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Further information on Poverty Reduction Budget Support will be published in the Departmental Report in May.

Tony Baldry: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what proportion of bilateral assistance to (a) Kenya, (b) Mozambique, (c) India and (d) Afghanistan was delivered by direct budget support in 2005-06; and what projections he has made for future delivery of direct budget support as a proportion of overall bilateral aid up to 2009-10. [131407]

Hilary Benn: Poverty reduction budget support (PRBS) is DFID's term for aid provided to a partner government to support that government's poverty reduction programmes, which is spent using the government's own financial management, procurement and accountability systems. PRBS is also commonly known as direct budget support.

We deliver PRBS in many different ways in different countries, depending on the objectives we are trying to achieve and the particular risks we face.

General budget support is provided to the government to support implementation of the overall poverty reduction strategy. It is allocated and spent by the government across all sectors to achieve overall progress against multiple poverty reduction objectives. General budget support has the advantage of supporting the government's overall policies for addressing poverty and reinforces the role of the Ministry of Finance in allocating resources across government in the most effective way.

Sector budget support is normally provided to the government to support implementation of a particular sector strategy and achieve particular improvements in for example health, education or road infrastructure. In some countries this can be a more effective way of achieving development in particular sectors. Sector budget support can also be a more effective way of delivering aid where there are high fiduciary or political risks—in some countries we track our resources to the sector or sub-sector to ensure that they are spent in that sector.

Kenya and Afghanistan did not receive any PRBS from DFID in financial year 2005-06 and are not currently projected to receive any over the following financial years.

The proportion of DFID bilateral assistance delivered as PRBS in 2005-06 and projections up to 2007-8 for both Mozambique and India are given in the table. Projections are based on PRBS commitments
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DFID has made to partner governments together with the current allocation of DFID bilateral aid to the relevant countries. Projections beyond 2007-08 will not be available until the comprehensive spending review is concluded later this year.

(b) Mozambique
Level of PRBS (£ million) Percentage of DFID aid framework Status

2005-06

41.3

73

Actuals

2006-07

36.0

80

Projection

2007-08

41.0

68

Projection


(c) India
Level of PRBS (£ million) Percentage of DFID aid framework Status

2005-06

79.5

32

Actuals

2006-07

71.8

30

Projection

2007-08

83.0

31

Projection


Further information on poverty reduction budget support will be published in the departmental report in May.

Palestinians: Overseas Aid

Mr. Andrew Smith: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development if he will resume aid to the Palestinian territories. [134517]

Hilary Benn: The Government continue their substantial programme of assistance to the occupied Palestinian territories (oPts). In the financial year just ended (2006-07), DFID provided £15 million in assistance to the oPts plus a further £15 million for Palestinian refugees in the West Bank, Gaza, Syria, Jordan and Lebanon. These figures represent a £0.5 million increase on the previous financial year and are in addition to the UK's share of European Community (EC) funding. Overall, European Union (EC and member states) aid was estimated to be 27 per cent. higher in 2006 than in 2005.

Since the formation of a Hamas government in March 2006, DFID has provided the majority of its assistance through the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian Refugees (UNRWA) and the EU’s temporary international mechanism (TIM). UNRWA and the TIM have enabled DFID and many other donors to provide direct assistance to support the livelihoods of Palestinian people and maintain essential services.

Sudan: Elections

Lynne Featherstone: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what steps he is taking (a) to assist the facilitation of elections in the Sudan in 2009 and (b) to ensure that such elections are free, fair and inclusive. [134931]

Hilary Benn: Supporting a free, fair and inclusive election process is a core commitment of the Government of National Unity and the International Community
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under the Comprehensive Peace Agreement, and it is important that both sides deliver on their commitments. The first step is for the National Constitutional Review Commission (NCRC) to formulate the Election Law and for this to be passed by the National Assembly. The Election Law will establish the National Electoral Commission which will be responsible for the running of the elections. DFID and other donors have provided support to the NCRC to assist in preparation of the Election Law. Once the Election Law is passed a full programme of election support will be provided jointly with other donors. This will include training for the National Assembly in Election Law to ensure effective scrutiny of the Election Bill, and support for a monitoring and observation process to ensure effective oversight of the preparations for elections, and the election themselves.

DFID has already provided support for the consultations around the elections process, nationally and in the South. We have also sponsored a visit for four members of the NCRC to observe the Scottish Elections on 3 May. This will provide an opportunity for Sudanese officials to witness a “mixed” electoral system in operation, a model which may be applicable for Sudan.

DFID is also working with the embassy on a joint programme to boost the capacity of political parties, and to provide training for journalists on the reporting of elections. Together, we have initiated a working group with members from the international community in Khartoum, which meets regularly to ensure that we are approaching this task together.

Sudan: Overseas Aid

Lynne Featherstone: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what steps he is taking to ensure that international donors fulfil the pledges for $4.5 billion made at the Oslo conference 2005 for humanitarian assistance and reconstruction in Sudan. [135259]

Hilary Benn: DFID pledged $545 million in Oslo for the period 2005-07. Actual disbursement has been much higher; DFID disbursed over $500 million during 2005-06, and our financial commitment for 2007 is $205 million. We are seeking greater clarity on the exact status of other donors’ pledges. From figures available we believe that most donors have also honoured or exceeded their Oslo pledges. At the recent Sudan Consortium held in Khartoum and Juba on 19-21 May, the international community re-iterated its commitment to helping Sudan implement the comprehensive peace agreement. DFID will continue to track closely levels of development assistance to Sudan through effective dialogue with other donors both in-country and at headquarters level.

Unfortunately the ongoing conflict in Darfur has meant that the bulk of donor resources are being used for humanitarian assistance, rather than reconstruction. We have made it clear to the Government of National Unity that a resolution to the conflict in Darfur is essential if international donor assistance is to be directed towards long-term development in Sudan.


