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Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what account he took of the size of the budget for the draft Rural Development Programme for England 2007 to 2013 in deciding on the inclusion of measures relating to animal health and welfare in the draft Programme. 
Barry Gardiner: The Rural Development Regulation (Council Regulation (EC) No 1698/2005), offers a broad menu of measures which member states can choose from. With finite resources, we have to target funding on those measures which best meet our policy priorities while delivering value for money. In England, we have decided to focus the programme on environmental outcomes, in particular by maintaining our commitment to environmental stewardship.
Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs whether the England Implementation Group was asked to comment on the draft Rural Development Programme for England 2007-13 prior to its publication on 13 April. 
Barry Gardiner: The draft Rural Development Programme for England 2007-13 has been published for public consultation, together with an environmental report on the programmes likely overall impact, as part of the Strategic Environmental Assessment process. The England Implementation Group was not consulted prior to the launch of this consultation on 13 April. It will remain open until 5 July and we look forward to any response the group makes.
Barry Gardiner: The following table gives the number of live lambs recorded as imported into the UK from March 2005 to February 2007 (the most recent two years available). In this period no trade was recorded from March 2005 to October 2006. Note, it is not possible to identify different weight groups of lambs.
Please note these figures are obtained using VAT records and will exclude some EU trade for businesses which are below the VAT threshold. As a result, actual trade levels may be higher than those given.
|Lambs (up to a year old)|
|Number of head|
2006 and 2007 data are subject to amendments
HM Revenue and Customs Data prepared by Trade statistics, Agricultural Statistics and Analysis, DEFRA
Barry Gardiner [holding answer 15 May 2007]: DEFRA has already consulted on this issue. Based on all the available evidence regarding the impacts of feral wild boar, work is currently underway on a detailed risk assessment to help inform the final policy.
David Cairns: The Scotland Office shares an information technology system with the Scottish Executive, which is responsible for the development, administration and maintenance of the system. The Executive has adopted an environmental policy aimed at improving its environmental performance and reducing the environmental impacts of its own activities and operations.
As part of this initiative, staff are instructed to shut down their PC when not in use or when they intend to be away from their desk for more than 30 minutes. They are also asked to switch off the monitor each time their PC is powered down; this is because it still uses energy even with the base unit switched off.
In addition, IT security procedures for the IT infrastructure, including all corporate servers and workstations, ensure that they are protected by approved screensaver software which locks the PC from user access after 10 minutes of inactivity and requires secure log-on identification by the user before reactivating.
David Simpson: To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland how many people took sick leave for stress in his Office in the last 12 months; and what percentage of the total staff number this represents. 
David Cairns: My right hon. Friend holds regular meetings with the First Minister, including discussions on the oil industry. While oil is a commodity whose price is determined at global level and is subject to regular fluctuations, we are actively engaged on issues that the Government can influence. These include employment opportunities within the sector and the competitive fiscal regime which the UK oil and gas industry benefits from.
Mr. Iain Wright: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what steps his Department is taking to improve food production rates in sub-Saharan Africa; and what steps have been taken to improve the (a) development of irrigation systems and (b) replenishment of soil through fertilizers. 
Firstly, we are providing financial support to Africa's own efforts to increase agricultural productivity through our support to the African Union's New Partnership for Africa's Development initiative, the Comprehensive African Agricultural Development Plan (CAADP), and through direct support to governments and partners to help poor farmers. Programmes include improving access to agricultural inputs, and transferring new technologies and skills to farmers to help them produce more. We will double to £80 million per year our expenditure on agricultural, fisheries and forestry research by 2010. About two thirds of this will benefit Africa directly.
Secondly, we are helping keep small-scale farmers productive after shocks like drought. With support from DFID, African governments are able to provide small, timely transfers of adequate amounts of cash, food or agricultural inputs. For example, in Ethiopia we have provided over £70 million to the Productive Safety Net Programmegiving 7.2 million people cash and food transfers.
The Commission for Africa recommended that donors should support a doubling of irrigated area by 2015. Irrigation is also an important element of the first pillar of CAADP. DFID is a strong supporter of CAADP and has provided £5 million to speed up its implementation by African governments. DFID is also one of the main supporters of the Nile Basin Initiative, which is an African-led regional process for sustainable management of the Nile, including for irrigation.
DFID recognizes the need to increase fertilizer use in many African countries so as to replenish the soils and improve food production in combination with complementary measures, such as improved seed varieties, irrigation and soil conservation. Improving fertilizer access is one component of CAADP. DFID co-funded an Africa Fertilizer Summit in July 2006. Over the past five years, DFID has committed around £50 million to finance fertilizer-related programmes in Africa, which were executed through non-governmental organisations, government ministries and the UN. In Malawi, for example, DFID has provided support to help small-scale farmers acquire fertilizer. A recent evaluation has shown that the fertilizer and seed subsidy programmes in Malawi have led to additional maize production of 300,000 to 400,000 tonnes and 600,000 to 700,000 tonnes in 2005-06 and 2006-07 respectively, after taking into account better than average rainfalls. The value of the additional maize production in 2006-07 amounts to about $200 million based on import parity prices, about 9 per cent. of 2006 GDP.
