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Hilary Benn: DFID supports the health sector in Afghanistan through the Afghanistan Reconstruction Trust Fund rather than bilaterally. The UK also provides 19 per cent. of the European Commission’s €1 billion of development assistance pledged to Afghanistan between 2002-07. A large part of this funding goes towards developing Afghanistan’s health sector, specifically to provide a basic package of health
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services to all Afghans, including maternal and newborn health; child health and immunisation; and nutrition.

Recruiting, training and deploying health care workers (especially women) are real challenges, especially in rural areas. The absence of female health workers is being addressed by the World Health Organisation, which is running a variety of health courses to boost the number of skilled birth attendants, nurses and midwives.

Aid Programmes

Susan Kramer: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development pursuant to his oral answer of 10 May 2006, Official Report, column 297, on HIV/AIDS, what safeguards are in place to ensure that aid programmes are not used as a tool for sexual exploitation. [89128]

Mr. Thomas: Following the work of a taskforce led by UNICEF in 2002, a UN code of conduct for protection from sexual abuse was drawn up. This code now forms part of the terms and conditions of employment within the UN and all UN staff members are therefore bound by it. Local organisations contracted by the UN also have to sign up to this code. DFID has incorporated the same code into its own terms and conditions of employment.

Following the recent report by the Save the Children Fund (SCF) on the exploitation of children in Liberia, DFID immediately organised a meeting with senior SCF staff to learn more about the accusations. DFID has subsequently raised these concerns with its operational partners to seek clarification from them on how their past and on-going operations have sought to prevent or address this problem. Safeguards for the prevention of sexual exploitation are now routinely part of DFID’s appraisal of proposals for humanitarian operations.

DFID has recently published a new humanitarian policy and we are reviewing our funding guidelines and procedures. This will include consideration of how we can continue to best incorporate the UN code of practice.

Criminal Offences

Mr. Clegg: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development how many criminal offences his Department has created by Orders in Council in each year since 1997. [88470]

Hilary Benn: None.

Developing Countries

Andrew George: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development if he will take steps (a) to co-ordinate and (b) to implement an integrated approach across Departments to deal with climate change and poverty reduction in developing countries. [87472]

Hilary Benn: Informal working groups communicate regularly on climate change to ensure that all Departments have an opportunity to contribute to
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policy-making. Ministerial oversight is provided by the Ministerial Committee on Energy and Environment (EE) which is chaired by the Prime Minister.

The Department for the Environment and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) has overall responsibility for climate change policy including tackling the causes of climate change, working to find ways to adapt to unavoidable climate change impacts, promoting effective science to inform policy, leading on international climate change negotiations, promoting energy efficiency, reducing emissions from industry and business, developing alternatives to fossil fuels and encouraging the protection and enhancement of carbon sinks. The Cabinet Office contributes to policy development and provides co-ordination mechanisms at senior official level.

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) contributes foreign policy perspectives and analysis. The FCO's staff overseas maintains regular contact with host governments in order to analyse and report on countries' climate change policies and priorities, and to lobby for UK positions. The Department for Trade and Industry (DTI)'s role is to consider all aspects of climate change that impact on the energy and business sectors. This includes ensuring that that the competitiveness of industry is maintained and that issues affecting security of energy supply, energy prices and competitive energy markets are taken into account. Her Majesty's Treasury is involved across the whole range of business. The Chancellor has initiated a major review of the economics of climate change, headed by Sir Nick Stern.

DFID takes the lead on ensuring effective integration of international development objectives into Her Majesty's Government policy. We have seconded two people to the Stern Review. We are helping developing countries adapt to unavoidable climate change impacts. We are working with the multilateral development banks to increase public and private investment in energy efficiency and lower carbon technologies. The UK Government's Development White Paper highlights climate change as one of the key challenges facing development, and sets out how the UK Government as a whole intends to address this challenge.

Andrew George: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what support his Department gives to (a) farmers and (b) fishermen in developing countries to understand and achieve standards demanded by western consumer markets. [88616]

Mr. Thomas: My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for International Development (DFID), launched DFID’s agriculture policy in December 2005. This makes a commitment to work in partnership with the food industry to ensure that poor farmers in developing countries can access markets. DFID is working with supermarkets, standard setters and exporters to improve opportunities for farmers in developing countries to participate in international supply chains. We are also supporting work in Africa to support small farmer certification to supermarket standards. For example in Kenya, DFID has supported export horticultural development to the tune of
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£872,000 over the past three years. Much of these funds are spent assisting smallholders to cope with the process and cost of compliance with supermarket standards.

