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22 Mar 2007 : Column 1084W—continued

The total cost of media spend on advertising and promotional campaigns run by the Department through the Central Office of Information (excluding VAT) in 2004-05 was £2,009,800 and for 2005-06 £3,257,543.

Departments: Postal Services

Mr. Fraser: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry which postal companies handle mail dispatched by his Department and its agencies. [128253]

Jim Fitzpatrick: The Department and its agencies have arrangements in place with Royal Mail for the despatch of its standard mail. The DTI follows Office of Government Commerce procurement guidance and seeks to ensure value for money when considering which postal operators to use.

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EC Grants and Loans

Mr. Prisk: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what the total value was of (a) grants to and (b) related contributions from (i) organisations which are not small or medium-sized enterprises, (ii) large companies and (iii) universities under the EU Framework Programme in each year since 2004 which are not small or medium-sized enterprises. [121384]

Margaret Hodge: I refer the hon. Member to parliamentary questions 120025, 120026 and 120029, answered on 20 February 2007, Official Report, columns 654W, 654-55W and 656-67W respectively.

Energy Supply: EC Law

Paddy Tipping: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry (1) what steps he plans to take to implement Article 13 of the Energy Services Directive following completion of the metering and billing consultation; [128678]

(2) what recent discussions he has had with the Department for Communities and Local Government on how smart meters can contribute to the plans for carbon zero houses in 2016. [128679]

Malcolm Wicks: In addition to considering responses to its consultation on metering and billing, including smart metering, the Department has had extensive exchanges with interested parties within and outside Government. The Government will set out its views on metering and billing, including matters arising from Article 13 of the Energy Services Directive, in the forthcoming Energy White Paper.

Nuclear Decommissioning Authority

Alan Duncan: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry pursuant to the answer of 19 February 2007, Official Report, column 547W to the hon. Member for Hammersmith and Fulham (Mr. Hands) on the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority, what role his Department has in monitoring the spending of public money by that authority. [125053]

Malcolm Wicks [holding answer 2 March 2007]: The Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA) is a non- departmental public body (NDPB). My Department sets its budget, which includes grant in aid, and my officials monitor the NDA in line with parliamentary controls set out in Government Accounting—which includes agreeing limits on the NDA’s delegated authority. In addition, officials have due regard to compliance with Cabinet Office guidance on the management of NDPBs.

Package Holidays: Safety

Mr. MacNeil: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what representations he has received from consumer groups on (a) tour operator liabilities and (b) the adequacy of the protection afforded by current legislation under the Package Travel, Package Holidays and Package Tours Regulations 1992 following the fatalities at the Louis Corcyra Beach Hotel, Corfu, in October 2006. [128155]

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Mr. McCartney: Since October 2006 I have received no representation from customer groups on the issues listed.

Phoenix Companies: Complaints

Mr. Graham Stuart: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry how many complaints trading standards officers have received regarding so-called phoenix companies, which liquidate and reform, in the last five years; and if he will make a statement. [122985]

Jim Fitzpatrick: Trading standards officers are linked to local authorities and do not report directly to the Department of Trade and Industry. The information requested is not held centrally and could only be obtained at disproportionate cost.

Radio Frequencies: Licensing

Mr. Havard: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what statutory powers he has to direct Ofcom in the implementation of a decision by the EC Radio Spectrum Committee allowing 2G spectrum to be reframed for 3G use. [127679]

Margaret Hodge: My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State can direct Ofcom’s management of spectrum for security, international relations and public safety reasons under Section 5 of the Communications Act 2003, or more broadly under Section 156 of the Act.

To invoke Section 156, Ofcom must be consulted, and other Departments would be consulted on the merits of any particular case through the Cabinet Office Official Committee on Spectrum Strategy. Any direction would then be laid before Parliament and subject to an affirmative resolution of each House.


Mr. O'Hara: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what assessment he has made of the compatibility of existing provisions of employer redundancy schemes with age discrimination regulations, with particular reference to his Department’s own redundancy scheme. [127585]

Jim Fitzpatrick: The Employment Equality (Age) Regulations 2006 provide exemptions from age challenge for employers that either follow the statutory redundancy scheme or offer enhanced versions of the statutory scheme. These exemptions were discussed with employer groups including the CBI and EEF. However, the Government do not hold details of employers’ individual schemes.

