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18 Jul 2005 : Column 1360W—continued


Former Soviet Union

Mark Simmonds: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development if he will make a statement on progress by G8 countries in assisting with the destruction of nuclear, biological and chemical weapons in former USSR countries. [11817]

Dr. Howells: I have been asked to reply.

The hon. Member can find a full report on the G8's Global Partnership Against the Spread of Weapons and Materials of Mass Destruction and its practical efforts to reduce the risks of proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, including progress on the various projects to date at the G8 website. This report can be found at

and the annex with project data at

The UK's second annual report on its progress underthe Global Partnership is available at annual_report.pdf.

Infant Mortality

Mike Penning: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development if he will list the top five causes of infant mortality in the third world in the last five years for which figures are available; how many infants died from each cause a year on average in that period; and what estimate he has made of the average cost of treating one infant affected by each such cause. [11745]

Mr. Thomas: Specific data on infant mortality (first year of life) are unreliable given the lack of effective vital statistics systems. Data collection is further compromised by the fact that about half of the women in developing countries deliver at home, without links to the health system. However, data is much more robust on deaths of children under 5 years.
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Each year, 11 million children under 5 years die of acute respiratory infections (19 per cent.); diarrhoea (18 per cent.); malaria (8 per cent.) measles (4 per cent.). However, 40 per cent. of all deaths in children under 5years occur within the first 28 days.

Three quarters of these, 4 million neonatal deaths, occur within the first week of life. Three main causes are severe infections (26 per cent.) (including sepsis, pneumonia and meningitis); premature births (28 per cent.) and birth asphyxia (23 per cent.).

Making every mother and child count" (The World Health Organisation 2005), provides costs for the provision of skilled attendants, support with the instruction of breastfeeding, vaccinations, combating diarrhoea, pneumonia, sepsis and malaria, as well as prevention and care for HIV. The report identifies a set of costings with differing assumptions and scenarios for the 75 countries that together account for almost 95 per cent. of global child deaths (refer to The costing of saving a child's life differs by country and there is no global figure available.

Underlying causes of these child deaths include poverty, with malnutrition and lack of clean water accounting for at least half of the mortality. Weak health systems that cannot ensure access to reproductive health services, including skilled attendants at birth, impact on child health outcomes—we know that babies born to mothers who die in childbirth are unlikely to survive their first year. Poor health and nutrition of adolescent girls has significant long-term effects on their health and the survival of their newborns.

Millennium Development Goals

Mr. Heath: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what steps he plans to take (a) to raise the profile of disability in the Millennium Development Goals review and (b) to ensure that disabled people are specifically included in the implementation of Millennium Development Goals. [12938]

Hilary Benn: It is essential to recognise and address the rights and needs of disabled people in order to meet the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).

The UK is committed to ensuring the Millennium Review Summit recognises the need for special attention to the human rights of excluded groups, such as disabled people. DFID will advocate an inclusive approach to development, which respects the rights of all and ensures that everybody can actively participate in development. The approach at the summit of bringing development and rights together in the same outcome document should help to highlight these issues.

DFID's focus on the MDGs helps disabled people as well as non-disabled people. However, targets are not sufficient and the implementation of the MDGs and development programmes must also work to shape more inclusive poverty reduction initiatives. DFID works with governments to develop their Poverty Reduction Strategies, and this provides the opportunity to address issues of exclusion and discrimination with partners. DFID also provides support to initiatives directly aimed at supporting disabled people in developing countries.
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DFID currently funds 23 disability focused projects and a £1.4 million Knowledge and Research programme on disability and development.

United Nations Population Fund

Mr. Amess: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what assessment he has made of the effects of the United Nations Population Fund on non-coercive approaches to family planning in China. [10560]

Mr. Thomas: The United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) is the largest UN provider of reproductive health assistance to developing countries and countries in transition. It is an influential advocate for gender equality, women's empowerment and sexual and reproductive health and rights. In 2003, the UK was the fourth largest provider of core resources. For 2004–07 the UK has committed £80 million in core funding.

UK assistance for sexual and reproductive health anywhere in the world is provided in support of the principles of free and informed choice set out at the International Conference on Population Development in Cairo in 1994, and re-affirmed through various international fora since. These principles reject coercion in matters relating to childbearing and reproduction and support the promotion and protection of all human rights and fundamental freedoms. It is important that this work should continue and that all people be given access to modern services, and the chance to choose their family size. Apart from DFID providing core funding to the UNFPA globally, we are not providing direct or targeted support for family planning in China.

The UNFPA works in China to support change and reform. The programme is making a full range of client-oriented reproductive health services available in 32 counties on a voluntary basis. Birth targets and quotas have been abolished and abortion and sterilisation rates and maternal mortality have all dropped significantly in UNFPA counties. These findings were produced by independent research carried out by the University of Southampton and the China Population Information and Research Centre and paid for by DFID China. The UNFPA's programme in China will continue to promote reform and the adoption of a programme based on principles of voluntary choice and rights.

The UK believes the UNFPA deserves strong support to pursue these activities—thereby contributing to reaching the millennium development goals, particularly those related to HIV/AIDS, maternal health and child mortality.


BBC Broadcast/Trust

Mr. Doran: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture,Media and Sport what criteria she will apply in determining whether to approve the sale of BBC Broadcast to Creative Broadcast Services. [11546]

James Purnell [holding answer 12 July 2005]: My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State's assessment will be limited largely to determining whether the BBC has
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followed the appropriate process in reaching its decision to sell BBC Broadcast, and in applying for ministerial approval.

Mr. Hancock: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport if she will make it her policy to ensure that the proposed BBC Trust is (a) representative of the population, (b) democratically accountable and (c) transparent in its operations; and if she will make a statement. [11826]

James Purnell: The decision to establish a BBC Trust to replace the BBC Board of Governors was set out in the Government's Green Paper on the BBC Charter Review, published in March 2005. The public consultation on the Green Paper closed on 31 May 2005 and the results are currently being analysed; the findings will help to inform the Government White Paper on the BBC Charter Review, to be published later this year.

Specific questions were asked in the public consultation about the potential membership of the Trust; options to improve accountability to licence fee payers; and how to ensure openness and transparency in the Trust's actions. The Government will consider the responses to the consultation before making final decisions on the detail. However, greater accountability to licence fee payers and increased transparency in the BBC's systems of governance and regulation are key themes in the Charter Review Green Paper.

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