Previous Section Index Home Page

22 Nov 2006 : Column 102W—continued

Tax Fraud and Error

Mr. Laws: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what information is collected by HM Revenue and Customs on the cost/yield ratios for investigating (a) tax fraud and (b) error; and if he will make a statement. [102083]

Dawn Primarolo: The information is not available in the format requested.

22 Nov 2006 : Column 103W

Electoral Commission Committee

Electoral Commission

Mr. Heald: To ask the hon. Member for Gosport, representing the Speaker's Committee on the Electoral Commission if he will make a statement on the reappointment of the Chairman of the Electoral Commission. [102835]

Peter Viggers: The Chairman of the Electoral Commission, like the other Commissioners, is appointed by Her Majesty following an Address from this House. As I announced in the House on 6 November in response to an oral question from my hon. Friend the Member for Chichester, the current Chairman, Sam Younger, has been offered a further period of office, to expire on 31 December 2008, subject to the statutory consultation required of the registered leaders of certain political parties, and the agreement of this House. Mr Younger has accepted this offer, and the statutory consultation of party leaders is about to be concluded.

My hon. Friend will find further background on the reappointment process in my answers to my hon. Friend the Member for Chichester on 6 November, Official Report, column 576.

House of Commons Commission

Security Measures

Lynne Jones: To ask the hon. Member for North Devon, representing the House of Commons Commission what the cost has been of the dismantling and re-erection of physical security measures outside the Palace of Westminster for proceedings for the State Opening of Parliament. [101378]

Nick Harvey: The cost of the dismantling and re-erection of physical security measures outside the Palace of Westminster for proceedings for the State Opening of Parliament was £44,850 plus VAT.


Court of Appeal

Mr. Dismore: To ask the Solicitor-General in what circumstances he will refer to the Court of Appeal as unduly lenient a sentence imposed on an employer as the result of a conviction arising from an accident at work to an employee; in how many cases he has done so in the last five years; what the outcome was of the referred cases; and if he will make a statement. [100842]

The Solicitor-General: The ULS scheme allows me to refer certain serious offences to the Court of Appeal where I consider the sentence imposed is in law unduly lenient, and I only take decisions to refer after a careful review of the facts and circumstances of the case and the relevant sentencing case law. The scheme does not extend to the health and safety at work legislation, but manslaughter is included in it. A review of manslaughter cases which have been referred to the
22 Nov 2006 : Column 104W
Court of Appeal since 2002 shows that one such case concerned an accident at work to an employee. The offender’s name was Michael Shaw, and on 4 October this year the Court of Appeal replaced his original sentence of two years' imprisonment suspended for two years with an immediate custodial term of fifteen months.

Public Prosecution Service

Mark Durkan: To ask the Solicitor-General whether he plans for regional offices of the Public Prosecution Service to be established in Belfast and Newry; and if he will make a statement. [101093]

The Solicitor-General: The PPS has been planning to operate on a regional basis with Regional Offices in six major cities and principal towns.

Ballymena, Belfast, Lisburn, Londonderry, Newry and Omagh have been identified as the most appropriate sites for the new regional offices. The Belfast regional office, which is based in the PPS Belfast Headquarters, and the Lisburn office are already open and operating. The Ballymena building is due for completion later this month and will be operational by mid-December. The Omagh building is due for completion by July 2007.

The PPS has to date been unable to secure suitable sites in either Londonderry or Newry through the public procurement exercise and as a result has been working closely with the Northern Ireland Valuation and Lands Agency to identify and negotiate arrangement for sites in both of these cities.

Negotiations in regard to Londonderry are now well advanced with a view to agreement to secure a new build site with developers in the new year. Work is still ongoing to find a suitable site in Newry.

International Development


Mr. Vaizey: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development how many of his Department’s staff are working in Afghanistan. [101865]

Hilary Benn: DFID currently has 16 UK-based officials in Afghanistan. 15 are in Kabul and one in Helmand.

Three additional posts in Kabul (in conflict, economics and an additional secondee to the British Embassy Drugs Team) are vacant. A new post will begin in January which will take responsibility for coordinating activities in Helmand. This makes a total planned complement of 20 staff in Afghanistan. The DFID Afghanistan team also has UK officials in London, and Afghan staff in Kabul, and staff from Kabul travel regularly to other provinces (notably Helmand) to support the team there.

