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Office for Disability Issues

Danny Alexander: To ask the Minister of State, Department for Constitutional Affairs whether a Minister in her Department is planned to be nominated to take responsibility for liaison with the Office for Disability Issues; and if she will make a statement. [37069]

Ms Harman: My hon. Friend the Member for Stirling (Mrs. McGuire), the Minister for disabled people, has overall responsibility for the Office for Disability Issues (ODI). The Minister for disabled people chairs a cross-government steering group which includes ministerial representatives from the Department of Health, Department for Education and Skills, Office of the Deputy Prime Minister, Department for Transport, and Department for Trade and Industry. The Minister in this Department nominated to take responsibility for liaison with the ODI will be Baroness Catherine Ashton of Upholland.

Legal Services Commission

Mr. Pelling: To ask the Minister of State, Department for Constitutional Affairs if she will list the Legal Services Commissions' contracted suppliers in the London borough of Croydon for (a) criminal matters, (b) employment, (c) family matters, (d) housing, (e) immigration, (f) mental health and (g) social payments. [41125]

Bridget Prentice: The Legal Services Commission contracts with suppliers throughout England and Wales to provide a range of legal and advice services across different categories of law.

The contracted suppliers in the listed categories in the London borough of Croydon are as follows:

(a) Criminal matters

(b) Employment

(c) Family matters

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(d) Housing

(e) Immigration

(f) Mental health

(g) Welfare Benefits 1

Small Claims (Personal Injuries)

Dr. Kumar: To ask the Minister of State, Department for Constitutional Affairs which organisations she plans to consult as part of the review of personal injuries limits for small claims. [31594]

Ms Harman: The consultation paper on case track limits will be sent to a wide range of stakeholders, including the legal profession, insurers, consumer organisations, trade unions, business and the judiciary.


African Partnership Forum

Andrew George: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what role his Department has given to African civil society groups in the African Partnership Forum. [42211]

Mr. Thomas: African civil society groups have an important part to play in supporting the Africa Partnership Forum's (APF) role as a high-level inter-governmental forum addressing strategic policy issues affecting Africa's development.

A key part of the APF's work is monitoring delivery of international and African commitments to support the continent, on the basis of a new Joint Action Plan. Civil society groups should hold governments to account for delivery of these commitments, and also for their results. DFID is supporting the Archbishop of
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Capetown's proposal for an 'African Monitor', which will bring together civil society groups across Africa for this purpose, complementing the APF's role.

The APF Support Unit being established in Paris will provide a central contact point for civil society groups, including in relation to the Plan. Civil society groups are not members of the APF, which is an inter-governmental forum. However, my co-chairs and I participated in a consultation with a broad range of civil society groups prior to the most recent meeting. It will be for Co-Chairs of future meetings to decide what form civil society input should take.

Anti-retroviral Medicines

Ms Keeble: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what discussions his officials have had with UNICEF about the development of new anti-retroviral medicines for children suffering from HIV/AIDS in developing countries. [41940]

Mr. Thomas: DFID is in regular contact with UNICEF concerning children suffering from HIV/AIDS in developing countries.

In July 2004, DFID was one of the first bilateral development agencies, along with Danish International Development Agency (DANIDA) and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), to endorse the UNAIDS/UNICEF Framework for the protection, care and support of orphans and vulnerable children living in a world with HIV/AIDS.

DFID is funding UNICEF programmes in Africa, totalling £44 million, as part of our commitment to spend £150 million on children affected by AIDS and supports the UNICEF Global Campaign which has an objective of increasing access to treatment for children.

We are also co-hosting the Global Partners Forum on children affected by AIDS which will consider how to address the blockages on treatment for children. This meeting will feed into the Global Steering Committee towards scaling up universal access to treatment by 2010, an assessment which will be reported to the UN General Assembly Special Session on AIDS (UNGASS) in June.

Commission for Africa

Andrew George: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what steps his Department has taken to raise awareness of the Commission for Africa Report in Africa. [42209]

Mr. Thomas: The Commission for Africa report, 'Our Common Interest', was launched on 11 March in parallel events at the British Museum in London and at the headquarters of the African Union in Addis Ababa. The report was presented to the United Nations the same day in New York.

Following the launch, the Commission undertook a four month series of presentations leading up to the G8 Summit at Gleneagles. This included regional events in Africa as well as G8 countries. More than 45 presentations were made in over 20 countries. Audiences included the African Union New Partnership for Africa's development (AU-NEPAD), governments, private sector and civil society.
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The full story of the Commission's work is told on the Commission website which will remain as a permanent online archive. As well as the full report being published in English and French, Part One is available on the website in Arabic, Swahili and Portuguese, as well as Mandarin and Japanese.

The costs of the Commission for Africa, including these activities to raise awareness in Africa and other parts of the world, were met by the Department for International Development.

Andrew George: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what procedures were used by his Department for the recruitment of staff for the secretariat for the Commission for Africa. [42212]

Mr. Thomas: Initial recruitment took place by trawling across Whitehall in February 2004. 14 staff, including the Head of the Secretariat, were in post by the end of March 2004 and came from six different Whitehall departments. Another six Whitehall staff joined the team by the end of May. The Commission's website editor was recruited in June 2004 through a recruitment agency.

Capacity was strengthened in August with external recruitment of nine policy analysts by open competition through the civil service gateway and public advertisement.

Subsequently and during the lifetime of the Secretariat, additional staff were brought in as demand required through public advertisement and secondments from the private sector, the British Council and Whitehall.

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