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6 Jun 2006 : Column 548W—continued

During recent negotiations on the Inter-Institutional Agreement, the overall CFSP budget for the period 2007-13 was agreed at €1,980 million, although it has not yet been decided how this figure will be divided up each year. There is no set figure for an ESDP budget within this, because funding is allocated at short notice in response to crises.

Further details on CFSP and ESDP spending can be found on the Council of the EU’s website at:

Private Members' Bills

Mr. Amess: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if she will list those Private Members’ Bills in respect of which her Department adopted a policy of neutrality in each Session since 2001-02; and if she will make a statement. [72115]

Margaret Beckett: The Foreign and Commonwealth Office has not adopted a policy of neutrality on any Private Members’ Bills on which it has led since the 2001-02 Session.

Written Answers to Questions

Tuesday 6 June 2006

International Development


Mr. Harper: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what account he took of the increase of opium production in 2004-05 in his assessment of the likely success of the alternative livelihoods programmes in Helmand Province, Afghanistan. [74142]

Hilary Benn: During my visit to Helmand on 5 June 2006, I announced a new Helmand Agricultural and Rural Development Programme (HARDP), which will run from 2006 to 2009 with a budget of £30 million. The purpose of HARDP is to increase the economic opportunities of the rural poor in Helmand, including those that make a living from growing and harvesting poppy, through integrated support to improve their livelihood options.

In designing this programme, DFID used extensive UK-funded field studies on the effect of poppy production on households in Helmand. The evidence shows that a variety of forces drive poppy farmers’ decisions, including both poverty and the lack of risk of law enforcement. Providing alternative livelihoods opportunities in itself will not reduce poppy cultivation in Helmand. This requires an integrated approach including assistance, law enforcement, better governance and better security. The UK is helping the Government of Afghanistan to deliver such an approach in Helmand. It will take several years to reduce cultivation substantially.

Arms Trade Treaty

Mr. Wills: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what steps he plans to take to increase his Department’s efforts, resources and capacity to deliver an Arms Trade Treaty. [74442]

Mr. Thomas: Ensuring better regulation of the arms trade is essential for conflict prevention and development. As a result, DFID has worked very closely with the FCO and MOD to promote our commitment to an Arms Trade Treaty (ATT). When the first committee of the UN General Assembly meets this year, the UK will aim to secure a UN resolution which will establish a formal UN-based ATT process. Significant progress has already been made, notably the endorsement of an ATT by the EU Council and Commonwealth Heads of Government and other influential countries such as Brazil.

DFID has contributed to a range of FCO-led initiatives, including the May 2005 meeting of experts at Lancaster House in London and a Geneva meeting of representatives to the Conference on Disarmament in March 2006. DFID and Whitehall partners have
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also developed a joint strategy to encourage other countries and regional bodies to actively promote the ATT. This focuses on building wider support for a first committee resolution, and includes awareness raising events. DFID will use ministerial visits and dialogue with partner countries, regional and international organisations to generate support for a resolution.

In parallel DFID is working closely with the FCO and MOD to strengthen controls over the transfer of small arms and light weapons within the existing UN Programme of Action (UN PoA). Small arms and light weapons (SALW) pose a particular challenge for development because they are widely available in developing countries and are the weapon of choice in the majority of conflicts worldwide. We are working internationally with a wide range of partners in advance of the UN PoA Review Conference in June to build support for global guidelines for national controls governing transfers of SALW.

Child Labour

Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what plans he has to support further the International Labour Organisation declaration to end child labour; and if he will prepare a specific millennium development goal to achieve this objective. [73783]

Mr. Thomas: The UK is a leading supporter of the International Labour Organisation's (ILO) Declaration on Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work. We have ratified all eight core conventions which it incorporates, included those on the elimination of child labour. DFID is a major funder of ILO's technical cooperation programmes including the ‘International Programme for the Elimination of Child Labour’. We welcome the encouraging evidence in the ILO's latest global report which indicates a significant fall in the number of child labourers worldwide, particularly those in the worst forms of child labour.

We remain committed to the outcome statement of the United Nations World summit review of the Millennium Development Goals (MDG). It acknowledged the importance of decent work and particularly the elimination of the worst forms of child labour in achieving the MDGs. We do not believe this requires the creation of a new MDG.

Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what recent discussions he has had with the TUC on ways to help eradicate child labour. [73784]

Mr. Thomas: My right hon. Friend, the Secretary of State for International Development meets regularly with the Trade Union Congress (TUC) and representatives of trade unions. However they have not recently discussed the eradication of child labour.

