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Written Answers to Questions

Tuesday 27 February 2007


BAE Systems

Martin Horwood: To ask the Solicitor-General which Ministers he consulted in relation to the case of the investigation of BAe Systems by the Serious Fraud Office; and what discussions he had with other Ministers on the case prior to it being discontinued. [123413]

The Solicitor-General: I refer to my written answer of 19 January 2007, Official Report, column 1429W.

Civil Proceedings

David T.C. Davies: To ask the Solicitor-General which Chambers were given work by the Director of Public Prosecutions in each of the last three years. [122900]

The Solicitor-General: The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) instructs banisters in about 90,000 crown court matters each year using around 300 sets of barristers’ chambers.

Records show that the number of barristers’ chambers whose sendees were used by the CPS in each of the last three completed years is:








The instruction of barristers in chambers is a function of the 42 CPS areas across England and Wales and three casework divisions. The Director of Public Prosecutions has not personally given work to any chambers over that time.

International Development

Afghanistan: Overseas Aid

Mark Simmonds: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what funding has been allocated for the reconstruction and development of Afghanistan in each of the next three years; and through what channels this money will be distributed. [122750]

Hilary Benn: DFID has committed £330 million in total for reconstruction and development in Afghanistan for the three-year period 2006-07 to 2008-09. We expect
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to spend £107 million in 2007-08 and £115 million in 2008-09. We do not have an indicative figure for 2009-10 yet. Allocations in future years will depend on the outcome of this year's comprehensive spending review and DFID internal resource allocation decisions. We expect to maintain our support to Afghanistan in line with the UK's 10 year Development Partnership Agreement signed in January 2006. We committed to spending more than 50 per cent. of DFID's assistance to Afghanistan through the Government of Afghanistan's systems, which we believe to be the most effective way of delivering aid. We will in fact spend more than 70 per cent. through the budget this year, and hope to maintain this in future years in support of priorities set out in the Afghanistan National Development Strategy.

Mark Simmonds: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what proportion of the funding committed to Afghanistan for reconstruction and development has been given as budget support in each year since 2001. [122752]

Hilary Benn: DFID does not provide direct budget support to Afghanistan, but we do channel our support through Government systems using the Afghanistan Reconstruction Trust Fund (ARTF). The ARTF is a multi-donor funding mechanism managed by the World Bank, which applies rigorous procedures to protect against fiduciary risks and strengthen public financial management. DFID has provided a significant proportion of our aid through the ARTF since it was set up: £15 million (20 per cent.) in 2002-03, £34 million (43 per cent.) in 2003-04, £47 million (5 per cent.) in 2004-05, £79 million (78 per cent.) in 2005-06, and £60 million (59 per cent.) in 2006-07. In total, 54 per cent. of our support since 2001 (£235 million of a total £438 million provided in aid) has been channelled through the ARTF to support the Government's plans for reconstruction and development.

Developing Countries: Health Professions

Mr. David Hamilton: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development whether he has taken steps to agree a code of practice for the international recruitment of health care professionals within the EU to stop member states recruiting medical staff from developing countries; and if he will make a statement. [122764]

Mr. Thomas: The European Commission has recommended an EU-wide code of conduct on health worker recruitment as one of a series of measures to address the health staffing crisis in many developing countries. Department of Health officials are taking this forward with other member states. The group is at the stage of negotiating principles, such as the right of individuals to move and will then draft text for a code.

There are varying views on the impact of the UK code on international recruitment. DFID and the Department of Health are to carry out an evaluation of the effectiveness of the code to strengthen the evidence base. This will be complete by June 2007.

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Middle East

Mr. Keith Simpson: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development pursuant to the answer of 1 February 2007, Official Report, columns 417-18W, on the Middle East, what the criteria are for identifying those who have suffered a severe loss in income; and which international body is responsible for establishing eligibility. [122997]

Hilary Benn: The Temporary International Mechanism—TIM—pays allowances to Palestinian Authority (PA) civil employees, and those identified as hardship cases. The economic crisis has hit PA employees hardest, as the Government have not paid salaries since March 2006.

