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Dr. Cable: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what discussions he has had with the (a) Treasury and (b) Cabinet Office regarding the pre-comprehensive spending review report; and if he will make a statement. 
I have had, and will continue to have, regular discussions with the Chief Secretary about preparations for the 2007 Comprehensive Spending
Review, as a matter of great importance to the Department for International Developments medium and long term planning.
David Simpson: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development pursuant to the answer of 8 June 2006, Official Report, column 768W, on departmental staff, why no record is maintained of the number of periods of sick absence by staff of less than five days. 
Mr. Thomas: Since October 2004, when an electronic absence recording system was introduced, records of sick absences have been held centrally by DFID. This has afforded better management control of frequent and long-term sick absences. However, we are still in the process of defining the types of reports we will require on a regular basis. To provide the information in the format requested requires intensive manual manipulation of the data. We have also changed the basis of recording working patterns from days to hours, which compounds the problem of producing ad hoc reports. We are working with an external consultant towards implementing a simpler process for extracting information from existing systems, but we are unlikely to be able to produce the data until later this year.
Anne Main: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development pursuant to his Answer of 10 July 2006, Official Report, column 1408W, on departmental travel costs, (1) what the average cost of flights was in each month; and if he will make a statement; 
|Average cost (£)|
DFID's domestic travel policies ensure that staff travel only when necessary, to minimise cost and environmental impact from carbon emissions. Only top management staff may buy business class tickets. However, DFID benefits from an arrangement used by a number of Government Departments whereby
travellers on flexible economy tickets may be upgraded to business class at no extra cost. We are keen to reduce the number of internal flights and time spent travelling. We instruct staff to consider whether meetings are essential, and we have invested in modern communication systems, including video conference facilities, to reduce the need for travel.
Dr. Gibson: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what steps his Department is taking to implement its public sector duty in respect of disability policy; and what steps are taken to include (a) disabled people and (b) their representative organisations in this process. 
Mr. Thomas: DFID has started its preparations for the implementation of the Disability Equality Duty, which comes into effect on 1 December 2006. We are currently developing a DFID-specific equalities screening tool, and an equalities impact assessment tool, to allow for the effective identification and assessment of policies and functions relevant to the Disability Equality Duty.
We will shortly be mapping out our Disability Equality Scheme and preparing our Disability Action Plan. At this stage we will involve disabled peoples organisations as well as development organisations with a disability focusboth in the UK and in our partner countries.
DFID is already taking a number of steps to address disability issues in its approach to development. For example, DFID commissioned a Disability Knowledge and Research programme, and we have since been adopting a twin track approach to disability research. This involves mainstreaming disability into existing research initiatives and working directly towards the establishment of an emancipatory model of research with an umbrella Disabled Peoples Organisation in Southern Africa.
DFID is also consulting disabled peoples organisations, and development organisations with a disability remit, about the development of a good practice note for its staff on Inclusive Development. This will have a strong focus on the involvement of disabled people and their representatives in partner countries to ensure that disability issues are taken into account across DFIDs programmes.
Mark Durkan: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development (1) how much his Department has allocated to ensure that children with disabilities in developing countries receive an education in each of the last five years; and how much he plans to allocate for this purpose over the next three years; 
DFID has committed some £2 billion to education over the last 10 years. In April, my right
hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer, pledged to increase this sum to £8.5 billion over the next 10 years, and last month the Prime Minister promised to increase DFIDs annual budget for education to £1 billion a year by 2010.
Most of this funding will be channelled to the Governments of developing countries to invest in long term, comprehensive investment plans for the education sector. We will be working with our partners to ensure that access to education by children with disabilities is part of these plans. For example, in India, DFID has supported the District Primary Education Programme, which promotes inclusive education and has helped states integrate disabled children into mainstream schools.
We will also continue to fund discrete civil society projects focused on children with disabilities. DFID has partnership agreements with a number of organisations that support disability-focused activities, such as World Vision, HelpAge International, Save the Children and VSO, among others. In addition, through our partner Action on Disability and Development, with whom we have a six-year Programme Partnership Agreement, we work to promote greater participation and inclusion of disabled people and their organisations in decision-making processes, particularly on partner Governments Poverty Reduction Strategies.