DFID is a strong supporter of the elimination of child labour. Trade unions are important partners in this work. They are, for example, actively involved in the International Labour Organisation's programme for the elimination of child labour in Andhra Pradesh, India, which is funded by DFID. They are also active members of the DFID funded Ethical Trading
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Initiative. This is an organisation in which trade unions work with business and NGOs to ensure the working conditions in companies supplying the UK meet or exceed international labour standards, including eliminating child labour from the work force.

Cuban Medical Delegation

Colin Burgon: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what assessment the Department's officials in Pakistan made of the contribution of the Cuban medical delegation after the October 2005 earthquake in deciding on the UK's contribution; and if he will make a statement. [73516]

Mr. Thomas: The Cuban Field hospital and medical staff filled a critical gap and was highly appreciated. DFID did not conduct a specific assessment of this contribution, but took it and contributions from all other donors into account when deciding on DFID's own contribution. In total, DFID committed more than £54 million to the relief effort, and has pledged a further £70 million to longer term reconstruction.

Colin Burgon: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what discussions he has had with the Cuban Government on sharing information drawn from the experience of the Cuban medical delegation in disaster relief. [73517]

Mr. Thomas: The Department for International Development has had no discussions with the Cuban Government on the experience of the Cuban medical delegation in disaster relief.

Cuban/Venezuelan Eyesight Care Programme

Dr. Gibson: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what assessment he has made of the extension to Africa and the poorest people of North America of the Cuban/Venezuelan ‘Operation Miracle’ eyesight care programme. [73518]

Mr. Thomas: DFID has not been involved with the ‘Operation Miracle’ Eyesight care programme in Latin America and the Caribbean, and has therefore not assessed its extension to Africa. We do not have any programmes in North America and have therefore made no assessment of its extension to the poorest people of North America.

However, DFID supports a number of programmes which address preventable causes of serious eye disease and blindness. For example, DFID provided £5.6 million through the World Bank for the African Programme for Onchocerciasis Control (APOC) between 2001-02 and 2006-07. DFID also contributed £12.5 million to the World Health Organisation (WHO) in 2005 towards its Global Elimination of Blinding Trachoma Programme. We also support civil society organisations such as Vision 2020 through our contribution to the WHO, and acknowledge the role of NGOs in the provision of preventive, treatment and support services for people with visual impairment.

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Human Trafficking

Mr. Jeremy Browne: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what support his Department is giving to non-governmental organisations abroad who work to prevent and support victims of human trafficking. [74996]

Mr. Thomas: The main channel for DFID funding for the prevention and support of victims of human trafficking is the International Labour Organisation (ILO). DFID support includes a commitment of over £8 million to the ILO’s programme in the Greater Mekong Region, covering Vietnam, Laos, Thailand and China. The programme supports NGOs and other civil society groups to inform and educate communities about trafficking and to stimulate additional livelihood opportunities. DFID has also provided £1.6 million to a linked project managed by Save the Children. In Burma, DFID has provided £235,000 to support the work of World Vision to raise awareness among community members and community organisations about the risks of trafficking. In Nepal, DFID is providing £258,000 to a Just World Partners’ programme to prevent trafficking of young people for prostitution.


Mr. Gregory Campbell: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what assessment he has made of the situation in Kenya in relation to international aid and continuing allegations of corruption. [66956]

Hilary Benn: DFID has made a thorough assessment of corruption in Kenya and its implications for our assistance. I had frank and direct discussion with President Kibaki about this when I visited Kenya in January. Since then, considerable action, including the removal of three senior Ministers, has taken place in response to public pressure following the release of the Githongo dossier and the release of the Goldenberg Report. This is an encouraging start but Kenyans are calling for more to demonstrate full political accountability. When I met President Kibaki again recently, I stressed the importance of continued progress in the investigations.

The UK does not provide direct budget support to Kenya precisely because of our concerns about corruption, and all DFID’s projects have rigorous safeguards to ensure that our assistance is not being misdirected.

For example, all our projects work through special, earmarked and fully audited accounts, independent financial management agents or are provided directly to non-government organisations or other direct service delivery. All projects over £1 million are subject to annual reviews and audits, and expenditure is closely tracked. Accountable grants to non-governmental organisations are paid retrospectively only once invoices have been checked and the spending is accounted for. Occasional cases of fraud do still occur, but are investigated immediately and swift and decisive action taken.

