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13 Dec 2005 : Column 1882W—continued

Central Asia

Andrew Mackinlay: To ask the Secretary of State forInternational Development how much UK bilateral aid he expects will be allocated to (a) Kyrgyzstan, (b) Tajikistan, (c) Uzbekistan, (d) Armenia, (e) Georgia and (f) Moldova between 2005–06 and 2007–08. [31655]

Mr. Thomas: For the financial year 2005–06, UK bilateral aid allocations are as follows:
£
(a) Kyrgyzstan:5.6 million
(b) Tajikistan:3 million
(c) Uzbekistan:750,000
(d) Armenia:3.2 million
(e) Georgia:3 million
(f) Moldova:2.5 million









 
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We have also committed £50,000 to Azerbaijan to support the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative and £30,000 to Kazakhstan for residual activities, following the closure of our bilateral programme there earlier this year.

In addition to this, the UK is providing £4.52 million of bilateral aid through a regional programme in Central Asia to prevent the spread of HIV and AIDS.

DFID's total planning figures for these countries are £20 million for 2006–07 and £22.5 million for 2007–08. Specific country allocations for those years are currently being finalised.

Corporate Responsibility

Mr. Davidson: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development if he will make a statement on his policies to promote corporate responsibility among UK companies operating abroad. [36706]

Mr. Thomas: The Government encourages the highest standards of business behaviour by UK companies wherever they operate, locally, regionally and internationally.

Our priority is to ensure that UK companies operating in developing countries should be accountable to the Government and citizens of those countries. At the local level, DFID recognises that, in many developing countries, the systems for monitoring and regulating business activity are weak. We provide support to countries' efforts to develop an appropriate legal framework, including protection of the environment and community rights, and to strengthen their capacity to enforce these laws. An example is the Pathways to Environmental Action in Kenya where DFID supports work with local regulatory authorities and the private sector to find the best means of meeting environmental standards.

At the international level, we encourage business participation in initiatives such as the UN Global Compact, the Organisation for Economic Co-Operation and Development (OECD) Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises and the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative. DFID also encourages companies to participate in ethical trade schemes such as the Ethical Trading Initiative (ETI) which DFID has funded since it began in 1998. ETI members adopt a code of conduct that includes the core labour standards of the International Labour Organisation. They work with their suppliers, in collaboration with trade unions and non-governmental organisations, to improve working conditions in their supply chains and develop and disseminate best practice.

Departmental Staff

Mr. Pelling: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what steps are taken by the Department to support staff with mental ill-health. [36263]

Mr. Thomas: In DFID, when staff develop or are diagnosed with mental ill-health the department provides appropriate assistance to help them to remain at work or, where there has been absence due to illness, to return to work. This can include the support of the welfare and counselling service, reference to the occupational health service for assessment of longer term
 
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needs, and for those who have been on long term absence a phased return to their normal working pattern over a period of up to three months.

Any member of staff who is covered by the Disability Discrimination Act for mental illness is assessed for reasonable adjustments to be made to their work and working environment.

DFID recognises work-related stress as an occupational health and safety issue and is currently putting the Health and Safety Executive Management Standards for tackling work-related stress into practice.

DFID encourages staff to maintain a work-life balance and provides on-site fitness and wellbeing centres.

Developing Countries (Exploitation)

Mr. Iain Wright: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what role his Department plays in tackling exploitation of workers in developing countries. [36202]

Mr. Thomas: DFID has current commitments of over £46 million to support activities to address the exploitation and improve the treatment of workers in developing countries.

DFID is supporting the implementation of labour standards in a number of ways. The main channel for our support is the International Labour Organisation (ILO), the leading international body in this field. Our current partnership agreement with the ILO, worth £15 million over the period 2001–06, helps fund their programme of technical assistance to developing countries. In addition our country and regional programmes are supporting a number of ILO projects that focus on the elimination of child labour and the prevention of trafficking of women and children for forced and exploitative labour. For example in the South East Asia we are providing nearly £9 million over 10 years to a project aimed at reducing trafficking in the Greater Mekong Sub-region.

DFID is also supporting efforts by businesses to set and uphold labour standards in their operations and supply chains through organisations such as the Ethical Trading Initiative. Further support is provided through the work of civil society organisations such as: a War on Want project in Asia that aims to improve the working conditions of women garment workers; and, the UNISON Global Network project that seeks to support the participation of working men and women in debates on international development.

