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Education and Skills

Alternative Education

Harry Cohen: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what policy he has for alternative education for the socially excluded; and if he will make a statement. [72840]

Jim Knight: Every person of compulsory school age has a right to education. For those who cannot be educated in mainstream schools for whatever reason, local authorities have a duty to make arrangements for these children to receive suitable alternative education. Where alternative education is provided, local authorities must ensure the appropriateness of the education taking account of the learners’ age, ability, and aptitude and to any other educational needs they may have.


David Simpson: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what discounts are available in relation to hotel accommodation used by (a) civil servants and (b) special advisers in his Department. [69037]

Mr. Dhanda: The Department uses a formal contract with a hotel booking agent to book rooms required for overnight stays on official business. On average the Department receives 8 per cent. discount on room bookings and is charged a management fee by the Agent for the administration of the contract.

PE Teachers

Mr. Swire: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills how many sports and physical education teachers have been employed in schools in England in each year since 1997. [73234]

Jim Knight: Information on subject teaching is collected in periodic staffing surveys. Estimates from the two most recent surveys show that number of full-time teachers in maintained secondary schools teaching physical education, to year groups 7 to 13, was 20,000 in 1996 and 21,400 in 2002.

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School Sports

Mr. Swire: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills how much his Department has spent on school sports facilities in each year since 1994. [73235]

Jim Knight: Central records on capital expenditure are held from 1996-97. Information on capital expenditure on school sports facilities is not held centrally, as decisions on how resources should be invested in schools, including sports facilities, are taken by each local authority and its schools in accordance with their priorities and locally prepared asset management plans.

The following table sets out the total capital resources allocated to local authorities and schools since 1996-97.

£ billion























Capital allocations to local authorities and schools are higher than ever before, and are planned to rise to £6.3 billion in 2007-08.

International Development

Asian Tsunami

Stephen Hesford: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what estimate he has made of the total amount of (a) relief and (b) development overseas aid Sri Lanka has received since the tsunami in December 2004. [71635]

Mr. Thomas: The total cost of tsunami rehabilitation and recovery in Sri Lanka has been estimated at£1.3 billion. Support in excess of £1.7 billion has been pledged, plus a further £800 million from non-governmental organisations. The Government of Sri Lanka’s Development Assistance Database records most major recovery programmes and shows that to date approximately £650 million has been disbursed on 686 projects and programmes. There will also be a range of programmes, particularly in the NGO sector, which are not recorded on the database. Within these figures, DFID has committed £19.8 million for tsunami relief of which some £18.8 million has been disbursed. In addition we have pledged some £41 million for debt relief, of which approximately £4 million has been spent.

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At present, the database does not record non-tsunami expenditure and there is no consolidated and up to date record of all donor flows. The latest figures available are for 2003, during which Sri Lanka received approximately £395 million in Official Development Assistance. The UK contributed £7.2 million of this amount.


Mr. Hancock: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what steps he (a) is taking and (b) plans to take to assist the internally displaced Karen, Karenni and Shan people in eastern Burma. [71177]

Mr. Thomas: DFID provides direct support to the internally displaced Karen, Karenni and Shan people in eastern Burma through the International Committee of the Red Cross, to which we provide £500,000 a year, of which approximately 75 per cent. is attributable to work with displaced people in this area. These funds are able to reach internally displaced people in areas where fighting is actually occurring.

In addition, our health, education and rural livelihood projects provide assistance in eastern Burma, and support internally displaced people who have resettled there, as well as other vulnerable people. For example, in Karen State, our fund for HIV/AIDS in Myanmar enables World Vision to deliver projects in two townships, Save the Children UK in four townships and Care in five townships, as well as funding other national NGOs. DFID-funded projects supporting the development of rural livelihoods, and pre-primary education are both about to start in Karen State.

In response to the growing numbers of internally displaced people in eastern Burma, we are providing finance which enables the provision of emergency support through local community groups. We will continue to monitor the situation closely and assess whether we need to supplement those funds.


