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Developing Countries: Maternity Services

Stephen Hesford: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what progress has been made towards the millennium development goal of improving maternal health in each year since 2000; and what steps his Department is taking to address socio-economic obstacles to progress in developing countries where the rate of improvement has been comparatively low. [184959]

Gillian Merron: Modest progress has been made in reaching MDG 5 since 2000 by the international community. There has been some improvement in parts of India, China, Nepal and Bangladesh, but maternal death rates are increasing in some sub-Saharan African countries because of HIV infection, conflict and weak health systems. The most recent figures, for 2005, show that the number of maternal deaths worldwide increased to 536,000 each year from 529,000 in 2000.

The UK Government supported the "Women Deliver" conference in October 2007, which highlighted the need for accelerated progress in order to meet the maternal health Millennium Development Goal (MDG) and identified the socio-economic obstacles which women face when seeking maternal care as a key area to be addressed. During the conference, the UK Government announced that a further £100 million over five years will be provided through the united nations population fund to improve access to family planning commodities and equipment.

DFID's "Reducing maternal deaths: evidence and action", published in April 2004, sets out our maternal health strategy, including how to address the wider social and economic barriers to access.

Developing Countries: Sustainable Development

Mr. Jim Cunningham: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development (1) what steps the Government have taken to assist developing countries to introduce environmentally sustainable development schemes since 1997; [180713]

(2) what steps the Government have taken to encourage developing countries to prioritise environmentally-friendly policies since 1997. [180714]

Mr. Thomas: DFID works with other donors to help poorer countries identify their own development priorities, policies and plans that incorporate environmental sustainability. DFID also works with others to help partner countries tackle specific environmental challenges, such as better use of forests, water, land and fisheries. Examples of action since 1997 are:

DFID will also provide core funding of £6 million to UN Environment Programme (UNEP) between 2008 and 2011, in addition to the £4.2 million from Defra in 2007. DFID assistance will help UNEP strengthen its poverty and environment work with developing countries, including joint work with UNDP to help poor countries introduce environmentally sustainable development policies and plans.

DFID is helping developing country Governments prepare for climate change, contributing £20 million to UN funds for developing adaptation strategies and piloting adaptation projects.

The Environment Transformation Fund (ETF) has an £800 million international window to be managed jointly by DFID and Defra. This will support development and poverty reduction through environmental protection, and help poor countries respond to climate change. £50 million has already been earmarked for tackling deforestation in the Congo Basin.

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Fair Trade Initiative

Mr. Moore: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what his Department's policy is on the use of fair trade goods (a) in staff catering facilities and (b) at official departmental functions and meetings; and if he will make a statement. [183854]

Mr. Thomas: DFID uses ethically traded items wherever possible in its staff restaurants and for official functions and meetings. For instance, all tea and coffee served in the building is currently fair trade. We also serve other items such as fruit and chocolate, and disposable items, which are fairly traded and certified by either the Fairtrade Foundation or other certification schemes such as Rainforest Alliance.

Gaza: Overseas Aid

Mr. Jim Cunningham: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what steps his Department has taken to provide aid supplies to the people of Gaza affected by recent events. [182943]

Mr. Malik: I refer my hon. Friend to the answer my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for International Development gave to the hon. Member for North Southwark and Bermondsey (Simon Hughes) and my hon. Friend the Member for Islington, North (Jeremy Corbyn) on 30 January 2008, Official Report , column 297.

HIV Infection: Children

Lynne Jones: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what steps he is taking to provide support to strengthen the organisational capacity of national Governments and civil society working with children affected by HIV and AIDS. [182876]

Gillian Merron: The UK Government are working with The United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) in support of plans for national orphans and vulnerable children and to ensure that they are fully in line with broader national HIV/AIDS plans. Better plans will enable social welfare ministries to meet their own objectives and to co-ordinate the efforts of others, including civil society organisations.

DFID's funding through public partnership agreements also supports civil society organisations to respond to the needs of children affected by AIDS. These organisations include Plan UK, World Vision and Save the Children.