The Post Conflict Reconstruction Unit (PCRU), for which DFID has accounting responsibility, has one official based in Kabul as part of the Strategic Delivery
22 Nov 2006 : Column 105W
Unit, and has deployed four UK officials to Helmand at various times in advance of the arrival of other Departments’ staff. A PCRU-funded staff member, who from January will be funded by DFID, manages the funds available for Quick Impact Projects in Helmand.

Aid Monitoring

Mr. Lilley: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development whether the 10-year plans his Department intends to sign with partner countries referred to in the Making Governance Work for the Poor White Paper will contain (a) provisions to divert aid from projects which fail to achieve the plan's aims and (b) performance benchmarks against which partner countries will be judged. [101162]

Hilary Benn: DFID will establish strategic 10-year Development Partnership Arrangements with countries that show a commitment to good governance and reducing poverty. These long-term arrangements are based on the UK’s conditionality policy which sets out the circumstances under which DFID will interrupt or suspend aid. We will consider interrupting aid if there is a breach of the partnership commitments that form the basis of our relationship with national governments; i.e. if:

10-year arrangements will set out long-term and predictable support that will be delivered in ways that ensure that DFID funds are used to reduce poverty. Such arrangements will contain benchmarks to assess the partner Government’s performance. A failure to meet benchmarks would not lead automatically to interruption of aid flows. Initially it would trigger discussion with the partner Government about progress with reforms and how constraints to implementation might be resolved. However, a persistent failure to achieve results would lead us to review the Government’s commitment to poverty reduction. The strategic partnership arrangements are supported by individual funding instruments for each development intervention. Individual funding instruments contain a provision to modify or terminate our support in poorly performing programmes.

Mr. Lilley: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development how his Department assesses potential development projects to see how quantitative performance criteria can be incorporated into the monitoring and evaluation schemes of such projects. [101166]

Hilary Benn: DFID delegates responsibility for the assessment of potential bilateral development projects and their design to field teams, usually based in countries where the projects will take place. For projects above £7.5 million formal approval at Director or Ministerial level is required.

22 Nov 2006 : Column 106W

DFID uses a log frame mechanism which sets out each project’s goal, purpose, and outputs. Objectively verifiable indicators to allow the monitoring and evaluation of performance are set out at each of these levels and will be quantitative where appropriate. These will be identified prior to a project being approved.

Bilateral projects of £1 million and over are reviewed annually against the indicators set out in the log frame and management action is then taken if necessary. Performance scores are given together with a narrative description of progress. On completion, a final review takes place to evaluate the success or otherwise of the project, again based on the performance criteria set out at the design stage.

Mr. Lilley: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what proportion of projects funded by his Department at a cost of more than £1 million contain quantitative performance criteria against which their success or failure can be measured. [100665]

Hilary Benn: All projects funded by DFID at a cost of more than £1 million contain objective verifiable indicators against which performance can be assessed. In the majority of projects, those indicators are contained in the project’s logical framework. This is the tool that DFID uses to set project objectives and identify performance indicators. In some cases, however, an equivalent performance framework is used, such as that of another donor. Progress towards the project’s indicators is reviewed on an annual basis.

Mr. Lilley: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what criteria his Department uses in deciding how much funding to allocate to each multilateral aid organisation in addition to any obligatory contributions. [101158]

Hilary Benn: We assess the effectiveness of multilateral aid in contributing towards achievement of the Millennium Development Goals, which is the overall basis for our aid allocation decisions.

In 2004, DFID assessed the internal systems of our 23 key multilateral partners using a Multilateral Effectiveness Framework (MEFF). This has helped us better understand how well they are organised to deliver their business.

DFID is using the results of the MEFF in conjunction with other assessments to inform the Comprehensive Spending Review process. These include surveys carried out by the Multilateral Organisations Performance Assessment Network, a group of nine donors assessing effectiveness at the country level, as well as the performance reporting of the multilateral themselves.

Criteria include their performance at a country or global level, the quality of their partnerships, how they are building for the future, and how they manage their resources. We also look at their performance within particular contexts (for example fragile states) and sectors (for example health). Their coverage and other criteria are also considered.

