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Mr. Dai Davies: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if he will place in the Library a copy of the letter sent on 16 June 2006 to the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry on the future of Nirex and policy on the management of radioactive waste. 
Responsibility for securing the safety of the public and the environment rests with the independent regulatorsthe Health and Safety Executive (HSE) and the environment agencies (the Environment Agency, EA, in England and Wales and the Scottish Environment Protection Agency, SEPA, in Scotland).
The nuclear operators are required to demonstrate to the regulators that the risks to the public and the environment from their activities, including the management of radioactive waste, are reduced as low as reasonably practicable. In support of their safety cases for the packaging and disposal of radioactive waste, the operators may seek advice from Nirex.
Nirex is not a regulator. It is a company that is jointly owned by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) and the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) that advises nuclear site operators on the preparation of the industry's safety case submissions to the regulators for the conditioning and packaging of waste.
It is the independent regulators who take decisions on the acceptability of waste conditioning and packaging safety cases submitted to them. The environment agencies have teams that scrutinise Nirex's contribution to the safety case process. It is regulators who are responsible for applying and determining the statutory safety requirements of the Nuclear Installations Act 1965 and the Radioactive Substances Act 1993.
The Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA) is the strategic UK-wide body with responsibility for securing the clean-up and decommissioning of public sector nuclear liabilities and the treatment, storage, transportation and disposal of hazardous materials including radioactive waste. It is the owner of most of the UK's radioactive waste.
The majority of Nirex's current fundingover 90 per cent.comes from a contract with the NDA. The remainder comes through an agreement with the Ministry of Defence (MoD). The company also receives payment from nuclear site operators for supply of their waste conditioning and packaging advice.
Mr. Amess: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how many rights of way have been (a) reopened and (b) established in (i) Southend-on-Sea, (ii) Essex and (iii) Hertfordshire in the last five years for which figures are available. 
Chris Huhne: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what his most recent assessment is of the rate of closure of (a) village halls, (b) village shops and (c) rural pubs since 1980; and if he will make a statement. 
Barry Gardiner: Information from Action for Communities in Rural England shows that, of the 9,000 village halls on Rural Community Council databases, just five are known to have closed in the past few years. The Department does not hold information on the rate of closure of village shops or rural pubs.
The Government recognise that village halls, shops and pubs can all play a part in helping rural communities to thrive. That is why, among other things, we have extended mandatory rate relief at 50 per cent. to include sole village public houses, petrol stations and village food shops under the village shop scheme.
Mrs. Spelman: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what recent guidance English Nature has published on (a) mitigation and (b) avoidance measures in relation to special protection areas; and what plans it has for publishing future guidance. 
Barry Gardiner: English Nature has published a draft Thames Basin Heaths Delivery Plan. This is designed to provide a means of mitigating against the potential adverse effects of increased housing around the Thames Basin Heaths Special Protection Area.
The Government Office for the South East is working with English Nature to explore the practicalities and flexibilities in the delivery plan approach, and to provide advice to local authorities and developers.
Hilary Benn: Afghanistan is a sovereign nation which has an elected Parliament and President. The Government of Afghanistan are therefore the civilian body responsible for overseeing the reconstruction efforts in Afghanistan. The Afghanistan Compact signed at the London Conference in January 2006, commits the Government of Afghanistan to lead on the reconstruction process in Afghanistan over the next five years, with support from the international community. The Governments plans are described in the interim Afghan National Development Strategy (iANDS), also launched at the London Conference. The UN has a Special Representative of the Secretary General in Kabul (currently Tom Koenigs). It is the responsibility of this person to help co-ordinate the international communitys efforts. He is the joint chair of the Joint Co-ordination Monitoring Body (JCMB) which helps to make sure progress is seen against the targets set in London.
As far as DFID civilian staff are concerned, I refer the hon. Member for Mid Norfolk to the response I gave on 10 July 2006, Official Report, column 1405W to the hon. Member for the Forest of Dean (Mr. Harper).
Hilary Benn: Important progress has been made since Gleneagles on delivering G8 commitments to support development in Africa. This includes an increase in international aid of around 25 per cent. between 2004 and 2005 to over $100 billion, putting us well on track to reach the target of $130 billion in global aid by 2010. Half of this extra money will go to Africa, so that by 2010 it will be receiving $50 billion a yeardouble the aid it received in 2004. DFID met its pledge to provide £1 billion in aid to Africa through its country programmes in 2005-06 and is on track to double its bilateral programme by 2010-11. The Gleneagles pledges represent a long-term agenda and the Government remain committed to ensuring that all 2005 promises are fully implemented.
Ms Katy Clark: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what average hourly rate was paid by his Department to each employment agency for staff employed through agencies in 2005-06. 