Despite recent announcements that the Dutch Government has frozen any new commitments to Kenya, I do not foresee the corruption allegations making a significant impact on international assistance in the short term. Most of the development agencies,
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including DFID, believe that just because poor people live in a country where corruption is a major problem, it does not mean that they do not deserve our assistance. In Kenya our assistance is improving many lives. Our support will mean textbooks for each of the 18,500 primary schools in Kenya and 12,000 new classrooms. It will also deliver 11 million insecticide treated bednets, saving 167,000 children’s lives. We have provided £23.7 million to drought affected regions of Kenya since December 2005.


Mr. MacShane: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development pursuant to the answer of 13 March 2006, Official Report, column 1927W to the hon. Member for Romford (Andrew Rosindell), on aid expenditure, for what reasons the amounts of aid paid to the Maldives vary from 2000-01 to 2004-05. [74555]

Mr. Thomas: DFID has no regular bilateral assistance programme to the Maldives because it is relatively wealthy and our limited finances are better used in poorer countries where needs are greater. However since 2001 support for small developmental programmes has been provided through the Small Grants Scheme (SGS) which, though financed by DFID until 2005, is managed by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. The SGS has focused almost exclusively on training awards. These targeted public officials in the health and education sectors and on governance, with a focus on:

The allocation to Maldives has been some £200,000 per year. Disbursements however vary according to the pace of programme implementation, the duration of the contracts, and the type of training or study financed.

In 2005, following the Asian tsunami, DFID provided £1.7 million to the Maldives for emergency humanitarian assistance. These funds were channelled through the United Nations and the Red Cross.

Mr. MacShane: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what conditionality is applied to his Department's aid to the Maldives in respect of human rights. [74437]

Mr. Thomas: DFID does not provide regular bilateral assistance to the Maldives because of their relative wealth. Our limited resources are better used in poorer countries where needs are greater.

Immediately following the Asian tsunami in 2004 DFID provided some £1.7 million in emergency assistance, channelled largely through the United Nation Development Programme, the United Nations Environmental Programme, the World Health Organisation and the Red Cross. Given the urgent humanitarian nature of this support no conditions were imposed.

Mark Simmonds: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what assessment he has made of the effectiveness of the EU donation to the Maldives
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for financing projects for (a) the reconstruction and development of the tourist industry and (b) environmental protection and disaster prevention in areas affected by the tsunami. [74844]

Mr. Thomas: DFID provided £1.7 million in emergency assistance to the Maldives immediately after the tsunami. Our support was channelled largely through the United Nations Development Programme, the United Nations Environmental Programme and the World Health Organisation and the Red Cross. However we do not maintain a regular programme to the islands and have not provided any subsequent assistance. The Maldives are relatively wealthy and our limited resources are better used in poorer countries where needs are greater. DFID has not therefore undertaken an assessment of the effectiveness and impact of individual European Commission programmes.

However, DFID does monitor overall recovery in the Maldives, drawing on reports produced by the International Monetary Fund and other development agencies. It is encouraging to note that the fishing and tourist industries, the mainstay of the country’s economy, have recovered very strongly following the tsunami. Economic growth is expected to be between 12 per cent. and 13 per cent. in 2006, restoring the pre-tsunami growth trend.

Government and donors are well aware of the difficult environmental challenges facing the Maldives, including the problem of differential settlement of the substructure of the islands following the tsunami. This issue adds to the complexity and expense of the reconstruction task, but is being taken into account when designing recovery programmes.

UN Peacebuilding Commission

Mrs. Curtis-Thomas: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what assessment he has made of the effectiveness of the UN Peacebuilding Commission. [74832]

Mr. Thomas: As the UN Peacebuilding Commission is due to have its first meeting at the end of June, we have not yet been able to assess its effectiveness. However, as a member of the Organisational Committee of the Peacebuilding Commission, the UK will be monitoring its effectiveness closely.

Northern Ireland

Attacks on NHS Premises/Staff

Mrs. Iris Robinson: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland how many attacks on (a) NHS staff, (b) patients and (c) visitors have occurred (i) at GP practices and (ii) in the Province in each of the last five years. [74579]

Paul Goggins: The information is not available in the requested format from GP practices, who are independent contractors to the health and personal social services and are not required to provide this information to Health and Social Services Boards. To provide the
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information from GP practices would require a survey of all GP practices in Northern Ireland and would be at a disproportionate cost.

The information in respect of NHS staff, patients and visitors in the Province is not held centrally by the Department before 2004 and will take some time to collate from the health and personal social services. I will write to the hon. Member with the information as soon as it is available and place a copy in the Library.

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