Taken together these will inform financing decisions we believe will have the greatest impact on the lives of the world’s poor people.

22 Nov 2006 : Column 107W

Departmental Staff

Mr. Lilley: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what the average length of overseas posting is for full-time staff in his Department who are posted to developing countries. [101157]

Mr. Thomas: The average length of an overseas posting in DFID is two to three years.


Mr. Hague: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what estimate he has made of the number of internally displaced people in Iraq; and what assessment he has made of recent trends in the number. [101972]

Hilary Benn: The Government of Iraq, United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and its partners estimate there are now more than 1.6 million internally displaced persons (IDPs) within Iraq. Up to 1.1 million of these people are believed to have left their homes under the previous regime. The UNHCR report that there are 424,000 newly displaced who have left their homes and communities since the bombing of the Samarra shrine in February 2006. Reasons for this recent displacement are mainly due to the rise in sectarian violence around Iraq.

The majority of internally displaced persons in Iraq are either living with relatives, friends or extended family, or renting accommodation in other neighbourhoods. However, thousands of displaced persons without family links or money are living in public buildings and schools, improvised shelters and government camps run by the International Federation of the Red Crescent.

UN agencies are delivering food and emergency assistance in central and southern Iraq together with the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and the International Organisation of Migration (IOM). Since February, the ICRC has distributed food and emergency relief to 150,000 people. EC member states have recently agreed to give €10 million to the UN for the provision of additional shelter and other basic needs for IDPs.

The UNHCR also estimates that there are up to 1.6 million Iraqis living outside their country, most of them in Jordan (500,000) and Syria (450,000). Some have been outside for a decade or more, but many have moved since 2003. The UN Assistance Mission Iraq is currently conducting an assessment of these people’s needs.

Since 2003, DFID has contributed over £100 million to humanitarian agencies working in Iraq, including
22 Nov 2006 : Column 108W
£85 million for the UN Humanitarian Appeal and £32 million to the ICRC for emergency humanitarian assistance. This includes £4 million for its 2006 Appeal. In 2004, DFID also provided £70 million to the International Reconstruction Fund Facility for Iraq (IRFFI). IRFFI has already spent over $18 million on supporting the return and reintegration of IDPs in Iraq. We are in close touch with UN humanitarian agencies so that we are able to respond quickly where unmet needs are identified.


Mr. Sarwar: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what aid is being (a) offered and (b) provided to Pakistan. [100975]

Mr. Thomas: For the three-year period 2005-06 to 2007-08 a Country Assistance Framework of £236 million has been agreed with the Government of Pakistan. An additional £58 million was committed for emergency relief following the earthquake of October 2005 and £70 million has been committed for earthquake reconstruction and rehabilitation over the three-year period 2006-07 to 2008-09.

Of the Country Assistance Framework funds, around £140 million will be disbursed by the end of 2006-07. £54 million has been spent on earthquake emergency relief and to date £5 million has been spent on earthquake reconstruction. We anticipate disbursing another £20 million of the reconstruction money by the end of this financial year.

On Sunday 19 November, Prime Minister Tony Blair announced that the UK’s aid to Pakistan will double to £480 million over the spending period 2008-11. The planning process on how to spend the additional resources to achieve the best possible results for poverty reduction in Pakistan has begun. Decisions will be made in consultation with the Government of Pakistan, the Pakistani diaspora, other donors and Whitehall.

Education and Skills

Higher Education

Mr. Denis Murphy: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills how many school leavers in (a) Wansbeck constituency, (b) Northumberland and (c) England entered higher education in each year since 1997. [101954]

Bill Rammell: The latest available information is shown in the table. Figures for 2005-06 will be available in January 2007.

22 Nov 2006 : Column 109W

22 Nov 2006 : Column 110W
Students aged 18 entering higher education undergraduate courses at UK higher education institutions
Of which:
Total England Total with known postcodes from Northumberland local authority area from Wansbeck constituency









































1. Figures have been rounded to the nearest five, and are on a DfES snapshot basis.
2. Students from Northumberland local authority area or Wansbeck are identified by reference to their home postcode.
3. These students may have entered higher education from school sixth forms, or from FE sector institutions, including Sixth Form Colleges.
Higher Education Statistics Agency (HESA).

Next Section Index Home Page