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Written Answers to Questions

Monday 8 May 2006

Education and Skills

European Vocational Qualifications

Mr. Boswell: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills if she will make a statement on recent progress on the establishment of a European vocational qualifications framework. [67218]

Bill Rammell: The UK conducted a national consultation on the European Commission's proposal for a European qualifications framework between September and December 2005, and submitted its response in January 2006. UK experts participated in a conference in Budapest in February 2006 to discuss the issues emerging from the consultation. The Commission is currently consulting an expert group containing technical representatives from all EU member states in order to finalise its proposal. We anticipate that a final proposal will be produced in autumn 2006. The final proposal will cover the full spectrum of education and training, including both academic and vocational qualifications.

Level 3 Qualification

Mr. Jim Cunningham: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills how many 19 to 25-year-olds in Coventry South are studying for a first level 3 qualification. [67863]

Bill Rammell: In the academic year 2004/05 there were 269 19 to 25-year-olds in Coventry South studying for a full NVQ level 3 or equivalent qualification* in further education and work-based learning.

This does not include access to HE qualifications or wholly privately funded study aims.

Teachers Pension Scheme

Mr. Kidney: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what the (a) contribution rates and (b) proposed contribution rates to the Teachers' Pension Scheme are for (i) teachers and (ii) employers; and from when the proposed rates will take effect. [66278]

Bill Rammell: The pension contributions currently paid by teachers and employers to the Teachers' Pension Scheme (TPS) are 6 per cent. and 13.5 per cent. of salary respectively. The 2004 valuation of the TPS is reporting a net pressure on the contribution rate of 0.8 per cent. of salary. This is on the assumption that the change in contribution rate would take effect from 1 January 2007.

As part of the negotiations between DfES, unions and employer representatives on a package of reforms to the TPS, discussions are continuing on how current
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and any future pressures arising from scheme valuations should be handled between employers and scheme members. The expectation is that a formal consultation on reform proposals will be launched during May. This will include details of how the 0.8 per cent. net pressure arising from the 2004 valuation will be dealt with in the contribution rate paid by employers and scheme members; and the respective contribution rates that will apply from 1 January 2007.

Mr. Kidney: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what the projected annual increase in cost is to local education authorities of the proposed increase in the employers' contribution to the Teachers' Pension Scheme. [66778]

Bill Rammell: The proposed increase in employer contributions from January 2007 will add a maximum of 0.8 per cent. to the paybill of local authorities for all those teachers in membership of the Teachers' Pension Scheme. This cost increase has been more than covered in the levels of the minimum funding guarantee for 2006-07 and 2007-08, and by the increases in dedicated schools grant of 6 per cent. in 2006-07 and 6.4 per cent. in 2007-08.

Under-performing Colleges

Kelvin Hopkins: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills whether under the proposals in the further education White Paper (Cm 6798) a local education authority would be permitted to take over responsibility for an under-performing college. [67565]

Bill Rammell: Local authorities and the LSC have crucial roles to play in delivering the reforms set out in the White Paper 'Further Education: Raising Skills, Improving Life Chances', and must work together to drive progress through a shared strategy. The White Paper makes clear that we want local authorities to play a strategic leadership role, consistent with their leadership role in children's services overall, ensuring the integration of 14-19 reform with the wider agenda for children and young people in the locality. The Learning and Skills Council will be the primary partner for the local authority, and will use its funding and powers to secure high quality provision which meets the needs of learners and employers in every area. This will include providing opportunities for new and existing high quality providers to openly compete for provision.

The White Paper sets out a robust approach to tackling underperformance which could culminate in the Learning and Skills Council ceasing to fund provision which does not improve; or requiring changes to governance or executive management.

If a change in governance or leadership is required, this might include a stronger role for the relevant local authority at the invitation of the existing governing body.

If funding is withdrawn, replacement provision is likely to be sourced by competition. No one model is expected to arise out of a competition to secure a replacement provider. It would be open to a local authority to participate in a competition if it wished to do so.

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International Development

Aid Projects

Mr. Clifton-Brown: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what steps the Government takes to ensure that aid-sponsored projects are clearly demarked as donor sponsored and not claimed by recipient governments as domestic government funded. [68151]

Hilary Benn: Information on the support provided by DFID to partner countries is publicly available (including on DFID's website www.dfid.gov.uk) and is disseminated in partner countries by DFID offices and the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) missions.

