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15 Jan 2007 : Column 746W—continued

Ann McKechin: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development how much has been received by the Government from (a) low and (b) lower middle income countries on debts owed to (i) the CDC group and (ii) his Department in 2005-06; and how much is expected to be received in each category in 2006-07. [114484]

Hilary Benn: No debt is owed directly by any government to CDC Group plc, which only lends to commercial organisations. Some loans by CDC to parastatal and quasi-governmental organisations were guaranteed by their governments, and income to CDC from these loans is recorded in the table. The only income received directly by DFID from a Low Income Country (LIC) in 2005-06 came from Zimbabwe, which has not met the standards of accountability, public financial management and commitment to poverty reduction needed to qualify for debt relief from the UK. No payments are expected from LICs in 2006-07.

Income to the Government from debts owed to DFID and CDC in 2005-06 and expected in 2006-07 is as follows:

Received in 2005-06 Expected in 2006-07

Low Income Countries





Lower Middle Income Countries





In addition, £1.852 million was received by DFID in 2005-06, and £1.883 million is expected in 2006-07 from repayments by countries to the World Bank on loans that were originally funded by the UK and other then EEC creditors in the 1970s. The bulk of these loans were to Low Income Countries. Debts held by Heavily Indebted Poor Countries (HIPCs) are cancelled in full when they reach HIPC Completion Point, with any payments made to the UK since 2000 returned to them. The UK is not currently able to provide debt relief on our share of the loans to non-HIPC Low Income Countries as this requires the agreement of all eight creditors. We are continuing discussions and hope to be able to offer debt relief on these loans soon.


Mr. Clifton-Brown: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what steps he is taking to support the United Nations World Food Programme in Somalia to ensure that food reaches (a) Wajid, (b) lower Shabelle and (c) the Middle and Lower Juba regions; and what representations is he making on the resumption of the use of airdrops and helicopters in Somalia. [113843]

Hilary Benn: The UK is a major supporter of the World Food Programme (WFP) globally and in Somalia. WFP plans to distribute 114,000mt (metric tonnes) of food aid in Somalia this year, and a significant proportion of this will be in the worst affected areas in southern and central Somalia, such as Middle and Lower Juba. The UK is the second largest contributor after the US to the World Food Programme's protracted Relief and Recovery Operation 10191, which runs to 31 March 2007, with US$11.4 million.

WFP is currently preparing a food aid convoy from Mogadishu to Wajid. A distribution in Middle Shabelle was planned just before the recent fighting, but it remains stalled because of lack of clarity over the security situation in that region. In Middle and Lower Juba there has been some limited food aid distribution in Bualle. There are 1000mt on trucks at Afmadow in Lower Juba, which it is planned will be distributed soon. WFP also has teams in Wajid on standby for a return to Kismayo.

The recent conflict caused restrictions on access to Somalia for relief workers and supplies. However, for most agencies, including WFP, it is proving possible to resume operations, although there have been some problems related to the re-emergence of local militias. The UK continues to take all opportunities to press the authorities on the ground to allow for the re-establishment of humanitarian relief operations in all areas, including the deliveries of WFP food aid and the use of helicopters and aircraft. Much of this operation is funded by the United Nations Central Emergency Response Fund to which the UK is the largest single contributor. WFP has adequate supplies for the next five to six months for Somalia.

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Mr. Clifton-Brown: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what assessment he has made of the impact of the additional resources provided by the United States to Somalia on the situation in that country; and what steps his Department is taking to support development and peace-keeping efforts in Somalia. [114197]

Hilary Benn: I understand that the additional funds pledged by the US for Somalia at the International Contact Group meeting in Nairobi on 5 January— intended for humanitarian, capacity-building support and to help finance the proposed international peace support mission in Somalia—have yet to start disbursement.

DFID's programme has increased significantly, to a planned budget of £15.5 million in 2006-07 which is set to rise further to £21 million in 2007-08. Within these amounts we are providing significant amounts of humanitarian relief, assistance to building up the capacity of the Transitional Federal Institutions (TFIs), and support to education and other services to the poor.

In recognition of the changing political situation on the ground, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) is in the process of preparing a short-term response plan, which will include proposals for support to the TFIs in the coming critical weeks. This is likely to cover proposals for:

DFID will examine the response plan, once available, and work towards a joint approach to it with the EC and other donors.

We are also examining urgently, with donor partners, how existing donor support to restoring effective policing in parts of Somalia can be extended to southern and central Somalia. This support is being channelled primarily through the UNDP's Rule of Law and Security programme (RoLS), which has been supporting police strengthening in Somaliland, Puntland and Baidoa. The programme has already established police training centres in Armo and Baidoa.


Mrs. May: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development on how many occasions in the last five years the publication date of statistics produced by his Department has been changed; what the (a) subject of the statistics, (b) (i) original and (ii) final date of publication and (c) reason for the delay was in each case; and who took the decision to delay the publication in each case. [113672]

Hilary Benn: In accordance with the National Statistics Code of Practice (2002), the Head of Profession for Statistics in the Department for International Development has sole responsibility for determining, pre-announcing and, if necessary, altering
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the dates of publication of ‘National Statistics’ and other relevant statistics produced by the Department.

