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26 Feb 2007 : Column 992W—continued

European Bank for Reconstruction and Development: Renewable Energy

Lynne Featherstone: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what steps his Department has taken since 2003 as a shareholder in the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development to promote investment in renewable energy by that organisation; and if he will make a statement. [122417]

Mr. Thomas: The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) has an explicit environmental mandate and aims to promote environmentally oriented and sustainable investments across all sectors. The EBRD Environmental Policy 2003 states that EBRD

EBRD actively pursues renewable energy projects.

Each year, DFID sets its own objectives for working with the EBRD as a shareholder and on the board of directors. These have always supported the EBRD’s environmental mandate and promoted sustainable energy initiatives. In 2005 DFID supported the development of EBRD’s new Energy Policy, of which renewable energy is an important part. This helped EBRD to develop a strategic investment framework for sustainable energy.

In 2006, the EBRD launched the Sustainable Energy Initiative. This was in response to the 2005 G8 Gleneagles invitation to the international financial institutions to develop an Energy Investment Framework to address the challenges of climate change. Renewable energy is one of five pillars making up the new initiative, which EBRD will use to double lending for sustainable energy purposes to €1.5 billion over the next three years. DFID plans to contribute up to £3.4 million to the initiative over the next three years.

Iraq: Poverty

Mr. Jim Cunningham: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what assessment his Department has made of the recent UN development programme study on the number of Iraqis living in poverty. [122285]

Hilary Benn: The Iraqi Central Office of Statistics and Information Technology (COSIT), in conjunction with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), have recently published an analysis of “Unsatisfied Basic Needs Mapping and Living Standards in Iraq”. This study is based on data from the 2004 “Iraq Living Conditions Survey”; only the analysis is new.

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The Living Standards Index used in this report is composed of 42 different indicators, identified in 2004. This means, therefore, that the assessment is out of date. As a result, we question whether the study provides a useful estimate of the number of Iraqis living in poverty.

It is important to use internationally accepted methodologies to assess poverty in Iraq. DFID looks forward to the results of the income and expenditure survey currently being undertaken in Iraq with the support of the World Bank. This survey should provide standard estimates of poverty.

Mining: Taxation

Lynne Featherstone: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what advice his Department has given to recipient countries on taxation of extractive industries since 2000; and if he will make a statement. [122422]

Mr. Thomas: Since 2001 DFID has undertaken 181 tax-related projects/programmes in 44 countries and DFID departments, with a financial commitment of about £159 million.

The principal focus of this work has been on advising developing countries how to improve their tax and customs administration—with the emphasis on improving governance, human resource development and tax efficiency. More recent work has focused on advice on tax policy and broader issues of how the tax system can contribute to state-building. While such tax administration and policy work has not been specifically geared to the extractive industries, it covers matters that ultimately benefit all sectors of the economy, including the extractives.

Our approach to taxation of extractive industries has been to advise Governments on how to increase transparency and accountability over the revenues paid by extractive industry companies to host Governments. In 2002 the Prime Minister launched the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI), through which Governments make public the payments they receive from oil, gas and mining companies, and companies make public the payments they make to Governments. To date, 26 countries have committed to implement EITI. This initiative is expected to lead to greater scrutiny over expenditure of extractive industry revenues, improving public spending and helping to reduce poverty and conflict.

Overseas Aid: Education

Lynne Featherstone: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what funding for education his Department has allocated to (a) Zimbabwe, (b) Uzbekistan, (c) Uganda, (d) Timor Leste, (e) Sudan, (f) Sri Lanka, (g) Somalia, (h) Sierra Leone, (i) Rwanda, (j) Republic of Congo, (k) Papua New Guinea, (l) Pakistan, (m) Nigeria, (n) Nepal, (o) Myanmar, (p) Liberia, (q) Iraq, (r) Haiti, (s) Guinea, (t) Ethiopia, (u) Eritrea, (v) Cote d’Ivoire, (w) Colombia, (x) Chad, (y) Central African Republic, (z) Cambodia, (aa) Burundi, (bb) Angola, (cc) Afghanistan and (dd) Democratic Republic of Congo for each of the next five years; and if he will make a statement. [122231]

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Mr. Thomas: Under DFID’s country-led approach, country allocations are not pre-allocated by sector. Sectoral priorities are determined at country level in dialogue with recipient Governments and other partners.

Direct DFID bilateral expenditure on education in 2005-06, for each of the listed countries, is shown in Table 1. In addition, DFID provided general budget support in the following countries: Pakistan, Rwanda, Sierra Leone and Uganda. A proportion of this will have been spent on funding education. In the case of Afghanistan, DFID provided £35 million to the Reconstruction Trust Fund in 2005-06 and again a proportion of this will have been spent on education. These figures exclude DFID spending through multilateral agencies and civil society organisations.

My right hon. Friend the Prime Minister has committed the UK to spending £1 billion a year on bilateral and multilateral support to education by 2010, which represents doubling education spend over five years. DFID will be increasing allocations to our partner countries, including education. The overall increases for the three-year period 2008-09 to 2010-11 will be decided when the Comprehensive Spending Review for 2007 has been concluded later this year.