Initially the TIM paid allowances only to health workers. In August 2006, the G8 summit at St. Petersburg requested that the TIM be expanded, so all civil PA workers who had earned less than $600 per month (2,500 New Israeli Shekels) were included. In December 2006 the Quartet (US, Russia, UN and EU) requested a further expansion to remove the income ceiling entirely, so the TIM has been extended to all civil employees of the PA (excluding security forces and the civil police). The last payment in February 2007 paid all 77,000 civil PA employees. Only PA employees which are both on the PA payroll before the Hamas Government came to power, and which remain on the payroll as of December 2006, are entitled to allowances.

Under the previous Palestinian Authority Government, the Ministry of Social Affairs made payments to 36,079 families. These beneficiaries now receive payments through the TIM. A further 36,600 beneficiaries have been added from lists compiled by the World Food Programme. The TIM Management Unit is evaluating a further 4,000 individuals to assess their eligibility for TIM benefits.

The scope of TIM payments is approved by the EU, following consultation between the European Commission's TIM Management Unit and the Office of President Abbas.

Mr. Keith Simpson: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development pursuant to the answer of 1 February 2007, Official Report, columns 417-18W, on the Middle East, how many direct recipients of aid from the Temporary International Mechanism there are among those who have suffered a severe loss in income. [122998]

Hilary Benn: The direct payment of allowances is one of three parts of the Temporary International Mechanism. Up to the end of February, a total of €131.6 million had been paid to 149,679 beneficiaries. The EC is investigating the eligibility of a further 4,000 beneficiaries. With an estimated household size of six, over 900,000 persons will have benefit directly from the TIM.

Mr. Keith Simpson: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development pursuant to the answer of 1 February 2007, Official Report, columns 417-18W, on the Middle East, if he will describe the rigorous auditing procedures used for the Temporary International Mechanism in delivering aid to the Palestinian people. [122999]

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Hilary Benn: Audit procedures for the Temporary International Mechanism have been set up to ensure no funding can be captured by a listed terrorist or terrorist organisation. Funding is provided in coordination with the Office of the President and no financial support is provided to the Hamas led Palestinian Authority.

TIM payments for non-salary expenses are made by the World Bank. The procurement of these goods and services is managed by the Office of the President. Each stage in the tendering and bid evaluation process is checked by the World Bank and payment is made from the Office of the President only after the World Bank has approved the expense.

Payments for fuel are made directly by the EC to the Israeli fuel company Dor. EC appointed auditors monitor the delivery of fuel in Gaza, and check all documentation, they provide a report to the EC management unit for payment.

Payments for allowances are managed by the EC through the TIM Management Unit. Lists of individual beneficiaries are compiled from cross checking payroll data from the previous Government, and lists of current employees. Individual recipients are verified by the HSBC using the World Check Database, which runs the names of individuals receiving payment through five different international anti terrorist list checks. Detailed tracking mechanisms have been set up by HSBC which allow each and every payment made to be tracked to the individual. Funding is only provided directly into individual bank accounts or in cash on production of identification cards by individuals. Where there are problems with transferring funds to bank accounts, the funds are returned to the EC. The EC places monitors in the bank branches which are responsible cash hand outs.

Overseas Aid: Health Services

Mr. David Hamilton: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what steps are taken to ensure that projects funded by his Department to fight specific diseases in developing countries do not have a negative effect on the overall health care of that country. [122763]

Mr. Thomas: DFID uses a range of approaches and aid instruments to fight specific diseases in developing countries according to the country situation. The preference is to provide budget support or pooled funds to support the implementation of countries' own health plans. Such approaches provide flexible and long term support to fund trained staff, essential medicines and the costs of delivering broad based health services. In more difficult settings where DFID supports large disease specific programmes it encourages the delivery of integrated packages of care, for example adding distribution of bednets, micronutrients, and other vital treatments to immunisation programmes. DFID also encourages others to buy into national plans and use national delivery systems to minimise the negative effect of projects that may divert funds, staff and effort to specific health issues at the expense of broad based services.

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Palestinian Authority: Finance

Richard Burden: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what representations he has made to the (a) EU and (b) Quartet on (i) the withholding by Israel of revenues due to the Palestinian authority (PA), (ii) international development assistance to the PA and (iii) the future of the temporary international mechanism. [122500]

Hilary Benn: The UK Government regularly discusses the issues of the withholding of clearance revenues, development assistance and the future of the TIM with the EU and other quartet partners.

