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Written Answers to Questions

Wednesday 31 January 2007

Electoral Commission Committee

Electoral Commission

Mr. Bruce George: To ask the hon. Member for Gosport, representing the Speaker's Committee on the Electoral Commission, when the Committee expects the Electoral Commission to publish the code of practice in election observation on the UK as required under the Electoral Administration Act 2006. [112283]

Peter Viggers: The Electoral Commission informs me that the code of practice on attendance of observers at specified UK elections is being laid before Parliament and published today. The Government are at the same time bringing into force for Great Britain the legislative provisions which allow for the presence of observers at specified elections. The commission is publishing the code of practice in full on its website and is sending a copy of the relevant parts to all returning officers in Great Britain.

Prime Minister

British Food

Mr. Paice: To ask the Prime Minister what proportion of food served in 10 Downing street was of British origin in (a) 2005 and (b) 2006. [111122]

The Prime Minister: My office supports the public sector food procurement initiative and is working with its suppliers to encourage them to increase opportunities for more small and local producers to join their supply chains.

Ministerial Visits

Simon Hughes: To ask the Prime Minister what visits he has made to hospitals in South London since the last general election. [111427]

The Prime Minister: Records of official visits are not held in the format requested. My visits cover a range of matters including health, education, criminal justice and the economy and I have visited a number of hospitals since 1997.

International Development


Mark Simmonds: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what the gross domestic
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product of Afghanistan was in each year between 1995 and 2006. [112307]

Hilary Benn: Records of gross domestic product in Afghanistan are patchy prior to 2001. In 1975 GDP was estimated at $2.4 billion. In 2002, the International Monetary Fund reported GDP at $4.1 billion, which has been steadily increasing on an annual basis to $4.6 billion in 2003, $6.0 billion in 2004, $7.3 billion in 2005 and $8.9 billion in 2006.

These statistics are available on the IMF's website www.imf.org.

Mark Simmonds: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what unemployment was in Afghanistan in each year between 1995 and 2006. [112308]

Hilary Benn: Given Afghanistan's predominantly informal economy and absence of a welfare system, added to the lack of a robust data collection capability, there is no reliable data for unemployment in Afghanistan going back to 1995.

Although data collection by the Central Statistical Office is improving, it is not yet possible to provide reliable estimates of unemployment. DFID and other donors are working with the Government of Afghanistan to improve access to key data such as rates of unemployment.

Mark Simmonds: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development how many (a) primary schools, (b) secondary schools and (c) higher education institutions there were in Afghanistan in each year between 1995 and 2006. [112314]

Hilary Benn: Afghanistan’s Ministry of Education is unable to provide us with the data on the number of primary and secondary schools and higher education institutions in Afghanistan in each year between 1995 and 2006.

Enrolment rates may, however, provide a better measure of progress in education to date. According to UNICEF, enrolment has increased sharply since 2001 from 1.2 million in March 2002 to 5.1 million in December 2005. Prior to that, a World Bank report(1) shows that approximately only 970,000 children (grades 1-12) were enrolled at school per year from 1993 and 1999.

Climate Change

Mark Simmonds: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development how many staff in his Department were allocated to working on climate change adaptation and mitigation issues in each of the last three financial years. [112092]

Mr. Thomas: Implementing DFID’s climate change policies on adaptation and mitigation in country programmes involves a range of staff, including programme managers and advisers with environment, livelihoods
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and infrastructure responsibilities. For example:

The Global Environmental Assets team of the Sustainable Development Group leads on climate change policy work. Its complement of dedicated staff working on climate change over the last three financial years is as follows: 3 in 2004-05, 3.5 in 2005-06 and 5.5 in 2006-07. We expect to fill two additional posts in coming months.

In addition, we are externally recruiting a new Head of Profession for Environment who will also be engaged on this important issue. The Heads of Profession for Infrastructure and Livelihoods continue to provide support to DFID’s climate change work. DFID’s Chief Scientific Adviser has been providing support on climate change and agriculture.

In the International Financial Institutions Department, which is leading DFID’s work on supporting the multilateral development banks to develop a clean energy and investment framework, three posts include climate change in their portfolios. The number of posts over the last three financial years has remained static but the proportion of time spent on climate change has increased over the period.

Committees: Ministerial Attendance

Mr. Wallace: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development on what occasions (a) he and (b) departmental ministers have been requested to appear before committees of (i) devolved institutions and (ii) the European Parliament since 2004; on what topic in each case; how many and what proportion of such requests were accepted; and if he will make a statement. [111540]

Hilary Benn: Ministers in DFID do not regularly attend committees of the devolved institutions and European Parliament. It is not possible to provide the more detailed information requested without incurring disproportionate cost

Commonwealth Education Fund

Mr. Francois: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development how much Government funding the Commonwealth Education Fund received in each year since its foundation. [111879]

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Mr. Thomas: The UK Government committed £23.4 million to the Commonwealth Education Fund, when it was launched in 2002. This funding supports three components: the Strategic Fund; Comic Relief Fund and Schools Linking Programme.

The Schools Linking Programme has received an allocation of £2 million covering the period between 2002-03 to 2005-06.