India: Overseas Aid

Mr. Jim Cunningham: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what steps the Government have taken to assist development in India since 1997. [182944]

Mr. Malik: DFID has maintained a large development programme in India since 1997 (currently DFID's largest country programme). Over that period
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DFID has worked in close partnership with the Indian Government (and also with multilateral and civil society) to help improve India's progress against the millennium development goals.

In 1997, the programme was geographically dispersed and covered a wide range of sectors. Over the next decade, the programme budget rose steadily but the portfolio was honed so that DFID India was managing fewer, larger projects in those sectors where we knew we were having the most impact; particularly health, education, rural livelihoods and urban development. DFID now only works at the state level in the five states of Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, Madhya Pradesh, Orissa and West Bengal, as well as with central Government.

DFID India is soon to launch its new country plan for India, setting out its strategy to 2015. As well as continuing to work in those sectors where significant impact has been made, there will be an enhanced focus on the poorest sections of Indian society. There will also be a new element in which DFID collaborates with the Indian Government on poverty issues that affect the poor worldwide and not just in India, such as climate change.

Mozambique: Floods

Mr. Jim Cunningham: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what steps the Government have taken to assist Mozambique to rebuild the damage caused by the latest floods. [182945]

Gillian Merron: We are monitoring developments in Mozambique very closely. DFID's humanitarian adviser has just returned from the region and discussed with the Government of Mozambique their preparedness and response plans.

DFID has provided some £97,000, through Save the Children, for the delivery of emergency water and sanitation to 10,000 affected people. The UN is also drawing on the Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF) for priority operations in the humanitarian response. The UK Government are the biggest contributor to the CERF having provided £40 million in 2008. The International Federation of the Red Cross (IFRC) launched a preliminary appeal for $7.3 million to address the immediate humanitarian needs of up to 150,000 people across the region. DFID is finalizing its response to this appeal.

Assessments of the situation by Government, UN and NGO agencies are ongoing and DFID continues to monitor the situation closely. We will respond as unmet humanitarian needs are identified.

Overseas Aid: Malaria

Mr. Moore: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what recent discussions he has had on funding for malarial control in developing countries; and if he will make a statement. [183793]

Mr. Douglas Alexander: This is a matter of ongoing discussion and consideration within the Department for International Development.

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DFID provides support for malaria control through a variety of channels including international organisations and partnerships, bilateral country programmes and through financing research.

With others, DFID is currently looking at additional ways of scaling up malaria control in a comprehensive fashion. The Roll Back Malaria Partnership and DFID are leading the discussions on the Affordable Medicines for Malaria (AMFm) facility. This will subsidise the purchase price of artemisinin combination therapies (ACTs) and support a package of interventions along the supply chain so they become more affordable and accessible in developing countries where resistance has developed to traditional therapies. Other possibilities include increasing public health measures including bednet provision, improved diagnostics and research into a vaccine.

Plastic Bags

Robert Neill: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development how many branded plastic bags his Department has purchased in the last 24 months for which figures are available; and at what cost. [184008]

Mr. Malik: Disaggregated information on any products procured with departmental or Government branding is not available. A range of branded materials are produced and purchased as an integral part of work to raise public awareness of international development, but it is not possible without incurring disproportionate cost to establish whether plastic bags featured among these products in the past two years.

Communities and Local Government

Bellwin Scheme

Mr. Stewart Jackson: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government how many local authorities have applied for Bellwin scheme funding consequent upon the flooding of July 2007; and if she will make a statement. [184087]

John Healey: 19 local authorities have so far applied for funding through the Bellwin scheme for the flooding in July. Originally, 52 local authorities registered an intention to do so. We are ready to make payments—which, exceptionally, will reimburse 100 per cent. of eligible costs above a threshold—within 15 working days of receiving valid claims.

