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Mr. Hoban: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what preparations were made by HM Treasury for the introduction of the resource accounting and budgeting system in the NHS. [147120]

Andy Burnham: The Treasury fully introduced resource accounting and budgeting to Government Departments in 2001 with the Resource Accounting Manual (RAM) and other guidance made available to Departments. HM Treasury also provided resource accounting and budgeting training. The Government Financial Reporting Manual has now replaced the Resource Accounting Manual and is available at:

The Department of Health introduced a version of resource accounting and budgeting to the NHS. Guidance on introduction of RAB was issued to the NHS by the Department of Health in 2000 and consolidated guidance was issued in February 2001.

Duchy of Lancaster

Civil Servants: Higher Education

Mr. Hayes: To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster how many university places are funded for in-service courses for civil servants; if he will list the courses so provided; and what the cost is of such courses to the public purse. [148200]

Gillian Merron: Information on the number of university places funded for in-service courses for civil servants is not held centrally by the Cabinet Office.

Departments: Common Purpose

Philip Davies: To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster 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. [147593]

Gillian Merron: Payments made to Common Purpose between 2002-03 and 2005-06 can be found in the table as follows.










These payments were made in connection with Cabinet Office staff attending either training programmes or conferences run by Common Purpose.

Details of the outcome of the expenditure can be provided only at disproportionate cost.

Details of any payments made to Common Purpose in 2006-07 will be available when the Department’s resource accounts are fully audited and laid before Parliament. This is expected to be before the 2007 summer recess.

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Departments: Private Finance Initiative

Mrs. Lait: To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster what the total cost is of all private finance initiative projects for which his Office has responsibility completed since 1997; and what the projected cost is of such projects commissioned or under way. [148015]

Gillian Merron: The Cabinet Office has not completed any private finance initiative projects since 1997 and none are currently under way. The National School of Government has one private finance initiative contract in place in relation to its base at Sunningdale Park. Since that came into effect in May 2002 payments totalling £16.924 million have been made to the private sector partner. Future guaranteed payments in respect of the deal until 2017 total £22.650 million. These payments are conditional on the performance of the private sector contractor.

Disadvantaged: Blackpool

Mr. Marsden: To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster whether his officials plan to meet frontline staff and key stakeholders in Blackpool as part of his Department’s Families at Risk review. [146521]

Gillian Merron: Officials in the Cabinet Office visited Blackpool in April and May this year as part of the Families At Risk review (FARR). They met with a range of frontline staff and key stakeholders from Blackpool council and the Springboard Project.

Government Departments

Mr. Hoban: To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster what the title is of each piece of guidance issued to Government Departments by the Cabinet Office since 27 June 2007. [148865]

Gillian Merron: The Cabinet Office provides guidance and assistance to other Government Departments as necessary in carrying out their work. Most of this is of an informal nature between officials and as such it is not possible to provide the information requested.

Foreign and Commonwealth Office

Departments: Public Transport

Mr. Jenkins: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what incentives he has considered to encourage staff in his Department to use public transport. [148789]

Mr. Jim Murphy: The Foreign and Commonwealth Office does not offer its staff in the UK direct incentives to use public transport. However, we have in place policies which contribute to staff using more sustainable methods of transport. We provide an advance of salary to help staff obtain season tickets for home to office travel. We offer interest-free loans for the purchase of bicycles, provide racks, showers and
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changing facilities. We also encourage staff to use a range of flexible working arrangements thereby reducing their travelling to and from work. Where public transport is available, the majority of our staff use it.

International Development

Palestinian Territories

7. Andrew George: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what recent discussions he has had with representatives in the Quartet on the humanitarian situation in the Palestinian territories. [148664]

Mr. Douglas Alexander: On 26 June Quartet representatives briefed officials in Jerusalem on the situation in Gaza. Since then we have had regular contact with UN agencies. Food stocks are low but not yet critical. In the West Bank, the situation is stable. On 19 June DFID contributed £1 million to the International Committee of the Red Cross to address the humanitarian situation.

Aid Delivery

8. Philip Davies: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what plans he has to improve the mechanisms for the delivery of aid. [148665]

Mr. Malik: We are committed to deliver aid in ways that maximise the benefits to poor people.

The best aid supports countries’ own strategies. We have an action plan to improve the predictability and effectiveness of UK aid and encourage other donors to do likewise. We have announced an Independent Advisory Committee for Development Impact to ensure we learn and apply lessons for aid delivery.

We track the effectiveness of multilateral organisations to inform our funding decisions and drive reform. Working with others, we are assessing options to strengthen the ways in which donors and partner countries hold each other to account.

Palestinian Aid

9. Rosie Cooper: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what his assessment is of the role of private sector initiatives as a means of sustaining international aid to the Palestinians. [148666]

Mr. Douglas Alexander: A thriving private sector in the West Bank and Gaza will be an indispensable element of a lasting peace. Private sector initiatives will play a critical role once restrictions are eased on the movement of goods and people. We call on all Palestinians to end violence, and on Israel to relax its controls on movement and access, including by implementing the 2005 Movement and Access agreement.

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DFID is designing a new programme of support to assist Palestinian businesses become more competitive and better prepared to take advantage of any improvements in movement and access.


