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Sudan: Overseas Aid

Mr. Andrew Mitchell: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if the Government will provide financial and technical assistance to countries with available helicopters and related materials and personnel to assist with full deployment of the United Nations African Union Mission in Darfur. [187766]

Meg Munn: We will consider assisting countries that may provide helicopters and other capabilities to the UN-African Union hybrid force in Darfur. We would discuss this on a case-by-case basis directly with the country concerned and in co-ordination with the UN Department of Peacekeeping Operations and other potential donors.

Mr. Andrew Mitchell: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what assessment he has made of the effect of the delay in the full implementation of the UNAMID mission to Darfur on (a) the security of and (b) the provision of humanitarian aid to the civilian population in the region. [187768]

Meg Munn: Planning for the UN-African Union Mission in Darfur (UNAMID) envisaged full deployment by mid-2008. Delays generating and deploying the mission, as well as obstacles in Sudan, have restricted UNAMID’s capabilities. We are pressing the Government of Sudan and rebel groups to allow UNAMID full access and freedom of movement to improve security for humanitarian relief. UNAMID is starting to improve security with renewed firewood and other patrols.

UNAMID’s deployment to Darfur is one of the most complex and logistically difficult that the UN has ever undertaken. We are working closely with the UN Department of Peacekeeping Operations and the African Union to achieve full deployment as soon as practicable.


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Sudan: Sanctions

Mr. Andrew Mitchell: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what his policy is on the implementation of further targeted sanctions against the Sudanese Government by the (a) European Union, (b) United Nations Security Council and (c) UK. [187767]

Meg Munn: We will pursue further targeted sanctions against any party, including the Government of Sudan, rebels and militia, that undermines resolution of the crisis in Darfur.

We believe that UN sanctions are more effective than EU or UK measures. The prospect of further UN sanctions, as advocated by the UK, combined with persuasion by the UN Secretary-General and others, played a part in the Government of Sudan agreeing to the UN-African Union Mission in Darfur in 2007. Currently, the UN Security Council is not actively considering sanctions but rather is focused on securing successful implementation of resolution 1769 on Darfur. But we continue to advocate in the Council that we must combine pressure and persuasion on all parties to make rapid progress in resolving the crisis. We are also making this point bilaterally, as my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister did with Chinese Premier Wen in January.

Tristan da Cunha: Fires

Andrew Mackinlay: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what reports he has received on the recent fire at the fish-processing factory on Tristan da Cunha; what steps he has taken to relieve hardship and protect the islanders’ economy; and if he will make a statement. [187808]

Meg Munn: I can confirm that a fire destroyed Tristan da Cunha’s fish-processing factory on 13 February 2008. The generators that provided the island's power were also destroyed. The cause of the fire has not been identified. Power is now being supplied from a back-up generator, until a new generator can be delivered to the island in March 2008. The hospital has 24 hour power.

Tristan da Cunha’s financial self-sufficiency depends on revenue from its fishing industry. Tristan’s fishing season is ending so the immediate impact on the island’s economy is minimal. But the island’s Administrator is working with Ovenstone, the company that runs the lobster fishing concession, supplies the island’s electricity and owns the factory, to minimise the economic impact of the fire. The main concern is to maintain the revenue that the industry generates for the island and to minimise potential loss of earnings for those employed in the sector. Ovenstone are preparing contingency plans for the next fishing season, which begins in July 2008. Ovenstone has insurance cover in the event of fire and is already making plans to replace the island’s power plant and build a new lobster-processing factory.

In addition, the Department for International Development has recently commissioned a review of options for Tristan to diversify its economy and increase its revenue.


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Women and Equality

Departmental ICT

Susan Kramer: To ask the Minister for Women and Equality how many (a) male and (b) female members of staff in the Government Equalities Office were issued with personal digital assistants in each year since 2001; and if she will make a statement. [181370]

Mrs. McGuire: I have been asked to reply.

Neither the Government Equalities Office nor its predecessor the Women and Equality Unit have provided any departmental personal digital assistant (PDA) equipment for its members of staff since 2001.

Departmental Parliamentary Questions

Mr. Harper: To ask the Minister for Women and Equality how many staff work in her Office's parliamentary branch; and what proportion of their time is spent on dealing with (a) parliamentary questions and (b) correspondence from hon. Members and Peers. [174948]

Barbara Follett: The Government Equalities Office does not have a parliamentary branch. It is currently supported in this function by the Department of Work and Pensions. I refer the hon. Member to the answer given by the Under-Secretary of State for Work and Pensions my hon. Friend the Member for Stirling (Mrs. McGuire) on 6 February 2008, Official Report, column 1229W, which provides full details about the parliamentary branch in DWP. The Parliamentary Branch does not deal with correspondence from Members or Peers.

Departmental Visits Abroad

Mr. Jeremy Browne: To ask the Minister for Women and Equality how many overseas visits have been made by staff of the Government Equalities Office since it was established; which countries were visited; and what the cost was of the visits. [181458]

Barbara Follett: Since the Government Equalities Offices was established on 26 July 2007, a total of six overseas visits have been made by official staff. The countries visited were Belgium, Portugal, Denmark, Luxembourg, Sweden and Slovenia. The total cost of travel and of expenses claimed to date for these visits was £2,479.13.

