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18 Dec 2007 : Column 1229Wcontinued
Mr. Laws: To ask the Prime Minister how many officials worked for him outside No. 10 Downing Street in (a) May 2007 and (b) December 2007, broken down by area; and if he will make a statement. 
The Prime Minister: I refer the hon. Member to the answer I gave him on 10 December 2007, Official Report, column 48W.
Mr. Hoban: To ask the Prime Minister what estimate he has made of the cost of severance pay for special advisers who left the Government between April and November 2007 or the nearest period for which figures are available. 
The Prime Minister: I refer the hon. Member to the answer given by my right hon. Friend the then Minister for the Cabinet Office (Hilary Armstrong) on 7 March 2007, Official Report, column 2051W.
Mr. Hoban: To ask the Prime Minister what supermarkets he has held meetings with to discuss throw-away plastic carrier bags. 
The Prime Minister: My officials and I have meetings with a wide range of organisations and individuals on a range of subjects. In addition my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Environment Food and Rural Affairs and his ministerial team regularly meet with representatives from supermarkets to discuss a wide range of issues, including those related to carrier bags and waste.
Mr. Vara: To ask the Prime Minister pursuant to the answer of 29 November 2007, Official Report, column 592W, on trade unions, if he will make it his policy to place in the Library at regular intervals a list giving details of all meetings held with trade union leaders. 
The Prime Minister: I have nothing further to add to the answer I gave the hon. Member on 29 November 2007, Official Report, column 592W.
Dr. Fox: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development pursuant to the Statement by the Prime Minister of 12 December 2007, Official Report, column 304, on Afghanistan, how many of his Department's personnel serve in the collocated headquarters. 
Mr. Douglas Alexander: On security grounds, we do not reveal the location of DFID personnel in Afghanistan.
Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development if he will make representations to the EU on the (a) provision and (b) potential clawback of funding in relation to ApTibet; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr. Malik: No representations have been made by DFID to the EU in relation to ApTibet.
Mr. Hancock: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development pursuant to the answer of 4 December 2007, Official Report, column 1084W, on China: bears, if he will make it his policy to offer assistance to the Chinese government to end bear bile farming in China; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr. Malik: We do not intend to make any representations to the Chinese government on this matter.
Mr. Hancock: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development if he will meet representatives of Animals Asia to discuss bile extraction from bears in China. 
Mr. Malik: DFID officials in China would be happy to meet with Animals Asia for a briefing.
Jo Swinson: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development how many confirmed security breaches of databases controlled by his Department occurred in each of the last five years; whether the breach resulted from internal or external sources in each case; how many records were compromised on each occasion; and what estimate was made of the total number of records accessible to the individuals concerned. 
Mr. Thomas: Except in exceptional cases, when it is in the public interest, it has been the policy of successive Governments not to comment on breaches of security.
Mr. Hancock: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what his policy is on the development of infant diagnostics for HIV in resource-limited settings; and what projects he has to achieve this. 
Infant diagnostics for HIV continue to be a challenge in resource-limited settings. The most common way to test for HIV is to identify antibodies to the virus, but antibody tests are not reliable in very young children. A new approach to HIV diagnosis in infants was therefore introduced in some African countries in late 2006. This involves testing dry blood spots collected in a way that does not need specialist equipment at the point of care. This technology offers a vital opportunity for timely
access to lifesaving treatment and care services for children who are infected with HIV. However, these services are just getting started in many countries and therefore relatively few infants have been able to receive such tests to date.
The UK announced support of €20 million for UNITAID in September 2006, as part of a 20 year commitment, increasing to €60 million per year by 2010 subject to performance. This month, UNITAID, together with UNICEF, launched a joint initiative that will include support to early paediatric diagnosis to improve early access to paediatric HIV treatment for HIV-infected infants.
Mr. Sarwar: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what assistance his Department has offered to the government of Kenya to help deal with the recent Ebola outbreak in the Bundibugyo district. 
Mr. Thomas: There are no confirmed Ebola cases in Kenya. However, Kenya is rightly on alert and preparation measures are being put into place. The management of outbreaks is led by the Epidemic Task Force at national level and the measures taken include communication to the public, limited screening of passengers from at-risk areas, preparation of case management guidelines, provision of personal protective gear to health workers and heightened surveillance.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) is leading the support from development partners. DFID is contributing to WHOs technical assistance. The Center for Disease Control (US Government) is also providing support.
Mr. Harper: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development how many letters his Department received from hon. Members and Peers in each session of Parliament since 1997. 
Mr. Malik: I refer the hon. Member to the answer given by my right hon. Friend the Minister for the Cabinet Office and Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster on 17 December 2007, Official Report, column 1084W.
Mr. Bailey: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what progress has been made in respect of the proposed Policy and Research Unit envisaged in his Departments strategic grant agreement with the UK Co-operative Movement. 
Between 2003 and early 2007, a total of £460,000 was provided under a Strategic Grant Agreement between this Department and the UK Co-operative College. Since then, we have been in discussion with the college over a proposal to establish a programme of policy research that would analyse and highlight the value and effectiveness of co-operatives and other forms of social enterprise. DFID no longer
runs a Strategic Grant scheme, so we are exploring various alternative channels for funding this proposed programme and hope to conclude an agreement in early 2008.
Mr. Keith Simpson: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development pursuant to the answer on 22 November 2007, Official Report, column 1042W, on Somalia: international assistance, whether the Government will provide (a) financial and (b) logistical support for the French initiative to protect humanitarian supply ships sailing to Somalia from incidents of piracy. 
