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Written Answers to Questions

Wednesday 12 July 2006

International Development

Millennium Development Goals

6. Anne Main: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what progress has been made on the millennium development goals since the last G8 summit. [84332]

Hilary Benn: It is too early to say what specific impact the commitments agreed to by the G8 at Gleneagles have had on progress towards the millennium development goals. There has, however, been progress in the last 12 months on debt cancellation, increased aid, a new humanitarian fund and action to get AIDS treatment to more people, and all of these will help in the fight to end extreme poverty by 2015.

Sustainable Forestry (Africa)

7. Paddy Tipping: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what steps he is taking to promote sustainable forestry in Africa. [84333]

Mr. Thomas: Poor governance and weak law enforcement hinder the achievement of sustainable forestry in Africa. Earlier this year, we committed £11 million over the next four years to the Forest Governance Support Programme in Cameroon. In addition we committed £12 million over the next five years in support of Partnership Agreements with African countries under the European Union’s Forest Law Enforcement, Governance and Trade (FLEGT) Action Plan.

Kashmir/Pakistan Earthquake

8. Paul Rowen: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what support his Department is making available for people affected by the earthquake in Kashmir and Pakistan; and if he will make a statement. [84334]

Hilary Benn: Following the Earthquake the UK pledged £129 million for relief and reconstruction in Pakistan, including Pakistan-administered Kashmir.

£54 million has been committed to relief activities, including direct support to the relief effort led by the Government of Pakistan and funds channelled through UN agencies and non-government agencies. We flew out 86 search and rescue experts and funded over 70 relief flights, three Chinook helicopters and a Royal Engineers squadron.
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We have already provided £5 million for health, education and infrastructure reconstruction, and a further £65 million is committed.


9. Tom Brake: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what recent assessment he has made of the humanitarian situation in Gaza. [84335]

Hilary Benn: I have been following the humanitarian situation closely and with growing concern. Following damage to Gaza power station, households are receiving only six to 12 hours of electricity per day. Fuel supplies are limited. United Nations agencies report that water supplies, health services and sanitation are all being affected. Some foodstuffs are running low due to difficulty in supplies entering Gaza.


10. John Robertson: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what financial support his Department is making available to Nigeria in 2006-07 to assist poverty reduction and increase educational opportunities. [84336]

Hilary Benn: The Department for International Development (DFID) has allocated £80 million in bilateral expenditure to assist poverty reduction in Nigeria in 2006-07. Of this, £8 million will go to programmes which directly support the education sector, but many other DFID activities in Nigeria, including work at state level to improve the management of public expenditure, have an impact on education outcomes.

Western Balkans

11. Mr. Marsden: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what assessment he has made of the Department's programmes in the Western Balkans following the Government's recognition of Montenegro as a sovereign state. [84337]

Mr. Thomas: Our approach to supporting countries in the Balkans places a high priority on enhancing the effectiveness of the international community's assistance to the region. This will continue. The estimated UK share of multilateral assistance to Serbia and Montenegro in 2003 (the most recent official statistics available) was £37 million. Our programme to Montenegro ended in March 2005 and we currently have no plans to reconsider this decision.

2006 G8 Summit

12. Mr. Hands: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what discussions he has had with his G8 counterparts on the agenda for the 2006 G8 Summit. [84338]

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Hilary Benn: The agenda for the 2006 G8 Summit in St. Petersburg is decided by the Russian Presidency in consultation with other G8 heads. The Russian priorities are energy security, infectious diseases and education. A priority for DFID is to make sure that the G8 leaders continue to focus on delivering the commitments they made at Gleneagles last year on support to Africa and climate change. President Putin has asked the Prime Minister to lead a discussion on progress against the Gleneagles commitments to reduce poverty and support sustainable development in Africa.

Doha Round

13. Mr. Gauke: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what assessment he has made of the implications for the developing world of the Doha Round of trade negotiations. [84339]

Mr. Thomas: The UK is working hard to ensure a successful round that delivers real improvements and opportunities for developing countries. We recognise that reducing trade tariffs alone will tend to favour only the more advanced developing countries in the immediate term. We have therefore been promoting a “development package”, containing short-term changes to trade rules, medium-term adjustment measures, and support for longer-term supply side capacity building.

EU Aid Programme

14. Mr. Dunne: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what recent assessment he has made of the effectiveness of aid delivered through the EU's aid programme; and if he will make a statement. [84340]

Mr. Thomas: The European Commission has improved the effectiveness of its aid substantially since 2000, when a major reform programme commenced. Today, delivery is faster and is implemented by a dedicated delivery agency (EuropeAid). Field offices are stronger, with better skilled staff. Projects are delivering more effective results, as shown by regular on-site assessments by independent experts. Nevertheless, there is still a case for further reform to improve aid effectiveness.


15. Ben Chapman: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what support his Department is giving to Vietnam in 2006-07. [84341]

Mr. Thomas: In 2006-07 DFID will provide £50 million of grant aid to the Government of Vietnam to improve education, tackle HIV and support programmes targeting the poorest regions. DFID also provides support to other Government of Vietnam priorities including:

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Clean Water

Mr. Jim Cunningham: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what recent discussions his Department has had with the World Health Organisation on access to clean water and sanitation in (a) Tunisia, (b) Cameroon and (c) Tanzania. [83970]

Hilary Benn: I have not had recent discussions with WHO on water and sanitation in Tunisia or Cameroon. DFID does not have a bilateral aid programme in Tunisia, though we make a significant contribution to development in Tunisia through the European Commission's programmes. In Cameroon, DFID's focus is on forestry and governance and we do not have a bilateral water and sanitation programme.

