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5 July 2007 : Column 1167W—continued

Mr. Malik: DFID is helping to fund the Nepal Health Sector Programme (NHSP). Under this programme the communities of Jiling village have received preventive health service and basic curative care from an Auxiliary Health Worker and a Maternal and Child Health Worker delivered through a sub health post. Mothers in Jiling will have benefited from
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a maternal grants scheme which provides financial incentives for pregnant women to use skilled birth attendants.

Under the DFID funded Education for All (EFA) programme, 11 schools are receiving funding support in the Nuwakot district. Of the 11 schools, one is a higher secondary school, three are lower secondary schools and seven are primary schools.

Helen Jones: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what assistance his Department is providing to people living in Jiling village in Nuwakot district in Nepal. [147272]

Mr. Malik: DFID funded support to infrastructure, health services and education have brought benefits to Jiling village in Nuwakot district.

DFID is funding the work of Helvetas, a Swiss NGO working in Nepal. Under this programme, two short span trail bridges have been constructed which have improved access to health and education services as well as to vegetable and agricultural markets based at the District Headquarters. Approximately 850 households have benefited from this construction programme

DFID is helping to fund the Nepal Health Sector Programme (NHSP). Under this programme the communities of Jiling village have received preventive health service and basic curative care from an Auxiliary Health Worker and a Maternal and Child Health Worker delivered through a sub health post. Mothers in Jiling will have benefited from a maternal grants scheme which provides financial incentives for pregnant women to use skilled birth attendants. DFID have provided finance for this scheme through support for a National Safer Motherhood programme.

Similarly, under the DFID funded Education for All (EFA) programme, eleven schools are receiving funding support in the Nuwakot district. Of the eleven schools, one is a higher secondary school, three are lower secondary schools and seven are primary schools.

Pakistan: Storms

Mr. Andrew Smith: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what assessment his Department has made of the situation caused by the cyclone in the Balochistan province of Pakistan; and what assistance his Department is making available to the people affected. [147723]

Mr. Malik: DFID has been closely watching the developing humanitarian situation in south and west Pakistan as a result of the recent cyclone and heavy monsoon rains. These have had a significant impact on parts of Sindh, Balochistan, North West Frontier Province and the Federally Administered Tribal Areas.

A grant of up to £1 million has been approved for immediate support. A team of two DFID humanitarian specialists has now been deployed into Pakistan to assess the situation and potential DFID support. A UN specialist team is also deploying, two of whose five team members are being supported by DFID.

We will keep the situation under very close review, as further heavy rains are expected.


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Sierra Leone: Overseas Aid

Mr. Clifton-Brown: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what representations he has received on illegal uses of aid funds in Sierra Leone. [146855]

Mr. Thomas: The Department for International Development has received no representations on illegal uses of aid funds in Sierra Leone.

Somalia: Asylum

Mr. Clifton-Brown: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what his estimate is of the number of Somalian refugees living in (a) Ethiopia and (b) Kenya; and what assistance is being provided to these countries to assist with Somalian refugees. [146861]

Mr. Thomas: The United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) estimates that there are 19,572 Somali refugees residing in Ethiopia and 182,000 in Kenya.

DFID has provided funding to UNHCR, the United Nations agency responsible for protecting and supporting refugees. In 2006 the UK was the seventh largest donor to UNHCR providing $51.99 million. Further UK support is given through the UN Central Emergency Revolving Fund (CERF), which contributed $5.6 million and $2.1 million to UNHCR for refugee support in Kenya and Ethiopia respectively.

In November 2006 DFID Kenya provided £1.2 million to UNHCR for its refugee programme in North Eastern Kenya. We have also recently approved a grant of £850,000 to Action Against Hunger, an NGO providing emergency feeding for malnourished children including those in refugee camps. We have also approved £650,000 to the MENTOR Initiative for malaria control in north eastern Kenya including indoor residual spraying in the refugee camps.

