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Andrew Rosindell: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development how much his Department has given to the insecticide treated net programme in Tanzania since the programmes introduction. 
Hilary Benn: DFID has been investing in social marketing and market development of insecticide-treated bednets since 1998. This was done first through the SMITN (Social Marketing of Insecticide Treated Nets) project, and later through the SMARTNET (Strategic Social Marketing for Expanding the Commercial Marketing of Insecticide Treated Nets in Tanzania) project, jointly funded with the Netherlands.
Recent significant falls in under-five and infant mortality in Tanzania are due in part to increased use of treated nets. Net sales per year are well over three millionfar surpassing any similar programme in Africaand the nets are available in all parts of the country. Recent data shows that almost 30 per cent. of under-fives now sleep under treated bednetsdouble the percentage in 2005.
DFID committed and spent £3.9 million in the SMITN project, and committed a further £10.3 million out of the total £14.9 million commitment to the SMARTNET project. Of this, DFID has spent£7.6 million to date.
Mr. Thomas: Tetanus spores enter the body via deep wounds. In addition to wounds caused by accidents, mothers are susceptible to tetanus infection immediately following childbirth. Similarly, new born babies are at risk of tetanus infection where a non-sterile instrument is used to cut the umbilical cord (for example an un-trained traditional birth attendant using a piece of bamboo) and where traditional practices involve placing unclean dressings over the exposed area (such as dried and powdered cow dung used to help dry the cord in parts of south Asia). Without urgent treatment tetanus is fatal, causing an estimated 200,000 newborn child deaths a year.
Tetanus is preventable through good hygiene and vaccination. DFID supports developing countries efforts to strengthen the health services through which immunisation is provided, as well as to improve hygienic practices by skilled birth attendants. In 2005-06 DFID provided £453.1 million as direct support to the health sector. DFID also provided£12.5 million core support to the World Health Organisation (WHO) and £19 million to the United
Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) in 2005-06. Both WHO and UNICEF are key global actors in vaccine preventable diseases.
In addition, DFID supports the work of the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunisation (GAVI) to introduce new vaccines (such as Hepatitis B and Haemophilius influenza) into country immunisation schedules. In some cases these new vaccines are administered in combination with diphtheria, pertussis and tetanus (DPT). In these cases, GAVI also supports tetanus immunisation. In some of the world's poorest countries GAVI provides support to improve the health systems which deliver immunisation and this support has recently been linked to improvements in the rates of DPT immunisation coverage in these countries. DFID has contributed over £43 million to GAVI since 2000.
The UK is also committed to developing innovative financing mechanisms such as the International Finance Facility for Immunisation (IFFm) which was launched in September 2005. So far this has raised US$ 1 billion which will be channelled through GAVI, allowing a major scaling-up of their immunisation work. The UK has committed a total of £1.38 billion for IFFm over the next 20 years.
Hilary Benn: Support to address the problem of HIV/AIDS is an important part of the UKs aid programme to Uganda. DFID staff have regular discussions with Ugandan officials and Ministers about HIV/AIDS. When I met with President Museveni in November, I discussed with him Ugandas use of the Global Fund for AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria.
Uganda has successfully managed to reduce HIV prevalence from 18 per cent. in 1992 to 6.4 per cent. in 2005. It is a cause for concern, however, that prevalence is no longer falling and new HIV infections remain high.
DFID approved a major new HIV/AIDS programme for Uganda in June 2006 which will provide £9 million over the next three years. In our discussions with the Government, we stress the importance of implementing a comprehensive strategy for prevention, treatment and care. President Museveni recently cautioned the Ugandan people not to become complacent about the continuing threat that HIV poses.
DFID has not had any discussions with White Nile Limited, and has made no specific
assessment of the impact of White Niles oil exploration activities on stability and development in Sudan.
John Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what discussions he has had with the oil exploration company White Nile on the Extractive Industries Review guidelines. 
Hilary Benn: DFID has not had any discussions with White Nile Limited in relation to their oil exploration activities in Southern Sudan and the need for them to adhere to the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI) guidelines. However, we have had discussions with the Government of Southern Sudan (GOSS) on EITI and both the GOSS and the Federal Government in Sudan have declared an interest in EITI. We intend to take forward these initial discussions in coordination with the International Monetary Fund and the Norwegian Government in order to encourage both Governments and oil companies operating in Sudan to adopt the EITI principles.
