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28 Mar 2007 : Column 1521Wcontinued
The weapon system, including its ammunition is currently operating efficiently in all theatres of operation.
Mr. Carswell: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence (1) for what reason Eurofighter aircraft are being deployed in Afghanistan; and if he will make a statement; 
(2) when he expects Eurofighters to be deployed in Afghanistan; and if he will make a statement. 
Des Browne: There are no plans to deploy Eurofighter aircraft to Afghanistan.
Mr. Harper: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence which RAF bases (a) have been closed since 1997 and (b) are due to be closed. 
Derek Twigg: I will write to the hon. Member with information on the number of RAF bases that have been closed since 1997.
The following RAF bases have been announced as currently scheduled for closure:
RAF Bentley Priory
Mr. Hancock: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what recent research he has (a) commissioned and (b) evaluated on the reasons for the fuel leaks on the Hercules aircraft after they have been fitted with suppressant foam; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr. Ingram: We are currently collating and evaluating data in connection with the fuel leaks that have occurred on some Hercules aircraft fitted with explosion suppressant foam. This work is being undertaken by a joint MOD/industry team.
Mr. Hancock: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence pursuant to the answer of 13 March 2007, Official Report, column 205W, on Hercules aircraft, whether the Fit For Purpose Hercules aircraft available to the Front Line Command provided by The Hercules Integrated Operational Support contract includes (a) explosive suppressant foam and (b) defensive aids suite; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr. Ingram: All of the RAFs Hercules aircraft are maintained under the Hercules Integrated Operational Support contract. I am withholding the number of aircraft that are equipped with explosion suppressant foam and defensive aid systems as its disclosure would be likely to prejudice the capability, effectiveness or security of the armed forces.
To ask the Secretary of State for Defence whether his Department plans to order the
two hospital ships recommended in the 1998 strategic defence review. 
Mr. Ingram: It is planned that the Maritime Role Three Medical Capability programme, previously called the Joint Casualty Treatment Ship, will address the capability referred to in the strategic defence review.
Mr. Carswell: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what (a) information and (b) evidence informed the decision to procure the new Lynx helicopter; and if he will place in the Library copies of such material. 
Mr. Ingram: The decision to procure the new Lynx helicopter was informed by the Main Gate Business Case submitted to the Investment Approvals Board supported by a broad range of supporting evidence. This provided information and evidence about the required military capability, affordability, value for money and coherency with the defence industrial strategy.
I am withholding further information on the business case as its disclosure would prejudice commercial interests.
Andrew Rosindell: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will make a statement on the future of the Royal Navy's fleet air arm, with particular reference to the Lynx Mk7 Attack Helicopter; and whether he plans to replace the existing Lynx Mk7 with a more modern helicopter. 
Mr. Ingram: 847 Naval Air Squadron at RNAS Yeovilton is the only Fleet Air Arm unit to operate the Lynx Mk7. The Joint Service Future Lynx programme to replace the Lynx Mk7 helicopters of the Fleet Air Arm and the Army with the new Battlefield Reconnaissance Helicopter has a projected in service date of 2013.
Mr. Dai Davies: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what public opinion polls his Department has (a) commissioned and (b) evaluated on the United Kingdom's obligations under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. 
Des Browne: The Department has neither commissioned nor evaluated any opinion polls concerning the UKs obligations under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. We are aware of our obligations under this treaty and continue to meet them in full.
To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what assessment he has made of the likely effect of the introduction of the Mk4A Arming, Fusing and Firing system on the (a) ability to accurately adjust the height of burst of the Trident
warhead and (b) probability that the Trident warhead will be effective against hardened targets. 
Des Browne: The MK4A Arming, Fusing and Firing system is a non-nuclear component being introduced into the UK Trident warhead to replace a similar component which is becoming obsolete. This is necessary to ensure that we can keep the existing warhead in service in the 2020s. I am not prepared to discuss the detailed performance characteristics of our nuclear weapons.
David Maclean: To ask the Prime Minister what the cost is of providing administrative support services to the e-petition facility on the Downing street website. 
The Prime Minister: Since it is potentially part of the work of all those involved in e-petitions and handling correspondence in my office, information on the cost of administrative support services in not available in the format requested.
Mr. Vaizey: To ask the Prime Minister what the names and job titles were of those invited to his speech on the arts at Tate Modern on 6 March 2007. 
The Prime Minister: This is a matter for Tate Modern.
Mr. Drew: To ask the Prime Minister what sanctions he is proposing should be imposed upon the Sudanese government following his letter to Chancellor Merkel. 
The Prime Minister: The UK has proposed further targeted sanctions against those responsible for atrocities in Darfur, and an extension of the arms embargo to the whole of Sudan. I wrote to EU leaders on 21 March to make the case for this, and Chancellor Merkel and I raised sanctions with EU colleagues at the 25 March Informal Summit. We are now taking forward a UN Security Council Resolution in New York.
The situation in Darfur remains appalling. There are continued attacks on civilians, peacekeepers and the humanitarian agencies. The arms embargo on Darfur continues to be violated. No side is making a serious effort to find a peaceful settlement to the conflict. President Bashir has repeatedly gone back on his government's commitments, in particular with regard to the UN support for African Union peacekeepers and the rapid deployment of a hybrid/ UN force.