DFID is also committed to working in partnership with international standard-setting organisations to ensure that new product standards are based on assessments of risk and are not attempts to protect markets. We support developing countries to participate in formal standard-setting procedures. DFID has contributed £950,000 to the Standards and Trade Development Facility (STDF) housed in the World Trade Organisation. STDF is a multi-donor funded programme that assists developing countries in improving their expertise and capacity to analyse and implement international sanitary and phytosanitary standards (SPS).

DFID also supports the work of the European Commission's Directorate General (DG) for Trade. In 2006, the DG for Trade will provide €1.7 million to support developing countries to meet food safety standards and export their products to the European Union (EU). This provides jobs, economic growth and raises standards in developing countries.

DFID recognises the importance of European markets to the fishing sectors of many developing countries and is an active proponent of greater coherence between EU fisheries trade and development policies. We encourage the EU to ensure that there is fair access to EU markets for developing countries and that resources are made available to help these countries develop capacity in standard setting, quality control and certification.

DFID funded research programmes have supported the development of processing technologies for developing country fishermen. Currently we are funding a regional programme in Southern Africa that is supporting local fishing industries to develop the knowledge, skills and capacity to meet EU market requirements.

More direct support to small-scale fishers, whose marketing needs are arguably greater than other groups within the sector, is also available through a £30 million EU programme of support to developing countries’ fisheries sectors, which the UK supports. DFID also supports the activities of the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) which plays an important role in the setting and implementation of policies relating to international standards and trade in fisheries products.

Andrew George: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what assessment his Department has made of the effectiveness of his Department’s support to improve teachers’ wages in developing countries. [88618]

Mr. Thomas: The 2006 Education for All Global Monitoring Report states that salaries for teachers remain problematic. It reports that in Latin America, teacher salaries fail to attract the best candidates. However, some countries are trying to improve teachers’ status. In China, salaries have been increased and a National Teachers Education Network established.

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The UK’s commitment to provide approximately £8.5 billion of support to education in developing countries over the next 10 years, will provide predictable funding against which poor country governments can prepare ambitious sector plans to achieve the education goals. Our support will help in the development and implementation of 10 year plans, which will increase investment in schools, including recruiting and training more teachers. The status of teachers will be important in improving the quality of education.

Andrew George: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what funding his Department has (a) pledged, (b) committed and (c) spent on support for developing countries to plan for natural disasters. [88620]

Mr. Thomas: Much of DFID’s support for disaster risk reduction and support to developing countries to plan for future disasters is integrated into wider development programmes so it is not possible to identify the exact amount allocated to this work.

We are committed to allocating 10 per cent. of the funding provided by DFID in response to each major natural disaster to prepare for and mitigate the impact of future disasters where this can be done effectively. We pledged £7.5 million to the Indian Ocean region following the 2004 tsunami and £5.8 million to Pakistan following the earthquake for disaster risk reduction programmes.

DFID is also providing significant contributions to the disaster risk reduction programmes of our multilateral partners. In 2005, we committed £12.5 million to international non-governmental organisations and £3.5 million to the International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent for disaster risk reduction work at the community level in Africa and Asia. The UK is the largest contributor of un-earmarked funds to the United Nations International Strategy for Disaster Reduction at £1 million per year. In 2006, DFID committed over £4 million to the World Bank to help developing country governments incorporate disaster risk into Poverty Reduction Strategies, and £3 million to the ProVention Consortium.

Equal Opportunities

Andrew George: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what measures his Department will take to ensure that policies outlined in the White Paper will (a) deliver equal employment opportunities for women, (b) uphold equal pay and labour standards for women, (c) advance equal property rights for women and (d) endorse women’s equal access to microfinance. [88619]

Hilary Benn: Gender discrimination is not only unjust but is an impediment to sustainable economic development and achievement of the Millennium Development Goals. The policy paper “Poverty Elimination and the Empowerment of Women” sets out the Government’s commitment to supporting gender equality and to ensuring that women are able to play a full role in economic life. In the White Paper, “Eliminating World Poverty: making governance work for the poor”, published earlier this month, the
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Government re-affirmed its intention to give priority to work in support of gender equality and women’s rights in its development assistance. DFID is currently in the process of developing more detailed plans on how this commitment will be taken forward across the Department’s operations. These plans should be completed by the end of the year; they will include work looking at the linkages between gender equality and economic growth.