HIV/AIDS

John Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what recent discussions he has had with his counterpart in the United States on (a) the promotion of abstinence as a means of tackling HIV/AIDS in developing countries and (b) the effectiveness of this approach in assisting developing countries to slow the spread of the disease. [35739]

Mr. Thomas: I am in regular contact with the US Global AIDS Co-ordinator, Ambassador Randall Tobias, and there is established dialogue at both international and country level between UK and US colleagues. The UK and the US are the two largest bilateral donors on AIDS
 
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and have shared views on a range of key issues. For example, together we have emphasised the importance of county ownership for more effective national responses, by securing the 'Three Ones' harmonisation principles and developing the recommendations of the Global Task Team on Improving AIDS Co-ordination among Multilateral Institutions and International Donors. The UK maintained close dialogue with the US to secure the agreements made at Gleneagles and the World summit on getting as close as possible to Universal Access to AIDS Treatment by 2010.

The US does have different policies from the UK in a number of areas related to international development, including on some HIV prevention issues. We have different policy positions on issues including promotion of abstinence, sexual and reproductive health and rights, as well as access to clean needles and syringes as harm reduction measures. We have made the US aware of our views, yet we do, as we always have, continue to work with them to tackle HIV and AIDS.

There has been discussion of these different views both bilaterally and in global meetings. The UK encouraged the US to adopt the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) policy position paper Intensifying HIV prevention", agreed at the UNAIDS Programme Co-ordinating Board (PCB) in June 2005. This is an excellent basis for action, stressing the importance of countries implementing the most effective, comprehensive prevention programmes.

The UK remains committed to accelerating action on prevention. Globally, less than one person in five has access to basic HIV prevention services. This 'prevention gap' is fuelling the spread of HIV. Improving comprehensive HIV prevention services has never been more important, and this is what DFID supports—not abstinence-only programmes.

As EU President, we steered and secured agreement on the first EU-wide policy Statement on HIV Prevention. This Statement was launched by the Secretary of State on the eve of World AIDS Day 2005. It affirms the commitment of all European member states to comprehensive, evidence-based HIV prevention programming, including:

The UK will continue to work closely with our US counterparts on tackling the global AIDS crisis.

John Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what recent discussions he has had with the Government of Uganda on the impact of abstinence in tackling HIV/AIDS. [35740]


 
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Mr. Thomas: The UK is working with other development partners to help the government implement a comprehensive approach to fight HIV/AIDS that includes the three elements of abstinence, being faithful and condom use. We believe in doing more to make all prevention efforts more effective. We are concerned about emphasis on a single component of this strategy and do not agree with abstinence-only programming. In our discussions with the Government and other development partners we promote comprehensive HIV programmes based on evidence.

John Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what assessment he has made of (a) reports that there is a grave shortage of condoms in Uganda and (b) the impact this might have upon efforts to control the spread of HIV/AIDS in that country. [35741]

Mr. Thomas: There was a chronic shortage of condoms earlier this year after a large shipment of poor quality condoms were withdrawn from the market in October 2004. The UK responded by providing an emergency supply of 20 million condoms at the beginning of 2005. Other development partners including the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), the World Bank, the United Nations Population Fund, and the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, TB and Malaria are supplying condoms in large numbers. The latest information I have is that there is no immediate shortage of condoms in the country as a whole, but more work is required to ensure their effective distribution. DFID is helping to address this problem through support for the distribution of condoms and their use. DFID is also working with the Government and other development partners to maintain an updated picture of all condom supplies in Uganda.

The Government of Uganda's HIV/AIDS prevention policy includes the three elements of abstinence, being faithful and condom use. The long term supply and effective distribution of condoms are essential parts of a comprehensive strategy to fight HIV/AIDS.

John Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what steps are being taken by his Department to tackle the spread of HIV/AIDS in southern Sudan following the end of the north-south conflict. [35742]

Mr. Thomas: The UK supported the Joint UN/World Bank Assessment Mission (JAM) to South Sudan that looked at the state of basic social services and assessed future needs across several sectors including HIV/AIDS. The JAM concluded that $62 million would be needed to help combat HIV/AIDS in the south over the next six years. DFID's initial contribution to meet the needs identified by the JAM is £23.5 million over the next three years. A proportion of this money will be spent on HIV/AIDS.

In addition, DFID contributes £3.6 million towards the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS which covers the Democratic Republic of Congo, Ethiopia, Somalia and Sudan. This programme aims to improve knowledge, practice and behaviour of the general population, young people and those most vulnerable; develop and expand treatment, care and
 
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support for HIV/AIDS victims; and build the capacity of the National AIDS Council and NGOs to manage and monitor the HIV/AIDS programme.


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