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14 Mar 2007 : Column 324W—continued

Gaming Clubs

Mr. Marsden: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport what independent evidence on social impact was requested by the Casino Advisory Panel. [126744]

Mr. Lammy: The primary consideration for the Casino Advisory Panel was to identify areas which would provide the best possible test of social impact.

The panel commissioned one piece of research work to provide background that would assist in the scoping phase of the panel’s work. This is titled “Casinos: Social Impact and Regeneration”, and is available on the panel’s website at:

Olympic Games: Greater London

Mr. Hancock: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport which sites other than Woolwich have been considered as the potential venue for shooting events for the London Olympics; and if she will make a statement. [127446]

Mr. Lammy: The Royal Artillery Barracks at Woolwich was agreed as the venue for the Olympic and Paralympic shooting events in 2012 following feedback from the International Olympic Committee to the London Bid organisers on the original venue portfolio submitted in 2004. The original proposal was for the National Shooting Centre, Bisley, but the decision was taken to move to Woolwich in order to provide a more compact games that allowed athletes to train and compete within 30 minutes travel time of the Village. The Great Britain Target Shooting Federation and International Shooting Federation (ISSF) were involved in the decisions about the venue for games shooting competitions.


Anne Milton: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport what recent representations she has received on the sale of the Tote; and if she will make a statement. [127516]

Mr. Caborn: The Government have received and are considering a bid for the Tote from a consortium of racing interests and the staff and management of the Tote itself. The Government will announce how they intend to proceed in due course.

TV Licence

Mr. Moore: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport whether a person who owns a black and white television set and a digital set-top box needs to purchase a colour television licence. [101365]

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Mr. Woodward [holding answer 14 December 2006]: Interpretation of television licence fee regulations is a matter for the BBC as television licensing authority. The Corporation has confirmed its view that, under the current regulations, a colour TV licence is required to install or use a digital set top box to receive television programme services, even if it is used only with a black and white television set The Government accept the Corporation’s legal interpretation on this point.

The Government believe that the option of a black and white television licence should remain available through digital switchover. The licence fee regulations laid before Parliament on 8 March 2007 and due to come into effect on 1 April, will include provisions to ensure that a digital set top box used in conjunction with a television set or monitor that can display images in black and white only can be covered by a black and white TV licence.

VisitBritain: Internet

Mr. Steen: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport what the cost was of developing Eviivo, the online booking system used by the VisitBritain website; and how many bookings were taken through this system in the first year of its operation. [126884]

Mr. Woodward: VisitBritain’s websites do not operate an online booking system.

Through EnglandNet, VisitBritain offers an online referral service. This enables users of VisitBritain’s websites to check availability and pricing of accommodation through existing commercial operators, and then refers them to those operators for completion of bookings.

The technology which powers VisitBritain’s EnglandNet online referral service was built by Agilisys and they continue to provide technical services to the project. Eviivo, an associated company of Agilisys, developed the polling technology used by EnglandNet, which is licensed to VisitBritain through Agilisys.

Including the appropriate apportioned project cost elements, the total expenditure on the development of the EnglandNet online referral service has been estimated at approximately £450,000.

EnglandNet is not measured by the number of bookings. However VisitBritain has monitored referrals. Between April 2006 and the end of January 2007, 10,096 referrals were made to commercial operators, with a potential business value of £2,312,590.

House of Commons Commission

Bicycles: Parking

Emily Thornberry: To ask the hon. Member for North Devon, representing the House of Commons Commission pursuant to the answer of 5 February 2007, Official Report, column 627W, on bicycle parking, which outside security advisers were consulted; and what advice they provided. [126632]

Nick Harvey: The House of Commons does not reveal the sources of external advice it relies on for security. The advice provided was that allowing visitors to bring bicycles onto the Estate would heighten the security risk to the Parliamentary Estate.