In Ethiopia DFID is supporting the Humanitarian Response Fund managed by the United Nations Office for the Co-ordination of Humanitarian Affairs. This fund, to which DFID has contributed £5 million in 2006, can be used to assist refugees if this is deemed a humanitarian priority.

Justice

Databases

Mr. Clegg: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice when he expects the database under development by the Pre-Release Section to be operational. [147784]

Mr. Hanson: A new database for the Public Protection Unit in the National Offender Management Service in the Ministry of Justice is currently in development. For the Pre-Release Section in that unit, the database will allow, among other things, information to be recorded accurately relating to the tariff, Parole Board reviews and release of indeterminate sentence prisoners. There will need to be substantial data migration and testing of the new database, and this means that it is not likely to be operational until at least the end of the year.


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Departments: Common Purpose

Philip Davies: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice how much his Department paid to Common Purpose in each of the last five years; for what purpose; and what the outcome of the expenditure was. [147592]

Maria Eagle: The Ministry of Justice was created on 9 May 2007. In the former DCA, the decision to fund Common Purpose was made at a regional level from discretionary budgets. Information on any allocation made was not held centrally. Information is not currently available on expenditure on Common Purpose for those who joined the new Ministry from the Home Office.

High Court: Ceremonies

Andrew Mackinlay: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice what the purpose was of the ceremony he attended at the High Court on 4 July; what undertakings he gave; what oaths he swore; and if he will make a statement. [147831]

Mr. Straw: On 4 July I attended a formal ceremony of the public acclamation of my appointment to the office of Lord High Chancellor of Great Britain at the Royal Courts of Justice in London. At that ceremony I took the Oath of Allegiance, the Official Oath of Office as required by the Promissory Oaths Act 1868 (“the 1868 Act”) and the new Oath required by section 17 of the Constitutional Reform Act 2005 (“the CRA 2005”) in open Court in the presence of the Lord Chief Justice of England and Wales and the senior judiciary. The Oaths were:

Oath of Allegiance:

Official Oath:

The new Oath:

Prior to the coming into force of the CRA 2005 the Oaths taken, were those prescribed in Part 1 of the 1868 Act. The Oath of Allegiance and Official Oath are still taken in accordance with sections 2, 3 and 5 of the 1868 Act. However the requirement that the Lord Chancellor take the Judicial Oath in the form prescribed by section 6 and the second part of the Schedule to the 1868 Act was obviated by section 17 and Schedule 17 of the CRA 2005 which prescribed a new Oath as set out earlier in this answer. The long-standing format of the ceremonial was therefore amended to take account of the legislative changes which reflect the fact that the holder of the office of Lord Chancellor is no longer head of the judiciary and safeguards the interests of the judiciary as set out in the new Oath.


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Legal Aid Scheme: Wales

Jenny Willott: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice how legal aid funding was spent across Wales through the Crown courts in each of the last seven years, broken down by (a) the lowest possible geographical areas for which figures are available, (b) the type of case and (c) the nature of the work for which the legal aid was paid; and if he will make a statement. [147362]

Maria Eagle: The information is not readily available and could be provided only at disproportionate cost.

Jenny Willott: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice what proportion of legal cases in Wales were in receipt of legal aid in each of the last seven years, broken down (a) to the lowest possible geographical areas for which figures are available, (b) the type of case and (c) the nature of the work for which legal aid was paid; and if he will make a statement. [147363]

Maria Eagle: The information is not available.

Police Custody: Wales

Jenny Willott: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice how much Welsh police forces have spent on housing prisoners under Operation Safeguard in each month since it began; and if he will make a statement. [147386]

Mr. Hanson: Police forces participating in Operation Safeguard charge NOMS for the cost of making police cells available to accommodate prisoners. To date, just over £400,000 has been invoiced and paid to police forces in Wales for housing prisoners since October 2006. As different police forces may submit monthly, bi-monthly or consolidated invoices in arrears that cover more than one month, the cost of Operation Safeguard in each month is not centrally held.

