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18 Jan 2006 : Column 1326W—continued

Defence Export Services Organisation

Malcolm Bruce: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what commercial services the Defence Export Services Organisation provides to companies in relation to identifying potential agents in export markets. [10677]

Mr. Ingram [pursuant to the reply, 13 July 2005, Official Report, c. 1076W]: This should have read, I refer the hon. Member to the answer I gave on 5 July 2005, Official Report, column 259W. Any information provided to United Kingdom companies by the Defence Export Services Organisation is concerned only with the selection of suitable agents. It is our policy not to advise on agents' commission.

Malcolm Bruce: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, (1) on how many occasions the Defence Export Services Organisation has provided advice to UK companies on the selection of agents in the last 12 months; [15340]

(2) what mechanisms the Defence Export Services Organisation uses to record the advice given by its (a) British-based and (b) overseas staff to companies on the selection of agents; [15341]

(3) whether the Defence Export Services Organisation provides (a) off the shelf lists and (b) bespoke lists of companies in relation to the selection of agents. [15342]

Mr. Ingram [pursuant to the reply, 10 October 2005, Official Report, c. 10W]: I regret that in referring the hon. Member to an earlier answer, I gave inaccurate details. I should have referred to the answer I gave him on 5 July 2005, Official Report, column 259W.

Project Coast

Andrew Mackinlay: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence when the Government became aware of the South African Government's Project Coast. [39802]

Dr. Howells: I have been asked to reply.
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The Government was aware of the existence of legitimate South African chemical and biological defence programmes from the 1980s. Initial reports indicating offensive chemical biological weapons activities (later known as Project Coast") were not received until 1993, but they were inconclusive, although there were unsubstantiated claims of chemical weapon use by South African forces in Angola, Mozambique and Zimbabwe in the 1980–90s. More detailed evidence of previous offensive activities was received in the years leading up to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission hearings in 1998, when further details of the offensive activities emerged. In 1994, we understood that the South African Government had terminated offensive chemical and biological weapon activities.

UK Nuclear Deterrent

Dr. Fox: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what recent discussions his Department has had with his US counterparts about bilateral co-operation on stockpile stewardship and maintenance of Trident. [43004]

John Reid: Discussion and co-operation involving MOD officials, AWE personnel, and their US counterparts, on issues relating to stockpile stewardship and the maintenance of Trident, takes places regularly under the auspices of the 1958 US/UK Mutual Defence Agreement and the Polaris Sales Agreement (amended for Trident). The principal purpose of this co-operation is to help us to ensure the continued safety, availability, and reliability of the deterrent.

Dr. Fox: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence (1) what discussions his Department has had with his US counterpart about the Government's policy that decisions on Trident's replacement will be taken in this Parliament; [43005]

(2) what recent discussions his Department has had with his US counterparts about the next generation of the UK nuclear deterrent; and if he will make a statement. [43003]

John Reid: I refer the hon. Member to the answers I gave to the hon. Member for Berwickshire, Roxburgh and Selkirk (Mr. Moore) on 21 July 2005, Official Report, column 2120W, and the hon. Member for New Forest, East (Dr. Lewis) on 9 November 2005, Official Report, column 560W.

White Phosphorus

Angus Robertson: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what guidelines (a) he and (b) his predecessor has set out for UK armed forces on the use of white phosphorus; when these guidelines were last (i) reviewed and (ii) amended; and if he will make a statement. [30719]

John Reid [holding answer 21 November 2005]: British Forces possess white phosphorus munitions in Iraq for the purpose of producing a smoke screen to provide cover and thus protection for our soldiers on the battlefield. Guidelines for its use emphasise that it should not be deployed as an anti-personnel weapon. The relevant infantry training guidelines were last reviewed and training literature subsequently amended in 2003 in order to reinforce the prohibition of the use of white phosphorus against personnel.
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Anti-retroviral Medicines

Ms Keeble: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what progress is being made in developing new anti-retroviral medicines for children suffering from HIV/AIDS in developing countries; and if he will make a statement. [41941]

Mr. Thomas: DFID has been working with the international pharmaceutical industry in a number of ways to increase access to medicines, including for the treatment of HIV and AIDS, and for children.

In March 2005 DFID, the Department of Trade and Industry and the Department of Health, launched a framework encouraging 'good practice' in the pharmaceutical industry to increase access to medicines. The framework contained a number of recommendations on how companies could increase access to medicines in developing countries, including through making medicines more affordable and through more research on diseases affecting developing countries. The framework encourages investment into new medicines for children among other areas.

The UK also provides support to increase research into treatments and vaccines for diseases affecting developing countries, including for HIV and AIDS. This includes tax credits and direct support to product development public private partnerships. DFID has funded research on the use of existing medicines in developing country settings, such as a trial of co-trimoxazole that significantly reduced mortality among children living with HIV.

DFID will continue to ensure the needs of children and other vulnerable groups are addressed as we work towards scaling up to universal access to treatment by 2010, as agreed by the G8 and by the millennium review summit. The Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS), has established a Global Steering Committee, which the UK will co-chair. Plans will be based on the principle of country ownership—recognising the need to work through existing national structures and processes and focus on mobilising countries to scale up in line with the 2010 target.