To ask the Prime Minister on how many occasions a special adviser accompanied him on
official business abroad; and at what cost to the public purse in each year between 1997 and 2006. 
The Prime Minister: Since 1999 the Government have published an annual list of all visits overseas undertaken by Cabinet Ministers costing £500 or more along with the total cost of all ministerial travel. Copies of these lists are available in the Library of the House. The number of officials, including special advisers, accompanying Ministers on visits overseas and the total cost of each visit is included in the list.
All Ministers' travel arrangements are in accordance with the arrangements for official travel set out in chapter 10 of the Ministerial Code, and the accompanying guidance document, Travel by Ministers.
Mrs. May: To ask the Prime Minister on how many occasions his wife accompanied him on official business abroad at the public expense, and at what cost, in each year between 1997 and 2006. 
The Prime Minister: My wife accompanies me on official visits overseas as appropriate. The costs of official visits are included in the annual list of all visits overseas undertaken by Cabinet Ministers costing £500 or more. Since 2005, the details of the visits where I have been accompanied by my wife have also been included in the annual list. Copies are available in the Library of the House.
7. Bob Spink: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what assessment he has made of the relative effectiveness of British aid provided through the independent sector, through the EU and bilaterally. 
Hilary Benn: Our assessment is that, to maximise the benefits to poor people, it makes sense to give our aid in different ways, depending on the circumstances.
DFID's bi-lateral aid, given directly to governments or through NGOs and the UN, helps provide essential services. We also support NGOs to help citizens hold their governments to account.
Aid given through the European Commission and the World Bank enables us to reach a larger number of countries and people.
8. Mr. Robathan: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what assessment he has made of the involvement of the government of Zimbabwe in the distribution of aid from (a) the UK and (b) the UN. 
None of the UK's humanitarian or food aid goes through the government of Zimbabwe; it is all distributed through the UN and non-governmental organisations. As donors, we will not tolerate the politicisation of aid, and we suspend
projects if we need to. The UK funds a local civil society organisation to monitor food aid distribution, and works with humanitarian partners to ensure the most vulnerable people are reached.
9. Annette Brooke: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development whether his Department plans to support the German proposal to create a microcredit fund for African entrepreneurs at the forthcoming G8 summit. 
Mr. Thomas: We are working closely with our G8 partners to agree concrete proposals to expand access to financial services in Africa. We support the Making Finance Work for Africa initiative proposed by the German Presidency and the World Bank.
We are waiting for further more specific details of the regional micro credit fund proposal.
10. Christine Russell: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what steps his Department is taking to reduce the number of women who die in pregnancy and childbirth in developing countries. 
Mr. Thomas: DFID set out its priorities for action to improve maternal health in our 2004 strategy Reducing maternal deaths: evidence and action. This strategy guides DFID's approach to helping developing countries to improve the availability of and access to life saving services for pregnant women. For example in Nigeria DFID has a £55 million programme of support for health system strengthening with a focus on maternal health. In Ekiti state this support has resulted in a 100 per cent. increase in the number of women who are cared for by a health professional during childbirth.
11. Mr. Hands: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what funding he has allocated as aid for Latin American countries in 2007-08; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr. Thomas: DFID currently has plans to allocate £8 million in 2007-08 to the Latin American regional programme, and £4 million to the bilateral programme in Nicaragua. Decisions about funding allocations to Latin American countries from 2008-09 will be taken in the context of the comprehensive spending review.
12. Harry Cohen: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development when he plans to publish the Maternal Health Progress Report. 
Mr. Thomas: The 2(nd) Annual Progress Report on Maternal Health is due to be published in April 2007.
13. Andrew George: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what recent assessment he has made of the efforts of the international aid agencies to promote anti-corruption standards in developing country programmes. 
Hilary Benn: In promoting anti-corruption standards in partner countries it is very important that international agencies ensure a consistent message on corruption. We do this by assessing and influencing the approaches of other agencies. Recently we have been involved with; the World Bank process to develop a Governance and Anti-Corruption Framework and the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Developments Development Assistance Committee to formulate common approaches to corruption in partner countries. This initiative included a joint mission to Cameroon to enable agencies to assess each others approaches to addressing corruption; and other bilateral donors on implementation of the UN Convention against Corruption.
14. Sir Nicholas Winterton: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what steps he is taking to increase the delivery of humanitarian aid to the people of Zimbabwe. 
Hilary Benn: DFID spent £33 million in 2006-07 to tackle food insecurity and HIV/AIDS in Zimbabwe, through United Nations agencies and non governmental organisations. DFID has provided £3 million to support the World Food Programme; and committed £30 million to help over a million vulnerable people through longer-term NGO initiatives. DFID is providing £5 million to the International Organisation for Migration to help internally displaced people. Our health programmes will supply antiretroviral drugs to 30,000 people and save the lives of mothers and newborn babies. We are monitoring the situation closely, and stand ready to contribute more resources if humanitarian needs increase significantly.
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