The following table shows yearly expenditure on the Strategic and Comic Relief Funds.

Strategic Fund Comic Relief Fund















2007-2008 allocated







Mr. Galloway: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development on what dates Ministers in his Department made official visits to the London boroughs of (a) Tower Hamlets, (b) Newham and (c) Waltham Forest in each year since 1997. [115741]

Hilary Benn: I visited Tower Hamlets (Professional Development Centre) on 7 March 2005. Before this date the information would be available only at a disproportionate cost.


Lynne Featherstone: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development (1) what assessment he has made of the impact of the divestment of Kelvin Power by Globeleq on (a) electricity tariff rates and (b) access to electricity by deprived populations in South Africa; [112005]

(2) what assessment he has made of the potential effect of Globeleq acquisitions since June 2002 on the (a) electricity tariffs charged to consumers in the relevant countries and (b) supply of electricity to deprived populations. [112029]

Mr. Thomas: Globeleq is a wholly owned subsidiary of CDC which is in turn wholly owned by DFID. It is managed independently by its own board of directors. It takes its own day-to-day commercial decisions without intervention or interference by DFID, but working within a policy framework that we have set for them. DFID would not normally make assessments such as those in question. That remains the responsibility of CDC.

Globeleq mainly operates power generation facilities and sells power on a wholesale basis to the local distribution agency. Consumer tariffs, which cover the cost of transmitting and distributing power as well as
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of generation, are set by the distributing agency or independent regulators. Globeleq has no direct influence on their levels. For most of Globeleq's power generation facilities, the price it receives for its power is determined by a power purchase agreement or PPA, most of which were negotiated before Globeleq bought the assets.

Although consumer tariffs may have risen since Globeleq bought generation facilities, or after it disposed of them, as in the case of Kelvin Power, there is no causal link between Globeleq ownership and consumer tariffs.

By improving the reliability of power supply, Globeleq makes a positive contribution to the provision of power. Most of Globeleq's power generation businesses meet or exceed their contractual requirements for generation. Globeleq mainly operates power generation facilities rather than distribution networks and has no control over the number of connections. That remains the responsibility of the distribution agency.

Globeleq is involved in distribution in Uganda through its ownership of Umeme which holds a concession to operate the distribution network in Uganda. Umeme has exceeded the concession requirements for increasing customer connections.


Mark Simmonds: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what plans his Department had in place prior to the invasion of Iraq for the reconstruction and development of the country. [112106]

Hilary Benn: Prior to the coalition's invasion of Iraq in March 2003, the UK Government consulted and worked with UN agencies, the US Government, and others in making preparations to deal with a number of priorities including: the possibility of large-scale urban fighting with substantial civilian casualties; the possible use or inadvertent release of chemical or biological weapon materials; disruption to the Oil For Food programme due to instability following conflict or a longer-term collapse of oil production; serious damage to transport links and other essential infrastructure such as water and sewage pumps; disruption to the functioning of hospitals; large-scale movement of people within Iraq and into neighbouring countries; and internal ethnic and political conflict.

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In March 2003, to help international preparedness, DFID allocated £32 million to the Red Cross/Red Crescent Movement, and £13 million to United Nations agencies (World Food Programme, UNICEF, United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, World Health Organisation, Office for the Co-ordination of Humanitarian Affairs and the Office of the UN Security Coordinator). This funding contributed to the costs of pre-positioning food, medical and nutrition supplies, shelter kits and other relief supplies; establishing logistical support systems; and deploying staff in readiness for the crisis. As a result, United Nations agencies were able to return to Iraq very quickly in order to begin implementation of substantial humanitarian and recovery operations.

Decades of under-investment and mismanagement by Saddam’s brutal regime have left the Iraqis with a huge challenge. The new Iraqi Government is firmly in the lead in the reconstruction effort and has the resources to fund much of the improvements and public services itself. It also has massive international support. The UK is one of the first major donors to Iraq to fully disburse its Madrid pledge of £544 million since 2003. This contribution is helping build the capacity of the Iraqi Government, at provincial and national levels, plan to deliver investment in basic services, improve oil production levels, generate jobs and manage its own significant resources more effectively.

Mark Simmonds: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development (1) what funding has been committed to Iraq for reconstruction and development in each year since the invasion; and what proportion of this funding has been committed (a) bilaterally and (b) multilaterally, broken down by organisation; [112107]

(2) what proportion of the funding committed to Iraq for reconstruction and development in each year since the invasion has been given as a budgetary support. [112108]

Hilary Benn: Iraq currently requires help from the UK and others to stem violence and build a stable society and economy. In 2003, the UK pledged £544 million for humanitarian and reconstruction assistance for Iraq. The UK has now fully disbursed this pledge and committed a further £100 million to be spent on reconstruction and development in Iraq over the next three years. We have not given any budgetary support to Iraq.

The following table shows the total UK spending to Iraq since 2002-03:

Figures in £000
Iraq( 3)( 1) Development assistance Humanitarian assistance Total DFID bilateral programme( 2) Aid from other UK official sources Total bilateral gross public expenditure

























Statistics on International Development 2001-02 to 2005-06

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