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18 Oct 2005 : Column 871W—continued


Sir Gerald Kaufman: To ask the Minister of State, Department for Constitutional Affairs when the Secretary of State will reply to the letter dated 6 September from the right hon. Member for Manchester, Gorton with regard to Mrs. Avamhin Mushtag. [19514]

Bridget Prentice: The Secretary of State and Lord Chancellor wrote to the hon. Member for Manchester, Gorton on 29 September in response to his letter of
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6 September. I apologise that the hon. Member does not appear to have received the letter of 29 September. A further copy has been forwarded to the hon. Member.

Criminal Legal Aid

Mr. Hollobone: To ask the Minister of State, Department for Constitutional Affairs by how much expenditure on criminal legal aid has changed over the last 10 years. [19058]

Bridget Prentice: Expenditure on criminal legal aid rose from £616 million in 1995–96 to £1,192 million in 2004–05, an increase of 94 per cent.

Immigration Tribunal

Keith Vaz: To ask the Minister of State, Department for Constitutional Affairs when she last visited an immigration tribunal. [18955]

Bridget Prentice: My most recent visit to an immigration tribunal was to Harmondsworth and Hatton Cross Hearing Centres on 23 June 2005. I hope to visit Loughborough Asylum and Immigration Tribunal in the near future.

Judicial Appointments

Mr. Dodds: To ask the Minister of State, Department for Constitutional Affairs how many people have been appointed to the senior Bar in Northern Ireland in each year since 1997; and what the perceived community background was of the appointees in each year. [18895]

Bridget Prentice: There have been 25 persons appointed Queen's counsel in Northern Ireland since 1997 as follows:

Candidates were not required to complete equity monitoring forms and therefore no information on their perceived community background is available.

Northern Ireland Judicial Appointments Commission

Mr. Dodds: To ask the Minister of State, Department for Constitutional Affairs what is the perceived religious affiliation based on educational background of the members of the Northern Ireland Judicial Appointments Commission. [19310]

Bridget Prentice: The Northern Ireland Judicial Appointments Commission is made up of eight men and five women, six of whom are regarded as Protestant, six as Catholic, and one as neither.
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Mr. Soames: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what steps his Department plans to take to ensure adequate funding for the treatment and prevention of parasitic diseases, with particular reference to (a) onchocerciasis and (b) trachoma following the Commission for Africa Report. [17251]

Hilary Benn: DFID is involved with a number of Global Health Partnerships for parasitic diseases identified in the Commission for Africa Report, such as lymphatic filariasis, (commonly known as elephantiasis) and onchocerciasis (river blindness). DFID does not support a specific trachoma initiative.

We currently support the African Programme for Onchocerciasis Control. DFID has supported onchocerciasis control continuously from 1974 and we have contributed about £4.65 million to date. Subject to a satisfactory progress, we plan to continue our support to the African Programme for Onchocerciasis Control.

DFID has also recently signed a five year contract of £2.5 million with the Global Alliance to Eliminate Lymphatic Filariasis. DFID's total contribution to date is now £5.9 million. DFID is working closely with the Global Alliance to encourage the integration of the many programmes designed to tackle individual parasitic diseases. This will provide a more cohesive approach to controlling these diseases at community, regional, national and international levels—including making the most of national health and international development funding.

Mr. Sheerman: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development if his Department will make funding available for projects that send salvaged furniture to schools in Africa. [18438]

Hilary Benn: Whenever possible, the Department for International Development (DFID) provides aid to African countries in support of their own plans and through the country's own systems. This engenders country ownership of development activities and helps to build sustainable local capacity to continue delivering services in the long term.

However, there are circumstances when more specific projects are appropriate, and DFID considers such applications on a case by case basis. Applications should be made to the Civil Society Challenge Fund, which is DFID's main central channel of support for UK based civil society organisations' programmes.

Departmental Finance

Helen Goodman: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what the latest estimate is of underspend by his Department (a) in cash terms and (b) as a percentage of departmental budget for financial year 2004–05. [18462]

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Hilary Benn: The information requested is contained in the Public Expenditure Outturn White Paper (PEOWP) 2004–05 (Cm 6639).

Disaster Relief

Peter Law: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what (a) financial aid and (b) logistical support the United Kingdom made available in response to (i) the tsunami in December 2004, (ii) hurricane Katrina in the United States in September, (iii) displaced people in Darfur during 2005 and (iv) the earthquake in India, Kashmir and Pakistan in October. [18274]

Hilary Benn: In response to the Indian Ocean disaster in December 2004, DFID has to date committed a total of £66,201,096 which includes assistance other than logistical support. Of this figure, £16,827,833 was programmed as support to logistics.

In response to hurricane Katrina, DFID sent 2,900 blankets, which were transported free of charge by a Beluga aircraft donated by Airbus International. The value of this support is about £10,000. DFID also seconded an expert to help co-ordinate donations by other EU countries. Separately, the Ministry of Defence delivered around 482,000 Operational Ration Packs.

DFID has provided £27 million of humanitarian assistance to the UN and non-governmental organisations in Darfur in 2005. While a portion of these funds are being used by agencies to support their logistical operations, it not possible to say with any accuracy at this stage how much is being spent specifically on logistics. In addition, this year we have provided £19 million to the Africa Union, which is supporting the protection of displaced people in Darfur. These funds are being used to airlift troops into Darfur, purchase equipment (including 450 vehicles), and the provision of military and logistics advice and training.

In response to the earthquake in India, Kashmir and Pakistan, DFID has so far committed £13 million of support, of which £455,000 has already been committed to providing vehicles to support the UN's relief effort, and DFID has also committed £137,500 to underwrite the costs of two helicopters (including airlift) for the International Committee of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies. DFID is currently looking at options for providing more helicopters.


Mr. Ellwood: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what assistance his Department is providing to Gabon in 2005–06; and if he will make a statement. [17078]

Hilary Benn: DFID has no bilateral development programme with Gabon. UK assistance is provided through multilateral channels such as the European Commission, UN agencies and the World Bank. The
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UK's share of multilateral support to Gabon was approximately £2,000,000 in each year of 2002 and 2003.

Illegal Bushmeat Trade

Norman Baker: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development (1) what assessment he has made of the effects on the Central African rainforests of the illegal taking of bushmeat; [17339]

(2) what steps his Department is taking to encourage a reduction in demand for bushmeat in Africa; [17340]

(3) what assessment has been made of the environmental impact of the bushmeat trade in Africa. [17341]

Hilary Benn: The DFID Wildlife and Poverty Study estimated that 150 million poor people are significantly dependent on wildlife for their food and livelihoods. Bushmeat is an important part of this. The study drew out implications for donors, governments, the private sector and civil society. We disseminated the findings of the study widely. DFID has not carried out a specific assessment of the effects of the bushmeat trade on the central African rainforests.

The Government have set up an Inter-Departmental Ministerial Group on Biodiversity to address global biodiversity loss, including the unsustainable and illegal trade in bushmeat.

Efforts were made some years ago to reduce demand for bushmeat by promoting the farming of wild species such as the grass cutter, which are regularly hunted. However, this was technically difficult and proved unpopular with farmers and hunters.

An environmental impact assessment of the bushmeat trade in Africa has not been carried out, although research commissioned by the Government has helped to understand better the harvesting of bushmeat in relation to global biodiversity loss. Officials are now assessing further research needs based on the conclusions of DEFRA's research project, 'Solution-oriented research needed to promote a more sustainable Bushmeat Trade in Central and West Africa'.

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