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Written Answers to Questions

Thursday 29 June 2006

House of Commons Commission

Departmental Finance Directors

Chris Huhne: To ask the hon. Member for North Devon, representing the House of Commons Commission what the (a) name, (b) professional and academic qualifications and (c) relevant experience are of the House of Commons finance director. [80084]

Nick Harvey: The House’s director of finance and administration since 1997 is Andrew Walker. He has over 20 years experience in the Inland Revenue and HM Treasury in a variety of tax and management positions. He is assisted in his duties as finance director by appropriately qualified and experienced staff in the Financial Management Directorate. He is due to complete an accountancy qualification course (CIPFA) during 2007-08.

Greenhouse Gas Emissions

Martin Horwood: To ask the hon. Member for North Devon, representing the House of Commons Commission what recent estimates have been made of the level of greenhouse gas emissions produced by the House estate in the form of (a) carbon dioxide, (b) methane, (c) nitrous oxide, (d) tetrafluoromethane, (e) hexafluoroethane and (f) sulphur hexafluoride. [80773]

Nick Harvey: The total quantity of carbon dioxide emissions produced on, or attributable to, the House of Commons element of the parliamentary estate in 2005-06 is estimated at 10,300 tonnes. The released quantities of the other five greenhouse gasses are not measured but the quantities are estimated to be small.

Parliamentary Papers

Mr. Amess: To ask the hon. Member for North Devon, representing the House of Commons Commission if he will make it his policy to ensure that unnumbered Command Papers are indexed in PIMS, together with their location and date of publication; and if he will make a statement. [81244]

Nick Harvey: The Library already indexes all unprinted Command Papers in PIMS. Unprinted (or unnumbered) commands appear in the Vote as being laid “by Command”, (as opposed to “by Act”), and are treated accordingly. They are given running numbers which start each session, for ease of retrieval. These numbers appear in PIMS. Each unprinted Command Paper is also retrievable by subject, issuing department, date or name of organisation etc.

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Deputy Prime Minister

Rural Post Offices

Mr. Dunne: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what steps he will be taking to encourage cross-departmental working on the future of rural post offices. [79425]

The Deputy Prime Minister: As Chairman of the Cabinet Committee on the Post Office Network (MISC 33) set up in May of this year, I have a key role in bringing together different Departments to discuss issues relating to rural post offices and to deliver agreement on actions.

The Government remains committed to rural post offices as demonstrated by our £750 million package of support—£150 million per year for five years to 2008—through the Social Network Payment.

I will continue to work with ministerial colleagues to ensure that Government policy-making in this area is coordinated effectively.


Honour Crimes

22. Dr. Kumar: To ask the Solicitor-General what work the Crown Prosecution Service is doing in relation to crimes known as honour crimes. [80904]

The Solicitor-General: The CPS is determined that when these crimes are uncovered they will be prosecuted firmly, fairly and robustly. The CPS wishes to encourage victims and witnesses of honour crimes to come forward and send out a message that this behaviour will not be tolerated. They are working closely with partners in the criminal justice system and the community and voluntary sector to raise awareness and develop strategies for tackling and preventing honour crimes.


23. Keith Vaz: To ask the Solicitor-General if he will assess how the Crown Prosecution Service can better inform victims about the length of a sentence given to a criminal. [80905]

The Solicitor-General: The Prosecutors’ Pledge, introduced by the Attorney-General in October 2005, requires prosecutors to support victims from point of charge through to any appeal. The Pledge underpins the Code of Practice for Victims of Crime, implemented in April 2006. The Code requires Witness Care Units to explain to victims the effect of the sentence within one working day. Further information may be provided to victims who require it by the CPS or the Probation Service.

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Craig Sweeney

Mr. Martyn Jones: To ask the Solicitor-General if he will refer the case of Craig Sweeney to the Court of Appeal as an unduly lenient sentence. [80898]

The Solicitor-General: My right hon. Friend the Attorney-General is considering the papers in this case, and will reach a decision shortly. As in all cases of this type, he has to comply with a strict time limit of 28 days from the date the sentence was passed in making his decision.

The power to refer is exercised in the public interest. The Attorney will make his decision purely on the merits of the case and not in response to political or public pressure.

International Development

Departmental Finance Directors

Chris Huhne: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what the (a) name, (b) professional and academic qualifications and (c) relevant experience are of the finance director of his Department. [80083]

Mr. Thomas: Richard Calvert is Director of Finance and Corporate Performance at DFID. He is a member of the Chartered Institute of Management Accountants and has a masters degree in law. He has held a range of policy and operational posts in DFID including serving in the UK Delegation to the EU in Brussels, as Private Secretary to the Secretary of State, and as Head of the Information and Civil Society Department.

Before taking up his present post in September 2003, he worked on secondment as Head of Service Quality in the Children, Schools and Families Directorate at Hertfordshire county council.

Departmental Websites

Charles Hendry: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development how many websites there are within his responsibilities; and what the total cost of maintaining such websites was in the last year for which figures are available. [79064]

Mr. Thomas: The information requested is as follows:

Overall costs maintaining DFID websites are as follows:

Specialist audience sites include:

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There are a number of websites set up as part of DFID funding to contractors or professional organisations. Contractors are responsible for maintaining these and have therefore not been included here. Figures are included as part of the overall contract.


