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Mr. Amess: To ask the Prime Minister how many (a) letters and (b) postcards he has received since July from (i) members of the public, (ii) hon. Members and (iii) members of the House of Lords about the issue of abortion; how many and what percentage (A) supported and (B) opposed abortion; and if he will make a statement. 
The Prime Minister: Since July my office has received approximately 200 representations about this issue. Given the volume of correspondence I receive, thousands of letters each week covering a broad spectrum of issues, my office records letters by subject rather than by the view expressed.
The Prime Minister: Since 1999 the Government have published an annual list of all visits overseas undertaken by Cabinet Ministers costing £500 or more during each financial year. Copies of these lists are available in the Library of the House. Information on the number of officials accompanying Ministers on overseas visits is included in the list.
All Ministers' travel arrangements are in accordance with the arrangements for official travel set out in chapter 10 of the ministerial code, and the accompanying guidance document, Travel by Ministers.
Mr. Amess: To ask the Prime Minister what discussions he has had with (a) the Deputy Prime Minister, (b) the Secretary of State for the Home Department and (c) the Chancellor of the Exchequer since July about his forthcoming resignation as Prime Minister; and if he will make a statement. 
The Prime Minister: I have regular meetings and discussions with ministerial colleagues and others on a wide range of subjects. Information relating to internal meetings, discussion and advice is not disclosed as to do so could harm the frankness and candour of internal discussion.
Mr. Hayes: To ask the Prime Minister pursuant to the answer of 24 July 2006, Official Report, column 867W, on official gifts, (1) how each of the assets recorded on the Donated Asset Reserve as held by his Office are used; and for what reason each is retained; 
Mr. Hayes: To ask the Prime Minister pursuant to the answer of 24 July 2006, Official Report, column 867W, on the Privy Council, through what mechanism he receives possible nominations for submission to the Queen; from whom he receives names; in what forum and with whom he discusses the merits of each candidate; and whether dossiers are maintained on each. 
7. Mr. Kidney: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what recent representations he has received from schools on the UK's contribution to the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals. 
Mr. Thomas: My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for International Development and I have received around 80 letters from schoolchildren this year on a wide range of issues relating to the Millennium Development Goals. We have met with school children and other young people, both at DFID offices and on regional visits.
Mr. Thomas: DFID does not have a bilateral aid programme with Mongolia. However, DFID does contribute to the European Commission's development assistance to Mongolia. In 2005 the EC contribution was €5.12 million, of which the UK's contribution was some £615,000.
Mr. Thomas: During my recent visit to the earthquake-affected areas I saw at first hand the current situation and the changes that have taken place since the earthquake. Much has already been achieved. Thousands of people have been given semi-permanent shelter. Pre-fabricated housing and weather-proof tents have been provided. All health and education facilities are working, in permanent or temporary structures.
The immediate challenge for the Pakistani government is the coming winter. They have worked with non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and donors on a comprehensive winter contingency plan. The UK is ready to provide additional help if required during this period.
10. Christine Russell: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what he expects the future role of the UN to be in helping to prevent conflict in developing countries; and if he will make a statement. 
Hilary Benn: The Secretary General submitted in September a report which sets out how the UN will in future help to prevent conflict, including by resolving disputes peacefully and by building work on prevention into its development programmes. The report also calls for improvements to coordination in and outside of the UN, and to the UN's early warning, information collection and analysis capacity. The UK will continue to support these efforts through the Global Conflict Prevention Pool. We will also continue to support the UN's Peacebuilding Commission and peacekeeping operations in preventing the recurrence of conflict.
Hilary Benn: DFID takes the issue of climate change very seriously. We are working with others, in particular the World Bank and other multilateral development banks, to increase investment in lower carbon energy, so that we can make progress towards reducing the greenhouse gas emissions that are causing the problem. We are helping developing countries to collect data on the range and type of climate-related changes that are likely to take place in coming years. We are also helping developing country planners to interpret that data, so they can make informed decisions about how best to respond. For example, they might need to introduce drought resistant crops.
