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David Simpson: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what the total cost was of (a) staff away days and (b) staff team building exercises in his Department in each of the last three years. [69019]

Mr. Thomas: DFID does not separately record its expenditure on staff away days and staff team building exercises, and therefore is unable to provide the breakdown requested without incurring a disproportionate cost.

DFID is committed to ensuring staff have the right skills and expertise to meet our commitment to the internationally agreed Millennium Development Goals. In November 2005, DFID launched a new “People Strategy”, which outlined our vision and commitments on how we will lead, manage, develop and support our people over the next three years. Individual departments within DFID plan and manage development away days and team building exercises for their staff in accordance with their specific needs in the context of business planning, continual professional development and performance improvement. Costs are usually met through delegated divisional or departmental training budgets.

Disabled Children (Developing Countries)

Dr. Starkey: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development if he will list the projects his Department is funding to ensure disabled children are given access to education in developing countries. [69555]

Mr. Thomas: All children, including those with disabilities or living in difficult circumstances, should have equal access to a good quality basic education. DFID is committed to working with the Governments of developing countries towards the education of all children, including those with disabilities.

DFID's policy on social exclusion is laid out in its September 2005 policy paper entitled ‘Reducing poverty by tackling social exclusion'. The paper sets out how DFID will build on the work that is already under way and some practical actions that DFID is taking to tackle social exclusion and make a real difference to the lives of excluded people.

Also, DFID's strategy paper of last year, ‘Girls' education: towards a better future for all' recognised that certain groups of girls are more likely to be excluded from school on the basis of caste, ethnicity, religion or disability and that disabled children, and among them disabled girls in particular, constitute a significant group that is denied access to education. The challenge is to support governments to provide quality education for excluded groups.

It is not possible, without incurring a disproportionate cost, to identify a comprehensive list of projects supported by DFID which include supporting disabled children's right to education. DFID's approach is to support developing country governments' own education plans rather than directly manage discrete projects. In India, for example, DFID has supported through its country programme, the District Primary Education Programme, which promotes inclusive education, and some states have been successful in integrating disabled children into
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mainstream schools. In Vietnam, DFID has co-financed with the Government of Vietnam, the World Bank and other donors the Primary Education for Disadvantaged Children programme, a £243 million project which was launched in October 2003 and includes a strong focus on primary education for disabled children.

DFID also provides funding through UK non-governmental organisations to support projects that benefit disabled people and advocate for disabled people's rights. DFID has partnership agreements with a number of organisations that support disability-focused activities, such as World Vision, HelpAge International, Save the Children and VSO, among others. In addition, through our partner, Action on Disability and Development, with whom we have a six-year Programme Partnership Agreement, we work to promote greater participation and inclusion of disabled people and their organisations in decision-making processes, particularly on partner governments' Poverty Reduction Strategies.

Farming (India)

John Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what steps are being taken by his Department (a) to modernise agricultural practices, (b) to increase productivity and (c) to improve access to credit for farmers in India. [68172]

Mr. Thomas: Agriculture in India is generally a success story. India is self-sufficient in staple grain crops in most years and stores a substantial surplus. The so-called ‘green revolution' has been the main driving force behind this success, promoting the use of improved crop varieties and fertilisers in areas with access to irrigation.

However, the benefits of new technologies have not been equitably distributed. DFID's focus has been on improving the livelihoods of farmers and other rural people in rain-fed areas which are not suited to the particular packages of improvements offered by the green revolution. The focus on livelihoods, rather than agriculture, recognises that poor people are often landless and depend on a diverse range of activities to support themselves. However, DFID-supported projects have developed and tested appropriate new agricultural technologies and tools in these areas that have resulted in increases in production and income, more efficient and sustainable use of soil and water resources and reduction of hard manual labour, particularly for women. Some examples are treadle pumps for small-scale irrigation, seed drills and paddy rice transplanters, which have made work easier as well as contributing to improvements in production.

Consistent with this approach, DFID has concentrated on micro-credit rather than agricultural credit. DFID is working with the Small Industries Development Bank of India (SIDBI) to develop the capacity of micro-finance institutions to on-lend to individuals or groups. Approximately 45 per cent. of these loans are for agriculture, livestock, fisheries or related activities. DFID's rural livelihoods projects incorporate revolving funds at the village level to support agriculture, livestock and micro-enterprise activities.