Mr. Laws: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development how many parliamentary written questions his Department received in each parliamentary session since 2001; and how many of these questions (a) were not answered because of disproportionate cost, (b) were not answered, (c) received answers referring back to a previous answer(i) asked by the hon. Member and (ii) asked by another hon. Member and (d) were grouped together for answer. 
Mr. Laws: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what target his Department has for the maximum acceptable amount of time to answer parliamentary written questions; and what percentage of parliamentary answers met that target in each parliamentary session since 2001. 
Hilary Benn: DFID aims to answer all parliamentary questions within the timescales specified by Parliament: on the relevant day in the case of named day questions, and within one working week in the case of ordinary written questions. DFID does not keep central records of how it performs against those timescales, but such information is obtainable from the Official Report.
The DFID office in Harare closely monitors the humanitarian situation in Zimbabwe, liaising with the local UN Office for the Coordination
of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA). OCHA recently issued a Common Humanitarian Action Plan for the coming year in Zimbabwe. Despite good rains last year, Zimbabwe faces yet another year of crisis and food insecurity. While acute malnutrition is not presently at emergency levels, chronic malnutrition remains a serious problem. With inflation at over 1,000 per cent., many poor and vulnerable people in both rural and urban areas will face difficulty in accessing food in coming hungry months.
DFID will spend £33 million in 2006-07 to tackle food insecurity, HIV/AIDS, and in support of orphans and vulnerable children, including a recent pledge of£3 million to World Food Programme for their operations in Zimbabwe in the coming months. This support is all channelled through NGOs and UN agenciesnone through the Government of Zimbabwe. DFID Zimbabwe's Protracted Relief Programme addresses food security in a number of ways including the provision of agricultural inputs to the poorest communal farmers and food vouchers for households affected by AIDS, reaching approximately 1.5 million people across Zimbabwe.
John Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what discussions she has had with the Government of (a) Afghanistan and (b) Iran on the (i) legal and (ii) cultural status of women in those countries. 
Dr. Howells: The UK has regular discussions with the Afghan Independent Human Rights Commission and supports the efforts of the EU Special Representative on the implementation of human rights, including womens rights, in Afghanistan.
Afghan women, excluded by the Taliban, now play an active part in everyday life in Afghanistan. Their equality is enshrined in the Afghan Constitution, which also protects their right to participate in Afghan political life. 27 per cent. of seats in the Lower House of the Afghan Parliament are held by women. Women also enjoy equal access to the Afghan education system. 37 per cent. of students in Afghanistan are girls and a third of teachers are women. 19 per cent. of students enrolled in higher education are women. In addition, the Constitution requires the Government to uphold its obligations under international law. Rape and forced marriage are prohibited by Afghanistans obligations under the Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women, both of which Afghanistan has ratified. That said, securing the full participation of Afghan women in all sectors of the economy and society will take time and we acknowledge that serious problems remain. We remain committed to working with the Afghan Government and their international partners to improve womens ability to exercise their rights.
Although the situation of women in Iran is in some respects better than in other countries in the region, we remain concerned about the discrimination faced by
women in Iran. Domestic violence remains a serious problem, womens participation in the labour forceis low and women continue to face significant discrimination in the legal system. For example, the evidence of a woman is worth less than that of a man in court, and women do not enjoy equal rights in cases involving divorce, inheritance or the custody of children.
We raise womens rights and other human rights concerns regularly with the Iranian authorities, bilaterally and through the EU. We were pleased that all EU countries co-sponsored a draft resolution at this years UN General Assembly, approved by Third Committee on 21 November, which expressed serious concern at the continuing violence and discrimination against women and girls, and called upon the Iranian Government to
eliminate, in law and in practice, all forms of discrimination and violence against women and girls.
John Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what discussions she has had with the Government of Afghanistan on tackling violence against women in Afghanistan. 
Dr. Howells: The UK has regular discussions with the Afghan Independent Human Rights Commission (AIHRC) and supports the efforts of the EU Special Representative on the implementation of human rights, including womens rights, in Afghanistan. The Afghan Constitution requires the Afghan Government to uphold their obligations under international law. Afghanistan is a party to the Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW), which prohibit rape and forced marriage. Challenges remain but we are committed to assist the Afghan Government in the implementation of their international obligations.
