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Generic Medicines

Lynne Jones: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development pursuant to the Hong Kong ministerial agreement to allow pharmaceutical producing countries to manufacture generic copies of patented medicines for export to a non-producing country at that country’s request, how many such requests have been made. [92691]

Mr. Thomas: None have been made to date.


John Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what recent assessment he has made of poverty and inequality in India. [92935]

Mr. Thomas: DFID’s development programme in India is informed by assessments of poverty and inequality carried out by the Government of India and multilateral partners such as the World Bank. Individual DFID-funded programmes and projects also support poverty and inequality data gathering and analysis affecting smaller sections of the Indian population.

The Indian Government’s National Sample Survey provides the principal nationwide poverty data used to inform their activities and DFID’s programme. The last survey was undertaken during 2004-05, and its results are awaited. While previous surveys showed a rapid fall in the number of people below the poverty line, from 36 per cent. to 26 per cent. of the population, it is likely that the latest results will indicate a slower pace of poverty reduction.

DFID India’s Country Assistance Plan 2004-08 noted that inequality is widely accepted as “the most significant challenge for India” in eradicating poverty. Although the 2006 World Bank document, ‘Inclusive Growth and Service Delivery: Building on India’s Success’ notes India as having low inequality in income compared to other countries, India’s rapid economic growth since the early 1990s has brought with it increased inequality.

John Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what steps are being taken by his Department to reduce inequality in India. [92936]

Mr. Thomas: DFID's programme in India operates in support of Government of India initiatives to reduce poverty and inequality. The Indian Government's tenth five-year plan (2002 to 2007) is the basis for development co-operation between the Indian Government and DFID, and is reflected in DFID's India Country Assistance Plan 2004 to 2008.

The tenth plan identifies equitable growth and social justice as an area of concern to be addressed through faster agricultural growth, more employment opportunities, and special programmes for the poorest groups. For agriculture, the plan focuses on food productivity, agricultural reform, investment in rural infrastructure, and incentives for crop diversification.
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The plan also sets targets for slow-developing states and stresses Government assistance for the poorest districts.

DFID's support for the Government of India's efforts to reduce inequality includes:

John Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what discussions he has had with the government of India about tackling HIV/AIDS. [93072]

Mr. Thomas: DFID, through its India country office, has regular contact with the Government of India on progress in tackling the AIDS epidemic. DFID actively supports the Indian Government in its efforts to prevent HIV transmission and provide treatment and care for those infected.

India has an estimated 5.2 million people living with HIV, although prevalence is low at 0.91 per cent. The epidemic is concentrated in six high-prevalence states (Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Maharashtra, Manipur, Nagaland and Tamil Nadu) and is mainly transmitted through unprotected sexual behaviour or injecting drug use.

DFID in India has committed £123 million over seven years (to March 2007) in support of India's National AIDS Control Programme. DFID's support funds prevention activities in the India programme's four focal states of Andhra Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Orissaand West Bengal, and in Bihar, Gujarat, Kerala and Uttar Pradesh. These targeted interventions are designed to reach out to the most vulnerable groups among whom the prevalence of disease is highest (sex workers, men having sex with men, injecting drug users), through innovative programmes to contain the spread of the disease. DFID also invests in improving governmental capacity to tackle AIDS, and in mass media campaigns by the BBC World Service Trust.

DFID is currently in discussion with the Government of India on support for the next phase of the National AIDS Control Programme.

Obstetric Fistula

John Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what steps are being taken by his Department to (a) reduce the incidence of and (b) repair the effects of obstetric fistula in the developing world. [92937]

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Mr. Thomas: The cornerstone of preventing obstetric fistula is prompt access to good quality health care when needed. DFID is committed to helping countries expand access to health care, including family planning, safe abortion services, antenatal and obstetric services, all of which are vital for preventing fistula. Meeting the existing demand for family planning services would reduce maternal deaths and injuries by over 20 per cent. DFID is the only major bilateral donor to have a strategy focused on reducing maternal mortality. Copies of the first progress report on the strategy can be found in the Library of the House.