Table 1: Direct DFID bilateral expenditure on education in 2005-06
Country (£000)











Central African Republic






Cote d’Ivoire


Congo, Republic of


Congo, Democratic Republic




















Papua New Guinea




Sierra Leone


Somali Democratic Republic


Sri Lanka




Timor Leste








Sub-Saharan Africa: Sexual Offences

Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what steps his Department is taking to reduce (a) sexual and (b) gender-based violence in sub-Saharan Africa. [122213]

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Hilary Benn: Levels of sexual and gender-based violence are unacceptably high in Africa. DFID is working with other development agencies such as UNIFEM, and partners in countries in Africa to reduce these.

In the Democratic Republic of Congo, DFID is contributing £3 million towards a £15 million European Union project to restore justice to eastern Congo (the worst area for conflict and rape) and also to support “one stop shop” centres for rape victims as part of a police reform programme. DFID has supported sexual assault referral centres in Sierra Leone over a three year period. In northern Uganda, DFID gave UNICEF support for their work with women's groups on issues around protection and sexual violence in camps for internally displaced people, home to approximately £1.7 million people. In Lesotho, the DFID-funded Justice Sector Support Programme has helped establish 80 child and gender protection units in police stations across the country to provide victims of sexual violence access to free medical help and justice. In South Africa, a support programme on HIV/Aids is helping the Government train social service providers to better deal with sexual violence.

In Ethiopia, DFID supported the Ethiopian Women Lawyers Association to maintain a shelter for its clients, and to provide legal aid and assistance on issues that affect women. Again in Ethiopia, working at the policy level, we have supported the Ethiopian Government's development of a National Action Plan for Gender Equality. In Uganda, we have provided a four year grant to the charity Mifumi, working in Tororo, eastern Uganda, to cover Uganda, Tanzania, Kenya and South Africa to advocate against domestic violence and to engage in community work on domestic violence. DFID also provides financial support to the UN Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM) which supports the Trust Fund for the Elimination of Violence Against Women and the Women, Peace and Security Programme. Also with other donors and UNIFEM, DFID supports a gender and governance programme which aims to increase the number of women in parliament and leadership positions in Kenya. This helps bring greater priority to reduction in gender violence in the Government's work.


Airports: Security

Paul Rowen: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what discussions he has had with airport operating authorities on the security regulations on the transport of liquids in aircraft. [123622]

Gillian Merron: The Secretary Of State and his officials maintain regular consultation with industry representatives on the security measures in place through formal bodies such as the National Aviation Security Committee and its sub-committees, and informal day to day dialogue.

Blue Badge Scheme

Ms Diana R. Johnson: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what progress his Department has made on the application of the Blue Badge parking scheme
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to children under the age of two years suffering from a condition which requires that they are always accompanied by medical equipment which is difficult to transport. [123966]

Gillian Merron: The Government have produced draft regulations, which will extend the existing scheme to children under two, who are dependent upon ‘bulky medical equipment’, including ventilators and suction machines. The draft regulations will be circulated for a 12-week consultation period in March and will be implemented by September 2007.

We will also conduct a strategic review of the scheme, which will again report in September 2007. This will assist us in developing a ‘Blue Badge Reform Strategy’, designed to reduce fraud and target assistance towards individuals with the most severe mobility problems.

Central Trains: Industrial Disputes

David Taylor: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what discussions he has had with Central Trains about the industrial dispute between that train operating company and the Rail, Maritime and Transport Union. [122303]

Mr. Tom Harris: My officials have been in contact with Central Trains' management regarding this dispute. This is a matter for the employer and employees, but I hope that it is resolved quickly to avoid further disruption to passengers.

David Taylor: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport whether Central Trains is being indemnified for losses accrued as a result of industrial action taken in the last 12 months. [122325]

Mr. Tom Harris: Central Trains has not received any indemnification for losses accrued as a result of industrial action taken in the last 12 months.

Channel Tunnel Railway Line

Andrew Rosindell: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what assessment he has made of the effects of transferring the Eurostar International services from London Waterloo Station to London St. Pancras. [122464]

Mr. Tom Harris: The chief effect of transferring Eurostar International services to St. Pancras is that passengers will benefit from a 20 minute saving on the international leg of the journey, further increasing the attractiveness of high speed rail for international travel.

Channel Tunnel: Fees and Charges

Stephen Hammond: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what steps the Government are taking to ensure that Eurotunnel prices the infrastructure charge for Channel Tunnel freight at rates the market can bear as required by European law. [123441]

Mr. Tom Harris: As required by Directive 2001/14/EC, Eurotunnel’s charges for freight operators seeking
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to operate services through the Channel Tunnel are set out in its published Network Statement.

Under the Channel Tunnel (International Arrangements) Order 2005, which transposes the Open Access directives to the Channel Tunnel, there is a right of appeal to the Channel Tunnel Intergovernmental Commission (IGC) against, inter alia, Eurotunnel’s charging scheme or the level or structure of infrastructure fees which may be payable.

Stephen Hammond: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what steps the Government plan to take to ensure that Eurotunnel removes technical barriers to competitive service through the Channel Tunnel as required by European law. [123442]

Mr. Tom Harris: Competition policy is a matter for the relevant national competition authorities. For the UK this is the Office of Fair Trading.

The UK has transposed the rail interoperability directives to the Channel Tunnel.

The Channel Tunnel Intergovernmental Commission, which is the binational regulatory authority for the Channel Tunnel, has not received any request to consider any specific technical barriers to competitive service through the Tunnel.

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