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Communities and Local Government

Age: Discrimination

Mr. Touhig: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what protection is in place for pensioners who experience age discrimination in the provision of goods and services; and if she will make a statement. [134019]

Meg Munn: There is currently no legal protection from age discrimination in the provision of goods and services. The Government are considering whether there is a case for introducing legislation to prohibit harmful age discrimination in the provision of goods and services as part of the Discrimination Law Review. The proposals emerging from the review will be published for public consultation in May.

Council Tax: Essex

Mrs. Spelman: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government pursuant to the answer of 31 January 2007, Official Report, column 315W to the hon. Member for Brentwood and Ongar, on the Valuation Office, how many domestic properties in the local authority area of (a) Epping Forest district council and (b) Brentwood district council are classified with a Value Significant Code of FC. [124362]

Mr. Woolas: As at 3 February 2007 there were (a) 360 and (b) 574 domestic properties classified with a dwelling house code of FC in (a) Epping Forest district council and (b) Brentwood borough council.

Council Tax: Tax Rates and Bands

Mrs. Spelman: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what steps the Valuation Office Agency takes to inform neighbouring houses of incorrect council tax banding when a property successfully appeals against an incorrect banding. [127058]

Mr. Woolas: All alterations to bandings are published on the Valuation Office Agency website at www.voa.gov.uk and can also be viewed in the hard copy of the council tax valuation list held by the relevant local authority at their offices.

Council Tax: Valuation

Mrs. Spelman: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government (1) pursuant to the answer of 31 January 2007, Official Report, column 315W to the hon. Member for Brentwood and Ongar, on the Valuation Office, if she will list the mechanisms by which the Agency gathers and obtains information on whether a property has an outbuilding; [124363]

(2) pursuant to the answer of 18 January 2007, Official Report, column 1327W to the hon. Member for Brentwood and Ongar, on the Valuation Office Agency, whether the photographs of properties which are provided by Rightmove include internal photographs of the property; [124366]


1 May 2007 : Column 1536W

(3) pursuant to the answer of 31 January 2007, Official Report, column 315W to the hon. Member for Brentwood and Ongar, on the Valuation Office, what the Valuation Office Agency’s definition is of a bathroom; and whether a room with a shower but not a bath is classified as a bathroom; [124431]

(4) whether (a) solar panels and (b) a small wind turbine would be considered by the Valuation Office Agency when assessing the capital value of a domestic dwelling for a council tax valuation or revaluation; [124480]

(5) whether the Valuation Office Agency collates information on whether domestic dwellings have (a) double glazing, (b) solar panels and (c) wind turbines. [124534]

Mr. Woolas: I refer the hon. Member to the answer given on 28 March 2007, Official Report, columns 1596-97W.

Mrs. Spelman: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government pursuant to the answer of 23 January 2007, Official Report, column 1731W to the hon. Member for Brentwood and Ongar, on the Valuation Office Agency, if she will place in the Library a copy of the Valuation Office Agency’s guidance manual for staff on using the Market Comparable Reporting Tool. [124365]

Mr. Woolas: “Market Comparable Reporting Tool” is the name given by Rightmove.co.uk to its archive database, to which the Valuation Office Agency (VOA) has web-based access under the terms of a contract between Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs and Rightmove.co.uk plc. Guidance on the use of the bespoke website was contained in Instructions and Advice issued to VOA staff on 18 July 2005. This document was placed in the House of Commons Library pursuant to a question from the hon. Member answered on 26 October 2005, Official Report, column 447W and is available on the VOA website.

Mrs. Spelman: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government whether the Valuation Office Agency has valued for council tax banding purposes the residential development of 68 apartments and houses on the land at the former Renny Lodge hospital, London road, Newport Pagnell. [124412]

Mr. Woolas: I understand a number of developments are taking place on this site. Council tax bandings are entered in the council tax valuation list as and when the dwellings are completed and occupied. One of the developments on this site by Crest Nicholson, which I understand comprises 68 apartments, is not yet ready and has not yet been banded.

Mrs. Spelman: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government pursuant to the answer of 18 January 2007, Official Report, columns 1327-28W, on the Valuation Office Agency, whether the information on properties by Rightmove includes information on the number of (a) bathrooms, (b) bedrooms and (c) parking spaces as part of the property. [124656]


1 May 2007 : Column 1537W

Mr. Woolas: I refer the hon. Member to the answer given on 28 March 2007, Official Report, columns 1596-97W.

Mrs. Spelman: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what the (a) titles and (b) dates of publication were of the council tax instruction and advice notes and associated documents issued by the Valuation Office Agency to assist staff between January 2002 and December 2004. [127043]

Mr. Woolas: I refer the hon. Member to the answer given on 28 March 2007, Official Report, columns 1596-97W.

Mrs. Spelman: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what the reasons are for the difference between the number of domestic dwellings on council tax valuation lists and the number of households according to the 2001 census. [127055]

Mr. Woolas: The census is a snapshot in time of household numbers. Council tax valuation lists show numbers of dwellings and are constantly changing to reflect new entries and deletions.

Departments: Paper

David Simpson: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what percentage of paper used (a) for photocopying and (b) in printed publications by her Department was from recycled sources in each of the last three years. [134056]

Angela E. Smith: For the last 10 years, Communities and Local Government and its predecessors have used recycled paper for all photocopying and printed publications.

Departments: Pressure Groups

Norman Baker: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what meetings took place between Ministers and outside interest groups between 1 January and 31 March; and what the date was of each such meeting. [131036]

Angela E. Smith: This information is available in the Freedom of Information Disclosure Log on the Communities and Local Government website at the following links:

Copies have been placed in the Library of the House.


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