Fast Track Initiative

Andrew George: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development how much aid for education his Department has provided under the Fast Track Initiative; and what plans he has to increase the amount. [88615]

Mr. Thomas: The UK is supporting the Fast Track Initiative (FTI) as part of our overall approach to accelerate progress towards quality primary education for all children by 2015. My right hon. Friend, the Secretary of State for International Development, recently 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.

FIFA World Cup

Mr. Hands: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development which matches (a) he and (b) his departmental colleagues attended at the FIFA World Cup 2006 in Germany in their Ministerial capacity; at what cost to public funds; and with what contribution from third party organisations. [83598]

Hilary Benn: Neither myself, nor my hon. Friend the Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for International Development attended any FIFA World Cup 2006 matches in Germany in our Ministerial capacity.

Genetic Use Restriction Technologies

Mr. Meacher: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development (1) if he will commission an assessment of the impact of Genetic Use Restriction Technologies on (a) free access to genetic resources and (b) the food security and livelihoods of small scale farmers in developing countries; [88421]

(2) what assistance he has made available to support and enhance capacity building in developing countries to enable them to make decisions concerning the introduction of GM crops containing Genetic Use Restriction Technologies; [88422]

(3) what criteria will be used to determine that the conditions for the safe and beneficial use of Genetic Use Restriction Technologies in developing countries have been validated; and who will make that decision. [88423]

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Mr. Thomas: DFID takes genetic modification in crops and foods and its potential impacts on poor people, including small-scale farmers, in developing countries very seriously. Our approach is based on the principle that the livelihoods and health of poor people and of their environment is of primary concern. We recognise that GM technology in itself will not solve the problem of world hunger. We consider that biotechnology, including gene technology, if managed responsibly and applied to those crops on which the poor rely, has the potential to make a contribution to development and poverty reduction.

The parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) decided in 2000, that there should be a precautionary approach to their use while research into the possible impacts of these technologies was carried out. Parties at the CBD meeting in March this year reaffirmed this decision. Parties were also encouraged to continue to undertake further research on the impacts of GURTs and to share information from these studies and address capacity building for decision making in developing countries. As a party to the CBD, the UK Government will continually study research into the possible impact of GURTs. DFID is willing to consider funding assessments of the impact of Genetic Use Restriction Technologies on small scale farmers.

Recognising that there are both potential benefits and risks associated with gene technologies and GM crops, developing countries should be able to make their own informed choices. To this end, DFID has worked with the Department for the Environment and Rural Affairs (DEFRA), other HMG Departments and the international community to establish the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety, under the CBD. The protocol adopts a strong precautionary approach and aims to ensure that countries are provided with the information necessary to make informed decisions before agreeing to the import of genetically modified organisms. It also facilitates the exchange of information on living modified organisms and assists countries in the implementation of the protocol. This means that importing countries are able to make a decision to avoid or minimise potential adverse effects of GM organisms, even if there is a lack of scientific certainty on the extent of such potential adverse effects. We are working to ensure developing countries have the capacity to make informed decisions on these issues for themselves, for example by providing core support to regional African research bodies which are building capacity in biotechnology safety and regulation in their regions.

It is for each party to the Convention on Biological Diversity to assess whether appropriate scientific data is available in relation to the field testing of products incorporating Genetic Use Restriction Technologies and to take decisions accordingly. The Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety seeks to provide the means for developing countries to make such decisions.

Mr. Meacher: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what research projects the Government have (a) undertaken and (b) funded on appropriate scientific data for the field testing of products incorporating Genetic Use Restriction Technologies. [88424]

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Mr. Thomas: The Government have not undertaken or funded any research projects specifically on the scientific data for the field testing of products incorporating Genetic Use Restriction Technologies (GURTs).

Middle East (Project Funding)

Andrew George: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development which infrastructure projects funded by (a) the EU and (b) the UK have been destroyed by Israeli forces in Gaza in recent months. [87464]

Hilary Benn: Because of military activity, aid agencies currently face difficulty assessing the extent of damage to facilities in the Gaza Strip. However, initial reports from northern Gaza indicate that four schools and one clinic provided for Palestinian refugees through the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) have sustained heavy damage. 57 empty food containers leased by UNRWA have also been damaged at a cost of £31,000. The European Community and EU member states collectively provide more than half of UNRWA’s core funding and two of the damaged schools were specifically financed from European Community funds.

The main entrance bridge to Beit Hanun was partially destroyed by an Israeli air strike on 9 July. The bridge was built in 2004 with £205,000 in funding from the European Community.

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