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12 Jun 2006 : Column 945Wcontinued
Antigua and Barbuda
St. Kitts and Nevis
Mr. Vaizey: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport what recent discussions she has had with HM Revenue and Customs on its decision to tax cafe and shop discounts for the Friends of the Victoria and Albert Museum as a benefit in kind; and if she will make a statement. 
I have had no discussions with HM Revenue and Customs on this issue. Changes to the benefits offered to the Friends of the Victoria and
Albert Museum (V&A) were made by the Friends organisation itself in response to the findings of an internal tax review and on the advice of an independent tax expert. Under Gift Aid rules, which apply to all charities, the Friends of the V&A is not permitted to give benefits worth more than 25 per cent. of their subscription cost to each member. The Friends scheme has made some changes to the benefits that it offers to its members to ensure it remains within this threshold.
Hugh Robertson: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport how much money has been allocated to the Whole Sport Plan; how much has been spent; and whether any money from within that budget is allocated to (a) the 2012 Olympics and (b) related purposes. 
Mr. Caborn: Sport Englands total Whole Sport Plan budget, which covers the four years 2005-09, is £165.7 million. This is split between 34 priority and development sports. A proportion of the budget is also currently used to fund a further 12 sports, albeit at lower levels than priority and development sports. This element of funding is currently under review.
Of the above, £158.5 million has been committed(1) so far.
There is no amount within the budget allocated specifically to 2012 Olympics or related purposes. However, Whole Sport Plan investment is a key part of Sport Englands overall drive to strengthen grassroots and community sport as part of achieving a lasting 2012 legacy.
(1) Figures expressed as committed rather than spent are more stable and provide a truer expression of the amount of budget still available to be allocated.
Mark Durkan: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what steps his Department is taking to build and strengthen the capacity of the medical sector within African countries, with particular reference to measures to retain health workers. 
Hilary Benn: Strengthening health services in Africa is a DFID priority and we have contributed over £650 million to this since 2000. At Gleneagles in 2005, the UK pushed for a G8 commitment to strengthening African health systems and addressing the human resources for health crisis. Providing long-term predictable financing for expanding basic health services will be a priority for 2006 and beyond.
DFID is tackling both push and pull incentives for health worker migration. In the UK, DFID has worked closely with the Department of Health to prevent the targeting of developing countries in the international recruitment of health care professionals.
A list of countries has been agreed from which the NHS does not actively recruitincluding all sub-Saharan African countries. In addition, the Department of Health has brokered a groundbreaking agreement for this code to apply to major players in the UK independent health care sector.
But health worker shortages go beyond migration and international recruitment. There is also migration within countries from rural to urban areas and between countries in Africa, and health professionals also move into non-health careers.
In Africa, DFID has responded to health worker shortages through our support for health systems development. This will help countries deal with the push factors within their health systems such as poor pay, housing, training and career progression, job satisfaction and availability of equipment and drugs. For example, in Malawi, where the shortage of health workers is particularly severe, we have provided £100 million support to the health sector of which £55 million is earmarked for the Emergency Human Resources Programme.
DFID is also continuing to work with the Department of Health to further develop the NHS Links programme and the Tropical Health Education Trust (THET) programme of support to health workers from less developed countries practising in the UK.
Mark Durkan: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what steps his Department is taking to help African governments abolish healthcare fees; and what recent assessment he has made of whether the targets agreed at the G8 summit in 2005 will be met. 
Mr. Thomas: DFID strongly supports the removal of official user fees for health, along with other barriers to the poor accessing health services, where governments choose to do so. For example, the UK has committed £14.5 million over five years to the Government of Zambia to support abolition of health user fees in public health facilities. In addition to our ongoing health sector reform programmes, we continue to look for opportunities to support similar policies to remove barriers to the poor accessing care.
DFID publishes a monthly update to the Gleneagles Implementation Plan for Africa, which set out the milestones to be reached this year as a step towards delivery of the Gleneagles commitments. Copies of the updated plan are placed monthly in the Libraries of both Houses. DFID also published a detailed report in March this year on the Implementation of the Commission for Africa recommendations and G8 Gleneagles' commitment on poverty. Both the Plan and the report can be accessed from DFlD's website (www.dfid.gov.uk).
At an international level, there will be a statement at the G8 St Petersburg summit on 15-17 July 2006 on progress made in delivery of the Gleneagles' commitments on Africa.
At Gleneagles, the G8 agreed that the existing Africa Partnership Forum (APF) should be strengthened to monitor commitments made by Africa, the G8 and
other development partners. An APF support unit is being established and is due to publish its first progress report in October 2006.
Mrs. Moon: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what steps his Department plans to take to monitor the extent to which public bodies which report to him comply, from October, with their duty to conserve biodiversity in exercising their functions, under section 40 of the Natural Environment and Rural Communities Act 2006. 