Mr. Iain Wright: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what steps his Department is taking to help improve the (a) energy and (b) telecommunications infrastructure of impoverished countries in Africa, with particular reference to (i) power cables and (ii) fibre-optic cables for internet usage. 
The Commission for Africa highlighted poor infrastructure as a critical barrier to accelerating growth and reducing poverty. In response to this, DFID took a lead in establishing the Infrastructure Consortium for Africa in 2005. This brings together donors and
African institutions to address critical constraints and increase investment in Africa's infrastructure. In 2006 Consortium members committed $7.7 billion to African infrastructure. The power sector is a particular priorityboth to increase generation capacity and power transmission cable systems for greater regional connectivity. DFID provides no direct funding of power cables, for which finance is available from development banks such as the World Bank and African development banks. DFID has, however, provided $150,000 for preparation of the East African Submarine Cable System project. This fibre optic cable will link eastern and southern Africa to the international fibre optic system and will support high speed and high quality internet connections.
Hilary Benn: DFID provides funds for water resource management, water supply and sanitation programmes either directly to developing country governments or through NGOs or UN agencies such as UNICEF. DFID spent £242 million in this area in 2005-06. We ensure that the water provided by us (multilaterally and bilaterally) meets approved national water quality guidelines or those of the World Health Organisation (WHO). Improving sanitation is a particularly effective way of reducing the number of pathogens in water sources and is usually included as a component of water supply programmes. More specifically, DFID has supported the preparation of WHO's water safety plans that take a comprehensive risk assessment and management approach to each step in the provision of water from the source of the water to the consumer. We have piloted these plans in India, Bangladesh, Kyrgyz Republic and Uganda.
Mrs. May: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development how much aid was given to the Palestinian Authority to spend on education in the latest period for which figures are available; and what steps his Department takes to ensure that aid given to the Palestinian Authority is not spent on educational text books that promote violence and terrorism. 
Since the formation of the Hamas government in March 2006, the UK and other members of the EU have not provided support through the Palestinian Authority (PA). Instead, in order to help meet the basic needs of the Palestinian people, the European Union established a Temporary International Mechanism (TIM) in June 2006. Since then the UK has committed £15 million and the European Community around £140 million to the TIM. Other donors have also contributed. The TIM is providing almost £10 million for educational materials to schools in the Occupied Palestinian Territories. This does not include
textbooks. It has also provided over £45 million in allowances for 37,000 school and university staff.
Before the January 2006 election, the US Consulate General in Jerusalem reported that it was content with the efforts being made by the Palestinian Ministry of Education to ensure that its curriculum promoted peace and tolerance. Since then, both textbooks and the examined content of courses have not changed. We have no evidence that the Hamas government or the subsequent National Unity Government have put pressure on schools to promote violence or terrorism.
Any expenditure on hospitality is made in accordance with published departmental guidance on financial procedures and propriety, based on principles set out in Government Accounting and the Treasury handbook on Propriety and Regularity.
Mr. Bellingham: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what assessment he has made of the health and safety performance of Sonae (UK) Ltd following the change in management in October 2002. 
Mrs. McGuire: The health and safety performance of Sonae (UK) Ltd. has improved following the change in management in October 2002. Since then, there have been no incidents leading to prosecution by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) and no enforcement notices have been served by HSE. Inspectors who have visited the site since the end of 2002 have been confident that the company have made good progress in managing health and safety.
Mr. Philip Hammond: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many people who have already received payments from the Financial Assistance Scheme will be eligible for increased payments following the new higher cap on assistance payments; and whether any increase will be paid retrospectively. 
James Purnell: 20 people who have already received payments from the Financial Assistance Scheme will be eligible for increased payments following the proposed new higher caps on assistance payments. Increases will apply retrospectively and arrears will be paid back to when the member's entitlement began.
Jenny Willott: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many people have received (a) 80 per cent., (b) 65 per cent. and (c) 50 per cent. of their expected core pension under the financial assistance scheme; and if he will make a statement. 
James Purnell: As at 27 April 2007, 204 members are receiving 80 per cent of their expected core pension under the financial assistance scheme (FAS) and a further 931 members are receiving initial payments topping up to the 60 per cent. level of their expected core pensions.
Under the current scheme no members are receiving 65 per cent. or 50 per cent. of their expected core pension because members for whom this is applicable will not become eligible for those payments before 15 May 2011 and 15 May 2015 respectively. Our announcement of increased funding for FAS will ensure that by then all will receive 80 per cent.
Payments commence at age 65, except in special circumstances where early access to payments can be applied for by scheme trustees for terminally ill qualifying members or to the survivor of a qualifying member. FAS can only consider making annual payments when a scheme has completed the winding up process.
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