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Mr. Clifton-Brown: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what recent representations he has received from the Iraqi Government on UK aid. [62133]

Hilary Benn: During the last two and a half years, I have visited Iraq on four separate occasions and have had discussions with a wide range of Iraqi ministers and senior Government officials. My last visit to Baghdad and Basra was from 20 to 21 March. I met with Prime Minister Ja'afari, Foreign Minister Zebari, and talked to Planning Minister Barham Salih. During our discussions, they expressed appreciation of our continued support to Iraq's reconstruction. 2006 marks an important chapter in Iraq's development towards becoming a fully fledged democracy as well as taking the first, tough steps towards developing a strong, prosperous economy. The new Government needs to form quickly and effectively to take charge of the challenges ahead. We will discuss DFID's support programme in depth with the new Government when it comes into office.

The UK pledged £544 million for Iraq's reconstruction at the Madrid donors conference in October 2003. To date, over £510 million of this pledge has been disbursed. DFID continues to offer support to the Iraqi Government, to help:

We are also providing support for Iraqi civil society organisations, to boost community participation in shaping their country's future. Our programme for 2005–06 (£65 million), has supported projects on water, electricity, supporting participation in the political process, support to the centre of government, and capacity building in local government. We expect to spend another £45 million in 2006–07.

Medicinal Aid

Mr. Jim Cunningham: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development how much his Department has spent on medicinal aid to developing countries since 1997. [61786]

Mr. Thomas: It is difficult to quantify the specific UK spend on medicines since 1997 due to the rapid changes over this period in how DFID finances health. Increasingly DFID contributes to pooled funds with other partners or provides untied funds into the health sector budget or contributes to the general budget of a country. The procurement of medicines is carried out directly by recipient governments or by the recipients of UK funds.

The UK Government are a major donor to the Global Fund to fight AIDS, TB and Malaria (GFATM) and has committed £359 million through to 2008. Almost half of the GFATM funds are used to procure drugs and medical supplies. The UK also provides substantial support to other global health initiatives such as the
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Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunisation (GAVI), Roll Back Malaria and Stop TB, and to UN agencies such as the World Health Organisation (WHO), UNICEF and the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), all of which procure medicines and/or vaccines.

In September 2005, the UK launched, with other donors, the International Financing Facility for Immunisation (IFFIm). This will provide $4 billion over a 10-year period to support the purchase of vaccines by developing countries and the strengthening of immunisation systems.

The United Kingdom (UK) Government are committed to improving access to essential medicines in developing countries. In general, DFID spends money on efforts to, strengthen national medicine systems; ensuring affordable pricing and sustainable financing, reliable health services and the rational selection and use of drugs, rather than buying medicines specifically.

Since 1997, DFID has spent over £1.5 billion to support the development of health systems in poor countries. Specific initiatives related to medicines include providing £39 million to support the Nigeria Partnership for Transforming Health Systems and £3.6 million to the South African Drug Action programme which has increased the number of health care centres that use approved lists of essential medicines. DFID has provided support to the WHO to appoint national professional officers for essential medicines in 11 African countries, to provide technical assistance on supply, management and rational use of medicines.

Middle East

Mr. Ian Austin: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development (1) if he will make a statement on the G8 aid pledged to the Palestinians in the light of the recent Palestinian elections; [61860]

(2) what assessment he has made of the capacity of the Palestinian Authority to administer funds pledged by the G8 and EU. [61862]

Hilary Benn: 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. However, this was based on a recognition that certain conditions need to be in place for additional aid to be effective, notably on movement and access to markets for Palestinians.

An agreement reached on November 15, 2005, between Israel and the Palestinian Authority on movement and access would, if implemented, meet several of those conditions. So far this agreement has not been fully implemented.

Following the recent Palestinian elections in which Hamas won an absolute majority further assistance to the Palestinian Authority (PA) is under review. The Quartet, comprising the European Union, the United States, the United Nations and Russia has said that aid
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to the future Palestinian Government will depend on it giving up violence, recognising Israel's right to exist and signing up to previous peace agreements.

Mr. Ian Austin: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what steps his Department is taking to help the Palestinian Authority establish rule of law in the Palestinian Territories. [61861]

Hilary Benn: DFID has provided funding, training, management support and equipment for the EU co-ordinating office for the Palestinian Police Support (EU COPPS). The EU COPPS has helped to co-ordinate donor assistance to the police and played an important role in the run up to and during the Israeli withdrawal from Gaza. Advisers from the EU COPPS have been working closely with the Palestinian police force to support organisational reform. This reform is aimed at a more effective, accountable and efficient police force.

Since 1 January 2006, the EU COPPS became an EU policing mission under the European Security and Defence Policy.

Future DFID assistance will depend on the new Palestinian Government's commitment to the principles outlined in the statement of 30 January by the Quartet of the United States, European Union, Russia and the United Nations.

Mr. Ian Austin: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what monitoring is being put in place to ensure that development funding for the Palestinians does not go to Hamas. [61863]

Hilary Benn: Aid to the Hamas-led Palestinian Authority (PA) is being reviewed against its commitment to the quartet principles of non-violence, recognition of Israel, and commitment to the peace process. We hope that the new PA will comply with these conditions, in which case funding will continue. If they do not comply, we will look carefully at other options for helping the Palestinian people. This will not include projects where there is a risk of aid being diverted to funding Hamas. The UK Government will not allow taxpayers' money to be used to fund terrorism, terrorist organisations or anything other than poverty reduction.

Mr. Ian Austin: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what assessment he has made of the merits of using non-governmental organisation funding as a means of sustaining international aid to the Palestinians. [61864]

Hilary Benn: Non-governmental organisations play a vital role in meeting the needs of some Palestinians and holding the Palestinian Authority (PA) to account. However, they do not have the capacity to substitute for an effective PA. DFID has international experience of helping governments to deliver essential services. This is our preferred way of working and, in the past, we have put much of our aid through the PA.

Following the recent Palestinian elections, however! aid to the Hamas-led PA is being reviewed against its commitment to the Quartet principles of non-violence, recognition of Israel and commitment to the peace process. We hope that the new PA will comply with these conditions, in which case funding will continue. If it does not comply we will look carefully at other options
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for helping the Palestinian people. However, for the time being, it is too early to say which options would be most suitable.

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