Mr. Thomas: Under Section 40 of the Natural Environment and Rural Communities Act 2006, all public bodies have a duty to have regard to the conservation of biodiversity in the exercising of their functions. There is no statutory obligation on Departments to monitor the extent to which public bodies comply with this duty. However, we understand that DEFRA is working with a wide range of partners to develop guidance for public bodies to support the implementation of this duty and will involve all relevant Departments in the development of guidance.
DFID has no public bodies which report to it which are likely to be affected by the Act.
Mrs. Moon: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development which Minister in his Department is responsible for monitoring his Department's compliance with its duty under section 74 of the Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000 to have regard to the purpose of conserving biological diversity in carrying out its functions; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr. Thomas: Under Section 74 of the Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000, Ministers and Government Departments have a duty to have regard to the purpose of conserving biological diversity. This has been replaced by a similar provision under Section 40 of the Natural Environment and Rural Communities Act which comes into effect on the 1 October 2006. There is no statutory duty to monitor compliance with this duty. However, DFID is committed to the biodiversity targets set out in the Framework for Sustainable Development and has taken a number of measures to benefit biodiversity (this target only applies to our East Kilbride office). These include:
An audit of the site by the Scottish Wildlife Trust (SWT)
Biodiversity Delivery and Action plans (available on our external website).
The action plan is based on recommendations by the SWT in their audit report.
Environmental clauses form part of the facilities management contract which includes grounds maintenance.
Keith Vaz: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development how many (a) black and Asian and (b) other people are employed in his Department's press office. 
Mr. Thomas: There are seven staff in DFID's Press Office. Information on staff ethnic origin is voluntary. We do hold information on the ethnicity of staff in the Private Office. However, there are fewer than five ethnic minority staff in the Press Office and where the figures are less than five, it is normal practice not to divulge the number of staff in a particular category on grounds of confidentiality.
Lyn Brown: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what support his Department provides for civil society and non-governmental organisations in Colombia; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr. Thomas: Through the Civil Society Challenge Fund (CSCF), DFID is supporting four international NGOs who are working with civil society and NGO partners in Colombia:
i. War on Want (£214,000 over three years) is working with the Central Union of Workers in Cali in the promotion of workers and human rights in the Southwest of Colombia. The aim is to increase trade union and social organisations' capacity to defend the human rights of their constituency and to improve the Colombian Government's willingness to implement signed human rights conventions.
ii. Concern International (£322,000 over three years) with its partner the Social Pastoral of the Archdiocese of Ibague are helping marginalised groups in the district of Tolima to demand and secure their constitutional rights, including access to clean water, adequate sanitation, health care and to education.
iii. Y Care International (£46,000 over three years) with Colombian Christian Youth Associations and Youth movements are working to equip 1,200 marginalised and disadvantaged young people in Colombia with the skills, confidence and knowledge to effectively participate in local, municipal and national policy-making; implement local development and advocacy initiatives that address the needs of the most vulnerable children, young people and victims of conflict; and promote cultural heritage through participation in dance, music, drama and arts performance groups.
iv. Opportunity International UK (£343,000 over three years) is working in the district of Narino, on the border with Ecuador, to support Internally Displaced Peoples own efforts towards achieving reintegration and self-sufficiency through income and employment generation, combining the efficient delivery of financial services with social interventions such as leadership development. This initiative will serve approximately 2,100 poor micro entrepreneurs in the district of Narino.
DFID is also providing an additional £7 million a year under Partnership Programme Agreements with six international NGOs for their work in Latin America and the Caribbean. These include CAFOD, Christian Aid, Oxfam and WWF, whose work in Colombia with local partners will benefit from these additional funds.
Mrs. Curtis-Thomas: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development whether his Department plans to publish its country engagement plans locally. 
Mr. Thomas: Country and Regional Assistance Plans are public documents. Printed copies are actively distributed to stakeholders, both in the UK and in-country, and they are available to all on DFIDs website at www.dfid.gov.uk
Plans are translated into local language for specific in-country distribution when appropriate. Recent examples of such plans include:
Summary and Plain English versions have also been produced. These include a summary version of the Regional Plan for Latin America and a version of the Assistance Plan for Palestinians, which was awarded a Crystal Mark for Plain English. DFID Nepal produced a standard plan for key decision-makers along with one in cartoon strip format for audiences not comfortable with the written word. Whilst in Nigeria, DFID used a weblog as part of its consultation process and promoted the final Country Assistance Plan through the media in-country.
Mrs. Curtis-Thomas: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what progress has been made in reducing the numbers of Congolese living in poverty. 
Hilary Benn: Assessing progress against the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) is very difficult owing to the lack to reliable data. The most recent social sector statistics data comes from a survey undertaken in 2001, which covered the third of the country under Government control at the time. DFID is supporting the Ministry of Plans Demographic and Health Survey in 2006 to start addressing this lack of accurate data. The United Nations Development Programmes human development report for 2005, based on the 2001 survey, reports most recent statistics on the MDGs in the DRC as follows:
Percentage of population with access to improved water source
|(1) 29 per cent. in rural areas.|
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