The effects of fistula can be devastating for the lives of girls and women, whose babies often die. Rendered incontinent they are often rejected by their husbands, thrown out of their homes and excluded from community life. DFID is therefore committed to promoting the rights of girls and women, particularly their sexual and reproductive rights, and to the elimination of harmful practices such as early marriage and female genital mutilation, which can significantly increase the risk of fistula.

DFID targets some funding through NGOs to tackle obstetric fistula. For example, DFID has provided a grant of £558,000 to the EngenderHealth and Women’s Dignity Project to combat obstetric fistula in Tanzania and Uganda, and £140,000 to the Obstetric Fistulae in Africa Project. To compliment our country level support, DFID channels funds through the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA). DFID provides £20 million a year core funding and in 2004 provided £10 million specifically for reproductive health supplies. DFID also provides an annual contribution of £19 million to the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and £12.5 million to the World Health Organisation (WHO), whose programmes support work on women’s empowerment, maternal and reproductive health.

John Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what recent discussions he has had about obstetric fistula. [92938]

Mr. Thomas: On 27 June 2006 the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) launched a high profile media campaign on obstetric fistula in the UK. DFID was engaged in discussions with UNFPA regarding the overall campaign and the UK was represented at the campaign launch press conference by Baroness Amos. UNFPA’s choice of the UK for the campaign was in recognition of the political commitment of the UK to addressing the Millennium Development Goal 5: ‘Improve maternal health’.

John Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what assessment he has made of the impact of efforts to reduce the incidence and impact of obstetric fistula. [92939]

Mr. Thomas: DFID draws on the analysis of the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) and the World Health Organisation (WHO) for data regarding obstetric fistula and does not conduct its own assessments. WHO estimates that more than two million women and girls are living with fistula in
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developing countries, with 50,000 to 100,000 new cases occurring each year. However, these figures are based on the number of women seeking treatment and are likely to be gross underestimates. The full extent of the problem has never been mapped and reliable data on obstetric fistula is scarce. In 2004 UNFPA and EngenderHealth conducted a groundbreaking needs assessment study in nine African countries to provide the basis of our understanding on obstetric fistula in sub-Saharan Africa.

St. Helena

Bob Russell: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development if he will make a statement on the provision of an airport on the island of St Helena. [93249]

Mr. Thomas: DFID remains firmly committed to the development of air access to St. Helena, subject to rigorous environmental impact assessment and acceptable contracts. In July, all the short-listed consortia responded to the invitation to tender by indicating that, while they were keen to work on the project, they would not bid against the tender as it stood.

We have reviewed the concerns raised and will shortly issue a new notice in the Official Journal of the European Union. In doing so, we shall ensure that DFID's interest in achieving value for money is preserved.

Work on identifying an airline to operate scheduled flights is continuing in parallel with the procurement of the airport contractor.


John Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what recent estimate he has made of the death rate in Darfur. [92941]

Hilary Benn: UNICEF and the World Health Organisation are carrying out a nutritional survey which will provide an up to date estimate of death rates: preliminary results are due on 15 October. The best current estimates show that the average crude mortality rate in Darfur remains below the recognised emergency threshold of 1 death per 10,000 population per day.

John Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what recent estimate he has made of the number of people who have been (a) killed and (b) displaced as a result of the conflict in Darfur. [92942]

Hilary Benn: No reliable figures exist for the total number of people killed across Darfur since the conflict began and estimates vary widely.

But every death, casualty or rape in Sudan is a tragedy. That is why we are pressing the Government of Sudan and the rebel groups to stop the fighting; to agree to the deployment of a UN force in Darfur; to co-operate in bolstering the AU in the interim; to commit to and implement the Darfur Peace Agreement; and to ensure full humanitarian access for the UN and NGOs in Darfur.

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The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA) estimates that the current displaced population in Darfur is 1.9 million. This includes those in established IDP camps and those living in informal gatherings.

Mr. Hague: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what assessment he has made of the humanitarian impact of the Government military offensive in Darfur; and if he will make a statement. [93203]

Hilary Benn: The Sudan Government’s recent military offensive has caused civilian displacement, predominantly in North Darfur, with approximately 20,000 new arrivals having been registered in the camps for internally displaced people there. Localised displacement is assumed to have taken place further north in North Darfur, but aid agency assessments have been hampered due to the ongoing conflict.

