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Ministerial Travel

Mike Penning: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development how many (a) flights and (b) helicopter flights have been taken by Ministers within his Department for (i) UK and (ii) overseas visits in each year since 1995; on how many occasions (A) charter flights were used and (B) first and club class tickets were obtained; and if he will indicate who accompanied the Ministers on each trip. [27804]

Hilary Benn: All ministerial travel is undertaken in accordance with the rules set out in the Ministerial Code" and Travel by Ministers", copies of which are available in the Libraries of the House.

The information is not readily available in respect of domestic travel for the period in question without incurring a disproportionate cost.

In respect of overseas travel by Ministers, since 1999 the Government have published an annual list of all visits overseas undertaken by Cabinet Ministers costing £500 or more during each financial year. The list indicates when non-scheduled flights were used, (and shows how many Officials accompanied Ministers in those circumstances). The Government have also published on an annual basis the cost of all Ministers' visits overseas. Copies of the lists are available in the Libraries of the House. These report information reaching back to 1995–96. Information for 2005–06 will be published after the end of the financial year.


Pete Wishart: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what assessment his Department has made of the impact of Nepal's conflict on children; what projects to address this issue his Department has (a) set up and (b) funded in each year since 2001; and if he will make a statement. [29002]

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Mr. Thomas: The conflict in Nepal has had very serious consequences for large numbers of children in Nepal, exacerbated by the extreme poverty of many children and their families. Children have been killed, injured or subject to rape and other sexual abuse by both parties to the conflict, and have been forcibly recruited by the Maoists to provide logistical support, including for frontline military operations. There is frequent disruption by the Maoists of schools in many parts of the country, notably through abductions of children and teachers. Widespread poverty and lack of legal employment opportunities in Nepal continues to result in many girls being trafficked to India.

DFID's knowledge of the impact of the conflict on children draws extensively on reports by groups such as Watchlist on Children and Armed Conflict (to which DFID has provided funding) and human rights organisations such as Human Rights Watch.

DFID is providing £20 million over the period 2004–09 towards the Government of Nepal's national primary education programme and £50 million over the period 2004–10 towards its national health programmes, which have specific targets relating to reducing infant and child mortality. Despite the conflict, both these Government programmes provide essential services and have wide reach throughout the country,

including areas controlled by the Maoists.

DFID provided £720,000 to Save the Children between 2003 and 2005 for a programme in Nepal for children affected by armed conflict. The programme helped establish protection committees and child protection officers in those districts most impacted by the conflict. It also created information systems to monitor child movements, provided direct support to 10,000 separated and vulnerable children and support for the repair and maintenance of schools and health posts.

Through the Global Conflict Prevention Pool, to which DFID contributes, the British Government are providing £800,000 in the current financial year 2005–06 to the Nepal Mission of the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights. This mission aims to curb all human rights abuses in the country including those committed against children.

Population Growth (African Lakes)

Pete Wishart: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what assessment his Department has made of the environmental impact of rapid population growth on lakes in African countries; what projects to address this impact his Department has (a) set up and (b) funded in each year since 2001; and if he will make a statement. [28998]

Hilary Benn: The Department for International Development (DFID) has not undertaken any specific assessment of the environmental impact of population growth on African lakes. DFID supports programmes that integrate consideration of environmental issues (including the impact of population growth) within planning for overall development and poverty reduction.
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For example, DFID has supported an Integrated Lake Management project in Uganda, which recently helped the Government to decentralise natural resource management and empower local communities to co-manage these resources, improving the livelihoods of the poor around these lakes. In Kenya, DFID is helping the National Environmental Management Authority to effectively implement environmental regulations which will help to mitigate negative impact of human development and expansion around the country's lakes.

DFID is also a significant contributor to the Global Environment Facility. This Facility encompasses support to improving management of freshwater resources under threat from challenges such as population growth. The Lake Victoria Environmental

Management Project is one such example.


Mr. Hands: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what aid the UK is providing to the displaced population in the Darfur region of Sudan. [28933]

Hilary Benn: Since September 2003, the Department for International Development has provided over £92 million in humanitarian funding to Darfur through UN agencies and non-governmental organisations. These funds have provided assistance to displaced populations in Darfur and Eastern Chad as well as assisting resident populations, covering, among others, shelter, food and nutrition, non-food items, water and sanitation and immediate health care projects.


Equal Pay

Miss McIntosh: To ask the Minister for Women and Equality what the average difference in pay was between full-time male and female company directors in each year since 2001. [26800]

Meg Munn: Figures from the Annual Survey of Hours and Earnings from the Office for National Statistics show that in 2005 the median hourly pay (excluding bonuses) for full-time male company directors was £47.09, for women this figure was £43.84.

Unfortunately, reliable figures for 2001–04 are not available due to small sample sizes.

Miss McIntosh: To ask the Minister for Women and Equality what assessment she has made of the implications of the gender pay gap for levels of female employment. [26803]

Meg Munn: I have not made any specific assessment of the implications of the gender pay gap for levels of female employment. The employment rate for women in the UK currently stands at 70 per cent. I am pleased to see that the gender pay gap has now fallen to 13.2 per cent. from 14.5 per cent. last year.

It is important that we tackle the gender pay and give women real choice about balancing work with caring responsibilities. This is why we introduced the Work and Families Bill in October, which will extend the scope of the flexible working law to carers of adults.
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Mr. Kevan Jones: To ask the hon. Member for North Devon, representing the House of Commons Commission how much money has been made from the provision of tours of the House during the summer recess. [28721]

Nick Harvey: Tour ticket costs during the summer are designed to cover costs and not to make a surplus. This year, due to the impact of the works on the Chamber Screen and in Westminster Hall, they were held to 2004 levels and as a result a small deficit of around £39,000 was expected. However following the 7 July terrorist attacks in London, visitor numbers slumped from an anticipated 103,000 to a final total of 77,873. This, together with the increased cost of security resulting from the attacks, produced a deficit of £320,000.

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