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Written Answers to Questions

Wednesday 29 March 2006



9. Michael Fabricant: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development, what bilateral aid his Department is giving to tackle leprosy; and if he will make a statement. [61833]

Mr. Thomas: DFID provides targeted project support to tackle leprosy through the Leprosy Mission in India and the Leprosy Relief Association in Brazil. This funding supports community based efforts to improve access to care, reduce stigma and rehabilitate those affected. DFID commitment to these projects for 2005–6 is £196,453. Similar projects with other non-government organisations have recently ended in Brazil and Nepal. Overall DFID commitment from 2002 to 2008 is £1,152,453.

Global elimination of leprosy also requires integrating leprosy services into general health services and building the ability of general health workers to treat leprosy. DFID provides substantial support to strengthen health services in developing countries.


10. Mr. Gray: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development How much his Department has given in aid to Mongolia in each of the last three years. [61834]

Mr. Thomas: The UK bilateral programme in 2002–03, 2003–04 and 2004–05 was £395,000, £267,000 and £231,000 respectively. The attributed UK share of EC expenditure from 2001 to 2003 was £400,000, £200,000 and £200,000 respectively.

Bilateral expenditure in 2005–06 was £200,000. This was accounted for entirely by the Small Grants Scheme. During 2005–06, it was agreed that responsibility for this scheme globally would be transferred to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. The formal DFID bilateral programme in Mongolia is therefore coming to an end.

Middle East

11. Richard Younger-Ross: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development What recent assessment he has made of the humanitarian situation in Gaza and the West Bank. [61835]

Hilary Benn: The humanitarian situation in the West Bank is currently relatively stable. Conditions in the Gaza Strip have worsened recently due to the closure of the main crossing at Kami. During the week of 20 March 2006 in the Gaza Strip there were severe shortages of essential foodstuffs.
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Following the Palestinian elections, the political situation in the Palestinian territories is uncertain. Assistance to the next government will be judged against the Quartet principles of non-violence, recognition of Israel, and commitment to the peace process. However, programmes aimed at meeting Palestinians' basic needs will continue, including assistance for Palestinian refugees, which in 2005–06 amounted to £15 million.

World Relief Fund

12. Jim Dobbin: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what progress has been made in establishing a world fund to provide rapid aid and relief at times of major disasters. [61836]

Hilary Benn: The United Nations' Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF) was launched on 9 March 2006. This consists of a $50 million loan facility and a rant facility with an eventual target of up to $450 million. $255 million has been pledged by 38 donors so far. The UK is the largest single donor at $70 million (£40 million).

The first disbursement from the CERF of $950,000 has been made to protect Internally Displaced People in Cote D'lvoire. A disbursement for famine relief in the Horn of Africa is expected soon.

Sub-Saharan Africa

13. Mr. Andrew Turner: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development, what assessment he has made of agricultural productivity in sub-Saharan Africa; and if he will make a statement. [61837]

Hilary Benn: Growth in agricultural productivity has been disappointing in sub-Saharan Africa. According to the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI), agricultural output barely kept pace with population between 1961 and 2001, increasing from 40 to 116 million tonnes.

DFID believe that agriculture should be at the heart of efforts to reduce poverty. In December 2005, DFID launched a policy paper entitled 'Growth and poverty reduction: the role of agriculture', which sets out our priorities for action. Copies of this document have been placed in the Library of the House.

Horn of Africa (Famine)

14. Danny Alexander: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development If he will make a statement on donor response to the famine in the Horn of Africa. [61838]

Hilary Benn: DFID has been the second largest bilateral donor, after the US, to the current relief effort in the Horn of Africa with a contribution so far of £35.9 million. The European Union is also making a major contribution. Other leading donors include Norway and Sweden. So far the overall donor response
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has fallen short of levels of funding requested by the UN. We will be reviewing our own funding next week when the UN issues an updated and revised appeal. We hope that other donors will follow our lead.

World Water Day

15. Sir Nicholas Winterton: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development, what activity his Department participated in to mark this year's World Water Day. [61839]

Hilary Benn: DFID and DEFRA participated in the World Water Forum in Mexico, which focused on achieving the MDGs through local actions. Themes discussed included the impact of climate change, corruption in the water sector, the right to water and the advantages of Sector Wide Approaches. I highlighted the importance of better coordination of UN Agencies working with water, with UN-Water as the mechanism for achieving this.

In the UK, DFID supported an awareness event in Bristol involving pupils from Teyfant Community School. Information such as a World Water Day Factsheet, was made available on our website for the general public, and an exhibition on 'drawing water' was held in DFID buildings, following the UNESCO theme for the day of 'Water and Culture'.


David T.C. Davies: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development how many official holidays staff at the Department's offices in (a) Bangladesh and (b) Pakistan receive per annum. [61578]

Mr. Thomas: In line with all DFID overseas offices, staff in Bangladesh and Pakistan receive 14 official holidays per annum. For 2006, they are as follows:

1 JanuaryNew Years Day
11–12 JanuaryEid-ul-Azha
21 FebruaryShaheed Day
26 MarchIndependence Day
13 AprilBengali New Year Day
16 AprilEaster Sunday
11 MayBouddha Purnima
27 AugustAugust Bank Holiday
2 OctoberDurga Puja
25–26 OctoberEid-ul-Fitur
25 DecemberChristmas Day
26 DecemberBoxing Day


2 JanuaryNew Years Day
11–12 JanuaryEid Ul Azha
9 February10th Muharram
14 AprilGood Friday
17 AprilEaster Monday
1 MayMay Day
29 MayPrivilege Day for HM the Queen's Birthday
14 AugustPakistan Independence Day
19–20 OctoberEid Ul Fitr (precise dates dependent on the sighting of the moon)
22 DecemberPrivilege Day
25 DecemberChristmas Day
26 DecemberBoxing Day

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Capita Group

Chris Grayling: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what meetings (a) he and (b) Ministers in his Department have held with directors and senior executives of (i) Capita Group plc and (ii) its subsidiaries since 1 January 2004; and whether (A) Capita Group plc and (B) its subsidiaries have provided input (1) in writing and (2) in person to policy discussions in his Department since 1 January 2004. [61072]

Hilary Benn: Neither myself nor my honourable friend the Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for International Development have held meetings or had written communication with directors or senior executives of Capita Group or its subsidiaries since 1 January 2004.

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