In Tanzania, DFID works with the Government and a number of development partners in the water sector, including WHO, to help strengthen policies and review their implementation. DFID has a particular focus on increasing the amount of money reaching local government to fund basic rural water supply and sanitation.

DFID is committed to expanding access to safe drinking water and basic sanitation in poor countries across the world. On World Water Day 2005, I committed to double UK spending on water supply and sanitation in Africa, bringing our spend to £95 million a year by 2008.

Duchy of Lancaster

Sir Alistair Graham

Mr. Spellar: To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster pursuant to her answer of 15 June 2006, Official Report, columns 1378-9W, on Sir Alistair Graham, how much was claimed by Sir Alistair from each of the bodies for which he was entitled to as (a) per diem and (b) per appeal remuneration. [80515]

Hilary Armstrong: [pursuant to the reply, 15 June 2006, Official Report, c. 1379W]: I regret that the date on which Sir Alistair, as chairman of the Committee on Standards in Public Life, began receiving £380 per day was incorrect. The date given was 26 April 2005.

The correct date is 26 April 2004.

In respect of the Committee on Standards in Public Life, a public body sponsored by the Cabinet Office, Sir Alistair was a member between 1 October 2003 and 25 April 2004, and was appointed chairman with effect from 26 April 2004. As a member, Sir Alistair's time commitment was on average two days per month for which he received £180 per day. As chairman, Sir Alistair's time commitment has on average been two days per week. From 26 April 2004 to 5 May 2005 he received £380 per day and from 6 May 2005 to date he has received £440 per day. The information requested in respect of the other public appointments held by Sir Alistair is not held by my Department.

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David Maclean: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what (a) planned and (b) existing projects in his Department involve the use of biometric technology. [82579]

Gillian Merron: The Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) is examining the possible use of biometrics to help ensure greater security of the driving licence. This could include whether use can be made of the growing number of photographs held on its database to assist with the 10-yearly renewal cycle commencing in 2008. Investigations are in their early stages. The Agency is also piloting biometrics for security and access control purposes at its base in Swansea using fingerprint readers.

In addition, the Transport Security Directorate is currently working with the aviation industry to develop standards for the use of biometric systems in airport access control.


Tony Baldry: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what support his Department is giving to (a) Oxfordshire and (b) other local authorities to help encourage children to cycle to school. [82268]

Gillian Merron: The Department has provided £270,000 to date to help fund five cycle routes in Oxfordshire which link six schools to the National Cycle Network. Some £12 million in central Government funds have been invested in this scheme, generating significant match funding from local authorities resulting in overall investment of over £30 million. Over 330 cycle routes to schools have been built or are under construction.

In addition, a joint Department for Transport and Department for Education and Science capital grants scheme has allocated just over £750,000 to 128 schools in Oxfordshire with travel plans, for infrastructure such as secure cycle parking.

Nationally, around £57 million of grant has been awarded to over 10,000 schools in England, through this scheme.

The Secretary of State for Transport announced recently a doubling of Cycling England’s annual budget from £5 million to £10 million per annum over the next three years. The extra money will be targeted at providing even more links for schools to the National Cycle Network and to provide more cycle training in schools.

FIFA World Cup

Mr. Hands: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport which matches (a) he and (b) other Ministers in his Department attended at the FIFA World Cup 2006 in Germany in their ministerial capacity; at what cost to public funds; and with what contributions from third party organisations. [83626]

Gillian Merron: No Ministers in the Department for Transport attended the FIFA World Cup 2006 in their ministerial capacity.

Local Transport Authorities

Chris Grayling: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport when he expects to announce which local transport authorities will become centres of excellence;
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and how much each will receive as a consequence. [82213]

Gillian Merron: Authorities in 17 local transport plan areas were awarded centres of excellence status for local transport delivery in February 2005. A total of £100,000 per year is available to support them in providing peer-led activities. The distribution of this funding between the authorities is related to exactly what particular authorities do as centres of excellence.

Centres of excellence status will be reviewed in 2007.

There are more details about the centres of excellence, including a list of the designated authorities, in a Department for Transport release dated 25 February 2005, available on the Government News Network website (www.gnn.gov.uk).

Chris Grayling: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport how the success of the local transport authorities centres of excellence programme was measured. [82214]

Gillian Merron: The centres of excellence programme is a part of the Local Transport Plan policy. Work is under way to evaluate the success of the policy as a whole.

An interim report is published on the Department for Transport website (www.dft.gov.uk)—under research, within the local transport plan subsection of the regional and local transport section of the site.

Private Finance Initiative Projects

Grant Shapps: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport by what total amount private finance initiative projects for which his Department is responsible which went over budget did so in each of the last five years; and if he will make a statement. [83650]

Gillian Merron: A key aspect of the private finance initiative (PFI) is risk transfer on projects going over budget. This means overruns on PFI projects that the Department is responsible for will normally be carried by the private sector provider and not the Department for Transport.

Unitary charge payments do not commence until the service is operational. If a private sector budget overrun influences the service standard provided, PFI contract terms include a right for the public sector to make performance deductions from the unitary charge payment made to the private sector provider.


Mr. Carmichael: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what changes in (a) legislation and (b) guidance issued by his Department or its agencies there have been since the publication of the Strategic Rail Authority’s review of rail fares policy. [84686]

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