Keith Vaz: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development if he will list the companies which were paid consultancy fees by his Department in 2005-06; how much each was paid; and what each of the companies was used to accomplish. [69691]

Hilary Benn: I have arranged for copies of the document entitled ‘Paid Consultant Fees: 1 April 2005 to 31 March 2006’ which gives details of the companies and the fees paid to them by the Department for International Development (DFID), to be placed in the Libraries of the House. The terms of reference are specific to each contract and are generally part of a larger project which has been agreed by overseas partners. The contract titles on the report reflect the type of activity carried out. The report does not include low value contracts issued by DFID's overseas offices, of which there are no consolidated central
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records. It would require disproportionate cost to produce a list of these contracts.

Democratic Republic of Congo

Mr. Hands: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development if he will make a statement on the work his Department is undertaking in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. [72811]

Hilary Benn: DFID has a rapidly increasing programme of development assistance in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). In 2001-02 the UK had a £7 million programme of humanitarian aid. In 2005-06, the UK spent approximately £57 million on a package of emergency humanitarian aid and longer term development activity. We have £63 million available this financial year. Since October 2005, DFID has had a fully devolved office of 33 staff in the DRC (11 UK based and 22 staff appointed in country). The UK is committed to supporting poverty reduction and sustainable development in the DRC in the long-term.

Our current programme in the DRC is divided into four themes that reflect the transition context in the country—the first democratic elections for 40 years are due to be held this summer. As the DRC moves out of transition, the nature of our engagement will evolve accordingly. Where possible, we work in a collaborative or harmonised way with other partners and, as far as we can, in support of the Government's processes and systems.

We are in the process of developing a full Country Assistance Plan for the DRC—which will be completed over the course of 2006, after discussion with the new Government. We will do this as much as possible in conjunction with other donors.

Our current transition programme follows the following themes:

Security and the Rule of Law

Support for the disarmament, demobilisation and reintegration of ex-combatants through the Multi-Country Demobilisation and Re-integration Programme (MDRP), support to army integration, reform of the police and justice sector, and local level peace building and dialogue initiatives through non-governmental organisations (NGOs).

Functioning State

This includes support for the transition institutions (such as the Parliament, Electoral Commission and High Media Authority), the establishment of a professional and impartial media sector, and preparation for elections. The UK is the largest bilateral donor to the electoral process in the DRC.


Support for infrastructure within the Government's reconstruction plan, especially transport links; the development of a poverty reduction strategy (PRSP); support to the social sectors (health, education and water) largely through NGQs; and the fight against HIV/AIDS through UNAIDS and NGOs.

Natural Resources and Enhanced Revenue Generation

We have funded research by Global Witness into the current state of natural resources management in the DRC. We are supporting the implementation of the
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Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI) in the DRC and developing our plans for further support for effective and transparent natural resource extraction and the re-establishment of border control systems.


Around half of our programme is spent on humanitarian interventions either through UN agencies or NGOs, to address the complex and chronic humanitarian emergency that has faced the people of the DRC since the war. Our funding is principally channelled to the UN's Action Plan for the DRC through its pooled donor funding mechanism.

Mr. Hands: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what plans he has to visit the Democratic Republic of the Congo. [72812]

Hilary Benn: I hope to visit the Democratic Republic of the Congo in the autumn; once the elections have finished and the new government is installed.

Departmental Credit Cards

David Simpson: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what facility is available for senior civil servants in his Department to use credit cards supplied by the Department. [70508]

Mr. Thomas: The Department for International Development (DFID) operates a Mastercard system supplied by the NatWest bank, under an arrangement set up by the Welsh Procurement Initiative. The card is used for low-value, high-volume purchases by senior civil servants as required. It has both individual and overall spending limits, and usage is closely monitored to ensure compliance with Government accounting rules.

