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Operational Bonus

Mr. Harper: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what payroll system will be used to calculate and pay the new operational bonus to personnel in the (a) Royal Air Force, (b) Royal Navy and (c) Army. [94582]

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Derek Twigg [holding answer 17 October 2006]: The Joint Personnel Administration (JPA) payroll system is already in place for the Royal Air Force, and will be used from November 2006 by the Royal Navy and from April 2007 by the Army. For Army personnel the existing legacy pay system will be used until JPA roll out.


Mr. Lancaster: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence on what grounds the Ministry of Defence police may begin investigations into employers' financial assistance claims for mobilised reservists. [91485]

Derek Twigg: The Ministry of Defence police will act on the reasonable suspicions of anyone who alleges wrongdoing on the part of an employer making a claim for financial assistance in respect of a mobilised reservist. Criminal investigations are most likely to be instigated when the Service Adjudication Officer considering a particular claim suspects an incidence of fraud.

Service Families Accommodation

Michael Gove: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what plans he has to (a) reduce use of service families accommodation and (b) increase leasing of private sector accommodation. [91755]

Derek Twigg: There are currently no plans to reduce the use of UK Service Families Accommodation (SFA) in favour of leasing accommodation from the private sector.

The MOD only leases private sector accommodation in the UK when it has an individual housing requirement that it cannot satisfy with existing SFA or where personnel moves necessitate bulk hirings to meet a short-term need before families settle in the local communities. Where long-term demand exists in cases where there is currently no available SFA, cost-effective PFI schemes are often used to satisfy demand.

International Development


Mr. Hague: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what recent assessment he has made of progress on reconstruction projects in Afghanistan; and if he will place in the Library copies of the relevant aid impact analysis reports. [95244]

Hilary Benn: Despite a legacy of more than 20 years of conflict, Afghanistan has made good progress in reconstruction over the last five years. In January 2005, the Government of Afghanistan launched the interim Afghanistan National Development Strategy and the Afghanistan Compact at the London Conference. This is a major step in setting the overall strategy for development policies including reconstruction. The international community fully supports this strategy and as a result pledged £10.5 billion towards implementation. There are now 60 per cent. more functioning health clinics,
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nearly 2,000 schools have been built or rehabilitated and 60,000 former combatants have been disarmed. Major road rehabilitation is connecting major urban centres and Afghanistan with its neighbours. Reliable electricity supply is being restored in urban centres and rural electrification programmes are under way. The telecommunications sector is growing fast, connecting businesses and people in Afghanistan.

DFID support for the National Rural Access Programme (£18 million) is helping to build essential infrastructure such as irrigation schemes, roads and bridges. Under this programme nearly 8,000 km of roads have been built or repaired, as well as schools, health clinics and water schemes. The programme has also generated over 13 million days of labour. DFID support for the National Solidarity Programme (£17 million) is helping local communities through elected Community Development Councils (CDCs) to identify what development is most needed in their areas and then receive grants to undertake their work. The programme has funded over 17,000 projects in the areas of agriculture, education, health, irrigation, power supply, transport and water supply.

None the less, the challenges remain great. While progress has been good there is a long way to go: DFID recognises this. DFID’s Interim Strategy for Afghanistan 2005-06 states that the highest immediate priority is to stabilise the country, to ensure the Government are able to deliver services nationwide and to establish the rule of law within a democratic political system that safeguards human rights.

DFID recently participated in a joint evaluation of Humanitarian and Reconstruction Assistance to Afghanistan, 2001-05, with Denmark, Ireland, the Netherlands and Sweden. This focused on assessing the relevance, effectiveness, efficiency impact and coherence of the assistance and identifies the lessons learned. It concluded that assistance to Afghanistan has produced important results to date, but for sustainable impact, long-term development and peace-keeping is needed. I will ensure copies of this are placed in the Library.

Millennium Development Goals

Mr. Evennett: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what recent progress has been made on meeting the Millennium Development Goals; and if he will make a statement. [95064]

Hilary Benn: The world is on track to meet the poverty reduction and hunger goal. The most recent official data at global level show that between 1990 and 2002, the percentage of people living on less than $1 a day in the developing world dropped from 28 to 19 per cent. However, progress across regions varies. The proportion of people in Asia living on less than $1 a day dropped by nearly a quarter of a billion over that period. In sub-Saharan Africa, the goal is seriously off track, and although the poverty rate did not increase, the number of people living in extreme poverty increased by 140 million.

Progress towards the other seven Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) is assessed using data up to between 2003 and 2005 depending on the goals. Progress towards these goals varies. For example, reducing child mortality is on track in Latin America, South East Asia and North Africa, and slightly off
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track in most other regions. There is less progress towards goal 6 (combating HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases), which is seriously off track for at least one of the targets in sub-Saharan Africa, South Asia, Oceania and the Commonwealth of Independent States both in Europe and Asia. Progress towards environmental sustainability is mixed, with most regions off track for some targets and on track for others. On current rates of progress, sub-Saharan Africa will not meet any of the goals by 2015.

The recently published 2006 UN Millennium Development Goals Report, which can be found on, gives a comprehensive account of progress to date on each of the goals, and how great an effort remains necessary if they are to be met. DFID's 2006 Departmental Report includes an annex on UK progress towards MDG8. A copy of the report is available in the House of Commons Library.

