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17 Oct 2007 : Column 1124W—continued


NATO Rapid Reaction Corps

Dr. Fox: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence which military units form the UK’s current commitment to the NATO Response Force. [158395]

Mr. Bob Ainsworth: The NATO Response Force is a high-readiness reaction force which comprises four elements (maritime, land, air and special forces) to which allies contribute forces on a six-month rotating basis. The UK is providing the Maritime Component Command for the current rotation of the NATO Response Force (July 2007 to January 2008). The UK forces supporting the Maritime Component Command are drawn, as required, from the Joint Rapid Reaction Force and comprise a carrier group with associated air and surface assets, amphibious forces, naval mine counter measures units, and auxiliary support vessels. In addition, the UK is making some air-to-air refuelling and in-theatre lift assets available to the Air Component Command.

Nuclear Weapons: Transport

Norman Baker: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence whether in-house provision of the service for the road transport of nuclear weapons by HM Naval Base Clyde is still under consideration. [157795]

Mr. Bob Ainsworth: We are not proposing to pursue that option. The operation will remain with AWE plc for the foreseeable future.

Reserve Forces: Deployment

Dr. Fox: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many volunteer reservists in each service are deployed on operations. [157044]

Mr. Bob Ainsworth: As at 31 August 2007 (the latest figures available), the number of volunteer reservists deployed on operations was:


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Royal Navy Reserve Royal Marines Reserve Territorial Army Royal Auxiliary Air Force

Telic (Iraq)

26

9

169

66

Herrick (Afghanistan)

6

0

397

45

Oculus (Balkans)

1

0

15

0

Sierra Leone and Democratic Republic of Congo

0

0

0

0

Global Counter Terrorism

0

0

6

0

Total

33

9

587

111


In addition, there were 627 reservists mobilised on pre-deployment training, receiving medical treatment, or on post-operational leave.

Territorial Army: Training

Nick Harvey: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what the average number of training days per year was for members of the Territorial Army in each year since 2003. [158378]

Mr. Bob Ainsworth: This information is not held in the form requested and could be provided only at disproportionate cost.

Historically, TA pay has been sufficient to meet the demand for trained TA manpower to support current operations; and for all TA officers and soldiers to train to a level that allows them to be ‘certified efficient’ and qualify for Bounty. Current levels of Territorial Army (TA) pay permit approximately 41 training days per person per year.

War Pensions

Mr. Weir: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many former members of the Merchant Marine have been awarded a war pension. [158439]

Derek Twigg: The information requested is not available, but figures are available for the number of former members of the merchant marine in receipt of pensions under the War Pensions Mercantile Marine scheme over the past five years. This information is set out in the following table.

War Pensions in payment under the Mercantile Marine scheme( 1)
Disablement pensioners

30 June 2003

1,360

30 June 2004

1,205

30 June 2005

1,090

30 June 2006

980

30 June 2007

855

(1) All numbers have been rounded to the nearest five.

International Development

Doha Trade Talks

8. Philip Davies: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development if he will make a statement on the Doha development round of international trade talks. [158524]


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Mr. Thomas: Negotiations on all aspects of the Doha Development Agenda continue to take place at the WTO in Geneva. The UK Government remain fully committed to working with the EU Trade Commissioner, other EU member states and other WTO members to secure an ambitious, pro-development outcome to the Doha round.

Women’s Education and Economic Performance

9. Natascha Engel: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what research his Department has (a) commissioned and (b) evaluated on the links between education on sexual health for women in developing countries and the economic performance of the country concerned. [158525]

Mr. Malik: Little research has been commissioned or evaluated on the link between education on sexual health for women and overall economic performance.

It is known and accepted that there is a strong link between education for women and overall economic performance in a country. It is also generally assumed that education on sexual health for women leads to better health outcomes. We are funding an evaluation of an adolescent sexual health intervention in Tanzania which will provide important new knowledge on how best to deliver education on sexual health to achieve better health.

Zimbabwe

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. [158526]

Mr. Douglas Alexander: The humanitarian situation in Zimbabwe is deteriorating. An estimated 4.1 million people will need food aid by year end. Malnutrition has reached emergency levels in places. Urban water and sanitation collapse is causing disease outbreaks. HIV/AIDS remains rife.

DFID is providing life-saving humanitarian assistance until the policy environment improves. We contributed an additional £8 million to the World Food Programme recently which will feed two million people for two months.

12. Richard Ottaway: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development if he will make a statement on the humanitarian situation in Zimbabwe. [158528]

Mr. Douglas Alexander: I refer the hon. Member to the answer I gave the hon. Member for North-West Cambridgeshire (Mr. Vara) and the hon. Member for Bexleyheath and Crayford (Mr. Evennett) today (UIN 158522 and 158523).

Climate Change

11. Jessica Morden: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what steps his Department is taking to help the poorest countries address the adverse impacts of climate change. [158527]


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Mr. Thomas: DFID is adapting its development programmes in countries to take account of the adverse impacts of climate change and is assisting Multilateral Development Banks and UNDP to also do so.