Genetic Resources

Joan Ruddock: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development (1) what assistance his Department has provided to enable countries to consider different forms of sui generis systems for plant varieties; and what studies his Department has carried out to assess the impact of Trade-Related Intellectual Property Rights on the availability of seeds for farmers and researchers in developing countries; [72659]

(2) what studies his Department has carried out to assess the effectiveness of different forms of sui generis systems for plant varieties for allowing continuing access by farmers and researchers to seeds; [72660]

(3) what assistance his Department has provided to developing countries to develop a definition of ‘micro-organisms’ to enable free access to genetic resources consistent with Trade-Related Intellectual Property Rights; and what studies his Department has carried out to assist the development of such a definition; [72661]

(4) what measures his Department has taken to support developing countries to restrict the application of patents to plant and animal genetic resources in
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ways which are consistent with Trade-Related Property Intellectual Rights; [72662]

(5) what assistance his Department has provided for the purpose of ensuring that patent protection legislation in developing countries includes specific exemptions for plant breeding and research and the harvested seed intended for re-sowing by the producing farmer; and what studies his Department has carried out to assist the development of such legislation; [72663]

(6) what his Department's policy is on preserving the rights of countries not to grant patents for plants and animals, includes genes and genetically modified plants and animals, in order to protect varieties for research and breeding, to provide for the rights of farmers to save and plant-back seed and to allow informal sale and exchange of seeds. [72664]

Mr. Thomas: The UK Government believe that the question of patenting of plants and animals should be carefully considered by developing countries. The UK Government also strongly believe that the flexibilities contained in the Trade Related aspects of Intellectual Property Rights agreement, Article 27.3(b), are important and should be used. The TRIPs agreement indeed allows the World Trade Organisation members to exclude plant varieties from patentability. However, the WTO members are required to provide for plant varieties protection either by patents or by an effective sui generis system or by any combination thereof. The TRIPS agreement also makes clear that WTO members have to provide patents for inventions involving microbiological and non-biological processes, which would include genetic modification technology.

The UK Government agree that sui generis systems for protecting plant varieties may be a more suitable option for many developing countries.

There are a certain number of issues to consider when restricting the application of patenting in agricultural biotechnology. The interpretation of the TRIPS provisions is one of them, as there is no agreed international legal definition of “micro-organism”. We believe that it is legitimate for the WTO member states to make a reasonable definition of “micro-organism” for themselves. The UK Government are also of the view that developing countries could consider in sui generis systems the use of exceptions to exclusive rights for research and plant breeding purpose, as well as to enable farmers to save and plant back seed, including the possibility of informal exchange and sale.

The UK Government are supporting the rapid implementation of the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture which came into force in 2004. The ITPGRFA has the objective to facilitate access to genetic resources, and recognises the contribution of farmers in conserving, improving and making these resources available. It also covers the question of farmer’s rights. DFID supported the International Plant Genetic Research Institute in advising the FAO on development of the ITPGRFA.

DFID has funded analytical work that takes these issues into consideration. DFID provided support to the Secretariat of the independent UK Commission on Intellectual Property Rights, which reported in
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September 2002 and provided a breakthrough analysis of the implications of intellectual property protection for development. DFID has since provided funding for a UNCTAD—International Centre for Trade and Sustainable Development joint project on intellectual property in Geneva, as well as work carried out by the Quaker United Nations Office in Geneva. These projects have produced highly valued analytical papers, technical dialogues and research cooperation projects with regional institutions, covering agricultural and plant variety patent protection.

DFID has not provided any direct technical assistance or capacity building support to developing countries to help them define restrictions to the application of patenting in agricultural biotechnology in a manner consistent with the TRIPS Agreement. DFID’s development assistance is recipient driven, and countries are defining their own development priorities. Should interested developing countries formulate future requests for assistance in these issues, DFID will consider how to answer such needs. Specialised international and national intellectual property agencies or offices are technically better placed to provide such assistance and the UK Patent Office has provided training and assistance to developing countries and less developed countries when requested.

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