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Energy Usage

Norman Baker: To ask the hon. Member for North Devon, representing the House of Commons Commission pursuant to his answer of 30 January 2007, Official Report, column 147W, what percentage of energy used on the parliamentary estate was derived from renewable resources in each year; and what targets there are for the future use of such energy. [120473]

Nick Harvey: Since 1 October 2003, approximately 10 per cent. of electricity consumed on the parliamentary estate derived from renewable sources. 10 per cent. of the electricity consumed expressed as a percentage of total energy used on the parliamentary estate in each year since 2003 is given as follows.








(1)Purchase of electricity from renewable sources started during 2003-04

The House has instructed its supplier to provide 100 per cent. of its electricity from renewable sources from 1 April 2007.

International Development

Afghanistan: Opium

Mr. Clifton-Brown: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development how many hectares of poppy crop in Afghanistan have been eradicated since January 2006; how many hectares have been sprayed; what aid has been paid to poppy farmers; which provinces have been covered by spraying; how many farmers have been offered an alternative crop to plant; and how many farmers have begun to plant an alternative crop. [126705]

Hilary Benn: The UN Office of Drugs and Crime (UNODC) records that 15,301 hectares of poppy crop was eradicated across Afghanistan in 2006, with 95.8 per cent. of the eradication occurring after January 2006. In 2007, some 7,112 hectares of poppy have been eradicated to date. No Afghan province has been covered by spraying. The Government of Afghanistan (GoA) decided, after wide consultation and internal discussion, against the use of ground-based and aerial spraying on opium poppy crops this year.

No direct aid has been given to opium farmers who have had their fields eradicated as this would be contrary to the GoA policy. The policy of the Afghanistan Government is to target eradication on areas where alternative livelihoods already exist. Therefore only those farmers who have alternatives will experience poppy eradication. In support of the GoA’s National Drug Control Strategy (NCDS), the UK is playing a major role in supporting the development of legal livelihood opportunities in Afghanistan. DFID’s Livelihood Programme is worth £150 million over three years, the majority of which is channelled through
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three National Priority Programmes which address the multiple constraints that prevent farmers from moving away from poppy cultivation.

DFID’s support for the National Rural Access Programme (NRAP) is helping to build essential infrastructure such as irrigation schemes, roads and bridges. This provides much needed infrastructure for economic development and also construction jobs for Afghans at the same time. DFID gave £18 million in 2005-06 for this purpose. Nearly 9,500 km of roads have been built or repaired, as well as schools, health clinics and water schemes. So far the programme has generated over 15 million days of labour.

DFID’s support for the National Solidarity Programme (NSP) is helping local communities through elected community development councils (CDC’s) identify what development is most needed in their areas and then receive grants to undertake the work. DFID is providing £17 million to support NSP which has established over 16,000 CDCs across Afghanistan and funded over 22,000 projects in the areas of agriculture, education, health, irrigation, power supply, transport and water supply.

DFID support to the Micro-Finance Investment Support Facility of Afghanistan (MISFA) is helping Afghans to invest in income-generating activities and increase their savings. DFID is providing £20 million over three years to help give small loans of around £100 to the poor, including farmers, who cannot get credit from banks. So far, over £90 million worth of loans have been given to over 230,000 Afghans including farmers, shopkeepers, tailors and builders.

DFID has established a £3 million Research in Alternative Livelihoods Fund (RALF) in Afghanistan for applied research into natural resource-based livelihoods. The programme is looking at improved forage and milk production, the introduction of legumes, vegetable crops and saffron, and the medicinal properties of mint as viable alternatives to poppy production for farmers. Mint and saffron are showing early signs of success. The export feasibility of grapes, tomatoes, mushrooms and eggplants is also being examined. This also includes natural products, and post-harvest processing and rural services.

In addition, DFID funds the Development of Sustainable Agriculture Livelihoods Project in the Eastern Hazarajat (SALEH) which provides new and innovative ways for farmers to make a living in Eastern Hazarajat e.g. honey bee keeping and potato farming.

Afghan farmers often make their living through a combination of activities. These may change throughout the year, and include agriculture (crops and livestock); employment (migrant labour); remittances (from family members working away from home); and welfare (for vulnerable groups not able to work). DFID therefore supports a wide range of activities to help farmers move away from poppy cultivation and adopt alternative forms of livelihoods.

