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Mr. George Osborne: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what the costs of departmental (a) staff training days and (b) staff development days held away from the Department were in each year since 1997. 
Mr. Gareth Thomas: The Department for International Development (DFID) does not hold details of all of these costs centrally. The format the costs are held in means we are unable to differentiate between training days and those development days held away from the Department. As far as we can tell from our records, in the last seven years the centrally reported spending on training and conferences, including retreats and away-days and related costs was as follows:
|Training and conferences|
The way we centrally gathered information on costs changed in 2003 which accounts for a substantial amount of the increase between 200203 and 200304.
8 Feb 2005 : Column 1397W
DFID Departments do not necessarily centrally report on all training and development activity so there may be under reporting in the above figures.
DFID is committed to ensuring staff have the right skills and expertise to meet our commitment to the internationally agreed Millennium Development Goals.
Angus Robertson: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what assessment his Department has made of its progress in combating the world's impending water shortage, with specific regard to the United Nation's 2003 prediction that by 2050, 7billion people in 60 countries will be without sufficient water; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr. Gareth Thomas: The sustainable and integrated management of land and water resources is critical to combating increasing water shortages. The UK agreed at the World Summit on Sustainable Development (WSSD) in Johannesburg the target for all countries to develop Integrated Water Resources Management and Water Efficiency plans by 2005, with support to be provided for developing countries. DFID's approach to implementing this target is set out in the Water Action Plan (March 2004), which will be reviewed regularly.
DFID provides significant support to the Global Water Partnership (GWP), which is an umbrella organisation that supports development of national water resource management plans in key partner countries. GWP is also the key organisation coordinating policy and monitoring progress at the international level. A recent survey carried out by GWP has suggested that around 40 per cent. of countries have yet to make progress on developing Integrated Water Resources Management plans and only 20 per cent. of countries are likely to meet the 2005 target.
DFID also support the Global Water Supply and Sanitation Assessment" reports of the UNICEF/WHO Joint Monitoring Programme which include water availability data, and the EU Water Initiative which includes a water resource management component. DFID has supported the UNESCO led World Water Assessment Programme from its outset in mid-2000. This is an effective long-term programme providing assessment, monitoring and reporting of the status of the world's water. These reviews assist in developing frameworks for better assessment, allocation and monitoring of water use, particularly in the water scarce areas.
Simon Hughes: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer in respect of how many deaths in (a) Greater London and (b) North Southwark and Bermondsey alcohol was the primary cause in each of the last five years. 
The information requested falls within the responsibility of the National Statistician, who has been asked to reply.
8 Feb 2005 : Column 1398W
Letter from Len Cook to Mr. Simon Hughes, dated 8 February 2005:
As National Statistician, I have been asked to reply to your recent question asking in respect of how many deaths in (a)Greater London and (b) North Southwark and Bermondsey alcohol was the primary cause in each of the last five years. (214332)
The latest year for which figures are available is 2003. The table below shows the numbers of deaths among residents of Greater London and North Southwark and Bermondsey parliamentary constituency where the underlying cause of death indicated a condition directly related to alcohol use in the years 1999 to 2003.
|North Southwark and Bermondsey|
John Robertson: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer (1) what assessment his Department has made of the impact of ATM charges on basic bank account customers; 
(2) what assessment his Department has made of the effects of charging for use of cash machines in public places; 
(3) what assessment his Department has made of the impact of ATM charges on (a) financial inclusion and (b) low income groups. 
No such assessment has been made.
8 Feb 2005 : Column 1399W
Mr. Drew: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will conduct an investigation into what medical aids and other essential household items should be available to nursing and residential homes free of VAT. 
Dawn Primarolo: VAT is a broad based tax on consumer expenditure generally. Nursing and residential homes, like any other businesses, incur VAT on many of the purchases that they make.
However, charitable nursing and residential homes for disabled people benefit from a number of specific VAT zero rates on their purchases, including medicinal products, medical equipment and certain equipment for disabled people. Under our long-standing agreements with our European partners, while we are permitted to keep our existing zero rates we may not extend them or introduce new ones.
Hugh Robertson: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how many children have died by drowning in each of the past five years. 
Mr. Timms: The information requested falls within the responsibility of the National Statistician. I have asked him to reply.
Letter from Colin Mowl to Mr. Hugh Robertson, dated 8 February 2005:
The National Statistician has been asked to reply to your recent Parliamentary Question concerning how many children have died by drowning in each of the past five years. I am replying in his absence. (215278)
The most recently available information is for deaths in 2003. Figures for deaths due to drowning among children aged 0 to 15 are shown in the table below for each year from 1999 to 2003.
|Number of deaths|
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