During my visit to Israel and the occupied Palestinian territory in December I raised the issue of the withholding of clearance revenues directly with the Government of Israel. The Foreign Secretary most recently raised the issue with Israeli Foreign Minister Livni on 2 January. We welcome Prime Minister Olmert's announcement in December that Israel would release $100 million of Palestinian tax revenues. We continue to call on Israel to release the remaining amount.

The UK Government remain extremely concerned about the humanitarian situation in the occupied Palestinian territory. We are committed to helping the Palestinian peopl through the temporary international mechanism (TIM) and other means. The TIM was most recently extended by the quartet in December for three months. Compared t 2005, EU aid to the Palestinians in 2006 increased by some 27 per cent. to €650 million.

The UK stands ready to work with a Palestinian government based on the quartet principles: renunciation of violence; recognition of Israel; and acceptance of previous peace agreements.

Palestinians: Overseas Aid

Mr. Keith Simpson: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development pursuant to the answer of 1 February 2007, Official Report, column 417-18W, on Middle East, what assessment he has made of the impact of bank handling charges on the overall level of aid disbursed through the Temporary International Mechanism to deliver aid to the Palestinian people. [122846]

Hilary Benn: All payments of allowances to Palestinian beneficiaries, made through the Temporary International Mechanism (TIM), are subject to five different counter-terrorism checks. These checks were a key requirement for the TIM to be approved by the Quartet (EU, US, Russia and the UN) and provide a safeguard that tax payers' money is not going to members of terrorist organisations.

The total cost of bank charges is less than 3.5 per cent. of the overall total the TIM has paid out to Palestinians. Up to the end of February 2007, the total bank charge was €4.57 million, out of a total allowance payment of €131.6 million. While these bank charges are significant, they are an essential cost for providing aid in this way.

We understand that the TIM is less optimal than budget support; however it is the best alternative in the current political context. We are unable to provide aid directly to the Palestinian Authority Government until
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they comply with the Quartet Principles to give up violence, recognise Israel and commit to previous agreements, including the road map for peace.

Somalia: Overseas Aid

Mr. Hague: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what support his Department is providing to Somalia; and if he will make a statement. [122944]

Hilary Benn: DFID's assistance to Somalia has increased from less than £2 million in 2002-03 to almost £18.75 million in 2005-06. Our assistance is aimed at achieving a peaceful and economically viable Somalia, and is based on three objectives:

A key part of DFID's support is channelled through the UNDP to provide direct support to the transitional federal institutions (TFIs). The UK, along with other donors (mainly the European Commission, Norway and Sweden), are providing both technical and financial assistance to help the TFIs to become established and build their capacity. Support to date has involved direct financial support to the costs of the TFIs through a UNDP project (e.g. refurbishment and equipping of TFI buildings, stipends for MPs, police and judiciary, and costs of TFI members' travel within Somalia). These donors are also providing capacity building support to the TFIs through an emergency technical assistance project, plus support for a constitution development project.

DFID, alongside a broad group of other donors, is also providing support to the security and judiciary sector across Somalia through UNDP's rule of law and security programme. This support has helped establish three police training centres (one in Somaliland, one in Puntland and one in Baidoa), as well as helping to produce a Somali police Development Plan as a basis for re-establishing policing in south/central Somalia. Security sector review work is also being taken forward as a priority with Somaliland and Puntland. This programme has also financed the reconstruction of the prison in Hargeisa, so that it now meets international standards.

The largest part of DFID's funding for Somalia to date has been in the form of humanitarian assistance, which has been provided in response to natural disasters which have afflicted Somalia in recent years. These funds have been channelled through UN agencies and NGOs. We continue to carefully monitor the humanitarian situation in Somalia and have been one of the leaders in the international response to these crises.

In addition to our humanitarian response, we continue to support the education and health sectors via UN agencies and NGOs, and agreed last year a £6 million education partnership with UNICEF and UNESCO.

Much of DFID's funds are directed to Somaliland and Puntland in the north, as they are currently more stable. Somaliland receives 30 to 40 per cent. of UK
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assistance to Somalia. This includes support to the 2005 Somaliland parliamentary elections and the upcoming presidential election.

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