Mr. Thomas: We commend the French initiative to provide protection to ships delivering aid to Somalia for the World Food Programme. The UK is not currently providing any financial or logistical support to France for this initiative. We will continue to monitor progress with the initiative and consider any future assistance as necessary. The UK continues to attach great importance to the need to ease the critical humanitarian situation in Somalia. We have contributed £8.6 million in additional funds since January this year to help those worst affected by the conflict and malnutrition.
Annette Brooke: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development if he will provide an update on the financial sector deepening project in Uganda. 
Mr. Thomas: We have provided £7 million over the past six years to deepen the capacity of Ugandas financial sector to meet the financial needs of poor rural and urban households. Our support has contributed towards Uganda being recognised internationally as a success story in microfinance. We are working closely with other donors and government to agree how our support should be continued. Our current phase of support finishes this January.
Our support has helped the implementation of a major survey to develop comprehensive national data on financial access in Uganda for the first time. Ugandans are now better informed when designing policies to support the sector. In addition our programme has supported a financial consumer education campaign to better inform microfinance consumers of their rights and responsibilities. The programme also helped a range of financial institutions improve services to better meet the needs of over 750,000 clients and establish over 4,000 self-managed village savings and loan associations. This has helped provide financial services to those who miss out on services from formal financial institutions.
Annette Brooke: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development if he will implement in other countries a financial sector deepening project such as that under way in Uganda. 
Mr. Thomas: The Department for International Development is engaged in a range of financial deepening projects in a number of countries. For example, we are implementing programmes in Ghana, Kenya, Nigeria and Tanzania and in Bangladesh and Pakistan. We are committed to supporting the development of strong and inclusive financial sectors that contribute to growth and poverty reduction, and to working in partnership with other donors, partner governments and financial sector institutions.
In Uganda, we have provided £7 million over the past six years to deepen the capacity of the financial sector to meet the financial needs of poor rural and urban households. Our support has contributed towards Uganda being recognised internationally as a success story in microfinance.
Mr. Clifton-Brown: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what his most recent estimate is of the number of Zimbabwean refugees in countries neighbouring Zimbabwe. 
Mr. Thomas: It is estimated that between 1.1 million and 3 million Zimbabweans are living in countries neighbouring Zimbabwe. Reliable figures are hard to obtain as many Zimbabweans have crossed borders illegally. The UN and governments in host countries consider most of those who have left Zimbabwe to be economic migrants. As economic migrants they are not recognised as refugees nor protected under various international conventions governing the treatment of refugees. Over 160,000 Zimbabweans were deported from South Africa up to the end of October 2007, already a significant increase on the numbers deported in the whole of 2006.
DFID is supporting the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) to provide humanitarian assistance to Zimbabweans deported from South Africa through the Beitbridge Reception Centre. IOM provides information on how to migrate legally and safely through its nationwide Safe Migration campaign. We have recently approved a programme to support and protect Zimbabwean children in Limpopo Province in South Africa. The UK Government are also providing humanitarian assistance to Zimbabweans in Johannesburg through the British High Commission in Pretoria.
Mr. Tyrie: To ask the hon. Member for Gosport, representing the Speakers Committee on the Electoral Commission what information the Speakers Committee has on guidance or instruction given by the Commission to (a) board members and (b) staff who join the Public and Commercial Services Union on whether they should opt out of the political levy; and if he will make a statement. 
Peter Viggers: The Electoral Commission informs me that it has given no such guidance or instruction.
Mr. Tyrie: To ask the hon. Member for Gosport, representing the Speakers Committee on the Electoral Commission whether the Electoral Commission seeks to gather information on the validity of the numbers of members affiliated by a trade union to the Labour Party by reference to the number of members in that union paying the political levy. 
Peter Viggers: The Electoral Commission informs me that it does not.
Mr. Maude: To ask the hon. Member for Gosport, representing the Speakers Committee on the Electoral Commission what guidance the Electoral Commission has produced for Members of the Scottish Parliament (MSPs) on accepting and declaring donations and loans; on what date that guidance was published; and whether it was sent to each MSP. 
Peter Viggers: The Electoral Commission informs me that the most recent version of its guidance on donations and loans for regulated donees, including MSPs, was published on its website www.electoralcommission.org.uk, on 3 November 2006.
The Commission wrote to all political parties with MSPs on 21 November 2006 regarding the new loans provisions introduced by the Electoral Administration Act 2006 and the implications for regulated donees. The letter provided a link to the Commissions guidance on its website.
Mr. Maude: To ask the hon. Member for Gosport, representing the Speakers Committee on the Electoral Commission whether the Electoral Commission has produced guidance for regulated donees who are hon. Members on whether subsidising of their websites by trade unions must be declared as a donation or donation in kind. 
Peter Viggers: The Electoral Commission informs me it publishes Donations and loans: guidance for Members of Parliament. This provides guidance on the treatment of cash and non cash donations, and is available in the Library or on the Commissions website:
David Simpson: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland how many (a) EU foreign nationals and (b) non-EU foreign nationals are employed by his Department. 
Mr. Woodward: The Northern Ireland Office has no central record of EU and non-EU foreign nationals in our employment. The Northern Ireland civil service is currently examining monitoring of nationality and will be discussing with the Equality Commission how to take this forward. Whatever procedures are agreed will also apply to the Northern Ireland Office.
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