We believe that aid is more effective when used to support developing countries' own plans, and to strengthen their own capacity to deliver. So where possible, DFID works in partnership with developing country governments, and integrates our support with their programmes. In such partnerships, our aim is to ensure public understanding of our combined efforts rather than to separately identify donor funded work.

Where however, governments do not share our commitment to reducing poverty reduction, human rights and good financial management, it is important to ensure that our aid is visibly separate from government programmes. For example, in Zimbabwe, no DFID funding is channelled through the Government. All our assistance, which focuses on humanitarian need and the HIV/AIDS crisis, is provided through non-governmental organisations and UN agencies. This substantially reduces the scope for the government to claim credit for assistance provided by DFID

Development Funding

Mark Simmonds: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what funding the Government have allocated to the (a) Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme, (b) UN Economic Commission for Africa and (c) Pan-African Parliament for each of the next three years; what funding has been provided in each of the last three years; and if he will make a statement. [66839]

Mr. Thomas: The Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP) sets out Africa leaders' priorities to help boost agricultural growth and food security at continental, regional and country levels. As the UK and other G8 countries only responded firmly to CAADP during 2005, no funds were explicitly allocated to it over the last three years. However, the response below identifies where DFID funding was consistent with the CAADP.

At the country level, the CAADP commits African countries to spend 10 per cent. of their budgets on the agriculture sector. DFID's support to African country budgets will help them do this. However, detailed information on how budget support is allocated to sectors by Africa governments are not held centrally and to gather it would involve incurring a disproportionate cost.

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At the regional and continental levels, DFID provided around £80 million over the last three years for agricultural research, one of CAADP's four priorities. In the next three years, DFID has allocated around £85 million to agricultural research in Africa as part of its response to CAADP.

In financial year 2005-06, DFID committed an additional £200,000 to design a programme of additional regional support under CAADP. This will clarify DFID's plans for additional regional work on CAADP over each of the coming three years. DFID has provided a total of £2,348,000 to the UN Economic Commission for Africa (UN-EGA) over the last three financial years (£1,000,000 in 2003-04, £673,121 in 2004-05 and £675,000 in 2005-06). DFID has recently been considering a contribution for the next three years with the Commission. However, this has been delayed whilst the UN-ECA re-examines its role in conjunction with the African Union and the African Development Bank, under the new leadership of Abdoulie Janneh. We expect the UN-ECA to be in a better position to discuss its future needs with donors after its Annual Meeting in May.

No support has been given to the Pan African Parliament to date. However, DFID is currently discussing priorities for support with the Pan African Parliament. We hope to complete the design of a Pan African Parliament support programme over the coming months.


John Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what steps are being taken by his Department to increase the percentage of HIV positive pregnant women in Africa with access to (a) information, (b) drugs and (c) antenatal treatment to prevent transmission of the virus to their child. [68160]

Mr. Thomas: Access to prevention of mother-to-child transmission of HIV (PMTCT) services is unacceptably low in many sub Saharan African Countries where often less than 5 per cent. of pregnant women are able to access these services. The recent Secretary General's report to the UN reporting on progress for the past five years on AIDS, highlights that only 9 per cent. of HIV positive pregnant women in low and middle income countries have access to PMTCT services.

DFID has been actively engaged in building international consensus, and as co-chair of the Global Steering Committee for the June 2006 HIV/AIDS UNGASS will be pressing for agreement on actions required to scale up services towards universal access to a comprehensive programme of prevention, treatment and care, including access to PMTCT by 2010 with a "Road Map" for future action.

DFID believes that PMTCT is an important prevention measure which should form part of a comprehensive response to HIV prevention, and has encouraged partner countries to integrate PMTCT plans into maternal and child health and sexual & reproductive health services.

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DFID funds are not earmarked for PMTCT, but integrated within AIDS programmes. DFID also works through UN agencies at country level. For example, DFID is currently providing £4 million to

“a universal access to HIV prevention programme with the Joint United Nations Programme for HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) in Rwanda”.

DFID is the second largest donor to UNICEF which is the lead UN agency responsible for PMTCT services under the global task force (GTT) arrangements.

Maternal Health

John Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development when he expects his Department to meet its public service agreement targets on maternal health. [68164]

Hilary Benn: I expect the 2005-08 public service agreement target on maternal health in Asia to be met by 2008. I do not, however, expect the target on maternal health in Africa, to be met by 2008. Progress against this target after 2008 will therefore be subject to further discussion during the next spending review.