Burma

13. Mr. Burrowes: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development if he will make a statement on the humanitarian situation in Burma. [158529]

Mr. Malik: A third of Burma's population lives below the poverty line. Severe economic mismanagement has deprived Burma of the economic growth enjoyed by its south-east Asian neighbours, and investment in public services has been minimal. The brutal suppression of recent demonstrations against economic hardship has exacerbated humanitarian conditions. DFID is providing £1 million to meet urgent humanitarian needs in Burma, in addition to £8 million already planned for this year.

Ethiopia

14. Mr. Laurence Robertson: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what recent assessment he has made of the humanitarian situation in the Ogaden region of Ethiopia. [158530]

Mr. Malik: A United Nations team made an assessment of the situation at the beginning of September, and concluded that there was no major humanitarian crisis in the Somali (Ogaden) region although humanitarian conditions within conflict areas were deteriorating, and there was an urgent need for food and medical supplies, and help with water and sanitation.

DFID and the other donors are working with the Ethiopian government and the United Nations to ensure that humanitarian assistance will be delivered to those who need it.

Corruption

15. Dr. Cable: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development if he will make a statement on the Government's policies for combating corruption in aid recipient countries. [158531]

Mr. Douglas Alexander: Corruption is a serious threat to development. DFID’s policy is to build effective states that promote development and invest significantly in efforts to address corruption and improve governance.

DFID regards anti-corruption as a priority and discusses this with partner Governments when agreeing and reviewing its Country Assistance Plans. These plans are informed by a comprehensive governance analysis and assessment of local priorities.

Developing Countries: Health Services

Mr. Jim Cunningham: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what steps his Department has taken to increase accessibility of health care in developing countries. [158296]


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Mr. Malik: DFID’s strategy “Working Together for Better Health”, published in June 2007 sets out our approach to support developing countries to improve the health of their people and reaching the Millennium Development Goals. This is to deliver more resources for health; to expand access to basic health services; to improve the effectiveness of international funding for health; and to demonstrate results and build the evidence base of what works.

Our spending on health has doubled since 2002-03. About 15 per cent. of our aid goes to health, a total of £800 million in 2006-07. Overall, the UK is the second largest donor to health. Most of this help is directed through our country programmes. For example, in Bangladesh, DFID is the largest supporter of the health sector donor pooled fund. Immunisation coverage has reached 80 per cent. for the five vaccine-preventable diseases and infant mortality is down from 116 to 88 (1994-2004).

The International Health Partnership, launched by the Prime Minister on 5 September, will help ensure that increasing resources are used more effectively to strengthen health systems and deliver better care and services. In bringing together international agencies, major donors and partner countries, it will work to make sure health services better meet individual country needs.

Developing Countries: Natural Disasters

Mr. Jim Cunningham: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what steps his Department has taken to minimise the impact of natural disasters in developing countries. [158295]

Mr. Malik: DFID’s policy on Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR)(1) is to support measures to prevent and mitigate the impact of natural disasters at the global, country and community level. At the global level, DFID is supporting DRR programmes through the Geneva-based UN International Strategy for DRR, the World Bank, the ProVention Consortium of Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) and the International Federation of Red Cross Societies. DFID is also supporting the community-level DRR work of five NGOs.

DFID’s support for DRR through its regional programmes includes the Chars Livelihoods Programme in Bangladesh, which has helped raise 32,700 households on plinths above the flood level; the Caribbean Catastrophic Risk Insurance Facility, to enable Governments to jump-start recovery efforts after disasters; and an NGO Consortium for DRR in Niger, which aims to strengthen vulnerable communities. Following the Government’s commitment to allocate up to 10 per cent. of each emergency response to a natural disaster to DRR, where appropriate, DFID is supporting DRR in Indonesia; the Indian Ocean Early Warning System; UN capacity-building in climate adaptation; and the World Health Organisation Disease Early Warning System and institutional capacity-building in Pakistan.


17 Oct 2007 : Column 1129W

Palestinians: Overseas Aid

Mr. Jim Cunningham: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what aid and assistance has been provided by his Department for development in Palestine. [158631]

Mr. Malik: DFID has provided over £380 million in assistance to Palestinians since the Oslo peace accords were signed in 1994. For 2007-08, we have made £31.6 million available. Of this, we have provided £1 million to the Red Cross for humanitarian work; £3 million to the Temporary International Mechanism (TIM) and £15.6 million to the UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA). On 17 July, the Secretary of State for International Development announced a £3 million contribution to help the Palestinian Authority pay off its debts to the private sector.

DFID provides technical assistance to Palestinian institutions, including the Office of the President, the Negotiations Affairs Department and the Ministry of Finance. We are launching a £3 million initiative to help Palestinian businesses compete in new markets and increase their exports. Together with the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and the Ministry of Defence, we work to reduce conflict through the Global Conflict Prevention Pool.


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