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Norman Baker: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what his policy is on the development of rural road networks in Africa. [12554]

Hilary Benn: DFID recognises the importance of improved rural road networks; which significantly improves the access that poor people have to markets, health services and schools. We support the view of the Commission for Africa that without investment in rural infrastructure, and rural roads in particular, potential for economic growth and improved livelihoods will not be fully realised.

DFID directly supports rural road development in Ethiopia, Mozambique, Malawi, Ghana and Nigeria. Our policy recognises the importance of adopting labour-based road-building technologies where appropriate, to maximise employment, and the need for adequate attention to maintenance.

Andrew Rosindell: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development whether he plans to withhold aid from any regime in Africa on the grounds of their political policies. [12559]

Hilary Benn: DFID has recently launched a new policy on conditionality. Our policy makes it clear that we do not believe that conditionality can buy" reform. Our aid programmes are based on partner commitment to reducing poverty, respect for human rights and international obligations and the strengthening of financial systems. Should a partner country move substantially away from these commitments, then we will consider revoking our aid commitments.

Within this framework of partner commitments, 'political policies' per se are not specifically identified. But political actions which relate to rights and international obligations, for example with respect to good governance, the rule of law and conduct of elections, will be considered in respect of whether a country is substantially undermining the basis of our partnership.

Andrew Rosindell: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development how he plans to ensure that UK aid and debt relief is directed to those who need it most in Africa. [12561]

Hilary Benn: The Department for International Development uses a financial model to help inform decisions on bilateral aid allocation in Africa and other regions. The model takes account of the extent of a
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country's poverty and the likely effectiveness of aid in reducing poverty there. The amount of aid which countries are likely to receive from other donors is also taken into account. As such, there is a good correlation between UK aid to African countries and levels of poverty. For example, the three poorest countries in terms of GNI per capita, Sierra Leone, Malawi and Tanzania, are also the three highest recipients of UK aid per capita.

Once aid has been allocated, we take a number of actions to ensure it reaches the poor and impacts on poverty. We have learnt that the best way for aid to deliver sustainable poverty reduction is to support developing countries own priorities—and to build capacity and accountability for delivery of services which improve the lives of the poor. As such, we help countries to develop and implement their own Poverty Reduction Strategies, which take into account the interests and needs of the poor. An important part of this is to strengthen monitoring systems and the accountability of governments to their citizens (including the poor). We also work closely with countries to strengthen public financial management and tackle corruption.

Before providing funds directly through government systems, we undertake a rigorous assessment of whether policies are sound and funds will be properly used. Where risks are too high, we channel funds directly to the poor through the United Nations or non-government organisations.

Debt relief is provided to countries which qualify for the enhanced Heavily Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC) initiative. This also requires that countries have demonstrated their commitment to poverty reduction through developing and implementing sound Poverty Reduction Strategies, which includes careful monitoring of impact on the poor.

African Health Workers

Andrew George: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development how many health workers were recruited from Africa by the respective G8 countries in each of the past 10 years for which records are available. [13078]

Hilary Benn: No figures are available for the number of health workers recruited from Africa by G8 countries over the last 10 years. For the UK, in September 2004, fewer than 5,600 doctors (4.9 per cent. of the total) working in NHS hospital and community health services had a primary medical qualification from Africa. Many of these have been working in the NHS for many years.

UK policy explicitly prevents the targeting of developing countries for recruitment of health workers. An element of this policy is the code of practice for International Recruitment of Healthcare Professionals (available at, which prevents the NHS from actively recruiting healthcare professionals from low and middle-income countries unless there is a Government-to-Government agreement in place. The code of practice was revised and strengthened last year
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to widen its scope to include temporary workers and to enable all healthcare organisations, including in the independent sector, to sign up to it's principles.

Arms Trade Treaty

Andrew George: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development which of the G8 countries are willing to sign the proposed international Arms Trade Treaty. [13077]

Dr. Howells: I have been asked to reply.

