considerable progress in reducing a maintenance backlog that had built up over many decades. It has also brought to completion a number of projects to restore derelict waterways to navigation.

Section 105 of the Transport Act 1968 sets out British Waterways' statutory duties for maintaining its commercial and cruising waterways. Subject to these obligations, British Waterways is required by its framework document to operate and maintain its waterways to standards that reflect their use and prospects of use. No decisions arising from the current review of British Waterways have yet been taken.
 
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INTERNATIONAL DEVELOPMENT

African Union Summit

Angus Robertson: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what assessment his Department has made of the proposals for (a) humanitarian aid, (b) reconstruction aid and (c) long-term development aid made during the African Union summit in Gabon with regard to (i) Sudan, (ii) Cote d'Ivoire and (iii) Democratic Republic of the Congo; what assessment his Department has made of the availability of the (A) infrastructure and (B) qualified manpower needed to maximise the efficiency of the implementation of such proposals; and if he will make a statement. [209084]

Hilary Benn: The African Union (AU) Summit in Libreville on 10 January was a meeting of the Peace and Security Council (PSC). As far as I am aware, there were no specific proposals for humanitarian or other development assistance made. The subsequent communiqué set out the Council's position on the situation in Sudan, Cote d'Ivoire, and the Democratic Republic of Congo. DFID's assessment of these is set out as follows:

(I) Sudan

DFID shares the AU's concern regarding the humanitarian situation in Sudan.

DFID concurs with the AU's call for an end to violations of the humanitarian ceasefire as well their call to cease attacks on civilians and humanitarian workers.

DFID supports the call for the right of return of all IDP's and refugees affected by the conflicted, but the UK strongly condemns any forced relocations. The UK Ambassador to Sudan has made representations to the Government of Sudan to adhere to its obligations and commitments under the Memorandum of Understanding on Darfur with the International Organisation for Migration, which prohibits involuntary movement of internally displaced persons.

With the signing of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement and the Abuja Protocols, the UK has worked hard alongside the AU and UN to ensure that there is the political will among the warring parties to allow humanitarian agencies to do their work. Through its direct support of both the AU monitoring mission and United Nations Security Co-ordinator (UNSECOORD) the UK has sought to provide the effective infrastructure and manpower to achieve this. Since April 2003, the UK has allocated £118.5 million on humanitarian operations in Sudan and its Darfur region, as well as £14 million in support of the AU monitoring mission. It is continuing its support for the next financial year with a commitment of £100 million for Sudan of which £50 million is towards the UN Workplan.

(II) Cote d'Ivoire

The United Kingdom is working closely with the countries of the Africa Union and other members of the international community in support of a durable political settlement in Cote d'Ivoire. DFID welcomes the endorsement of President Mbeki's peace plan at the AU Peace and Security Council meeting on 10 January, and we hope that the AU's commitment to peace will encourage all sides to work together to bring about a sustainable peace in the country.
 
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DFID is continuing to monitor the humanitarian situation. During 2004, we provided £1.55 million in humanitarian assistance through international agencies and non-governmental organizations working there.

(III) the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC)

The focus was on how to deal with the continuing tensions between the DRC and Rwanda, rather than a consideration of humanitarian, reconstruction and long-term development issues. The Department for International Development (DFID) and the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) welcome the commitments made by the AU to continue to support the DRC peace process and to work towards improving relations between DRC and Rwanda.

AIDS Aid

Mr. Gerrard: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what resources were committed to expenditure on HIV/AIDS in developing countries in 2003–04, broken down by (a) bilateral and (b) multilateral aid. [209865]

Hilary Benn: Recording accurate expenditure on HIV and AIDS is difficult because of the cross-cutting nature of many HIV and AIDS initiatives and of the range of methods used to channel development assistance, including direct budget support to governments and via multilateral organisations. DFID is currently working on ways to better account for expenditure in this area and revised figures may be issued later in the year. The following are estimated figures for bilateral and multilateral independently.

In 2003–04, DFID's bilateral expenditure on projects that targeted HIV and AIDS, was £297 million. This figure reflects all projects that were recorded as having a primary or significant focus on HIV and AIDS or reproductive health. It should be noted that some of these projects will also have had a primary or significant focus on other sectoral areas such as education or health systems development.

In addition, expenditure which focused on AIDS through multilateral organisations was estimated at £48 million. This is based on the share of spending which multilateral organisations, supported by DFID, said they directed towards AIDS.

The overall spend is likely to be in excess of £345 million, as further money has been spent on AIDS directly by partner governments receiving 'Poverty Reduction Budget Support' (PRBS) from the UK. DFID is currently in the process of developing a methodology for estimating the proportion likely to be spent on HIV and AIDS activities, though this exercise is not yet complete.


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