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Departmental Travel

Mr. Laws: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what plans he has to ensure that all flights undertaken by Ministers and officials in his Department are carbon neutral; and if he will make a statement. [81396]

Mr. Thomas: DFID is strongly committed to the targets set out in the Framework for Sustainable Development on the Government Estate. DFID has established its own pilot carbon offsetting scheme (the Earthmiles initiative), whereby air miles from official travel with certain airlines are donated for the benefit of environmental projects.

All central Government ministerial and official air travel is being offset from 1 April 2006. Departmental aviation emissions are calculated on an annual basis and subsequently offset through payments to a central fund. The fund purchases Certified Emissions Reductions credits from energy efficiency and renewable energy projects with sustainable development benefits, located in developing countries.

Health Sector Assistance

Andrew George: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what recent representations his Department has received from developing countries regarding health sector assistance. [81795]

Mr. Thomas: DFID receives a variety of representations from groups and organisations seeking support. However, most of our development assistance is managed through DFID’s country offices, who are in daily contact with developing country partners, non-governmental organisations and civil society in-country. We are therefore unlikely to receive formal representations as such because we keep in regular contact regarding health sector development and assistance through our strong in-country partnerships.

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Judicial Review

Mr. Amess: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development on what occasions an (a) individual and (b) organisation has applied for a judicial review of decisions of his Department in each year since 1997; and what the outcome was of each case where proceedings have been completed. [80486]

Mr. Thomas: The information requested is not held centrally and could be obtained only at a disproportionate cost.


Andrew George: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what assessment his Department has made of the implementation of the health sector support plan for Malawi. [81787]

Mr. Thomas: Progress with Malawi health sector-wide approach (SWAp) is reviewed jointly, twice a year by Government and donors, of whom DFID is the largest with a commitment of £100 million over six years.

Progress has been good. In addition to the earlier successes of the eradication of polio and the elimination of neonatal tetanus and the increasing distribution of bed nets and their re-treatment (up from 7 per cent. in 2002 to 71 per cent. in 2004-05), the health service has taken on a rapid increase in antiretroviral treatment for HIV and AIDS. 50 sites have treated 46,000 people up from 3,000 two years ago. This is making a real difference: both saving lives and improving the quality of life of those living with HIV and AIDS.

Critical to this success has been the additional resources made available at hospital and clinic level as a result of the increased aid channelled through the health SWAp. The Emergency Human Resources Programme has in its first year recruited an extra 580 Malawian health professionals. There are 60 volunteer specialists and nurse tutors from overseas filling key vacant posts. The intake of Malawian trainee nurses and doctors has been increased in anticipation of the improvements in infrastructure at training schools that are now under way. New, internationally recruited senior managers have taken over the central medical stores management and are charged with bringing to an end the perennial stock outs that have frustrated the health services. A new maternal mortality road map offers a way forward to address the unacceptably high level of maternal deaths in Malawi. The Ministry of Health is entering service level agreements with private sector providers, particularly the Christian Hospital Association of Malawi, that will also provide the basic essential health package free-of-charge at point of delivery.

We are encouraging the Government of Malawi to plan for universal access for HIV and AIDS prevention and treatment and to address the further human resources and management requirements that will create. We stand ready to help.

Ministerial Conference (Paris)

Chris McCafferty: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development pursuant to the answer of 22 March 2006 to the right hon. Member for Leeds,
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West (John Battle), Official Report, columns 429-30W, on Ministerial Conference (Paris), whether the UK has agreed to implement the airline ticket levy for international development; what progress has been made on negotiations on whether part of the levy will go towards health and sexual and reproductive health and rights information and services; and if he will make a statement. [81410]

Ed Balls: I have been asked to reply.

The UK is committed to developing innovative financing mechanisms to support accelerated progress towards the Millennium Development Goals, and announced at the Paris Conference on Innovative Financing on 28 February and 1 March 2006 that it will hypothecate part of its existing air passenger duty to provide a long-term stream of finance to the International Finance Facility (IFF) and the pilot IFF for Immunization.

The International Finance Facility is specifically designed to provide the immediate and significant level of funding that is required to support progress towards all the millennium development goals by 2015. The IFF would support significant progress on health in general, as well as on sexual and reproductive health and rights information and services. The frontloading principles of the IFF are already being applied to the health sector through the IFF for immunisation, which will provide $4 billion for vaccinations and is expected to save a total of 10 million lives, including five million children before 2015.

Plant Breeding

Mr. Meacher: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what assessment he has made of the potential of effective competition legislation to tackle monopolies of rights relating to plant varieties by private sector companies. [79790]

Mr. Bradshaw: I have been asked to reply.

The Government consider that the UK’s system of plant breeders’ rights already provides adequate provisions to address any potential anti-competitive practices. The UK’s system is based on the 1991 Convention of the Union for the Protection of New Varieties of Plants (the UPOV Convention) enabled by the Plant Varieties Act 1997 (the Act).

Plant breeders who hold rights exercise control over their protected varieties in order to enable them to recoup development costs and to fund further breeding programmes. Although this is necessary for the development of this sector, there are exceptions to their rights:

These provisions ensure that plant breeders’ rights are not monopolistic.

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Mr. Meacher: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development pursuant to the recommendations of the Commission on Intellectual Property Rights (CIPR), how the Government are promoting (a) through the Treaty of Amsterdam Article 133 committee and (b) at the meeting of the International Union for the Protection of New Varieties of Plants, the rights of countries (i) not to grant patents for plants and animals, including genes and genetically modified plants and animals and (ii) to provide for the rights of farmers to save and plant-back seed and to allow informal sale and exchange of seeds; and if he will make representations to revise the Convention on the Protection of New Varieties of Plants to support the CIPR’s recommendations. [79796]

Mr. Bradshaw: I have been asked to reply.

The Government have no immediate plans to make representations through either the Treaty of Amsterdam Article 133 Committee or the International Union for the Protection of New Varieties of Plants (UPOV), which deals with systems of plant variety protection but not patents, to promote the recommendations of the Commission on Intellectual Property Rights (CIPR).

In their response to the CIPR report, the Government stressed their commitment to the effective protection of intellectual property rights to stimulate continued innovation. The Government do not regard this as incompatible with the interests of developing countries in respect of plant variety protection or the rights of farmers to plant farm-saved seed which are afforded protection by Article 27.3(b) of the World Trade Organisation Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights and Article 15 (2) of the 1991 UPOV Convention respectively.

Trade and Industry

Atomic Energy Agencies

Paul Flynn: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what the United Kingdom's annual contribution has been to the (a) European Atomic Energy Agency and (b) International Atomic Energy Agency since 1997; what proportion of each payment was made by the United Kingdom (i) public sector and (ii) private sector nuclear industries; and what plans he has to review the level of the annual UK contribution to each organisation. [81069]

Malcolm Wicks: As a member of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), the UK is obliged to pay its contribution to the Regular Budget, which pays for most of the IAEA's work and the running of the Agency itself, and is expected to make a payment to the Technical Cooperation Fund, which pays for the IAEA's development programmes in less developed countries. As a UN Agency, UK Government have the responsibility for making these payments.

The UK's contributions to the Regular Budget and Technical Cooperation Fund since 1997 are as follows:

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Regular budget Technical cooperation fund































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