In addition the Global Steering Committee will encourage countries to identify obstacles and develop solutions, including addressing the development of appropriate treatments for key groups, such as children.

Departmental Equipment

Mr. Weir: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development how many (a) personal computers, (b) laptops, (c) servers, (d) printers, (e) scanners, (f) photocopiers and (g) fax machines (i) his Department and (ii) each (A) non-departmental public body, (B) executive agency and (C) other public body for which his Department is responsible in (1) Scotland, (2) Wales, (3) each English region and (4) Northern Ireland owned in (x) 2003–04 and (y) 2004–05. [40095]

Mr. Thomas: I refer the Member to the reply given by my right. hon. Friend, the Secretary of State for International Development, to the hon. Member for
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Tatton, on 24 January 2005, Official Report, column 21W, for the total figures for each asset type in DFID for 2004–05.

DFID maintains a database of current assets, and records of purchases made in each year. Neither provides breakdowns of specific types of equipment owned in previous financial years, to obtain this information would incur a disproportionate cost.

HIV/AIDS (Paediatric Care)

Lynne Featherstone: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development (1) if he will list the countries in which his Department has funded projects which aim to improve access to paediatric anti-retroviral therapy; [43194]

(2) if he will list the (a) organisations and (b) countries his Department is working with on paediatric HIV/AIDS projects; [43200]

(3) how much of the £150 million the UK has committed to spend on children living with HIV will be spent on paediatric treatment programmes; [43181]

(4) what measures his Department has in place to monitor the proportion of child beneficiaries of the treatment programmes it funds; [43196]

(5) what further work has been undertaken to ensure HIV-positive children receive co-trimoxazole since the funding by his Department of Medical Research Council research into its benefits in 2004. [43199]

Mr. Thomas: Taking Action, the UK's strategy for tackling HIV and AIDS in the developing world, published in 2004, states that, our support for children affected by AIDS is reflected in all of DFID's country assistance plans in all affected countries. This comprehensive approach includes prevention, care and treatment as well as recognising the impact AIDS has on society, including increasing orphan rates. DFID's expenditure reporting reflects this comprehensive approach and given the aid instruments we use, it is not possible to disaggregate between moneys spent on treatment and those used for other AIDS related activities.

The UK funds AIDS programmes in nearly 40 countries and works with a variety of organisations in respect of children affected by AIDS. DFID's spend on AIDS is not solely through bilateral programmes. A significant proportion is spent through multilateral instruments including the Global Fund to fight AIDS, TB and Malaria, the World Bank, UNICEF and the World Health Organisation (WHO); these play a role in funding paediatric treatment and care. The UK also finances a wide range of Civil Society organisations, including local NGOs such as the Dananai and Mavambo Trust in Zimbabwe, who are ensuring over 4,000 vulnerable children are able to attend school and that traumatised children receive appropriate counselling.

In Malawi, for example, as part of DFIDs support to the National AIDS programmes, there are now over 60 facilities in Malawi delivering anti retroviral therapy for HIV and over 37,000 people on treatment. The numbers are increasing, around 4,500 people starting on therapy in the first three months of last year. 95 per cent. are over
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13 years old and 81 per cent. of people who have ever taken treatment are alive. The UK will continue to advocate for comprehensive AIDS programmes that meet the needs of children as well as adults.

The WHO reports 1 that access to HIV care and anti-retroviral therapy has not been extended widely to children. However, data is incomplete and the UK has urged the WHO, the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) and others to track the extent to which treatment and care programmes are meeting the needs of the poor, women and children.

The Global Partners Forum on Children Affected by HIV and AIDS, which the UK is hosting in early February, will explore the current obstacles to treatment of children with HIV and AIDS, as well as other services and needs. In addition, the Global Steering Committee on Scaling up Towards Universal Access, which in turn is due to report to the UN General Assembly High Level meeting in June 2006, is considering the obstacles to scaling up access to treatment for children, including the lack of appropriate and effective diagnostic tools and treatments.

Following publication of the DFID-funded Medical Research Council research findings, the WHO, UNAIDS and UNICEF issued a joint statement in November 2004 on the use of cotrimoxazole as a prophylaxis in HIV exposed and HIV affected children.

The joint statement advocates that prophylactic dosing with Cotrimoxazole for HIV infected children with any sign or symptoms suggestive of HIV is a key intervention that should be offered as part of a basic package of care to reduce morbidity and mortality.

The document further states that Cotrimoxazole prophylaxis is also a crucial potentially life saving intervention that should be given to all HIV exposed children born to HIV- infected mothers, in settings where HIV infection status cannot be reliably confirmed in the first 18 months of life.

Following the joint statement, Cotrimoxazole is now universally accepted as a standard treatment package for all children exposed to HIV and on treatment and it is advocated for all children with HIV, regardless of whether they are receiving treatment.

As a follow on to the Cotrimoxazole study DFID is providing funding support for a further trial through the Medical Research Council to examine the best use of anti-retrovirals for children.

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