Mr. Stewart Jackson: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what (a) advice and (b) assistance her Department is providing to local authorities who have registered their intention to claim under the Bellwin scheme in respect of flood damage; and if she will make a statement. [184088]

John Healey: The Department places guidance about the operation of the scheme and the likely eligibility of costs on its website at the start of each year, so that authorities have a good understanding in advance about how the scheme works.

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In the aftermath of the floods in summer 2007, the Department contacted affected authorities to ensure that they were aware of the Bellwin scheme and the need to register an intention to claim within a month of the flooding. Officials held seminars in Leeds and London to provide specific information and advice, and to allow authorities to ask specific questions. This was accompanied by letters to authorities, describing the terms of the scheme (including the special terms for this scheme). Government offices reinforced the key messages in regular communications with authorities, including the availability of the Bellwin team within my Department to provide advice.

Since then, the Bellwin team has provided tailored advice to individual authorities, through meetings, e-mail correspondence, phone contact and, where appropriate, site visits.

The Department has now paid £8.8 million under the Bellwin scheme in respect of the 2007 floods; and expects to make further payments shortly.

Care Homes: Planning

Dr. Ladyman: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what guidance her Department has issued to local authorities with planning responsibilities on (a) the delivery of housing with care for older people and (b) developing the extra care model of accommodation supported by the Department of Health; and if she will make a statement. [183758]

Mr. Iain Wright: Communities and Local Government worked with the Department of Health, the Care Service Improvement Partnership and the Royal Town Planning Institute (RTPI) to publish the RTPI Good Practice Note 8 on Extra Care Housing in October 2007.

We will shortly be publishing a national strategy for housing in an ageing society which covers the strategic role of local authorities with planning responsibilities and the development of specialised housing for older people. Alongside the strategy a practical toolkit for local authorities will be published to help with the strategic development of housing with care including extra care housing.

We are also working with the Department of Health to support them in the distribution of a capital grant made available since 2004 to encourage local authorities to develop extra care housing. The availability of this grant has been extended for a further two years.

Community Development: Kent

Dr. Ladyman: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government how much her Department made available for regeneration projects and community building initiatives in (a) Thanet and (b) Dover District Council areas in each of the last three years. [183756]

John Healey: Thanet and Dover districts have received a wide variety of funding for regeneration initiatives since the late 1990s. Some of this is specific to the Communities and Local Government Department, but with the growth of single ‘pots’ there has also been a
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merger of different funding streams from different Government Departments. While it is possible to state that Thanet received £2,681,792.00 in neighbourhood element and cleaner, safer, greener funding for regeneration activities in the last two years, other funding streams—such as the European Objective 2 programme, the Coalfield Regeneration Trust, and Single Regeneration Budget—are divided across districts and wider areas. Thanet is also eligible for around £4 million from the new working neighbourhoods fund, over the next three years.

Council Tax

Julia Goldsworthy: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what estimate she has made of the cost to local authorities of the collection of council tax in 2008-09. [184317]

John Healey: No estimates of the cost of collection of council tax are made in the calculation of revenue support grant. Information about the cost to local authorities of collecting council tax is not available separately until authorities report their outturn revenue expenditure.

Departmental Information Officers

Mr. Jeremy Browne: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government how much her Department paid in bonuses to press and communication officers in each of the last 10 years; and what the (a) highest and (b) lowest such bonus was in each of those years. [182714]

Mr. Dhanda: For information on the annual aggregate level of bonus payments to all staff, I refer the hon. Member to the answer given to the Member for Runnymede and Weybridge (Mr. Hammond) on 11 December 2007, Official Report, column 541W.

With regard to bonuses for press and communications officers, it is not possible to disaggregate this information in the manner requested. A number of Machinery of Government changes and recent internal reorganisation has had a material effect on availability of relevant data and there is a further risk that disclosure of payments to a small group of staff could lead to the identification of individuals.

In Communities and Local Government, bonuses are paid to staff below the senior civil service who exceed against their business related objectives for the year. For senior civil servants, bonus payments are made to individuals whose contribution has a significant impact on the Department's performance across the year. Personal contribution is assessed against a range of individual and organisational objectives.

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