The target for Asia is to achieve an increase of 15 percentage points in the proportion of births assisted by skilled birth attendants. The latest estimate is 43 per cent. using data from 2001 to 2003, compared to 38 per cent. in 2000. If the current rate of progress continues, it is estimated that the target should just be achieved by 2008.

The target for Africa is to achieve an increase in the proportion of births assisted by skilled birth attendants by 11 percentage points. The latest estimate is 47 per cent. and increases before 2008 are unlikely. DFID has not yet estimated when this will be achieved.

Further detail on the latest progress against these and all public service agreements will be presented in the 2006 Departmental Report which will be laid before Parliament in the next few days.

Millennium Development Goals

Andrew Gwynne: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what contribution the United Kingdom has made towards achieving the Millennium Development Goals; and what recent assessment his Department has made of the time scale for the goals to be achieved. [67888]

Hilary Benn: The UK's contribution towards achieving the Millennium Development Goals is summarised in DFID's reports of progress towards the 2003-06 and 2005-08 public service agreements (PSAs). Those PSAs are based on the Millennium Development Goals. Progress was last reported in the 2005 Autumn Performance Report which was laid before Parliament in December 2005. Copies of this report are available in the Libraries of the House on the DFID website (www.dfid.gov.uk). Progress will also be reported in DFID's 2006 Departmental Report. This will be laid before Parliament within the next few days.

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DFID has not yet made an assessment of the time scale for each of the goals to be achieved in the period after 2008. The departmental report will however, summarise progress in the key countries in which DFID works.

Public Service Agreements

John Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development which of its public service agreement targets his Department is furthest from meeting. [68166]

Hilary Benn: The most recent assessment of progress towards the public service agreements was outlined in DFID's Autumn Performance Report, which was laid before Parliament in December 2005. Progress will also be reported in DFID's departmental report. This will be laid before Parliament in the next few days.

The six targets in the 2005-08 public service agreement that are currently furthest from being met are:

Sexual Violence

John Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what steps are being taken by his Department to work with Governments in Africa (a) to improve the status of women, (b) to reduce the incidence of sexual violence, particularly during conflict, and (c) to prosecute cases of sexual violence. [68168]

Hilary Benn: There is growing political consensus among member states of the African Union on promoting gender equality and empowerment. A Protocol to the African Charter on Human and Peoples' Rights on the Rights of Women in Africa was ratified in November 2005. A key element is the elimination of discrimination against women. DFID seeks to encourage and support African Governments in their work at country level to put this into practice. DFID has provided financial support to the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA), who has developed an African Gender and Development Index which shows specific gaps in the status of women at country level.

DFID provides financial support for work to reduce violence against women and to provide support for legal assistance in a number of countries in Africa. For
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example, in Sierra Leone, DFID has provided support for Sexual Assault Referral Centres for victims of sexual assault and gender based violence; in Ethiopia it has provided core support to the Ethiopian Women Lawyers Association, who provide legal aid and assistance for issues affecting women; in Uganda DFID supports UNICEF's protection work in northern Uganda, one component of which aims to address sexual and gender based violence; and in Uganda and Ghana DFID provides support to programmes aimed at tackling domestic violence. DFID also provides financial support to the UN Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM) which supports the Trust Fund for the Elimination of Violence Against Women and the Women, Peace and Security Programme.

John Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what steps are being taken by his Department to assist the government of Liberia (a) in reducing the incidence of rape and (b) to prosecute rape cases effectively. [68169]

Hilary Benn: DFID funding to Liberia is mainly channelled through multilateral organisations, such as UN agencies, and the European Commission. To contribute to better public safety, and in response to a request from the UN Secretary General, DFID has recently provided £2.1 million to the United Nations Development Programme Trust Fund for Crisis Prevention and Recovery in Liberia for support to the deactivation of unqualified Liberian National Police (LNP) Officers. The LNP is responsible for maintaining law and order, investigating crime, collecting evidence and arresting and remanding suspects pending trial. Effective reform and rebuilding of the LNP would be a significant step towards providing more security for people, including women. DFID has also contributed £6 million to the disarmament, demobilisation, rehabilitation and reintegration process since 2003, improving safety and security for the population.

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