There is no text of an international treaty on the trade in conventional arms to which the Government has committed itself. Any eventual text will be the product of negotiations. We are working to secure a formal process of negotiation within the UN as soon as it is feasible to do so. We welcome the commitment made by G8 leaders at the Gleneagles summit on

Court of Auditors

Mike Penning: To ask the Secretary of State, Department for International Development what the status is of (a) investigations and (b) court cases resulting from ineligible expenditure referred to in paragraph (i) 65 on page 345, (ii) 43 on page 335, (iii) 31 on page 332, (iv) 9.45 and (v) 7.39 of the European Court of Auditors annual report for 2003; and if he will make a statement. [10085]

Hilary Benn: The European Court of Auditors cannot at this stage provide a greater level of specific information on the first three points than has been provided so far through its adopted reports. This is in order to protect the professional relationship between the Court, the Commission and any other institutions involved. Audit findings remain confidential while investigations continue.

In the fourth case (referred to in paragraph 9.45) it is encouraging that the Economic and Social Committee have taken corrective action to prevent similar errors recurring in future. In the case reported in paragraph 7.39, the irregularities (found at the level of implementing organisations) were not fraud cases, and in the event of any resulting ineligible expenditure, the Commission will deduct those amounts from future declarations unless the organisation can produce additional evidence.


Mike Penning: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development (1) how much debt is owed by each developing country; [11746]

(2) who the top 20 creditor nations to the developing world are; and how much is owed to each. [11747]

Hilary Benn: DFID does not keep comprehensive records of the debts of developing countries or of debts owed to other creditor nations. Further information can however be found at Details of the debts of heavily indebted
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poor countries to individual creditors are also provided in the heavily indebted poor countries Statistical Updates, available at

Democratic Republic of the Congo

Mark Simmonds: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what assessment has been made of the effectiveness of EU development assistance in the Democratic Rupublic of the Congo; and if he will make a statement. [11819]

Hilary Benn: The EU has an important role in Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), in terms of political support to the transition and as a donor. EU member states and the EC work together in Brussels and Kinshasa to try to ensure that messages and actions are properly co-ordinated. The EU's special representative to the Great Lakes, Aldo Ajello, has an important role in helping to ensure the effectiveness of EU engagement.

The European Commission has a large and ambitious programme in the difficult operating environment of the DRC. EC support to the DRC over the period 2003–07 is £205 million. We work closely with the EC on all aspects of their programme and believe it to be effective.

The EC have so far committed €80 million to DRC's elections trust fund managed by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), making the EC the largest donor to the electoral process in the DRC. It is also providing up to €8.9 million to the elections security project to train and equip DRC's police force in preparation for the series of elections due in the next year.

The EC also has substantial involvement in providing support on health and water and sanitation. It chairs the water and sanitation donor group in Kinshasa and is also an active member on the donor group supporting the development of the DRC's Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper. The EC is also active in work to improve the management of the DRC's natural resources, in particular in forestry, and is developing a new justice sector programme in the East of DRC.

There are also two EU member state joint missions currently operating in the DRC. EUPol Kinshasa is training and equipping 1,008 members of the Congolese National Police to protect Kinshasa's key institutions over the course of the transition period. EUSec DRC is providing expertise on security sector reform to the Government of DRC. DFID are funding two UK security sector reform experts to take part in this mission.

One of the key ways of improving all aid effectiveness in the DRC is through better co-ordination among donors and harmonisation of their approaches within the framework of national plans. There is an active discussion under way in Kinshasa on how to promote this, including DFID, the EC and other donors. One of the priorities for the UK's EU presidency role in Kinshasa is making progress on improved donor co-ordination and aid effectiveness in the DRC.

Globally, the EC's reforms of its external assistance overall are beginning to show improvements in efficiency and better portfolio management. While this is very encouraging, DFID continues to monitor EC effectiveness closely.
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