If staff of the Department of Trade and Industry are made redundant, they receive benefits as set out in the Civil Service Compensation Scheme (CSCS). The Cabinet Office is reviewing the terms of the CSCS, taking account of various factors including the provisions of the age legislation, and plans to consult the Council of Civil Service Unions about changes to the scheme in due course.

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Small Businesses: Females

Ms Butler: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what steps he is taking to assist female entrepreneurs to set up their own businesses. [128953]

Margaret Hodge: Women entrepreneurs make a significant contribution to the UK economy. Women-owned businesses contribute about £60 billion to the UK economy. Developing women’s enterprise is therefore an economic imperative.

That is why I have been working with providers of business support to ensure that women can access the women-friendly advice and help they need. Our key partners in this area are the regional development agencies.

I have set up the Task Force on Women’s Enterprise, which has been tasked with driving forward the development of women’s enterprise.

To supplement the role of the Task Force, I have also established a network of women entrepreneur ambassadors to inspire other women in starting their own businesses.

Telephones: Digital Technology

Mark Williams: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what estimate he has made of the number of (a) households and (b) businesses which receive telephone services through a digital access carrier system in each region of the UK. [127257]

Margaret Hodge: I understand from BT that this information is not available on a regional basis. The company estimates that the current number of UK telephone lines delivered through a digital access carrier system is 550,000, a reduction of 100,000 lines since February 2006.

Thomas Cook

Mr. MacNeil: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what representations he has received from (a) independent and (b) non-vertically integrated tour operators on the proposed Thomas Cook MyTravel merger. [128154]

Mr. McCartney: My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State has not received any representations from tour operators relating to the proposed merger. The regulatory function of investigating mergers is the responsibility of the independent competition authorities.

International Development

Afghanistan: Energy Supply

Mr. Hague: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what progress has been made in the provision of electricity networks and supply throughout Afghanistan since 2002; and if he will make a statement. [127152]

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Hilary Benn: The latest quarterly progress report issued by the Government of Afghanistan (GoA)states that the Ministry of Energy and Water, in partnership with various donors and governments, has made considerable strides since 2003 to rehabilitate the provision of electricity throughout Afghanistan. It is estimated that 15 per cent. of the population now has access to some electrical power. This includes approximately 378,700 urban and rural households, 33,500 commercial establishments and 5,300 government institutions. However, access remains poor and is often unreliable. Furthermore, figures should be treated with caution as there are serious limitations in ability to measure some of the statistics. DFID is not directly engaged in this sector. Lead donors are the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), the World Bank and the Asian Development Bank.

In October 2002, USAID committed support for a national irrigation and power rehabilitation programme in conjunction with Afghanistan's Ministry of Energy and Water. The programme is focused on the rehabilitation of the south east power system (SEPS), a 100 MW power generation and transmission network. It aims to provide low cost and reliable power to 1.7 million residents in Helmand and Kandahar provinces by the end of 2009. Central to this initiative is a commitment to rehabilitate the Kajaki multi-purpose dam, built by USAID in 1953 on the Helmand river.

The programme is split into phases and will include rehabilitating and upgrading the dam, its power plant and associated transmission network by 2009. The first phase will increase Kajaki's generation capacity to 51 MW. Funding of $150 million has already been allocated for this work. The UK Government, through DFID, may fund smaller projects in the vicinity of the dam as part of a stabilisation programme.

Afghanistan: Reconstruction

Mark Simmonds: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development how much funding for the reconstruction and development of Afghanistan was channelled through the Asian Development Bank in each year since 2001. [127974]

Hilary Benn: Since 2001, DFID Afghanistan has channelled £335,000 to the Asian Development Bank for reconstruction and development. This support was divided equally between 2005-06 and 2006-07. This funding provides technical assistance to help the Afghan Government address key policy and institutional issues in the areas of land policy and land administration.

Africa: Overseas Aid

Mr. Jim Cunningham: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what anti-corruption safeguards are in place to ensure that aid given to African countries is used for its intended purpose. [128870]

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Hilary Benn: Corruption is a serious problem in much of Africa and the poor suffer most. When deciding how to provide assistance to developing country partners, DFID carefully assesses their commitment to improving public financial management, promoting good governance and transparency, and fighting corruption.