Mr. Thomas: DFID periodically engages temporary staff, both administrative and professional, through employment agencies. Only some information on agency hourly rates is held centrally; for those agencies who supply staff to DFID regularly. The average hourly rate for these agencies, who supply mainly junior administrative grades, is as follows:
Grade C2 - £7.30 Glasgow, Margaret Hodge Recruitment Agency £7.46 Glasgow, TempTeam
Grade C1 - £8.75 - Glasgow, Margaret Hodge Recruitment Agency £10.98 - London, Josephine Sammonds
Mrs. James: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what work his Department is undertaking on (a) reducing and (b) preventing child labour in (i) Asia, (ii) Africa and (iii) Latin America. 
The UK is committed to the elimination of child labour wherever it occurs. DFID is funding projects worth more than £20 million around the world, which aim to address the plight of those
children already in work as well as to prevent further child labour. Many of these projects also tackle the trafficking of children for work. In addition, many of DFIDs broader poverty reduction programmes are also helping to get children out of work and into education and are protecting children from having to take on harmful jobs to survive.
In Asia, DFID is supporting the work of the International Labour Organisations (ILO) International Programme for the Elimination of Child Labour (IPEC). For example, in India, DFID is currently providing over £2.5 million for their programme in the state of Andhra Pradesh. DFID is also providing nearly £9 million to the ILOs programme in the Greater Mekong Region to end trafficking of women and children for exploitative labour.
In Africa, DFID is supporting many countries to provide free universal primary education. Many of the most vulnerable cannot afford school fees or seek work to pay for schooling. In Tanzania, DFID is providing £110 million this year for the implementation of the Governments national strategy for growth and poverty reduction. Child labour is a key challenge that this strategy seeks to address and free primary education is part of the response.
In Latin America, support is focused on street children. In Brazil, Peru, and Central America, DFID has funded projects aimed at reducing the numbers of children living and working on the streets by providing them with realistic alternatives.
Mrs. James: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what discussions he has had with (a) the UN and (b) UK-based humanitarian charities about child labour in developing countries. 
Mr. Thomas: The UK is in regular contact with both the International Labour Organisation (ILO) and UNICEF, the lead UN agencies working to eliminate child labour. My right hon. Friend the Secretary of States recent discussions with these organisations have not focused specifically on child labour. DFID is a major funder of both organisations, with a current commitment of over £15 million to the ILOs programmes to combat child labour and the trafficking of children. DFID also provided £19 million in core funding to UNICEF programmes in 2005, including support to their Child Protection programme.
My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for International Development regularly holds meetings with UK-based non-governmental organisations (NGOs) which often have issues relating to child labour on their agenda. However there has been no specific discussion of child labour in recent meetings. DFID funds a number of UK-based NGOs, including Save the Children Fund (SCF) and World Vision, to implement projects addressing child labour issues, including trafficking and street children.
DFIDs overarching mission is to address extreme poverty which is the underlying cause
of most child labour. DFID supports many activities which will enable children and families to survive without depending on income from child labour.
In the White Paper published last week, the Government restate their commitment to the elimination of child labour and the development of social protection measures to ensure that poor families and vulnerable children do not need to depend on child labour.
A number of DFID programmes already support social protection. For example, DFID is supporting the development of the Ghana Social Protection Strategy. One of the flagship projects of this strategy is the provision of cash payments to families living in chronic poverty, some of whom currently depend on their childrens income. In Zimbabwe, DFID is providing £30 million to the Protracted Relief Programme which is supporting food security for £1.5 million households in extreme poverty and will mean that many children, including those orphaned by AIDS, will not have to undertake harmful work to survive.
Mrs. James: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what estimate his Department has made of the extent of child labour in (a) Mexico, (b) Belize, (c) Argentina, (d) Bolivia, (e) Brazil, (f) Chile, (g) Columbia, (h) Cuba, (i) Ecuador, (j) El Salvdor, (k) Guatemala, (l) Guyana, (m) Haiti, (n) Honduras, (o) Nicaragua, (p) Panama, (q) Paraguay, (r) Peru, (s) Surinam, (t) Uruguay and (u) Venezuela; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr. Thomas: DFID uses data from the International Labour Organisation (ILO) and UNICEF to estimate the extent of child labour. Between 2000 and 2004, the number of children at work in Latin America and the Caribbean fell by two thirds. Just over 5 per cent. of children in the region are now working. According to the ILO, the levels of child labour in Latin America and the Caribbean are now similar to those of some developed and transition economy countries.
The datasets on child labour available from the ILO and UNICEF differ and are not available for all countries. The Statistical Information and Monitoring Programme from the ILO collate estimates on the number of working children based on national survey data. UNICEF estimates the percentage of children (aged five to 14) who are in child labour.
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