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25 July 2006 : Column 1623W—continued

Ministerial Meetings

Mr. Weir: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development when he last met the Scottish First Minister; and what subjects were discussed. [88748]

Hilary Benn: I last met with the Scottish First Minister on the 23 June in Edinburgh. We discussed the Scottish Parliament’s Co-Operation Agreement with Malawi and the work DFID is undertaking in the health sector. The discussion also covered the capacity building work the Scottish Parliament is doing with the Malawi Parliament.

Ministerial Offices

Sarah Teather: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development how many times his ministerial office has been decorated in each of the last five years. [87644]

Mr. Thomas: Ministerial offices were redecorated as part of the refurbishment of the building prior to DFID moving in, in 2001. They have not been redecorated since.

Official Visits

David Simpson: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development on how many occasions he has visited each region in an official capacity in the last 12 months. [84005]

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Hilary Benn: In the last 12 months I have visited Wales twice and Scotland three times. I have not made any visits to Northern Ireland. I have also made a number of visits to different parts of England.


Dr. Starkey: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what assessment he has made of the effectiveness of the Temporary International Mechanism in addressing the humanitarian crisis in Gaza; what representations he has received on the effectiveness of the mechanism from British aid agencies working in the Occupied Territories; and what concerns they have expressed. [88492]

Hilary Benn: The Temporary International Mechanism, designed to help provide for Palestinians' basic needs, is providing vital assistance to the people of the Gaza Strip at this difficult time. Since 11 July, the mechanism has provided fuel for back-up generators at hospitals, health centres, water supply pumps and sanitation facilities. This has enabled equipment to continue operating during power cuts after Gaza's only power station was damaged in an Israeli attack.

DFID is in regular contact with British aid organisations regarding the Occupied Palestinian Territories. In these discussions, several agencies have expressed concern that the Temporary International Mechanism does not provide support through the Palestinian Authority. Some agencies have also said that the range of areas covered by the mechanism should be wider than health, utilities and basic social support. The Government's view is that the mechanism has already proved its ability to ensure that basic services continue in very difficult circumstances in Gaza. Further support to ensure the continuation of essential health services throughout the Occupied Palestinian Territories is expected to begin shortly. The Government will keep the mechanism, and the best ways for supporting the Palestinian people, under close review.

Dr. Starkey: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development (1) which British (a) aid agencies and (b) other British organisations have made representations to his Department on the suspension of British aid to the Palestinian Authority; and which (i) supported and (ii) opposed the suspension of aid; [88493]

(2) what discussions his Department has had with British aid agencies working in Occupied Palestine on the suspension of direct British aid to the Palestinian Authority. [88494]

Hilary Benn: DFID is in regular contact with British aid organisations about the Occupied Palestinian Territories. Since Hamas’ victory in the Palestinian Legislative Council elections in January, we have had meetings with representatives of Welfare Association, World Vision, Oxfam, Christian Aid, Interpal, War on Want, Medical Aid for Palestinians and Save the Children.

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The agencies attending these meetings all shared the Government’s concern about the humanitarian situation and shared our view that humanitarian support to the Palestinian people should continue. The agencies also expressed concern that direct aid to the Palestinian Authority should not be suspended. We explained the UK Government’s commitment to do all we can to support the Palestinian people. We also explained that DFID could not support a government when that government was committed to violence, terrorism and the destruction of Israel.

Parliamentary Questions

Mr. Amess: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development how many parliamentary questions tabled to his Department were awaiting a reply on 10 July 2006; which of those had been waiting longer than (a) two and (b) three weeks for a reply; and what the reason for the delay was in each case. [85208]

Mr. Thomas: No questions tabled to DFID were still awaiting a reply as of 10 July. As of that date, 3,153 parliamentary questions had been tabled to DFID during the current parliamentary Session.

The Department endeavours to ensure that Members receive a substantive response to their named day question on the named day and also to provide answers to ordinary written questions within a working week of being tabled.

Security Passes

Simon Hughes: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development how many security passes have been reported (a) lost and (b) stolen by staff in his Department in each year since February 2004. [88554]

Mr. Thomas: The number of passes lost and stolen since February 2004 is as follows:

Lost Stolen

February 2004-January 2005



February 2005-January 2006



February 2006 to date



Statutory Instruments

Mr. Amess: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development on what occasions a statutory instrument sponsored by his Department has been reported by the Joint Committee on Statutory Instruments as defective since October 2005. [85190]

Hilary Benn: None.

Reports from the Joint Committee on Statutory Instruments contain full details of the statutory instruments which they have reported.


Andrew George: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what assessment he has made of whether international donors have met pledges to provide aid in Darfur. [88613]

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Hilary Benn: The current UN appeal seeks $801 million (mostly for humanitarian assistance) for Darfur to cover the period up to 31 December 2006. So far, $345 million has been pledged by donors, and the bulk of these pledges have been met. A significant element of the £49 million provided by DFID to the Common Humanitarian Fund, covering the whole of Sudan, will be channelled to Darfur.

The signing of the Darfur Peace Agreement in May has enabled work to begin on identifying the region's longer-term recovery and development needs. An assessment team is currently in Darfur, and will present a report to donors at a conference due to be held in The Hague later in the year. Donors will be able to pledge further financial support at this meeting.

Tropical Storm Bilis

Mark Simmonds: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what assessment he has made of the impact on developing countries in the region of tropical storm Bilis. [88415]

Mr. Thomas: DFID has been monitoring the situation closely, and has been prepared to respond if necessary. There has not been any request for international assistance and needs are being met by the affected countries’ governments and local response arrangements.