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Fledgling Democracies

Mr. Clifton-Brown: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development pursuant to the answer of 27 April 2006, Official Report, columns 1231-32W, on fledgling democracies, why his Department does not track multilateral aid; and what mechanisms are in place in his Department to evaluate the effectiveness of the programmes which UK aid funds. [68210]

Mr. Thomas: DFID reviews the effectiveness of all bilateral projects over £1 million at least once a year. This includes money which DFID country programmes channel through multilateral agencies since according to international convention this aid is classified as bilateral. DFID has a public service agreement target to achieve a sustained increase in the quality of DFID's bilateral projects. DFID reports progress towards this target in the Departmental Report and the Autumn Performance Report. This year's Departmental Report will be published on 9(th) May.

This monitoring system cannot track core contributions to multilateral agencies because these funds are pooled. However, DFID uses a Multilateral Effectiveness Framework and other assessments to evaluate the performance of the multilateral agencies. During 2004, DFID used the Multilateral Effectiveness Framework to assess 23 multilateral agencies against their objectives. These objectives were agreed jointly with DFID and set out in an Institutional Strategy Paper. These institutional strategies are publicly available. DFID uses the results of the Multilateral Effectiveness Frameworks and other mechanisms to inform decisions around funding for the multilateral agencies.


John Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development (1) what estimate he has made of the percentage of pregnant women with HIV/AIDS in developing countries who receive (a) information, (b) drugs and (c) antenatal treatment in order to prevent transmission of the virus to the child; [68161]

(2) what steps are being taken by his Department to link HIV/AIDS and family planning policies, with particular reference to the use of condoms; [68162]

(3) what assessment he has made of the relationship between steps taken to improve maternal health and the achievement of HIV/AIDS targets. [68163]

Mr. Thomas: There is a close relationship in action to improve reproductive health and family planning, maternal health and to make progress on HIV and AIDS. Closing the gap in unmet needs for family planning would make a big contribution to helping to lower maternal mortality. Sexual and reproductive health services are vital in ensuring that women have a choice about if and when to have children, and play a key role in helping them avoid sexually transmitted infection including HIV, including through condom provision.

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HIV pregnant women with HIV and AIDS are four times more likely to die in pregnancy and childbirth than uninfected women. Women with HIV need care and services in pregnancy to help protect their own health and to help prevent transmission of HIV to their babies. The United Nations Secretary-General's progress report on the 2001 Declaration of Commitment on HIV and AIDS, released in April, estimates that only9 per cent. of HIV positive women in low and middle income countries currently receive antiretroviral drugs to prevent mother to child transmission of HIV. In countries with weak health systems this falls to less than 1 per cent.

DFID is working to support stronger health systems, with more adequate staff, equipment and drug supplies that are needed to improve access to HIV treatment, as well as to provide women with the care needed in pregnancy, especially when complications arise. Sustained improvements in maternal health and AIDS prevention, treatment and care will in large part depend on strengthening basic health services. Access to sexual and reproductive health and family planning services must be an essential part of this effort, and we are working to ensure that the forthcoming United Nations General Assembly High Level Meeting on AIDS in June gives a clear and strong message on the importance of sexual and reproductive health to efforts to make progress in HIV and AIDS.


Mr. Keith Simpson: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development pursuant to the answer to my right hon. Friend the Member for Richmond, Yorkshire (Mr. Hague), of 18 April 2006, Official Report, column 529W, on Palestine, if he will place in the Library a copy of the accounts of the Palestinian Authority audited by PricewaterhouseCoopers. [69175]

Hilary Benn: PricewaterhouseCoopers have not yet completed their audit of the Palestinian Authority's accounts for 2003-04, although we expect them to do so shortly. As soon as the audit is completed and the details published a copy of the audit report will be placed in the Libraries of the House.

Shan Refugees (Thailand)

John Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what recent discussions he has had with the Government of Thailand about the treatment of Shan refugees living in Thailand. [68242]

Mr. Thomas: Discussion with the Government of Thailand about the treatment of Shan refugees living in Thailand is carried out by the British embassy in Bangkok through the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR). The UNHCR's advocacy efforts with the Government of Thailand aim to improve the situation in the Burmese refugee camps in Thailand and to bring
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about a relaxation of the regulations prohibiting freedom of movement and employment outside the camps. In light of the fact that the Government of Thailand have agreed to expand resettlement opportunities from the camps, the UNHCR is stepping up its efforts to promote alternative solutions for Burmese refugees.

