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5 Apr 2005 : Column 1402W—continued

Transport Staff (Assaults)

Mr. Yeo: To ask the Secretary of State for the HomeDepartment how many violent attacks against (a) London Underground staff, (b) staff employed on the railways, (c) traffic police, (d) traffic wardens, (e) British Transport Police and (f) bus drivers there have been in each year since 1990. [220642]

Ms Blears: The only information which is collected centrally by the Home Office relates to assaults on traffic wardens in England and Wales and is only available for the last two financial years. In 2002–03, there were two recorded assaults resulting in serious injury and 63 recorded assaults resulting in minor or no injury. In 2003–04, there were 21 assaults resulting in minor or no injury.

The British Transport Police publish limited statistics on the number of officers and staff who are assaulted. The latest figures are contained in 'Statistical Bulletin 2003–04' which is available on their website at:

Vehicle Immobilisation (Licensing)

Mr. Andrew Turner: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what action he has taken in response to the Security Industry Authority's request to postpone the 20 March 2006 implementation date for vehicle immobilisation personnel licensing. [222343]

Ms Blears [holding answer 17 March 2005]: The original implementation date for vehicle immobilisers on private land to be licensed by the Security Industry Authority was 28 February 2005. Due to problems with a training provider confirming qualification details, this offence date has been deferred until 3 May 2005. This will to allow individuals sufficient time to comply with the regulations.
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Angus Robertson: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development if he will list the projects in Africa (a) initiated, (b) fully funded, (c) partly funded and (d) run by his Department aimed at the diversification of the economies of African countries, with particular reference to Malawi; and if he will make a statement. [224583]

Hilary Benn: It would incur a disproportionate cost to approach all country offices, to identify and list all projects in Africa directly or indirectly funded by DFID to support economic diversification.

DFID's general approach to promoting economic growth covers: creating and maintaining a conducive investment environment for all types of businesses—large and small, foreign and domestic, urban and rural; promoting trade and business linkages; providing broad access to assets and markets, especially for poor people and reducing insecurity and vulnerability, for instance through social protection schemes. Many DFID programmes in African countries incorporate projects which address one or more of these and therefore contribute to diversifying economic activity.

In the case of Malawi, the greatest impediment to economic diversification and growth in recent years has been macroeconomic instability and the very high interest rates resulting from the previous Government's poor economic management. This led to a collapse in investment. Economic management has improved markedly since the May 2004 elections. In recognition of this, DFID is providing poverty reduction budget support (£15 million in 2004–05) to the new Government to enable it to stabilise the economy and bring interest rates down while continuing to provide essential services. There has been encouraging progress since the elections and there are good prospects for a new International Monetary Fund programme during 2005.

In addition to budget support, DFID supported several specific growth-related projects in Malawi. These include the Financial Services Project, which is jointly funded, by DFID (£3 million) and the US Agency for International Development (US$2.1 million). It uses the Opportunity International Bank of Malawi to expand financial services to poor Malawians and small and medium-sized enterprises. Another financial services project is run by Concern Universal, and aims to develop methods of providing loans to poor Malawians on a fully sustainable basis. The project works only in rural Malawi, and seeks to support micro and small enterprises, and to provide new opportunities for trading and agro-processing businesses. DFID is also fully funding the reconstruction of the Rivirivi railway bridge, which was washed away by floods in 2003. This will
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facilitate the resumption of rail services between Lilongwe and Nacala port in Mozambique, providing a major boost to economic diversification.


Mr. Dawson: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development if he will make a statement on the food situation in Darfur. [224345]

Hilary Benn: The food security situation in Darfur is precarious. Of immediate concern are the increasing signs of food shortages among the general population, expected after the failure of the 2004 harvest season.

In February 2005 the World Food Programme (WFP) distributed food for 1.6 million beneficiaries from a target of 2 million in Darfur (80 per cent.). The shortfall was due to security, access and logistics difficulties, though it is a significant improvement on the January distribution figures of 1.2 million from a 1.8 million target (66 per cent.).

Nutrition levels continue to be a concern across Darfur and the picture is mixed. According to UNICEF there is growing evidence that the nutritional situation in select parts of Darfur is improving. The agency stated that admissions to therapeutic feeding centres have stabilised and decreased in most locations, indicating a potential decrease in the global acute malnutrition rate. However, in South Darfur, feeding centres run by Action Contra la Faim and Medicines Sans Frontiers (MSF) in Kalma Camp are operating at maximum capacity and the WFP has advised its partners to continue blanket supplementary feeding to improve children's nutrition. Meanwhile, World Vision continues to report high admission rates in Mershing, Manawashi and Duma feeding centres. In North Darfur an MSF rapid health and nutrition assessment of 330 children in Dali camp indicated that 10.7 per cent. were moderately malnourished and 0.9 per cent. severely malnourished.

The UN is beginning to pre-position food stocks ready for the rainy season. Jan Pronk, the UN Secretary General's Special Representative to Sudan, has commented that although humanitarian access is still only 75 per cent., for the first time the humanitarian situation appears containable.


Angus Robertson: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development how much (a) financial and (b) logistical aid his Department (i) has provided to Guinea in each year since 1997 and (ii) is planning to provide to Guinea in financial year 2005–06 with the specific aim of reforming, widening and strengthening the education system in Guinea. [224581]

Hilary Benn: The UK does not have a bilateral development programme with Guinea but the Department for International Development has provided the following assistance since 1997 (final figures for 2004–05 are not yet available):

Aid type1997–981998–991999–20002000–012001–022002–032003–04
Heavily indebted Poor Countries (HIPC) Debt Relief121415
Humanitarian Assistance13454305001,2501,500
Small Grants Scheme and Joint Funding Scheme6209169326170

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None of this support had the specific aim of reforming, widening and strengthening the education system.

The United Kingdom also provides substantial assistance through the European Union's aid programmes:
£ million

Total EC assistanceAttributed UK share

We have no plans to provide funding to the education sector in Guinea during 2005–06.

World Bank

Llew Smith: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what discussions he had with the United States Administration on the proposed nomination by President Bush of Mr. Paul Wolfowitz for the post of President of the World Bank; and what the Government's policy on the nomination of Mr. Wolfowitz to this post is. [223578]

Hilary Benn: Following the nomination of Paul Wolfowitz for President of the World Bank I discussed with Mr. Wolfowitz the work the Bank is doing in reducing international poverty, and to hear his own views on the future of the Bank. I also attended a meeting organised by the Luxembourg EU Presidency at which Mr. Wolfowitz spoke. Subsequently, the UK, along with all other World Bank members, supported Mr. Wolfowitz's appointment at a meeting of the World Bank Board on 31 March. Following his appointment, the UK and other European Executive Directors issued a statement, a copy of which has been placed in the both Libraries of the House.

I look forward to working with Mr. Paul Wolfowitz in the fight against world poverty and to secure more and better aid, multilateral debt relief and a fairer world trade system.

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