Domestic Violence

Mr. Jim Cunningham: To ask the Minister for Women and Equality (1) what steps the Government have taken to increase funding for organisations supporting those affected by domestic violence; [186845]

(2) what steps the Government have taken to provide support to those affected by domestic violence. [186846]

Barbara Follett [holding answer 18 February 2008]: The Inter-departmental Ministerial Group on Domestic Violence, on which I sit, monitors action on
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the National Domestic Violence Plan, which includes the delivery of support to victims and their families.

A lot has been done to increase the support available for families affected by domestic violence:

Last year, the Home Office allocated just under £6 million to tackle domestic violence including £2 million to support and improve local delivery on domestic violence for victims and their children. It also funded improved public protection arrangements for domestic violence victims and a matrix of help lines to provide advice and support to victims and their families.

The Ministry of Justice allocated £3 million for Independent Domestic Violence Advisers whose aim is the safety and support of victims and their children. This is in addition to annual court business costs.

The Every Child Matters: Change for Children programme aims to improve the welfare of all children by putting in place arrangements for earlier and more effective assessment and intervention for vulnerable children, such as those affected by domestic violence.

The Department for Communities and Local Government has developed a range of accommodation options for victims including Sanctuary Scheme guidance, and 61 million of Supporting People funds were used by local authorities in 2006-07 to provide housing related support for victims of domestic violence and their families. Guidance for Jobcentre Plus staff provides advice about domestic violence and its potential impact on victims, explains the sorts of support they may need and provides advice on taking account of their particular circumstances when dealing with a benefit application. The guidance also has contact details of a range of organisations which provide advice and support to domestic violence victims.

Financial support in respect of children, such as child benefit and child tax credits, is paid to the person who is responsible for those children and is often already paid directly to mothers. Where there is any family breakdown, the benefits will, where necessary, normally be transferred to the person with whom the children are living.

Domestic violence tears apart families and always affects children. The Government recognise the strong links between child protection concerns and domestic violence. Victims leaving a violent relationship will often need a range of financial and practical support for themselves and their children. The Inter-departmental Ministerial Group will continue to monitor this aspect of delivery.

Females

Mrs. May: To ask the Minister for Women and Equality what meetings (a) she and (b) the Deputy Minister for Women has had with ministerial colleagues on women's issues in each of the last six months. [181933]

Barbara Follett: Both I and the deputy Minister for Women and Equality have had meetings with ministerial colleagues on a range of women's issues. Discussions are ongoing.


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Human Trafficking: EC Action

Mr. Bone: To ask the Minister for Women and Equality when the Government intend to ratify the Council of Europe convention against trafficking in human beings. [173794]

Barbara Follett: This Government are determined to prioritise efforts to tackle this horrific crime. That is why we intend to ratify the convention before the end of this year, subject to achieving necessary changes to domestic legislation in all parts of the UK.

Olympics

Humanitarian Aid

Mr. Hunt: To ask the Minister for the Olympics how many staff are employed on domestic humanitarian assistance; and what the total cost was of employing such staff in each of the last three years. [187334]

Tessa Jowell [holding answer 20 February 2008]: The Humanitarian Assistance Unit currently has six staff. It also has a number of volunteers from elsewhere in the Department who support its work. The total staff costs for the Humanitarian Assistance Unit is as follows:

£

2005-06 (not a full year)

113,000

2006-07

294,000

2007-08 (to date)

232,000


Mr. Hunt: To ask the Minister for the Olympics what (a) domestic and (b) international incidents she has dealt with as lead Minister for domestic humanitarian assistance. [187335]

Tessa Jowell [holding answer 20 February 2008]: The Humanitarian Assistance Unit was formally established in 2005 after the London bombings. Since then it has been involved in supporting those affected by the following incidents:

2005

Domestic

International

2006

International

Prior to the establishment of the unit in 2005, I as then Secretary of State and the Department for Culture,
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Media and Sport was involved with providing humanitarian assistance following the following incidents:

Incident

2001

9/11, USA

2002

Bali bombings

2004

Indian Ocean tsunami


Olympic Games 2012: Advertising

Mr. Jeremy Browne: To ask the Minister for the Olympics how much was spent on advertising relating to (a) bidding for and (b) hosting the Olympic Games in 2012 in each relevant year; and what percentage of the Government’s budget in relation to the 2012 Olympic Games was spent on advertising. [183006]

Tessa Jowell: The Bid Company obtained all of its promotional advertising from value-in-kind sponsorship and that there was no additional expenditure in this area.

As a part of LOCOG’s responsibility for staging the games, they have assumed the Bid Company’s previous role in undertaking all promotional advertising activity for the games. LOCOG is registered as a private company and its budget of £2 billion, which includes any advertising costs, will be almost entirely met from private sources. To release details of current advertising expenditure would be likely to prejudice ongoing commercial negotiations between LOCOG and its suppliers. However, as a private company, LOCOG submits a record of its accounts to Companies House on an annual basis. These are publicly available.

Duchy of Lancaster

Ministers: Redundancy Pay

Mr. Jeremy Browne: To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster how many Ministers received a severance payment on leaving office in each year for which figures are available, broken down by government department; and what the cost of those payments was in each year. [187637]

Mr. Watson: Information on Ministers leaving office is a matter of public record. Under the Ministerial and other Pensions and Salaries Act 1991, severance pay of three months salary is payable to recipients of salaries on leaving office.

Information on ministerial salaries is available in the Library of the House.


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