10. Sir Nicholas Winterton: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what recent assessment he has made of the humanitarian situation in Zimbabwe. [148667]

Mr. Douglas Alexander: A DFID humanitarian adviser visited Zimbabwe in June 2007 to assess the humanitarian situation and to inform the UK’s response. Conditions in the country continue to deteriorate. The recent UN Food and Crop survey indicates that more than 3 million people will require food aid before the next harvest. Hyper-inflation is having a devastating impact on the poorest, particularly in urban areas. AIDS and declining public services are fuelling high mortality rates.

Last year, DFID spent £33 million tackling hunger, vulnerability and HIV/AIDS in Zimbabwe. All DFID funding in Zimbabwe goes through UN agencies and NGOs.

Infant Mortality

11. Ann McKechin: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what steps his Department is taking to assist the development of health care systems to tackle infant mortality in developing countries; and if he will make a statement. [148668]

Mr. Malik: 40 per cent. of the 10.1 million childhood deaths take place within the first 28 days of life. Most infant deaths are preventable through access to basic health services, improved water and sanitation and better nutrition. Improving the health of infants goes hand-in-hand with improving the health of mothers. Levels of infant mortality are reducing in countries like Malawi, Tanzania and Bangladesh where DFID long-term funding is assisting Governments to invest in health workers, increasing access to family planning and skilled birth attendants at delivery, and increasing basic child health services such as immunisation, and treatment for pneumonia and diarrhoeal diseases.

Aid to Africa

12. Mr. Evennett: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what steps he is taking to improve the mechanisms for the delivery of aid to Africa. [148669]

Mr. Thomas: DFID is strongly committed to improving the delivery of aid in Africa. In 2005 we helped secure international agreement for principles to improve the effectiveness of donors’ efforts. We have improved predictability of our aid by making multi-year commitments of budget support, for instance in Ghana, Tanzania and Mozambique and have a strong set of controls to manage the risk of misuse of funds, and we seek to strengthen partner Government financial systems.

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Global Population Increases

13. Jo Swinson: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what assessment he has made of the likely impact of the projected increase in global population on levels of severe poverty; and if he will make a statement. [148670]

Mr. Malik: Rapid population growth, particularly in Africa, will make it harder for countries to achieve the millennium development goals and escape poverty. 99 per cent. of population growth will take place in developing countries and will make it more difficult for countries to maintain and increase investments to keep up with demands for health, education and other basic services. Experience shows that by improving health, education and livelihoods, and promoting gender equality and rights with good sexual and reproductive health information services and supplies, gives people the choice to have fewer children. Delivery of these basic services is central to DFID’s work.


14. Mr. Evans: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what assistance he is giving to sub-Saharan countries to tackle HIV/AIDS; and whether his Department coordinates its actions with the Gates Foundation. [148671]

Mr. Thomas: DFID has committed to spend £1.5 billion to combat HIV and AIDS between 2005 and 2008. Africa will receive much of this through bilateral country programmes, which support HIV prevention, treatment and care services. International agencies such as the Global Fund for AIDS TB and Malaria are also supported.

DFID works closely with the Gates Foundation on global policy, advocacy and support to national AIDS responses across Africa including development of HIV prevention technologies such as microbicides.


Mr. Joyce: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what recent discussions he has had with non-governmental organisations which operate within the Democratic Republic of the Congo. [148662]

Mr. Thomas: DFID is in regular contact with British, international and Congolese NGOs working in DRC to discuss the programmes we fund as well as the broader development context.

Ethiopia: Overseas Aid

John Battle: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development whether there are any plans to review British aid to Ethiopia with a view to enhancing the programme when the treason trials are completed and the civil society activists detained are freed; and if he will make a statement. [148183]

Mr. Thomas: DFID is currently preparing a new country strategy to support implementation of the Ethiopian Government's poverty strategy. The level
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and focus of DFID support will depend on an assessment of the Ethiopian Government's policies and plans on growth, poverty reduction and governance. We will be reviewing the track record of the Government on poverty reduction, priorities included in the new national plan for growth and poverty reduction, policies in place to improve the quality and effectiveness of government systems and commitments on governance and human rights.

Within this context, we continue to follow closely the trials of opposition politicians and civil society leaders on which further developments are expected.

Sudan: Overseas Aid

Julie Morgan: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what aid he has committed to improve the humanitarian situation in Darfur. [148658]

Mr. Douglas Alexander: Since October 2003 DFID has committed over £145 million to emergency relief operations in Darfur. The UK has also contributed £73 million to the African Union Mission in Sudan for the protection of civilians.

DFID has led international efforts for an effective humanitarian response in Sudan. We are pressing the Government of Sudan to remove bureaucratic obstacles that inhibit work on the ground. We support the Common Humanitarian Fund, which allows the UN Humanitarian Co-ordinator to direct resources towards those in greatest need.

The Government will continue to work vigorously and at the highest level to secure a lasting peace in Darfur.

Northern Ireland


David Simpson: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland how many vessels docked in Northern Ireland ports from (a) EU and (b) non-EU states in each of the last two years. [146941]

Paul Goggins: This is now the responsibility of the Northern Ireland Administration.

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