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Prime Minister


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. [95288]

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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.

Departmental Travel

David T.C. Davies: To ask the Prime Minister how much has been spent by his Office on (a) chartering aircraft and (b) non-scheduled air travel in each of the last five years. [96214]

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”.

Human Rights

Mr. Blunt: To ask the Prime Minister when (a) he and (b) his office first saw the draft of the Foreign Office's 2006 report on Human Rights for 2006. [95934]

The Prime Minister: My Office received a draft of the report in September.

Ministerial Resignations

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. [95287]

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.

Official Gifts

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; [95331]

(2) what use is made of the Segway transporter held by his Office as a donated asset; and for what reason it is retained. [96239]

The Prime Minister: I have nothing further to add to the answer I gave the hon. Member on 24 July 2006, Official Report, column 867W.

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Privy Council

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. [95332]

The Prime Minister: I receive nominations from a broad range of people. I consult as necessary before submitting names to the Queen.

International Development

Millennium Development Goals

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. [96576]

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.


8. Mr. Gray: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what UK aid has been allocated to Mongolia in 2006-07. [96577]

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.


9. Ms Dari Taylor: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development if he will make a statement on the humanitarian situation in the earthquake region of Pakistan. [96578]

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.

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UN (Conflict Prevention)

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. [96579]

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.

Climate Change

11. Mr. Boswell: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development if he will make a statement on his Department's work on tackling climate change. [96580]

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.

Health Care Drugs

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. [96581]

Mr. Thomas: The World Health Organisation estimates that one third of the world’s population is without access to medicines, including the supply of drugs.

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.

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13. Mr. Bellingham: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development when he next expects to meet his EU counterparts to discuss aid to Zimbabwe. [96582]

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.


14. Philip Davies: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what progress his Department is making towards reconstruction in Afghanistan. [96583]

Hilary Benn: Between 2001 and March 2006 DFID spent over £390 million on reconstruction and development in Afghanistan. Afghanistan is DFID’s fifth largest programme and we are Afghanistan’s 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 themselves—which is why over 70 per cent. of our aid goes directly to the Government of Afghanistan. Afghanistan remains one of the UK’s 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. [96359]

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:
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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.

Supporting Documentation: Summary of Quick Impact Projects in Helmand Province

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Project Value (USD)
Reconstruction and Development

Sayed Tajdar Shrine: Wall and gate construction


Sayed Tajdar Shrine: Road and footpath construction


Improvement of Friday Market and Gabion wall


Improvement of Friday Market (Cha-i-Anjeer)


Emergency food distribution


Gabion Extension


Support to Office of the Governor to respond to needs of Internally Displaced People


Support to Radio Stations


Weir on Helmand River


Silt removal from Helmand River


Extension of Gabion walls on Helmand River


Ulema Shura Ramadan Food


Lashkar Gar Hospital Mortuary


Bost Hospital Generator


Womens Centre improvements


Kartelegan and Toortank day care centres


Ulema Shura Eid Support


Womens Centre ISAF badges



Permanent Vehicle Check Points (PVCPs)


Afghan National Police Outposts


Afghan National Army Platoon House


Afghan National Army Outposts


4 Permanent Vehicle Check Points (PVCPs)


4 Enhanced Permanent Vehicle Check Points (PVCPs)


12 Permanent Vehicle Check Points (PVCPs) for Geresk





Media Training


Radio Transmitter


Helmand Governor - Armoured Car


3,000 uniforms for 1,500 police


GPS for the chief of police


ID card making facility (ANP)


Generators for the Governor


Wall for the office of the prosecutor


Support to the Office of the Governor


Tribal Liaison Office, District Reports


Rehabilitate Printing Press


Counter Narcotics

Windmill Wells


Vehicles for Counter Narcotics Police Authority


Counter-narcotics PI campaign


Communications equipment for the Counter Narcotics Police Afghanistan


PA Systems for 12 District Centres


Counter Narcotics Tractor Repairs


Counter Narcotics Tractor Ploughs




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