27 Mar 2007 : Column 1373W

Written Answers to Questions

Tuesday 27 March 2007

International Development

Cambodia: Forestry

Lyn Brown: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development whether his Department (a) provides and (b) plans to provide support to assist reform of the forestry sector in Cambodia. [129565]

Mr. Thomas: DFID provides £13 million over five years to a natural resource management and livelihoods project in Cambodia managed by the Danish development agency Danida. Under this programme £1.2 million has been allocated to support the Forestry Administration to implement a forestry sector action plan. This will help put in place a supportive policy and regulatory environment for more sustainable management of forests.

Cambodia: Politics and Government

Lyn Brown: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what support his Department provides for civil society and non-governmental organisations in Cambodia. [129567]

Mr. Thomas: Six non-government organisations (NGOs) receive funding from DFID’s Civil Society Challenge Fund for activities in Cambodia. These are Christian Outreach, Health Unlimited, Landmine Disability Support, Cambodia Trust, Ockendon International, and World Vision. Total funding for these projects amounts to almost £2.5 million. Mines Advisory Group also receives funding for its projects to raise awareness of the dangers of mines and to support mine clearance.

DFID’s health and HIV programmes also fund NGOs to support the delivery of Government services. Under the ‘Health Sector Support Project’, Save the Children Australia, Swiss Red Cross, CARE Australia, and Health Net International receive funding to manage the delivery of primary health care services. DFID also supports Population Services International (PSI) to promote and distribute condoms under the national HIV strategy; and the NGOs World Education and Co-operation for Sustainable Cambodian Society to provide education about HIV/AIDS. Local NGOs working on HIV/AIDS prevention, care and support also receive funding.

The DFID Livelihoods Programme, implemented through Danish Co-operation (Danida), will agree contracts with a number of NGOs to implement a £7 million civil society component of a larger Danida Livelihoods and Natural Resources programme.

27 Mar 2007 : Column 1374W

European Development Fund

Tony Baldry: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development whether his Department has undertaken a cost-benefit analysis of the (a) European Development Fund and (b) International Development Association. [126873]

Mr. Thomas: DFID is constantly reviewing the performance of organisations to which it gives money. We are trying new ways of assessing the effectiveness of multilateral development organisations in contributing towards the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals, to inform our aid allocation decisions. This work includes both quantitative and qualitative assessments of the effectiveness of the European Development Fund and the International Development Association. This work is due to be completed towards the second half of the year.

Leader of the House

Select Committees: Witnesses

Mr. Gordon Prentice: To ask the Leader of the House what assessment he has made of the merits of requiring witnesses to take an oath before giving evidence to Select Committees. [129363]

Mr. Straw: All select committees have the power to take oral evidence on oath (administered, under Standing Order No. 132, by the Chairman or the Clerk of the Committee). It is not usual for such Committees, other than Committees on private or hybrid Bills, to take evidence on oath although this is done on occasion. The Ministerial Code and the Civil Service Code set the requirements for Ministers and civil servants who give evidence to Select Committees.

I have made no specific assessment of the merits of Committees taking evidence on oath more widely. It is a matter on which each Committee is best placed to take a view in the circumstances of the individual case.

Trade Unions

Mrs. May: To ask the Leader of the House pursuant to his answer of 21 March 2007, Official Report, column 895W, on Departments: trade unions, if he will ask (a) the Chancellor of the Exchequer and (b) the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster to change their policy on answering questions on official meetings in respect of the question from the hon. Member for Maidenhead regarding meetings with trade union representatives in 2006. [130210]

Mr. Straw: No. Ministers are individually responsible for their own answers, which will inevitably vary between Departments.


Departments: Advertising

Mr. Heald: To ask the Secretary of State for Wales how much his Department spent on (a) sponsoring newspaper and publication supplements and (b)
27 Mar 2007 : Column 1375W
funding advertorials in newspapers and publications in the last year for which figures are available; and what the topic of each was. [129959]

Mr. Hain: Nil.

Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

Coastal Areas: Access

Ms Angela C. Smith: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs whether he plans to include provisions for coastal access for walkers in the proposed Marine Bill. [126833]

Barry Gardiner: The Government’s rural manifesto said that action to improve access to the coast would be a priority. We have not yet made any decision on how to take this forward. Natural England has been carrying out detailed research and has recently recommended that the Government should introduce new legislation to enable Natural England to align a “coastal corridor” around the whole coast that people could enjoy with confidence and certainty. We are considering Natural England’s advice and intend to issue a public consultation document in the spring.

Departments: Biofuels

Dr. Kumar: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what steps his Department is taking to contribute to meeting the Government’s targets on the use of biofuels. [129667]

Ian Pearson: A Renewable Transport Fuel Obligation (RTFO) will be introduced in April 2008 which will require 5 per cent. of fuel sold in the UK to come from a renewable source by 2010.

A number of companies are building, or planning to build, biofuel processing plants in the United Kingdom (UK) which will use UK-grown crops such as oilseed rape, wheat and sugar beet as feedstocks.

Farmers can claim the single payment for biofuel crops grown on set-aside land or where the €45 per hectare energy aid payment is claimed for crops on non-set-aside land.

We are also developing carbon and sustainability standards to encourage supply of fuels giving the greatest environmental benefits. We are pressing the EU to take a lead in establishing internationally agreed standards in this area.