12. David Taylor: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what assessment he has made of the supply of health care drugs to the developing world from G8 countries; and if he will make a statement. 
DFID are supporting a number of global initiatives such as the Global Fund to fight AIDS, TB and Malaria; International Finance Facility for Immunisation (IFFIm), UNITAID and advance market commitments for vaccines.
DFID helps to fund the broader health sector plans of developing country governments. Our programmes will build capacity in countries own health services to manage all major causes of illness including the provision of drugs and other supplies.
Hilary Benn: I regularly meet my EU counterparts, and our discussions include the situation in Zimbabwe. Foreign Ministers discussed Zimbabwe at the General Affairs and External Relations Council this month. The EU Common Position on Zimbabwe remains firm. The UK will press for extension of targeted measures against members of the Zimbabwe Government, due for review next February. EU members share deep concern for the plight of Zimbabweans resulting from bad governance. This was most recently demonstrated through the statement of condemnation of the brutal handling and serious abuse of the trade union demonstrators in Harare by the Zimbabwean authorities.
Hilary Benn: Between 2001 and March 2006 DFID spent over £390 million on reconstruction and development in Afghanistan. Afghanistan is DFIDs fifth largest programme and we are Afghanistans second largest bilateral donor, spending over £100 million in 2005-06. We are focusing on: building effective state institutions; improving economic management and improving rural livelihoods. The best way to do this is by supporting Afghans themselveswhich is why over 70 per cent. of our aid goes directly to the Government of Afghanistan. Afghanistan remains one of the UKs top priorities and we have provided valuable support to the Government who have made great progress over the last five years.
Mr. Ancram: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development pursuant to the answer of 17 October 2006, Official Report, column 1152W, on Afghanistan, what projects his Department has (a) undertaken and (b) financially supported in Helmand Province. 
Hilary Benn: DFID undertakes livelihoods projects, preferring to work through the Government of Afghanistan where possible. This support is essential to strengthen Government systems and build effective state institutions that will be able to continue to meet Afghanistan's development needs.
In Helmand, DFID supports a number of livelihood programmes. I announced a £30 million Helmand Agriculture and Rural Development Programme earlier this year. This programme aims to increase economic opportunities for the rural poor of Helmand by supporting the Government of Afghanistan in the roll-out of existing successful National Programmes in Helmand. These programmes will provide improved water and sanitation, essential small-scale rural infrastructure, greater access to small loans, improved roads and access to markets and agricultural inputs and training to the people of Helmand. Priority preliminary tasks have been undertaken:
i.e. sites for road and well building have been identified; engineering surveys conducted; and the Government procurement process started. This programme will construct 200 wells in and around Lashkar Gah city by end March 2007, and 49km of road will be under construction by then. Should the security situation allow, we also expect to build a further 490 wells in four districts in central Helmand by end March 2007.
Through the £3 million DFID-funded Research into Alternative Livelihoods Fund (RALF), the Restorative Agriculture and Rural Economy Research Project, implemented by Mercy Corps, is working on export feasibility of grapes, tomatoes, mushrooms, eggplants and okra, and has made strong contacts with raisin importers (organic and fair-trade). The programme is evaluating at least 10 different small-scale agri-processing industries, and producing case studies of enterprises that prove to have value added. For example tomato paste. In addition the programme has introduced a simple technology for the production of mint as a herbal remedy.
DFID has committed £4 million to the UK Global Conflict Prevention Pool (GCPP) funding allocation of £6.5 million for the delivery of quick impact projects (QIPS) in Helmand to get short-term development results and help build a platform for longer-term activities. From the total allocation, half has been committed and all will be spent by March 2007. To date, nearly fifty such projects have been funded and implemented. These funds have provided humanitarian assistance to victims of the drought, constructed permanent vehicle checkpoints to improve security, improved security around the shrine in Gereshk, reinforced the river bank walls and provided flood defences for the Bowlan bridge. A full list of UK funded QIPs under the four broad sub-headings (Reconstruction and Development, Security, Governance, and Counter Narcotics) is attached.
|Reconstruction and Development|
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