In most countries, DFID delivers aid in a range of ways and the choice of aid instruments depends on the circumstances of each country. DFID takes strong measures to protect our aid programmes from corruption. Strong procurement and management systems have been established to prevent corruption in projects and programmes directly administered by DFID. These systems are subject to independent and systematic audit and evaluation that provide high levels of assurance on the adequacy of systems of control and the processes for safeguarding assets. The external audit for DFID projects is carried out by the UK National Audit Office.

When funds are granted directly to a partner government as Poverty Reduction Budget Support (PRBS), direct responsibility for the use and auditing of those funds is passed to that government. Before a decision is made to provide budget support, DFID carries out a detailed Fiduciary Risk Assessment. This includes a specific assessment of the risk of corruption and enables us to decide whether the circumstances are appropriate for providing PRBS. DFID considers the risk of corruption in the formal public financial management systems, taking into account how these systems operate in practice and the wider governance and institutional context of the country.

Where significant corruption or other fiduciary risks are identified, we consider whether the partner government has a credible programme of reform and whether any additional measures are needed to mitigate the risk. We may require additional measures such as independent audits, Public Expenditure Tracking Surveys or the use of donor procurement systems rather than government ones. Progress is monitored. PRBS is usually accompanied by technical assistance to help the government strengthen its systems.

Departments: Paper

Lynne Jones: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what mechanisms are in place to ensure his Department's economical use of paper. [128005]

Mr. Thomas: DFID employs a number of measures to ensure the economical use of paper. All printers and photocopiers wherever possible are set as a default to double-sided printing, and staff are encouraged not to print out internal correspondence sent via e-mail unless absolutely necessary. Our electronic document records management system means that staff have access to a central electronic repository of documents rather than needing to rely on paper files. All used paper is sent for recycling.

DFID currently meets the Government targets for sustainable operations in respect of the reduction of waste generally.

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Developing Countries: Rural Areas

Lynne Featherstone: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development how much he has allocated to rural livelihoods in developing countries for 2007-08; and if he will make a statement. [128472]

Mr. Thomas: DFID’s budget for 2007-08 does not make a separate allocation for rural livelihoods. However, in its recent study on tackling poverty in rural areas, the National Audit Office noted DFID’s estimate that two-thirds of its bilateral spending directly benefits the rural poor.

Lynne Featherstone: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development which local communities his Department has consulted on the design and operation of country programmes to reach the rural poor. [128792]

Hilary Benn: DFID does not maintain central records of our interaction with rural communities in developing countries. But we are committed to broad country ownership of national development plans and policy making. This includes poor and excluded communities. In many countries we encourage and support mechanisms that enable poor men and women to have a say in national and local planning and to monitor the services that government are providing.

In Ghana, for example, we are supporting the disability movement so that they can influence national poverty reduction plans and budget decisions. In Uganda, the Kabarole Research Centre, with DFID support, monitors the quality of government service provision in rural areas and feeds that information back to local government.

In Tanzania, in the development of poverty reduction plans for the mainland and Zanzibar, we supported consultations with rural communities, including vulnerable groups such as the elderly, on policies to improve service delivery in rural areas. Now, through a grant-making foundation, we are building the capacity of rural organisations such as ageing and disability groups to monitor the quality of service provision. We are funding a ‘Views of the People’ survey through the Government’s poverty monitoring system that will shed light on rural people’s views of government performance in tackling rural poverty.

In Nepal, the rural roads programme involves structured consultation with communities to ensure that the needs of everyone—rather than just a vocal few—are taken into account. Communities also identify the poorest families amongst them to take part in road construction. Similarly in Ghana, the Department of Feeder Roads uses a road prioritisation methodology that gives rural communities an opportunity to identify and prioritise their need for rural roads. This approach, developed with DFID support, is being adopted in Ghana to prioritise funding from other development agencies.

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In Ethiopia, numerous rural communities from 286 districts were consulted on implementation of the productive safety nets programme. Communities helped identify people who would be eligible for assistance as well as public works programmes that they would engage in.

And in India, the design team for phase 2 of the Madhya Pradesh Rural Livelihoods Project has consulted communities and field staff who work with them about the effectiveness and impact of the first phase.

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