Inland Waterways: Finance

Paul Rowen: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (1) what recent representations he has received on reductions in British Waterways’ grant and its likely effects on the canal system; [130360]

(2) what (a) meetings and (b) discussions he has had with British Waterways and the effect on its budget of the reduction in planned maintenance of canals. [130363]

27 Mar 2007 : Column 1376W

Barry Gardiner: The Government have received representations from British Waterways as well as a wide range of hon. Members and key stakeholders following reductions in British Waterways’ grant. The representations have taken the form of meetings, correspondence and parliamentary questions. In particular, I met a number of hon. Members and stakeholders at the Parliamentary Waterways Group (PWG) on 12 December 2006 and a range of inland waterways representatives and press at the London Boat Show on 11 January 2007.

In the last six months, I have met British Waterways six times in my role as Inland Waterways Minister, including at PWG and the Boat Show. Discussions have included funding and delivery of shared strategic objectives.

Paul Rowen: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how much (a) has been spent in the last five years and (b) is expected to be spent in the next five years on canal systems, broken down by canal. [130361]

Barry Gardiner: The following table provides information on the amount spent by British Waterways on canal systems in England and Wales since 2004. Information on spending is not held centrally on a canal-by-canal basis and, therefore, could be provided only at disproportionate cost.

England and Wales
£ million
31 March 2004 31 March 2005 31 March 2006 31 March 2007
Actual Actual Actual Forecast

Core Waterway(1)





Major Works(2)










(1) Routine spend on infrastructure, for example, replacing lock gates and maintenance and associated overhead costs.
(2) For example, repairs and maintenance to principal assets such as bridge repairs, lock chamber repairs, embankments and aqueducts, and culverts.

Comparable figures for spending prior to 2004 are not available due to changes to British Waterways’ accounting and computing systems carried out in 2003.

Decisions on the amount spent on future funding for British Waterways canal systems from 2008 onwards will be informed by the 2007 Comprehensive Spending Review settlement.

Information on canal systems not maintained by British Waterways is not held by my Department.

River Wear

Dr. Kumar: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (1) on which parts of the River Wear voluntary access agreements have been reached on (a) both river banks and (b) a single river bank; [129670]

(2) what assessment he has made of the impact of voluntary access agreements covering only a single river bank on providing effective access to the River Wear. [129671]

27 Mar 2007 : Column 1377W

Barry Gardiner: On the River Wear, 9 km of access, from Houghall to the Sands, has been negotiated through the voluntary access project managed by the Environment Agency. All of this has the agreement of landowners on both banks.

The voluntary access project delivered over 70 km of access on four rivers. Of this, only 200 m on the River Mersey is with one river bank owner. There is no evidence to suggest that single bank access is likely to be a feature of many agreements and no assessment of the impact of such access has been made.


Blue Badge Scheme

Mr. Hunt: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport (1) what legal advice his Department has received on blue badge holders parking in loading bays; [130244]

(2) what guidance his Department has issued to local authorities in relation to blue badge holders and parking in loading bays. [130245]

Gillian Merron: The rules about using the blue badge in a loading/unloading bay are contained in the Local Authorities' Traffic Orders (Exemptions for Disabled Persons) (England) Regulations 2000 (SI 2000/683). This is supplemented by guidance issued to local authorities and badge holders which conveys the Department's policy, which is to prohibit parking by badge holders where there is a ban on loading or unloading.

27 Mar 2007 : Column 1378W

The Department's legal section has recently reviewed the 2000 regulations on this specific aspect and confirmed that they meet the Department's policy intention.

Cycling: Pilot Schemes

Lynne Jones: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what lessons have been learned from the six cycling demonstration towns. [129403]

Mr. Tom Harris: The cycling demonstration towns project is now at the halfway stage so it is too soon to assess the full impacts and lessons learned. However, the key lessons learned so far are:

Departments: Internet

Mr. Carmichael: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport which websites are funded by his Department. [129077]

Gillian Merron: The websites funded by the Department and its Agencies are listed as follows.

27 Mar 2007 : Column 1379W

27 Mar 2007 : Column 1380W
Website Web address

About Transport Direct


Air Accident Investigation Branch (AAIB)


Arrive Alive


Bus Priority Resource Pack


Car Fuel Data


CFIT: Commission for integrated transport






Department for Transport


DfT Matrix


DPTAC: Disabled Persons Transport Advisory Committee


Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency


Driving Standards Agency




DVLA Online


DVLA Personalised Registrations




DVO Group (Driver, Vehicle and Operator Group) e-Community


Electronic Service Delivery of Abnormal Loads (ESDAL)




Freight best practice


Government Car and Despatch Agency


HA Environmental Management System (HAEMS)

Not yet launched



Highway Code


Highways Agency


ITS Radar


Marine Accident Investigation Branch (MAIB)


Maritime and Coastguard Agency




MOT info


ODS Databank




Pass Plus


Payroll Services e-Community


Primary School Teaching Resource


Rail Accident Investigation Branch (RAIB)


Research Compendium


Research Database


Road Safety Resources database


School Lesson Plans Database


Secondary School Teaching Resource


Standards for Highways


Sustainable School Travel Database


The Academy


The Red Ensign Group


Theory Tests




THINK! Seat belts


Traffic England


Transec (Transport Security) e-Community


Transport Direct


Transport Office


TSS Plans Registry


UK Ship Register


UTMC: Urban Traffic Management and Control




Vehicle Licensing Online (Direct.gov.uk/taxdisc)


Video Information Highway


VOSA Corporate site


Water Freight Grant Environmental Benefit Calculator


WebDAS (Departures from Standards)—Planned

Not yet launched

WebTAG: Transport Analysis Guidance


What if?




Heavy Goods


Driving for work






Cycling England


Bike for All(1)




Supplier portal


Within Reach


(1) Bike for All is only part funded—50 per cent.

Next Section Index Home Page