The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO), through the Global Opportunities Fund (GOF), is sponsoring a number of projects specifically designed to empower women, by increasing their access to justice, improving their living standards, promoting their equal participation in governance, creating a professional network of womens rights organisations and promoting access to information through the radio. Through the GOF, the FCO supports the UK Bar Human Rights Committee project of human rights training for legal practitioners with a specific focus on womens rights (£240,000 over three years). Other projects include Global Rights: Womens Rights Advocacy in Afghanistan, which will produce a report on violations of womens rights focusing on domestic violence, and a parallel report on CEDAW implementation (£165,000); and Action Aid: Afghan Women Affecting Change, which aims to create a professional network of womens rights organisations (£157,000).
Dr. Howells: We understand that the protests relate to President Iajuddin Ahmed's assumption of the office of Chief Adviser to the Caretaker Government and his performance in that office as the Caretaker Government prepare for Bangladesh's general elections due in January 2007. The Caretaker Government must be judged on their ability to provide an environment conducive for holding free, fair, peaceful and accepted elections while acting in an inclusive, transparent and non-partisan way. We call on the parties to engage constructively and responsibly with the Caretaker Government to achieve this.
Mr. Clifton-Brown: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what assessment she has made of recent claims by the Awami League of bias by local officials and electoral register tampering in the run-up to Bangladeshi elections. 
Dr. Howells: It is vital that the Bangladesh general elections are free, fair, peaceful and accepted by the people of Bangladesh and by the international community. The legitimacy of the next Government is dependent on the conduct of these elections. Recent election evaluation missions by UN, EU and United States have consistently identified important points that need to be addressed to ensure elections reach the required standards.
We expect the Election Commission and all officials involved with the electoral process to operate with competence and independence. The Caretaker Government overseeing the elections have a responsibility to ensure that there is no political bias and should act in an inclusive, transparent and non-partisan way. They will be judged on their ability to do so and more generally to provide an appropriate environment for the elections. In this regard the recently announced measures to update the voter list are to be welcomed. We call on the parties to engage constructively and responsibly with the Caretaker Government during their term of office.
Mr. Hayes: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what the extent is of UK participation in the EU action plan on the Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention; why action at the EU level is required in this area; and if she will make a statement. 
The EU agreed a strategy against the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction in 2003, which is an important co-ordinating document. The EU action plan on biological and toxin weapons is complementary to that strategy and other EU work on the Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention. Itsets out practical steps for EU member states in implementing their strategy. All EU partners, including the UK, have submitted confidence building measures mechanism returns in 2006, which enables the EU to have a firmer base for encouraging other States Parties to submit them. The EU have also agreed to submit lists of experts and laboratories to the UN Secretary-General which is in line with the UN General
Assembly's encouragement to the UN Secretary-General to update the list, so as to permit timely and efficient investigation of alleged use of biological and chemical weapons.
Mr. McCartney: We remain deeply concerned about the political situation in Burma. The people of Burma do not enjoy the most basic freedoms and there is little immediate prospect of positive change. No genuine progress towards democracy can be made while more than a thousand people are being held in prison, and many others are exiled, for their political beliefs or while the Burmese army continues its attacks on Burma's ethnic groups.
The democratic opposition cannot participate fully and freely in the National Convention process, which is wholly controlled by the Burmese regime. The length of this process alone, which has endured for 13 years, calls into question the regime's willingness to embark on a genuine path to democratisation and national reconciliation.
I have raised the political and human rights situation consistently with the Burmese regime and international partners. On 16 June, I called in the Burmese ambassador and on 5 July I wrote to the Burmese Foreign Minister, highlighting our many concerns and reiterating our call for the immediate release of all political prisoners. On 18 September, I raised the serious human rights situation with Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) ambassadors, including the Burmese ambassador, and on4 December with the ASEAN Secretary-General and the Brunei Foreign Minister. I have also raised Burma with the Governments of China, India, Japan, Thailand and South Korea. I met Juan Mendes, the UN special adviser for the prevention of genocide, and have invited him to come to the House on 14 December to discuss Burma. I discussed Burma in detail with Ibrahim Gambari, the United Nations Under-Secretary General, on 15 November, following his most recent visit to the country.
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