Sub-Saharan Africa

Chris Ruane: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development how many trade delegations to the UK from each sub-Saharan country have received funding from the Department's bilateral country programme since 1997. [67818]

Mr. Thomas: DFID provides some support to sub-Saharan African countries for the development and facilitation of their national policies on trade, and specific issues like tourism, through its bilateral programmes. Much of DFID's support on trade to sub-Saharan Africa is provided regionally through programmes such as the Capacity-Building for Trade Policy and Negotiations and the Southern Africa Trade and Poverty Programme, and multilaterally through institutions like the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).

Governments can access funds for trade delegations to the UK and other destinations from a variety of sources, many supported by DFID funds, such as the World Trade Organisation (WTO) Trust Fund for Least Developed Country Travel managed by UNCTAD. This information is not held centrally and would involve a disproportionate cost to collect. For example, a delegation of developing country trade negotiators including from sub-Saharan Africa came to the UK at the end of last year. This was funded by the European Development Fund, to which the UK makes subscriptions.


Departmental Staff

David Simpson: To ask the Solicitor-General what opportunities exist for people to work beyond retirement age in his Department. [68987]

The Solicitor-General: I am answering this question on behalf of my Department’s, the Crown Prosecution Service, Serious Fraud Office, Revenue and Customs Prosecutions Office, Treasury Solicitor's Department and HMCPS Inspectorate.

In all the Departments the normal retirement age for members of the senior civil service is 60. However heads of Departments have the flexibility to retain
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members of the SCS beyond 60 if they judge it to be in the public interest and are satisfied about the fitness and efficiency of the individual to carry out his or her duties. This flexibility has been used from time to time.

For staff below the SCS all Departments have reviewed, or are reviewing their retirement policies.

For the CPS the normal retirement age is 60, though former local authority staff that joined the CPS in 1986 retain the contractual right to remain in service until age 65, under the CPS (Transfer of Staff) Regulations 1985.

Staff at level E and below may give notice of their intention to remain beyond age 60. All other staff must demonstrate that they meet the normal requirements of their level in terms of performance, attendance and conduct.

The SFO has a flexible retirement policy covering staff below the SCS. The policy offers a minimum retirement age of 60 years at which employees may opt to retire and receive full accrued superannuation benefits as of right. Employees cannot remain in employment beyond the day prior to their 65(th) birthday.

The Revenue and Customs Prosecutions Office has now adopted a retirement policy that enables staff to continue working until the maximum age of 65.

The Treasury Solicitor's Department raised its normal retirement age for people below the SCS from 60 to 65 on 1 June 2006. The Department now allows people to retire at any time between the ages of 60 and 65.

HMCPS Inspectorate has decided not to change its policy, pending the creation of a single cjs inspectorate currently being debated in the Police and Justice Bill.

Prime Minister

Foreign Criminals

Mr. Andrew Turner: To ask the Prime Minister pursuant to his answer of 3 May 2006, Official Report, column 968, what advice he relied on for his statement that the Human Rights Act 1998 does not prevent the automatic deportation of foreign criminals on completion of their sentence. [70150]

The Prime Minister: I refer the hon. Member to the answers I gave at my monthly press conference on 8 May 2006, a transcript of which is available on the No.10 website.

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Ministerial Duties (Deputy Prime Minister)

James Duddridge: To ask the Prime Minister if he will list the (a) responsibilities, (b) salary and (c) nature and value of official benefits-in-kind of each Minister in (i) the Offiice of the Deputy Prime Minister before the week beginning 1 May and (ii) the Department for Communities and Local Government in the week beginning 8 May; [70031]

Mr. Duncan: To ask the Prime Minister what duties he has allocated to the Deputy Prime Minister that relate to the responsibilities of the Department for Trade and Industry. [69875]

The Prime Minister: A full list of the Government and details of machinery of Government changes were announced on 5 May. Copies are available in the Libraries of the House and on the No. 10 website. Details of salaries paid to Ministers are available in the Libraries of the House.

Ministerial Residences

Mr. Gordon Prentice: To ask the Prime Minister what criteria he used in allocating official residences to members of the Government. [69871]

The Prime Minister: I act in accordance with the way previous Prime Ministers have allocated official residences.


Mr. Gordon Prentice: To ask the Prime Minister whether Cameron Mackintosh was offered a peerage; and if he will make a statement. [69883]

The Prime Minister: It has been the practice of successive Governments not to comment on nominations for honours and peerages.

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