Any decision to change a pre-announced publication date will be based on a range of professional considerations such as the completeness of the underlying data, their fitness for purpose, the need for consistency and coherence, the need to promote widespread access and informed debate, or any earlier accidental or wrongful release. In reaching their decision, the Head of Profession will also take into consideration the detailed procedural guidance given in the ‘National Statistics Protocol on Release Practices’. The code and its 12 supporting protocols are available in the Library of the House, and can also be accessed using the following address:

There have been no occasions in the last five years when the Head of Profession has changed a pre-announced publication date.

House of Commons Commission

British Overseas Territories

Andrew Rosindell: To ask the hon. Member for North Devon, representing the House of Commons Commission if he will reform the constitutional composition of the House of Lords to include formal representation from members of British Overseas Territories and Crown Dependencies. [113656]

Mr. Straw: I have been asked to reply as I have ministerial responsibility for House of Lords reform.

The Government have no plans to introduce measures to include any formal representation of the Overseas Territories or Crown Dependencies in the House of Lords.

Catering Facilities

John Mann: To ask the hon. Member for North Devon, representing the House of Commons Commission, if the Commission will discontinue its policy of not releasing details of bookings made by individual hon. Members of catering facilities. [114786]

Nick Harvey: : It has not been the practice of the House to release details of bookings made by individual hon. Members of catering facilities, whether made for private functions or on behalf of internal or external organisations. The Commission has no plans to change this practice while a complaint relating to this subject is being considered by the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards.

John Mann: To ask the hon. Member for North Devon, representing the House of Commons Commission, how many dinner menus have been printed by the Refreshment Department for hon. Members’ private dinners in the last 12 months; and how many copies of such menus have been kept by the Refreshment Department. [114796]

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Nick Harvey: The Refreshment Department has ordered printed menu cards on behalf of hon. Members for 106 private lunch and dinner events in 2006. No copies are retained by the Refreshment Department.



Mr. Gerald Howarth: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what assessment he has made of the implications for British national sovereignty arising from the EU proposal to treat all airspace above 25,000 feet over the EU as European airspace. [115236]

Gillian Merron: The EC initiative to establish a European Upper Flight Information Region encompassing all airspace above 28,500 feet is without prejudice to UK national sovereignty over its airspace.

Cycle Spaces

Mr. Hayes: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what the cost was of supplying 2,900 extra cycling spaces at stations, as referred to on page 132 of his Department's annual report 2006. [115293]

Mr. Tom Harris: The total cost of this project delivered on behalf of the Department by the former Strategic Rail Authority was £309,240.00. The final count of extra parking spaces provided for cyclists was around 2,500.


Mr. Heald: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport how many names and addresses of drivers the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency sold to non-governmental organisations in each of the last 12 months. [113995]

Dr. Ladyman: Information held on DVLA driver record is not released or sold without the consent of the individual.

DVLA does not sell vehicle keeper information. Information may be released where the law allows it. Regulations permit a fee to be levied to cover the cost of processing requests but prohibit any profit from being made.

The number of requests processed each month for the last year are as follows.

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January 2006


February 2006


March 2006


April 2006


May 2006


June 2006


July 2006


August 2006


September 2006


October 2006


November 2006


December 2006


Electric Vehicles: Safety

Mr. Nicholas Brown: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what regulations govern the use of disabled person’s mobility scooters; and what recent representations he has received on the use of mobility scooters. [113523]

Gillian Merron: The use of mobility scooters is governed by the “Use of Invalid Carriages on Highways Regulations 1988”, statutory instrument 1988 No.2268.

Representations have been received from stakeholders on general use, but the vast majority were seeking advice on registration of their vehicles. As registration is the responsibility of the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency, such representations have been passed to it for advice and guidance.

Government Car Agency

Mr. Heald: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport whether individual Departments are re-billed for the cost of their ministerial cars by the Government Car Agency. [113996]

Dr. Ladyman: The Government Car and Despatch Agency (GCDA) is an executive agency of the Department for Transport. Its framework document requires the agency to recover all its costs, including the cost of providing ministerial transport, through charges to its customers. Charges for ministerial transport are made to each Government Department where GCDA provides this service.

Highways Agency

Chris Grayling: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what effects on costs does he expect as a result of the reorganisation of the Major Projects Division of the Highways Agency. [109249]

Dr. Ladyman: There will be no immediate effect on costs as a result of the reorganisation of the Major Projects Directorate of the Highways Agency.

The Highways Agency has redeployed resources within existing staff budgets and numbers to make more effective use of its staff and provide new skills to meet changing business needs.

Light Dues System

Mr. Carmichael: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport (1) when he last met Irish Ministers to discuss the renegotiation of the 1985 Agreement on the funding arrangements for the Commissioners of Irish Lights; when he expects these negotiations to reach a conclusion; and if he will make a statement; [114218]

(2) if he will make a statement on progress on abolishing the Irish subsidy component of the light dues system. [114219]

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Dr. Ladyman: On 27 July 2005, I discussed the 1985 Agreement with the Irish Marine Minister, who agreed to support a more equitable funding solution for the Commissioners of Irish Lights (CIL).

Consideration of the Irish Government’s role in part-funding CIL operations needs to reflect the increased reliance in the past year on joint support services for the three General Lighthouse Authorities, such as the fleet of ships, now reduced in size. A bilateral, official-level meeting this month will assess the scope for progress in the light of that trend, and take account of possible impacts on the institutional framework arising from the St. Andrews Agreement.

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