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19 Nov 2007 : Column 533W—continued

Pakistan: Overseas Aid

Mr. Moore: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what the (a) nature and (b) financial value was of development assistance given to the Pakistani government in each of the last three financial years; what planned expenditure is on such assistance in the (i) current and (ii) next financial year; which elements of such assistance are under review following the suspension of the Pakistani constitution; and if he will make a statement. [162094]

Mr. Douglas Alexander [holding answer 12 November 2007]: DFID’s development assistance to the Government of Pakistan in the last three years has included a mix of financial aid, technical cooperation and humanitarian assistance. This has supported
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programmes to deliver basic services, improve governance and accelerate income growth.

Expenditure for each of the last three financial years was as follows:








Our Pakistan development programme is framed by a 10-year Development Partnership Agreement (DPA) signed in 2006. by Prime Ministers Blair and Aziz. The DPA envisages doubling the UK aid programme over three years to 2010-11, predicated on Pakistani commitments, including the observation of human rights. In light of recent events, our future programme is under review. Our first priority remains the needs of the poorest and most vulnerable people in Pakistan.

Sudan: Foreign Aid

Mr. Clifton-Brown: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what assessment he has made of the effects of UK aid funding on the situation in Darfur. [165373]

Mr. Thomas: The UK is the second largest bilateral humanitarian donor to Sudan and has spent over £145 million supporting emergency relief operations in Darfur since April 2004. This aid is having a clear and positive effect. It has contributed to food assistance for an estimated five million people, non-food items for 300,000 households and access to clean water for 2.3 million people. Our £40 million contribution in 2007 to the pioneering Common Humanitarian Fund has provided 340,000 households with non-food items, assisted approximately 75,000 organised returnees, 105,000 internally displaced persons (IDPs) and refugees and assisted future organised returns for over 500,000 IDPs. In Southern Sudan it has enabled nine million children to be vaccinated against Polio, one million against measles and resulted in a 19 per cent. drop in food aid requirements. The UK also has a £12 million p.a. bilateral programme with non-governmental organisations in Darfur which provides water, sanitation and health care to over four million people, of which 2.2 million are internally displaced in camps.

The UK has pledged £5 million to the Darfur Community Peace and Stability Fund launched by the UN and international partners to promote peace and reconciliation at the community level and contributed £73 million to the African Union Mission in Sudan to help support the protection of civilians in Darfur. The UK stands ready to implement a major recovery programme, pending the cessation of hostilities.

Communities and Local Government

Housing Benefit

Mr. Evans: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government how many people are in receipt of housing benefit in (a) Ribble Valley, (b) Lancashire and (c) the UK. [165354]

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Mr. Plaskitt: I have been asked to reply.

The most recent available information is in the following table.

Households in Ribble Valley borough council, Lancashire, and Great Britain as at February 2007

Ribble Valley




Great Britain


1. The data refer to households, which may be a single person or a couple.
2. The figures have been rounded to the nearest 10.
3. Housing benefit figures exclude any Extended Payment cases.
Housing Benefit and Council Tax Benefit Management Information System, Quarterly 100 per cent. caseload stock-count, taken in February 2007.

Mr. Evans: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government how much was spent on housing benefit in (a) Ribble Valley, (b) Lancashire and (c) the UK in each of the last 10 years. [165355]

Mr. Plaskitt: I have been asked to reply.

The available information is in the following table.

Housing benefit expenditure figures for Ribble Valley borough council, Lancashire and Great Britain in each year; in nominal terms
£ million
Ribble Valley borough council Lancashire Great Britain









































1. Information sourced from local authority claims for housing revenue account subsidy and housing benefit and council tax benefit subsidy.
2. Figures are rounded to the nearest £100,000.
3. Figures prior to 2006-07 are audited, but may change in future if local authorities’ audited accounts are amended after a decision or appeal. Figures for recent years are more likely to be amended than older data.
4. 2006-07 figures are initial final (pre-audited) and are subject to change.
5. From 1999-2000 onwards, housing and council tax benefit expenditure on asylum seekers was funded by the National Asylum Support Service, and is therefore excluded from the figures presented at Great Britain. However, local authority level information includes all expenditure on these benefits relating to asylum seekers, as it is not possible to isolate at this level that part which applies to asylum seekers.
6. Figures relate to what local authorities spend on claimants, and include discretionary expenditure (mainly disregards of War Pensions), and overpayments except where benefit has been granted in advance (where the benefit is paid in the form of a rebate).
DWP Benefit expenditure tables.
DWP housing benefit and council tax benefit expenditure tables are available online at:

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Women and Equality

English Collective of Prostitutes

Jo Swinson: To ask the Minister for Women whether the Government had meetings with the (a) English Collective of Prostitutes and (b) Safety First Coalition in the last 12 months; and whether such meetings are planned. [165964]

Barbara Follett: There have been no meetings with the English Collective of Prostitutes or the Safety First Coalition in the last twelve months. Currently no meetings are planned.

Equal Pay

Jo Swinson: To ask the Minister for Women what assessment she has made of the factors causing the gender pay gap. [165768]

Barbara Follett: The gender pay gap is complex and arises from many factors such as differences in men and women's labour market experience (e.g. as a result of women taking time out to look after children), skills and education, occupational segregation, lack of quality part-time work (especially for women returning from maternity leave), historical culture, gender stereotyping and discrimination.

