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John Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what assessment he has made of the effectiveness of the UK development aid programme in Angola. [108739]

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Hilary Benn: DFID’s programme in Angola is closely monitored through project reviews, field assessments and discussion with partners. Our approach to improving aid effectiveness in our management of the Angola programme includes supporting joint analysis and programming with partners, working to build national capacity, and seeking to strengthen the impact of multilateral partners such as the European Commission and World Bank. A recent visit by the All Party Parliamentary Group praised DFID’s programme in Angola, particularly our support for de-mining and urban poverty.

John Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what recent discussions he has had with the Government of Angola about (a) good governance and (b) probity of public agencies. [108740]

Hilary Benn: DFID’s activity in Angola has two objectives that address good governance and probity: to promote the transparent use of resources in support of reducing poverty; and to promote systems that enable citizens to influence state policy and practice. We primarily support these through partners.

For example, we are promoting the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI) in Angola. EITI supports improved governance in resource-rich countries through the full publication and verification of company payments and government revenues from oil, gas and mining. We have encouraged the Government of Angola to sign up to this initiative, and have also supported the World Bank to engage on this with them. Although the Government are not yet a member of EITI, it now attends EITI conferences as an observer, and has taken a number of steps in line with EITI including: independent audits of the national oil company Sonangol; publishing of budgetary information on the Ministry of Finance website; and adoption of an integrated financial management system.

Other areas where we are engaging on good governance and probity include: technical support to help the Ministry of Finance identify and address capacity needs on planning and budgeting, in partnership with the European Commission; support for fiscal decentralisation through the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), which is helping the Government with the development of new legislation and decentralisation pilots; and support for strengthened citizen-government engagement on urban poverty and services through an NGO consortium(the Luanda Urban Poverty Programme). A recent independent review of this last programme (October 2006) found that it had raised the profile of urban poverty and influenced the course of some key policy decisions in Government.

We will continue to work with partners on these issues, which we see as critical for sustained peace and equitable development in Angola.

British Overseas Territories

Andrew Rosindell: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development how much financial aid was given to British overseas territories by his Department in 2005-06. [104993]

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Mr. Thomas: DFID bilateral aid to overseas territories in the fiscal year 2005-06 was £31.6 million of which £21.6 million was in the form of financial aid.

For statistical reporting purposes, the term financial aid covers poverty reduction budget support andother projects and programmes. A full breakdown of bilateral aid for overseas territories is published in table 12 of ‘Statistics on International Development 2001-02 to 2005-06’, a copy of which is available in the Library.


John Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development how much the Government have spent on projects promoting human rights in Burma in each of the past five years. [108733]

Mr. Thomas: DFID bilateral aid spent on supporting projects promoting human rights in Burma for the last five years is shown in the following table.

Expenditure on human rights
Fiscal year £











These figures include the provision of basic services to refugees and other conflict-affected people; the protection work of the International Committee of the Red Cross in prisons and in ethnic minority areas; and the provision of emergency relief to internally-displaced people.

John Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what assessment he has made of the possible implications of the closing of Red Cross offices in Burma for Red Cross projects funded by his Department. [109143]

Mr. Thomas: DFID, with the British embassy in Rangoon, is continuing to press the Burmese authorities to reconsider their decision to force the closure of the field offices of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) in Burma. We have sent the statement I made on 29 November to the Ministers of Home Affairs, Foreign Affairs, Health, Labour, and National Economic Planning and Development. We remain in close contact with ICRC on the developing situation. At the same time, in case the Burmese authorities do not reverse their decision, we are investigating alternative means of replacing the important work which ICRC has been carrying out.

Cluster Munitions

Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what recent discussions he has had with ministerial colleagues in the (a) Ministry of Defence and (b) Foreign and Commonwealth Office on the banning of cluster munitions. [109790]

Hilary Benn: I refer my hon. Friend to the answer I gave on 23 November 2006, Official Report, column 190W. Since the progress made on cluster munitionsat the Review Conference on the Convention on
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Conventional Weapons (CCW) Ministers have not discussed the issue. Officials from DFID, the Ministry of Defence and the Foreign Office are, however, in regular contact on how best to support the work of the Expert Group which will report back to the meeting of CCW States Parties in November 2007. This is an essential preliminary step towards negotiations for a new legally binding instrument.

Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what assessment he has carried out of the effect on civilians in developing countries of cluster munitions which failed to explode during action subsequently exploding; and whether any assessment has been carried out on the effect on children in particular. [109791]

Hilary Benn: Certain types of cluster munitions have unacceptably high failure rates, which vary in relation to the prevailing conditions in which they are used. If they are used in large numbers, unexploded bomblets can be left scattered densely and indiscriminately over a wide area. When these are set off, the explosion can kill anyone within 50 m. They represent a threat to aid workers, peace-keepers, medical services, Internally Displaced Persons and anyone else entering an area immediately after the cessation of hostilities. The design of cluster munitions means that often children are attracted to them. The threat to returning civilians is exacerbated when cluster munitions are used over soft terrain such as recently ploughed farmland. Unexploded bomblets can lie buried just beneath the surface making it dangerous for farmers to cultivate their land.

Casualty figures are hard to verify but reports indicate that unexploded cluster munitions killed thousands of civilians in Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam. The UN reports around 1 million unexploded cluster bomblets in Southern Lebanon. So far,23 civilian deaths and 145 injuries have resulted from unexploded ordnance, mainly cluster munitions. Of these totals, children 18 years old or younger accounted for six of the fatalities and 55 of the injuries.

Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development if he will seek discussions with the Belgian Government on their decision to ban cluster munitions. [110209]

Hilary Benn: I currently have no plans to discuss this matter with the Belgian Government. We need all the major producers and users of cluster munitions to participate in negotiating new protocols on the use of these weapons. Without these countries an agreement won’t deliver the humanitarian benefits we want. SoI think it is better to give the UN process—agreedat the Review Conference of the Convention on Conventional Weapons (CCW)—a chance to succeed. If it does not, then we will need to look again at other options to achieving our aim of banning ‘dumb’ cluster munitions.

Susan Kramer: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development if the Government will support the Cluster Munitions (Prohibition) Bill introduced in the House of Lords on 23 November. [109129]

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Hilary Benn: The Government have no plans to prohibit the use, development, production, acquisition and transfer of all cluster munitions. It has announced that it wants to see “dumb” types of cluster munitions withdrawn from use—those that pose the greatest humanitarian threat because they have a large number of explosive sub-munitions, have no target discriminating capability or don't self-destruct or deactivate if they miss the target.

The UK currently has four different types of cluster munitions, all of which will go out of service between 2009 and 2021. We plan to phase out use of our dumb cluster munitions by the middle of next decade. We cannot withdraw them from service immediately as this would risk leaving our armed forces with a capability gap. At a time when our armed forces are performing a range of complex tasks in difficult environments, we need to ensure they have the systems they need to conduct the operations we ask of them, including the weapons that provide for their force protection.

Compensation Payments

Mr. Hayes: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development how much was paid in compensation payments by his Department in 2005-06; and what the reason was for each payment. [108200]

Mr. Thomas: During 2005-06 DFID made compensation payments of £20,982. The reasons for the payments are shown as follows:

Conflict Areas

John Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what assessment he has made of the proportion of the population in states affected by conflict which is able to access primary health care. [105060]

Mr. Thomas: DFID does not maintain an agreed list of ‘states affected by conflict’. We do have a list of ‘fragile states’ which we are currently reviewing, as countries frequently move in and out of fragility and conflict, and political circumstances in a country can rapidly change. This list will include countries that are generally recognised to be conflict-affected. Detail on DFID’s current definition and list of fragile states can be found in DFID’s policy paper, “Why We Need to Work More Effectively in Fragile States”, page 7 and annex 1, which is available in the House of Commons Library.

There is not a universally recognised single indicator for ‘access to primary health care’. The primary source of global health statistics is the World Health Organisation’s “World Health Statistics” publication, of which the 2006 edition is the latest. This lists 50 health indicators for WHO’s 192 member states. Indicators include infant and maternal mortality rates,
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life expectancy at birth, immunisation coverage, births attended by skilled health personnel and a variety of indicators covering nutritional status. Collating this data and then deriving a single measure of the proportion of the population able to access primary health care would be both difficult and incur disproportionate costs. I have instead placed a copy of the WHO publication in the House of Commons Library. However, by way of illustration, the 2004 figures for measles immunisation among one-year-olds in the DRC, Somalia and Sudan are 64 per cent., 40 per cent. and 59 per cent. respectively, compared to 91 per cent., 83 per cent. and 94 per cent. for Uganda, Ghana and Tanzania.

John Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what steps are being taken by his Department to improve aid delivery in states affected by conflict. [105061]

Hilary Benn: Our 2006 White Paper said that we would concentrate our development assistance on countries with the largest number of poor people and on fragile states. In such states we are taking a number of steps to improve aid delivery and to reduce conflict. These include:


Sir Gerald Kaufman: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development when he expects to reply to the letter of 25 October from the right hon. Member for Manchester, Gorton with regard toDr. Hay, transferred from HM Treasury. [107994]

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Hilary Benn: The letter of 25 October from my right hon. Friend the Member for Manchester, Gorton on behalf of his constituent Dr. Hay was received in DFID on 6 November. A reply to this was issued on27 November on behalf of myself and the Chancellor of the Exchequer.

Departmental Staff

Mr. Hunt: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development how much has been spent from his Department's central administration budget on (a) reasonable adjustments for disabled staff and (b) the recruitment and retention of disabled staff in each of the last four years. [109863]

Mr. Thomas: The costs of reasonable adjustments in DFID are met by the different sections across the Department, rather than a central budget. DFID does not currently have a system in place to centrally collect these data. Also, disability-related adjustments are not recorded separately from general adjustments to the workplace. We are taking steps to start recording this information centrally.

Other than the cost of specific advertising to attract disabled applicants in the last year (£24,024), we do not have details of money spent on the recruitment and retention of disabled staff for the past four years.

Democratic Republic of Congo Conflict

Mr. Clifton-Brown: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development whether his Department plans to provide assistance to the people moving from eastern Democratic Republic of Congo into Ugandato avoid the conflict in the Democratic Republic of Congo; and whether he plans to make representations on the humanitarian situation to (a) the UN and (b) his EU counterparts. [108092]

Hilary Benn: Between 6 and 8 December an estimated 12,000 Congolese crossed into south-western Uganda to escape fighting between the Congolese army and a rebel group led by a renegade General called Laurent Nkunda. By 9 December fighting had stopped. Most of those who crossed into Uganda have now returned to their homes in the Democratic Republic of Congo. It is estimated that only 2,500 remain.

The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) sent an emergency assessment team to the area on 7 December. UNHCR, the Red Cross and a number of other agencies are providing humanitarian assistance and the refugees now have clean water, shelter, food and access to health care.

UNHCR and the other agencies involved have so far responded using their own contingency funds and they have not made any requests for additional resources. The DFID office in Uganda remains in close touch with UNHCR and is ready to help if required. Other EU member states that have missions in Uganda are also monitoring the situation closely.

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