Prison Accommodation

Mike Penning: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice why different targets have been set for prisons run in the (a) public and (b) private sectors for the percentage of prisoners held in accommodation units intended for fewer prisoners. [147356]

Mr. Hanson: The difference in these targets reflects a number of differences between publicly and privately operated prisons. Prisons operated by the private sector are generally of newer design and construction and have larger cells that can accommodate extra beds: many older public sector prisons have smaller cells that cannot accommodate extra beds. Some privately operated prisons were designed with scope to increase regime facilities in case of overcrowding while many public sector prisons have limited capacity to increase regime services. The private sector also has, proportionately, more local prisons, which have traditionally been more overcrowded than other types of prison.


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Prison Service: Prison Officers’ Association

Harry Cohen: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice what the cost to the public purse has been of the recent case brought by the Prison Service against the Prison Officers Association; what response he has made to the judgment; and what steps he has taken to improve the relationship between the Service and the Association. [147270]

Mr. Hanson: The Prison Service’s legal costs in the contempt of court case brought by the Service against the Prison Officers Association (POA) in May were estimated by Treasury solicitors to be about £16,000. Administrative and staffing costs within the Service are not able to be broken down to the level of detail required.

Following the settlement of this case on 8 May 2007, the Service received notice from the POA of their withdrawal from the Joint Industrial Relations Procedural Agreement. The Secretary of State met the POA on 6 June to discuss their withdrawal. I had a constructive meeting with the POA on 26 June to identify options for substantive talks to improve industrial relations.

Prisons: Psychology

Mr. David Anderson: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice what the cost of living increase in 2007 will be for forensic psychologists (in training) in the prison service. [147818]

Mr. Hanson: The Prison Service has received a number of inquiries about the lack of a cost-of-living increase for psychology and other specialist grades in 2006. However, those staff who did not receive a cost-of-living increase could still have benefited from a progression-related pay increase of up to 3 per cent. Negotiations with the trade unions for the 2007 pay award are continuing.

Re-offenders

Mr. Hollobone: To ask the Minister of State, Ministry of Justice what steps he is taking to ensure that information about a defendant’s status as a persistent and prolific offender is disclosable to the court prior to sentencing. [146391]

Bridget Prentice: Guidance to the courts on handling Prolific and other Priority Offender (PPO) cases was issued by the Senior Presiding Judge in April 2005.

This sets out that it is inappropriate for any person to inform a court that a defendant is alleged to be a PPO and that such an allegation is not relevant to the sentence of the court.

A sentencing court will however be provided with full details of offending history, previous sentences, current circumstances and a risk assessment, together with the sentencing options available.


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Leader of the House

Departments: Pay

Mrs. May: To ask the Leader of the House how many bonuses were awarded to senior civil servants working in her Office in each year between 1997 and 2006; and at what total cost. [146586]

Helen Goodman: Following the recent machinery of Government changes which saw the Office of the Leader of the House of Commons transfer from the Privy Council Office to the Cabinet Office, we are currently unable to provide a substantive answer to this question.

Minister for Women

Flexible Working

20. Lynda Waltho: To ask the Minister for Women and Equality what assessment she has made of the merits of encouraging employers to advertise posts as available for flexible working to help lone parents and carers back into the workplace. [147658]

Ms Harman: The benefits of advertising posts as available for flexible working are to give employers access to a bigger pool of talent. Jobcentre Plus are looking at various ways of improving services for carers, including the possibility of recording vacancies where flexible working is an option.

Annette Brooke: To ask the Minister for Women and Equality what assessment she has made of levels of awareness of flexible working rights amongst eligible parents. [147661]

Mr. McFadden: I have been asked to reply.

The Third Work Life Balance employee survey 2006 found that 65 per cent. of parents with children under six are aware of the right to request flexible working.

This compares favourably with other new employment rights.


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