In 2004, the Prime Minister set up the Women and Work Commission to conduct an independent review to examine the causes of the gender pay gap. The Commission looked at the range of published research and other evidence on this issue, and produced a report in February 2006 containing 40 recommendations to tackle the gender pay gap. The Government accepted, or partially accepted, all but one of the recommendations aimed at Government and we are making good progress in implementing them.

Closing the pay gap between men and women is a key priority for the Government, as I made clear in my statement to Parliament on Priorities for the Ministers for Women. Closing the pay gap is now one of the indicators in the new Equalities Public Service Agreement.

Government Equalities Office

Jo Swinson: To ask the Minister for Women what estimate she has made of the proportion of the work of the Government Equalities Office on gender discrimination which concerns discrimination against men. [165769]

Barbara Follett: Only a small proportion of the work of the Government Equalities Office focuses specifically on discrimination against men, because in tackling those inequalities that persist in society, women are still affected more than men as can be seen in areas such as the pay gap and levels of domestic and sexual violence, which I have highlighted as priority areas for action.

However the office's work on sex discrimination legislation, applies equally to women and men, and the introduction of the Gender Equality Duty earlier this year will ensure that all public authorities take account of the different needs of women and men in developing
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policy and in service provision. Work within the office towards a Single Equalities Act, aims to create a clearer and more streamlined discrimination legislative framework which produces better outcomes for those who currently experience disadvantage, irrespective of sex.

It is therefore not possible to make a specific percentage estimate of time spent addressing discrimination against men. But understanding more about the inequalities and discrimination facing men is important to achieving gender equality and for that reason, Ministers for Women are hosting a round table in December on this subject, to raise awareness of, and gain a better understanding of the specific challenges and barriers facing men. The event will inform thinking on ways that both sexes, working together, can improve the balance of work and family life to, and to better understand attitudes towards sexual exploitation and violence.

Prostitution: Foreign Workers

Jo Swinson: To ask the Minister for Women what estimate she has made of the proportion of non-British sex workers who have been (a) trafficked and (b) subject to coercion. [165770]

[Official Report, 18 December 2007, Vol. 469, c. 2MC.]

Barbara Follett: Ten years ago 85 per cent. of women in brothels were UK citizens now 85 per cent. are from outside the UK. Estimates suggest that at any one time in 2003 there were approximately 4,000 victims of trafficking for prostitution in the UK.

No research has been undertaken which would provide evidence or provide a basis for estimates on the proportion of non-British sex workers who have been (a) trafficked and (b) subject to coercion.

Leader of the House

Consultants: Contracts

Mr. Walker: To ask the Leader of the House what contracts her Office has with external consultants; what the total value, including all VAT and disbursements, of these contracts are for the current financial year; how long each contract lasts; and what the forecast total value is of each contract. [163810]

Helen Goodman: None.

Departmental Flexible Working

Andrew Selous: To ask the Leader of the House how many staff (a) have applied to work flexible hours and (b) work flexible hours in her Office. [164315]

Helen Goodman: No member of staff has yet requested to work flexible hours.

This office endeavours to provide all staff with an effective work life balance.

Departmental Manpower

Mr. Walker: To ask the Leader of the House what the full-time equivalent headcount in her Office is; what the forecast full-time equivalent headcount for her office is for (a) 2008-09 and (b) 2009-10; and if she will make a statement. [163981]

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Ms Harman: Nineteen full-time employees. This includes three members of staff who support me in my responsibilities as Minister for Women and Equalities; and two special advisers. We have not made any work force forward projections, but are not anticipating any changes to staffing numbers.

Members: Allowances

Mr. Maude: To ask the Leader of the House (1) what the level of the communications allowance for hon. Members is in 2007-08; and what it will be in 2008-09; [164080]

(2) whether the communications allowance may be spent on payments to political parties for the provision of communications services on (a) commercial and (b) non-commercial terms; [164085]

(3) what her definition is of campaigning with regard to the prohibition of the use of communications allowance for campaigning; [164175]

(4) what the maximum financial amount in cash terms is in 2007-08 that can be transferred to communications allowance from (a) incidental expenses provision and (b) staffing allowance; [164307]

(5) what guidance has been published on using party political descriptions in literature financed under the communications allowance. [164314]

Helen Goodman: The communications allowance was introduced on 1 April 2007. It was set by the House at a level of £10,000 p.a. It will increase in April each year by the annual rise in the retail price index as at 31 December of the preceding year.

The purpose of the allowance is to meet the cost of proactive communications by Members to their constituents. The rules and guidance in the Green Book, as approved by the Members Estimate Committee are set out and published in July 2007.

Members must avoid any arrangement which may give rise to an accusation that public money is being diverted for the benefit of a political organisation. Campaigning, which is prohibited by the rules, is understood to be the use of parliamentary funds to seek to gain a party or sectional electoral advantage.

The allowance rules in the Green Book permit Members the flexibility to transfer money between allowances so that they can use the available funds to meet the needs of their constituents more efficiently. Members may transfer up to 10 per cent. from their staffing allowance and 100 per cent. from their incidental expenses provision to the communications allowance.

The Members Estimate Committee undertook to consider and where necessary review the rules and guidance in the light of experience.

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