Mark Durkan: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what estimate he has made of the percentage of children with disabilities in developing countries who receive an education. 
Hilary Benn: The Global Monitoring Report, which we regard as the most reliable source of education data, estimates that only 2 per cent. of children with disabilities in developing countries are enrolled in school. Civil society organisations working in this field make similar estimates.
All children, including those with disabilities or living in difficult circumstances, should have equal access to a good-quality basic education. DFID is committed to working with the Governments of developing countries towards the education of all children, including those with disabilities.
DFIDs policy paper, Reducing poverty by tackling social exclusion, which has been deposited in the Libraries of the House, sets out our broad-based approach to tackling social exclusion across all sectors. The paper outlines how DFID will build on the work that is already under way and some practical actions that DFID is taking to tackle social exclusion and make a real difference to the lives of excluded people.
Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what assessment he has made of the effect on UK international development strategies of EU Economic Partnership Agreements. 
The negotiations on Economic Partnership Agreements (EPAs) between the EU and
African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) countries are continuing and are due to be finalised by the end of 2007.
Based on our strategy on development and trade as outlined in the Trade and Investment White Paper 2004 (in which we supported improved trade opportunities for developing countries in line with their broader development strategies), the Government have responded to the EPA negotiations. We published a policy statement in March 2005 on how we think EPAs should be designed if they are to help the ACP countries develop. This policy determines how we will influence the EPA negotiations and assess their outcome.
Secondly, at ACP countries' request, DFID has provided substantial financial and independent technical assistance to help inform their positions in the negotiations. This includes support for the west African, eastern and southern African and Caribbean countries as well to the regional bodies which negotiate on their behalf. The UK is the largest bilateral donor in the EU providing such assistance for EPAs.
Thirdly, UK international development assistance will also respond to the needs and priorities of the ACP arising from EPAs in order to help them develop their ability to trade. DFID will provide funding through the European Development Fund. Support for developing countries, including the ACP, will also be provided through our own bilateral initiative, Aid for Trade, to which we have committed £100 million per year by 2010.
The UK is supporting the Fast Track Initiative (FTI) as part of our overall approach to speeding up progress towards primary education for all children by 2015. Earlier this year, I announced an additional UK contribution of £100 million to the FTI Catalytic Fund, bringing our total support to
£150 million. Our contribution over the next two years will cover nearly a quarter of the funding gap in the FTI.
In addition, the UK is calling for other donors, especially G8 countries, to increase their support for an expanded FTI. We have urged other G8 countries to increase their support to education within the FTI framework, either directly through the FTI Catalytic Fund or by increasing their support for education in FTI endorsed countries.
Andrew George: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development how much his Department has spent on health services development in developing countries in each year since 1997, broken down by country. 
Hilary Benn [holding answer 3 July 2006]: I attach details of our bilateral general health sector spend by country for the financial years 1997-98 to 2004-05. This totalled nearly £267 million in the financial year 2004-05. We are still in the process of validating expenditure data for 2005-06 and cannot release this under National Statistics Protocols.
DFID also supports work to improve health through our regional and central programmes (including research programmes) that complement the work of our country programmes. In 2004-05, this additional support brought our total bilateral spend on the health sector to some £363 million.
In addition, we provide funding to UN agencies such as the World Health Organisation (WHO) and UNICEF, and bodies such as the Global Fund for AIDS, TB and Malaria, which are all primarily concerned with helping countries improve their health services. In 2004-05, expenditure on multilateral organisations that have a significant focus on health was £108.6 million.
DFID also provides general Poverty Reduction Budget Support to several developing countries to help build basic services. Some of this funding goes on health services, but is not captured within our sector specific spending figures which therefore somewhat underestimate our overall contribution to improving health in developing countries.
|DFID bilateral spend on health 1997-98 to 2004-05|
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