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Palestinian Authority

Mr. Davey: To ask the Secretary, Department for International Development what measures his Department has in place to maintain accountability for
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funds transferred from the UK and the European Union for assistance in the Palestinian Authority; and whether additional measures have been introduced following the increase in monetary aid at the G8 summit. [43195]

Hilary Benn: Both UK and European Union budget support for the Palestinian Authority (PA) is conditional on the achievement of specific benchmarks, intended to ensure value for money and the legitimate use of taxpayers' funds. They cover audit and accounting as well as issues such as pension reform, the wage bill and budget processes. The benchmarks require that the PA submit its annual financial statements to the Palestinian Legislative Council and be independently audited.

DFID, along with the International Monetary Fund and other donors that provide budget support through a World Bank Public Financial Management Reform Trust Fund, undertake twice-yearly reviews of the PA's progress against agreed benchmarks and maintain close contact with the PA at all times. Other forms of DFID assistance to the Palestinian people are channelled through organisations whose accounts are independently audited. All trust fund donors, including the UK, decided in December 2005 to hold back budget support payments due to the Palestinian Authority following the failure of the Palestinian administration at the time to meet agreed benchmarks, notably on pension reforms, the wage bill and external audit.

The agreement reached at the G8 Summit was to support the Quartet Special Envoy for Disengagement, Mr James Wolfensohn, in his intention to stimulate a global financial contribution of up to $3 billion per year over the coming three years. At the Ad Hoc Liaison Committee meeting in December, it was agreed by the international community that a pledging conference could take place in spring 2006, provided that progress had been made on political and economic issues.

This is a time of considerable political change in the occupied Palestinian territories. The Government fully support the recent statements by the Quartet and the European Union on 30 January. We also welcome President Abbas' affirmation that the Palestinian Authority is committed to the Roadmap, previous agreements and obligations between the parties, and a negotiated two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. We will continue to monitor the situation carefully in close co-ordination with the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, the EU and other partners.

Sexual and Reproductive Health

Chris McCafferty: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development (1) what steps the Government has taken with (a) UN partners, (b) EU Governments, (c) the US Administration and (d) other donor Governments to ensure comprehensive sexuality education remains part of HIV prevention programmes; [48812]

(2) what steps the Government has taken with (a) UN partners, (b) EU Governments, (c) the US Administration and (d) other donor Governments to ensure access to sexual and reproductive health supplies, including condoms, remains part of global HIV programming; [48813]
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(3) what steps the Government has taken with (a) UN partners, (b) EU Governments, (c) the US Administration and (d) other donor Governments to ensure the linkage between sexual and reproductive health and HIV information and services is promoted as part of HIV programming; [48815]

(4) what steps the Government is taking to raise the profile of linked sexual and reproductive health and rights and HIV/AIDS funding, policies and services to combat HIV/AIDS at the United Nations General Assembly Special Session 2006. [48816]

Mr. Thomas: The UK uses every opportunity to promote the scaling up of comprehensive and evidence based HIV programming. We know that unprotected sex is the most common cause of infection, particularly in Sub-Saharan Africa. Worldwide less than one in five people have access to basic HIV prevention services (including sexual and reproductive health services). This prevention gap" is fuelling the spread of HIV. Improving access to a comprehensive range of effective HIV prevention information, services and supplies including sex education for young people and condoms for all those who are sexually active, is therefore important and this is what our programmes supports.

The UK led the support for the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) prevention policy Intensifying HIV prevention" at its June 2005 Programme Coordination Board, which I attended. This policy clearly emphasises the importance of evidence-informed prevention and we took the opportunity in negotiating and agreeing this policy to engage in dialogue with UN partners, European Governments, the US Administration and other donor Governments on the importance of comprehensive sexuality education, linking sexual and reproductive health (SRH) and HIV programmes and access to SRH supplies including female condoms.

Building on this, as EU president, we steered and secured agreement on the first EU wide policy Statement on HIV Prevention launched on World AIDS day 2005. This affirms the commitment of all 25 European member states to comprehensive and evidence based HIV prevention programming including:

We are co-chairing the Universal Access steering group with UNAIDS. This group is helping to ensure that the commitments made at Gleneagles and at the World Summit to develop and implement a package for HIV prevention, treatment and care with the aim of as close as possible to universal access to treatment for all those who need it by 2010 are turned into action. Within this process we continue to emphasise the importance of integrating comprehensive SRH information, services and supplies, including female and male condoms, and sex and sexuality education—into HIV programming.

We believe that SRH services should play a more effective role in efforts to prevent HIV, but recognise that more resources are needed to do this. DFID has recently commissioned some work to explore how
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the way we work helps or hinders the linkages between HIV and SRH policy, programming and funding arrangements. The forthcoming United Nations Special Session (UNGASS) in June 2006 will be an important opportunity to highlight the importance of SRH to HIV programming.

The US does have different policies from the UK in a number of areas related to international development. This is particularly so in HIV prevention and SRH. We have, for example, different positions on issues promoting sexual abstinence and ensuring availability of safe abortion services as well as access to clean needles and syringes as harm reduction measures. There has been discussion of these differences in global and bilateral meetings. We will continue our dialogue with the UN, European Governments, the US Administration and other donors; but we will, as we always have, continue to work with US colleagues to promote country-led evidence-based and effective approaches to tackling the HIV epidemic and we will continue to promote the importance of access to a full range of sexual and reproductive health information, services and supplies.

Chris McCafferty: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what his Department's total bilateral aid spending was to reproductive health and HIV/AIDS in 2004–05, broken down by sector. [48814]

Mr. Thomas: In 2004–05, DFID's bilateral expenditure on projects which were targeting effective reproductive health services was £194 million. This figure is reported in the document entitled 'Statistics on International Development' (SID) 2005 (Table 20), (which is available in the Libraries of the House) and reflects all projects that were recorded as having a primary or significant focus on effective reproductive health services. It should be noted that some of these projects will also have had a primary or significant focus on other areas such as education or health systems development.

DFID's overall bilateral spend on reproductive health services is likely to be in excess of £194 million, as further money has been spent on reproductive health by multilateral agencies supported by the UK such as the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) and the World Health Organisation, and by partner governments receiving Poverty Reduction Budget Support" (PRBS) from the UK.

The expenditure figure for all projects that were shown against the tackling HIV and AIDS marker as having a primary or significant focus is also given in SID (Table 20). However, this does not represent DFID's total bilateral expenditure on HIV and AIDS. A methodology for calculating total expenditure on HIV and AIDS related projects has been developed. Figures for HIV and AIDS expenditure in 2004–05 using this methodology will be available soon.

When referring to SID table 20 on DFID expenditure it is important to note that data for different markers cannot be added together. This is to avoid double counting of expenditure.
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