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18 Apr 2006 : Column 533W—continued

Water Access

Andrew Rosindell: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what steps he is taking to improve his Department's performance in providing access to clean water and sanitation in the developing world. [62972]

Hilary Benn: DFID is committed to helping achieve the millennium development goal (MDG) target of halving the proportion of people without access to safe water by 2015. Our programmes are focussed on sub-Saharan Africa and parts of Asia, where achieving the target will be most difficult.

DFID is committed to doubling spending on water in Africa to £95 million by 2008. We are currently actively involved in seven African countries (Ethiopia, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Malawi, Mozambique, Rwanda, Tanzania and Zambia), up from only two two years ago; and through our funding of other agencies' programmes, we reach many other countries.
 
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We are also committed to creating an international system that works more effectively than it does now. We work closely with the World Bank, which is now more focussed on water, and with UN Water, to improve coordination of the UN agencies operating water and sanitation programmes.

DFID closely monitors progress in water and sanitation and publishes regular updates on the DFID website. The latest update will published later this month.

World Conference on Women

Mr. Amess: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what definition he uses of reproductive rights as set out in the United Nations Report of the Fourth World Conference on Women 1995; and if he will make a statement. [62699]

Mr. Thomas: The United Nations Report of the Fourth World Conference on Women (FWCW) in 1995, uses the definition of reproductive rights agreed at the International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD) held in Cairo in 1994. The definition is contained in paragraph 7.3 of the Cairo Programme of Action and in paragraph 95 of the FWCW Report.

In addition, paragraph 96 of the FWCW Report contains reference to women's human rights, thus providing more support for the definition given in paragraph 95.

Both the ICPD and the FWCW represent international policy standards, providing a basis for understanding and action agreed upon by countries by consensus.

World Health Organisation

Mr. Amess: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development how much funding his Department provided to the World Health Organisation for the publication Safe Abortion: Technical and Policy Guidance for Health Systems; and if he will make a statement. [62700]

Mr. Thomas: DFID did not provide any funding to the World Health Organisation (WHO) directly for the publication of the technical and policy guidance on safe abortion.

In September 2000, the World Health Organisation did convene a technical consultation on safe abortion as part of the process of preparing the technical and policy guidance. The technical consultation brought together international experts, including developing country health policy makers, to review the evidence and make recommendations on what the guidance should cover.

DFID provided £50,000 to support the technical consultation, to help ensure the participation of developing country experts.

Since 2003, we have provided an annual contribution to the WHO's core budget (currently £12.5 million), for the WHO to allocate against its approved Programme and Budget.
 
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World Heritage Sites

David Wright: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development which Minister in his Department has responsibility for issues relating to world heritage sites. [63479]

Mr. Thomas: Lead responsibility for policy on world heritage sites rests with the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport. The Department for Culture, Media and Sport works closely with relevant Government Departments on all issues affecting world heritage sites. Within the Department for International Development, both myself and my right hon. Friend, the Secretary of State for International Development have responsibility for issues concerning world heritage sites which fall within the geographical areas on which they lead and which are within this Department's policy remit.

CABINET OFFICE

Office of Personnel Management

Mr. Spellar: To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster if he will assess the relevance for the UK of the work of the Office of Personnel Management in the United States on encouraging working from home by Government employees. [63325]

Mr. Jim Murphy: Departments and Agencies have authority to put in place any working pattern, including home working, they consider suitable and are committed to opening up more flexible working opportunities, particularly at senior levels. The Office of Personnel Management (OPM) encourages federal Government agencies to offer a varied choice of flexible working options to their employees, similar to that in the UK civil service. OPM pro-actively encourages home working as an option. The civil service is committed to keeping abreast of international initiatives and incorporating good practice into our own policies.

FOREIGN AND COMMONWEALTH OFFICE

Ascension Island

Dr. Cable: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs pursuant to the answer of 27 March 2006, Official Report, column 665W, on Ascension Island, for what reasons the 27 people without a work contract with one of the main users are permitted to stay on the Island. [63675]

Mr. Douglas Alexander: Of the 27 people on Ascension Island who do not have a work contract with one of the main users, 23 are employed with businesses considered to be essential services such as food outlets, small shops, the petrol station, hotel and bakery.

Of the remaining four people, three are adult dependent children whose permission to remain has been brought into line with that of their parents.

The status of the remaining individual is currently under review by the Attorney General.
 
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Grievance Procedures

David Simpson: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs how many grievance procedures have been initiated in his Department in each of the last three years. [63557]

Ian Pearson: Grievances are dealt with informally through the complainant's line manager in the first instance and figures are not held centrally for such cases. Only if the issue cannot be resolved through the informal route are they officially recorded and dealt with formally. Formal grievance procedures were initiated as follows:
Number
20038
20044
20054

Gibraltar

Sir John Stanley: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what proposals the British Government has put to the Spanish Government, and on what dates, to resolve the dispute over the operation by the authorities in Gibraltar of the Hague Convention of 1996 on the International Protection of Children once ratified by EU member states; and if he will make a statement. [62846]

Mr. Douglas Alexander: The ratification of the Hague Convention of 1996 on the International Protection of Children is being blocked because Spain has questioned the arrangements under this convention for communications with competent authorities in Gibraltar.

A number of attempts have been made to resolve the issue. In late 2003 there were discussions at ministerial and official level. In October 2004 my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary wrote to the Spanish Minister for Foreign Affairs urging him to take a fresh look at the issue. There have been continued attempts to resolve the problem at official level and the broader issue of postboxing (whereby formal communications between Gibraltar competent authorities and their EU/European Economic Area/European Free Trade Association counterparts under EU instruments take place via the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in London) is one of the subjects under discussion in the ongoing trilateral dialogue between Spain, Gibraltar and the UK.

Harassment Complaints

David Simpson: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs how many complaints of (a) bullying and (b) sexual harassment have been investigated in his Department in each of the last three years; and how many complaints have been upheld. [63539]

Ian Pearson: The Foreign and Commonwealth Office does not keep a breakdown of grievance types into separate categories as asked in this question. Our experience has been that grievances are often complex and can arise from a number of different issues so that it is often not feasible to categorise in this way.
 
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Over the last three years, grievances have been investigated and upheld as follows:
Number investigatedNumber upheld
200382
200441
20057(236)


(236) None upheld.



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