Because the situation worsened in Africa, the UK has placed Africa at the forefront of our campaign for more and better aid. Of the 25 key countries on which DFID focuses its work, 16 are in Africa. The recent White Paper indicates what DFID sets out to do with respect to governance, basic services, climate change and the international system, which would all help make further progress towards meeting the MDGs.


Richard Burden: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what assessment he has made of the impact on education in the Occupied Territories of Israel’s approach to the granting or refusal of permits for Palestinian foreign passport holders for entry, re-entry or continuous residence in the Occupied Territories. [95446]

Hilary Benn: Since spring 2006, the Israeli authorities have been more strictly enforcing entry procedures towards foreign nationals (including those of Palestinian origin) who wish to visit the Occupied Territories. This includes would-be teachers and students. As a result, we estimate that hundreds of foreign nationals have been refused entry. Our embassy in Tel Aviv raised our concerns with the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs on 21 August.

Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what assessment he has made of the impact of the availability of health facilities for Palestinian children in Gaza and the West Bank on the quality of care; and if he will make a statement. [95725]

Hilary Benn: DFID is providing support to the UN Office for the Co-ordination of Humanitarian Affairs to help in monitoring the state of health care services in Gaza and the West Bank. Most health facilities have remained open since the start of the year. However, recent reports indicate that the strike by Palestinian authority workers that began on 23 August has led to reduced services being offered in hospitals and health centres across the West Bank. Gaza hospitals remain relatively unaffected. The UN Relief Works Agency, which provides services for the refugee population, has reported that there is an increase in the number of non-refugee families using their immunisation service.

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Sahel (Harvest Failure)

Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what assistance the UK is offering to (a) Nigeria, (b) Mali, (c) Mauritania and (d) Burkina Faso following the failure of the harvests in the Sahel; and if he will make a statement. [93444]

Hilary Benn: Extreme poverty, marginal livelihoods, and other chronic issues lie at the heart of the crisis which affected the Sahel in 2005, with inadequate rainfall, and locust infestation in 2004, adding to the problem. This situation led to deficits in the 2004 harvest, further antagonised by extreme food-price rises, and reductions in the poorest populations' access to food. In 2006, following adequate rainfall and with food production expected to be above the five-year average, the humanitarian situation remains relatively stable, but, owing to longer-term chronic vulnerabilities, the burden of acute childhood malnutrition remains high in some areas, and livelihoods remain precarious. DFID's response is as follows:

Somali Refugees (Kenya)

John Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what steps are being taken by his Department to assist the Government of Kenya in helping refugees fleeing conflict in Somalia. [95070]

Hilary Benn: Since the beginning of 2006 it is estimated that 34,000 Somalis have sought refuge in Kenya, 14,000 of these since 1 September. This adds to an existing Somali refugee caseload of 160,000. Many of these new arrivals say they are seeking asylum in Kenya because of fear of new fighting in Somalia.

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The Kenyan Government have continued in their worthy tradition of welcoming refugees. However the bulk of the support for the refugees in the camps where they are being sheltered will be provided by the international relief community. In order to seek resources for the additional requirements and for ongoing support ton the existing caseload of refugees, a UN humanitarian Flash Appeal for $35,272,035 was launched on Monday 15 October. The UN Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF) has already contributed $3,500,000. This has been split: $1,738,000 to the UN World Food Programme (WFP) and the balance $1,762,000 to the UN High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR).

The UK is the largest contributor to the UN Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF) having contributed $69,928,000 out of the total of $267,281,225 donated so far. It is also a major supporter of UNHCR. As of 30 September this year we were its fifth largest bilateral donor of funds in 2006 with $45 million. The UK also supports UNHCR operations through its funding to the EC, and to the CERF.

The UK is also a major supporter of humanitarian operations in Somalia, where we have committed £17,088,534 since April 2005. The UK also continues to actively support the peace process, including the reconciliation process between the Islamic Courts and the Transitional Federal Government. The next talks are scheduled for the end of October, and the UK is calling on all sides to take the necessary steps to ensure a peaceful way forward.


John Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what steps are being taken by his Department to tackle sexual violence in Darfur. [93073]

Hilary Benn: I refer the hon. Member to the answers provided by my right hon. Friend the Minister for Trade to Parliamentary Questions 93519 and 93529 (12 October 2006).

Mr. Hague: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what is the current level of UK funding to the African Union mission in Darfur . [96419]

Hilary Benn: The UK is a leading supporter of the African Union (AU) Mission in Darfur (AMIS). We were its first donor, and have to date provided £52 million of assistance. This includes a contribution of £20 million in the current financial year. This is being used for budgetary support, to fund military observers, and to airlift AU troops to and from Darfur. Following the AU’s decision to extend AMIS’s mandate to 31 December, we are now looking to see what else we can provide.


Breast Cancer

Mr. Skinner: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how many cases of breast cancer have been (a) diagnosed and (b) cured in the East Midlands in each of the last 10 years. [95179]

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John Healey: The information requested falls within the responsibility of the National Statistician, who has been asked to reply.

Letter from Karen Dunnell, dated 20 October 2006:

Table 1: Newly diagnosed cases of breast cancers( 1) registered in the East Midlands, 1995 to 2003





















1 ‘Breast cancer’ is defined by codes C50 in the International Classification of Diseases, Tenth Revision (ICD 10)
Source: Office for National Statistics
Years 2000-2003—Table 4 ‘Cancer Statistics: registrations, England’ series MB1

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