Andrew George: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what steps his Department has taken to assist countries affected by the tsunami in the Indian Ocean in December 2005 in preparations to minimise the damage of future tsunamis. [88791]

Mr. Thomas: Following the tsunami in December 2004, DFID set aside £7.5 million of its humanitarian assistance to support disaster risk reduction (DRR) activities in the affected region.

DFID is currently considering:

UK Aid Expenditure

Mr. Stephen O'Brien: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what the UK aid expenditure was on (a) acute diarrhoeal illness, (b) acute lower respiratory infections, (c) child health, (d) HIV/AIDS, (e) malaria, (f) poor nutrition, (g) reproductive and maternal health, (h) tuberculosis and (i) vaccine preventable diseases in (i) 2004-05 and (ii) 2005-06; and what such spending is estimated to be for (A) 2006-07 and (B) 2007-08. [88372]

Mr. Thomas: It is not possible, to disaggregate UK aid expenditure by disease category or sub-sectors areas such as child health or reproductive and maternal
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health. DFID uses a range of different aid instruments to assist developing countries implement their national health plans. UK support ranges from direct budget support to funding delivered through multilateral agencies such as the World Health Organisation (WHO) and UNICEF.

The focus of DFID’s work in health is to help countries strengthen their health systems to prevent and mitigate the impact of ill health including communicable diseases. Functioning systems are crucial for effectively tackling diarrhoeal diseases, pneumonia and vaccine preventable disease epidemics as well as HIV, TB and malaria and to deliver child and reproductive health services. With country partners DFID monitors improvements in health outcomes (e.g. reduced child mortality rates) or outputs (more children immunised against measles and fewer cases and deaths) rather than inputs targeting individual diseases. The exception is AIDS, where DFID does monitor spend against a government commitment to spend at least £1.5 billion over the three years 2005-06 to 2007-08.

DFID’s overall bilateral spend on the health sector was £363 million in 2004-05 through our country, regional and research programmes. We also provide 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 bilateral contribution to improving health in developing countries. In addition to our bilateral assistance we provided a further £110 million in 2004-05 for health through multilateral assistance including to the WHO and other UN agencies.

We are also supporting a number of innovative financing mechanisms to increase resources to tackle communicable diseases. For example, the International Finance Facility for Immunisation will raise an additional £4 billion from a number of donors for vaccines for the Global Alliance on Vaccines and Immunisations and help support the development of new vaccines for communicable diseases that can be prevented.

The specific spend on communicable diseases, other than AIDS, in 2004-05 was £80 million (out of the £363 million). Recording AIDS-specific expenditure requires careful analysis because there are a range of sectors which have an impact on the epidemic, including health, education, social development and good governance. There are also a range of instruments used to channel AIDS-related development spending. DFID has been working with the Joint United Nations Programme of HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) and others to review and improve these expenditure calculations. While refinements to the methodology are still in progress DFID has reported a provisional bilateral expenditure of £350 million on AIDS for the period 2004-05.

Expenditure data for 2005-06 by sector will not be released until the autumn and expenditure forecasts for 2006-07 and 2007-08 will be subject to the direction of DFID country programming in response to the 2006 White Paper and the revised Health Strategy under preparation.

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World Food Programme (Kenya)

Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development if he will take urgent steps to tackle the situation facing the World Food Programme in Kenya; and if he will make a statement. [88265]

Hilary Benn: We share the World Food Programme's assessment that despite improved rains, food security remains poor among some communities in particular in northern and eastern Kenya—the same areas affected by drought in 2005. In many parts of northern Kenya rains were again below normal and drought conditions persist, resulting in continuing humanitarian needs in these areas. Rates of acute malnutrition remain very high—well above the emergency threshold.

The UK is the second largest bilateral donor in the response (after the US). The UK's total contribution in response to the drought in Kenya since December 2005 is £22.2 million spent on food aid, water supplies and emergency health. Of this, £12.5 million has been channelled through the World Food Programme (WFP). I am considering further contributions and at the same time urging other donors to make contributions.

DFID is also working with the Government of Kenya and others to tackle the underlying causes of the persistent food crises affecting Kenya. The Government of Kenya with our support is developing a hunger safety net programme that aims to tackle chronic hunger in the long term.

Culture, Media and Sport

Arts Council (Jazz Funding)

Mr. Don Foster: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport pursuant to the oral Answer to the hon. Member for Waveney (Mr. Blizzard) of 24 April 2006, Official Report, column 351, on Arts Council (Jazz Funding), what assessment her Department has made of the impact of the rescheduling of jazz music on Smooth FM on the listenership of that genre; and if she will make a statement. [89097]

Mr. Lammy: Such an assessment does not fall within the remit of my Department.

Community Development Fund

Mr. Don Foster: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport what plans she has to extend the Community Development Fund beyond its initial three year period. [88893]

Mr. Caborn: £60 million was available for the Community Club Development Programme in the three-year period 2003-06. An additional £40 million is available for the period 2006-08.

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Mr. Don Foster: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport how much has been allocated in grants from the Community Development Fund; and which sports have received an allocation. [88894]

Mr. Caborn: £60.1 million has been committed to date to the support of 1,018 sports facilities projects through the Community Club Development Programme (CCDP).

Sports benefiting from CCDP in the period 2003-06 include: cricket, football, tennis, rugby football league, rugby football union, netball, rowing, swimming, badminton, cycling, canoeing, gymnastics, judo, basketball, hockey, and table tennis. A further three sports will be eligible to receive CCDP from 2006/07: boxing, golf and squash.

Departmental Staff (Sickness Absence)

David Simpson: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport pursuant to the answer of 5 June 2006, Official Report, column 131W, on Departmental Staff, how many staff in her Department have had two or more periods of sick leave of less than five days in two or more of the last three years. [84029]

Mr. Lammy: My department had 89 members of staff who had two or more periods of sick leave of less than five working days in two or more of the last three years.

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