Afghanistan: Overseas Aid

Mr. Keith Simpson: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what support the UK gives to the purchase of seed and fertiliser for Afghan farmers; and if he will make a statement. [127066]

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Hilary Benn: In 2005 DFID contributed £3 million towards a USAID Agriculture Inputs Supply Programme worth $25 million. This programme helped poor and vulnerable farmers across all 34 provinces of Afghanistan gain improved access to subsidised agricultural inputs in order to increase their production of legal crops. The programme has distributed 40,000 metric tonnes of fertiliser and nearly 15,000 tonnes of seed (wheat, potato, onion and carrots) to 537,000 farmers in all 34 provinces.

DFID and USAID found the programme could be made sustainable into the longer-term by supporting input supplies and offering farmers access to credit. USAID now has an input supply programme and DFID is a major donor to the Micro-Finance Investment Support Facility of Afghanistan (MISFA). This offers small loans to poor people, including farmers, who would otherwise not have access to credit. DFID is providing £20 million to MISFA over a three year period.

Miss McIntosh: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development how much humanitarian aid was successfully delivered to Afghanistan in each of the last three years; and if he will make a statement. [126070]

Hilary Benn: According to the United Nations Office for Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA), the following has been contributed to the humanitarian effort in Afghanistan over the last three years.








DFID’s programme in Afghanistan has gradually shifted from humanitarian assistance in the immediate post-conflict environment (£44 million in 2001) to longer-term, sustainable development support to the Government of Afghanistan. We now focus on three key areas; building effective state institutions; improving economic management and the effectiveness with which the Afghan Government uses aid; and improving the livelihoods of rural people.

This year DFID has is providing £1 million for drought mitigation, to fund NGOs working with the Ministry of Rural Rehabilitation and Development (MRRD) on water and sanitation projects in the most affected areas. DFID has also provided £30,000 in food aid and other essential items for Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) in Helmand. The UN has estimated that around 2,800 families have been displaced. UK officials are monitoring the situation and we are currently assured that basic needs are being met.

DFID also supports HALO’s de-mining programme in Afghanistan, worth £1.2 million in 2006-07.

Departments: Appeals

Mr. Laws: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development how many independent bodies existed to hear appeals on decisions made by his Department and its executive agencies in (a) 1997-98, (b) 2001-02 and (c) 2005-06; and how many there have been in 2006-07 to date. [121699]

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Mr. Thomas: No independent bodies hear appeals on decisions made by DFID and its executive agencies.

Departments: Complaints

Mr. Laws: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development how many complaints were received by his Department and its executive agencies in (a) 1997-98, (b) 2001-02 and (c) 2005-06; and how many have been received in 2006-07 to date. [121698]

Mr. Thomas: DFID operates five complaints mechanisms, available through its website. The information for each is as follows:

Developing Countries: Children

James Duddridge: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what recent estimate he has made of the number of displaced children in developing countries. [127425]

Hilary Benn: DFID has not made such an assessment. When assessing humanitarian and development needs, we rely on data from organisations which are best placed to collect and collate them. In this case, the closest figure from available data is from UNICEF, who estimate that there are 20 million children currently displaced by armed conflict or human rights violations.

Iraq: Utilities

Mr. Hague: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what recent estimate his Department has made of the proportion of the Iraqi population that has access to (a) safe and stable drinking water and (b) a stable electricity supply. [127154]

Hilary Benn: The most recent reliable data available for water supplies in Iraq come from the Iraq living conditions survey carried out in 2004 by the Iraqi Ministry of Planning and Development Cooperation and the United Nations Development Programme.

The 2004 UN survey found that in urban areas, 99 per cent. of households have access to safe drinking water (but for 33 per cent. the supply is unreliable). In rural areas, 6 per cent. of households have access to safe drinking water (but for 22 per cent. the supply is unreliable). Since 2003, donors (including DFID) have worked hard to restore supplies. As a result, the US Iraq Reconstruction Management Office (IRMO) estimates that an additional 5.4 million Iraqis have improved access to drinking water.

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