Mark Simmonds: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development if he will make a statement on the recent UN General Assembly Special Session on HIV/AIDS. [80322]

Mr. Thomas: The United Nations General Assembly High Level Meeting agreed a Political Declaration which met virtually all of the UK’s objectives, including: committing countries to develop, by the end of 2006, ambitious national plans to scale up towards universal access by 2010 to comprehensive HIV prevention programmes, treatment, care and support, with interim targets for 2008; to ensure that no credible, sustainable national plan should go unfunded, recognising the need to provide from donor countries, national budgets and other sources $20-23 billion annually by 2010 for AIDS responses; and to intensify efforts to develop new technology especially microbicides and vaccines.

Middle East

Mr. Keith Simpson: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development (1) what discussions he has had with his counterparts from Arab states regarding their potential contribution to the temporary international mechanism to channel assistance directly to the Palestinian people; [80998]

(2) what discussions he has had with his EU counterparts about the sums of money the EU expects to commit to the temporary international mechanism to channel assistance directly to the Palestinian people set out in the European Council Presidency Conclusions of 15 and 16 June. [80927]

Mr. Thomas: The UK has encouraged contributions to the temporary international mechanism for Palestinian basic needs from the European Union, Arab donors and other members of the international donor community. The European Community is making a contribution of €105 million. We are expecting individual EU member states to release statements regarding their contributions shortly. The mechanism is open to any donor that wishes to contribute.

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Plant Breeding

Mr. Meacher: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development (1) what funding has been allocated by his Department to strengthen public sector research on seed varieties (a) in the UK and (b) overseas; and if he will ask the World Bank to increase its lending for such projects; [79836]

(2) if he will list the public sector projects his Department has funded for plant breeding in developing countries in the last three years; [79789]

(3) whether his Department has (a) undertaken and (b) commissioned research into (i) the extent of the role of the private sector within the global seed industry and (ii) the impact of the private sector’s role on (A) developing new plant varieties for poor farmers and (B) the diversity of genetic resources available to public plant breeders. [80391]

Mr. Thomas: DFID has allocated a total of £15.8 million to support public sector research on improved seed varieties, including plant breeding, over the past three years. The vast majority of research supported has been carried out overseas, with some advanced research being carried out at UK institutions, including the John Innes centre and the university of Leeds.

DFID is already working with the World Bank and other donors to see how we can increase the quality and quantity of aid given for agricultural research. For example, we are working in Africa to support regional agricultural research programmes. We expect this will lead to increased grants and loans for research from the World Bank and other donors. We expect some of these funds will be used to support plant breeding and development of new seed varieties that meet the needs of poor farmers.

DFID’s Plant Sciences Research Programme managed by the centre for arid zone studies at the university of Wales at Bangor allocated £3.6 million over the last three years for plant breeding research with overseas partners. This included work on: resistance of pearl millet to downey mildew, nematode resistance of rice, banana and potato, aluminium tolerance in wheat, new breeding methods based on farmer participation in design and selection of varieties of rice, maize and cassava, and genetic marker assisted methods for pearl millet improvement.

DFID also provides core funding to the international agricultural research centres of the Consultative Group for International Agricultural Research (CGIAR). Centres vary in the proportion of their budgets devoted to plant breeding. Of the core support DFID has given to centres, over the last three years, we estimate that £12.2 million has been used to support research on plant breeding and improving crop varieties for the benefit of poor people in developing countries.

DFID has not undertaken, or commissioned, research into the extent of, and impact on, the role of the private sector within the global seed industry. However policy research has been carried out which examined the pros and cons of revenue generation from public plant breeding and links to the private sector. (Tripp and Byerlee 2000, http://www.odi.org.uk/NRP/57.html). DFID is also supporting the Seeds of Development Programme managed by the university of
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Cornell. The purpose of this programme is to better understand the role of private sector in achieving agricultural growth which benefits poor people by improving their access to better quality seeds.


Kerry McCarthy: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what assistance his Department has provided to Loughborough university’s water engineering development centre in its work on developing Somaliland’s water programme. [80592]

Mr. Thomas: We are aware of Loughborough university’s links with Somaliland. We do not support these directly but are funding a number of projects with UNICEF who have supported some of Loughborough university’s activities in Somaliland. UNICEF also undertake considerable work in water and sanitation with the authorities in Somaliland on behalf of DFID and a number of other donors.

Water Provision

Mark Simmonds: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what assessment he has made of the role of private companies in delivering water in developing nations. [80321]

Mr. Thomas: DFID’s assessment is that there are circumstances when the private sector can play a role in meeting the needs of poor people. This is because, in spite of extensive technical assistance, public water utilities in developing countries have found it difficult to improve their performance and outreach. This has come about for a variety of reasons that we need to understand and learn from. DFID continuously assesses and learns from examples of public and private sector participation in delivering water.

There are good and bad examples of both public and private service provision. The best approach often involves partnerships between the public sector, the private sector and communities. An important factor for success is effective regulation, with enforceable contracts that set out clearly what is expected. One example is a four-year public-private partnership in South Africa focusing on poor rural communities, which has brought water to more than nine million people in five provinces.

Trade and Industry

Animal Experiments

Martin Horwood: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what funding the National Centre for the Replacement, Refinement and Reduction of Animals in Research received in 2005-06 (a) in total, (b) from the Medical Research Council, (c) the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council, (d) from pharmaceutical companies and (e) from other sources; and what the percentage change in funding is for 2006-07. [80770]

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Jim Fitzpatrick: The National Centre for the Replacement, Refinement and Reduction of Animals in Research (NC3RS) received £954,402 from its funders during 2005-06 as follows:


Medical Research Council (MRC)


Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC)


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