The World Food Programme estimates that 224,000 registered beneficiaries in north Darfur could not be accessed in September due to the offensive and other inter-factional fighting. There could be a sharp rise in malnutrition rates early in 2007 if access for humanitarian agencies continues to be hampered, and fighting prevents the remaining population from harvesting their crops

Trade (Africa)

John Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what steps are being taken by his Department to facilitate African trade. [92934]

Hilary Benn: Last month the Chancellor and I announced that we expect UK spending on aid for trade, including economic infrastructure, to increase to $750 million by 2010. A major proportion of this will flow to Africa, including funding for transport, energy, ports and communications, as well as capacity building for trade policy and trade facilitation.

DFID supports efforts to improve regional integration—key to facilitating African trade—at both pan-African (support to African Union—New Partnership for Africa’s Development and African Development Bank) and sub-regional levels. For example in southern Africa, DFID supports a regional trade facilitation programme and is also initiating two new programmes to facilitate trade: one to implement one stop border posts to make cross border trade easier, and a Regional Standards Programme to increase capacity of the region to produce goods of export quality. DFID is also developing an extensive programme to improve the state of transport infrastructure in southern Africa, to reduce transport costs and improve the logistics of moving freight across long distances.

DFID also provides support at national level. For example, DFID assists Lesotho’s labour-intensive garment sector to retain and build its market share in a time of global upheaval. DFID also funds large-scale programmes to help countries like Mozambique, Tanzania, Malawi and Rwanda reform their customs and facilitate trade.

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DFID also supports regular meetings of the Boksburg Group, an informal group of experts, government officials and business representatives of developing countries coming together to discuss how best to achieve trade facilitation reform, including in the negotiations in the World Trade Organisation (WTO).

Finally, we continue to work hard towards an ambitious global, multilateral trade deal that will bring maximum benefits for Africa.

Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

Air Quality (Milton Keynes)

Mr. Lancaster: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what assessment he has made of air quality in Milton Keynes in each year between 1997 and 2005. [91496]

Mr. Bradshaw: Local authorities (LAs) have a duty under Part IV of the Environment Act 1995 to review and assess the current, and likely future air quality in their areas. The first step of the review and assessment process is an updating and screening assessment (USA), which is to be undertaken by all LAs, every three years, to identify those matters that have changed since the last round was completed. Where LAs consider that one or more of the nationally prescribed air quality objectives for each of the seven pollutants is unlikely to be met by the relevant deadline, they must declare an air quality management area (AQMA), covering the area where the problem is expected. These LAs must then take action, along with other agencies and organisations, to work towards meeting the air quality objectives.

When the local air quality management system was first introduced in December 1997, LAs were advised to complete the review and assessment process by December 1999. My Department assessed Milton Keynes' air quality report in December 1999. The report concluded that further investigation was needed in respect of nitrogen dioxide and particulate matter (PM10). Following monitoring and modelling, Milton Keynes concluded from the additional work that they did not need to declare an AQMA.

The second round of reviews and assessments started in 2003 and LAs had to submit USAs by the end of May 2003, and were expected to submit either a detailed assessment or a progress report by April 2004 and April 2005 respectively. Milton Keynes submitted their USA in July 2003 and a Progress Report in both July 2004 and July 2005. They concluded that there was no need to proceed to a detailed assessment or declare an AQMA.

The third round of review and assessments has now started and local authorities were asked to submit new USAs by the end of April 2006. We received Milton Keynes' report in May 2006. Our consultants have assessed the report and agreed that there is no need for Milton Keynes to carry out further work in respect of any of the pollutants.

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Mr. Paice: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what the average market valuations used in cattle compensation tables have been over the last six months. [92338]

Mr. Bradshaw: Since 1 February 2006, cattle compensation for bovine tuberculosis in England has been determined primarily using table valuations, based on average market prices for 47 pre-determined cattle categories. These are based on the animal's age, gender, type (dairy or beef) and status (for example, pedigree or non-pedigree). The table valuations are determined by using real sales prices achieved, at a large number and wide range of sources, for same category (but healthy) animals.

A complete list of monthly table valuations since February 2006 is available on the Defra website at:

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