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6 May 2008 : Column 782W—continued


Latin America: Overseas Aid

Mr. Moore: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development when his Department's regional assistance plan (2008-11) for Latin America will be published. [203716]

Mr. Douglas Alexander: The Department for International Development's (DFID) future support to Latin America will be provided through civil society organisations and international institutions. We will also continue to work on Brazil's global role in development. A summary of our programme will be produced and made publicly available (although this will not be in the form of a regional assistance plan). This document will be available by the end of 2008.

Palestinians: EU Aid

Mr. Hague: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what the (a) budget, (b) objectives and (c) mechanisms for disbursement of aid to the Palestinians from the European Union’s PEGASE fund are. [200076]


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Mr. Douglas Alexander: For 2008 the European Commission has committed €300 million (£238 million) to PEGASE and member states are finalising their individual contributions.

There is no upper ceiling for PEGASE contributions. In March 2008 the UK provided £15.45 million through PEGASE to support public sector salaries.

PEGASE is designed to support the Palestinian Authority's three year Reform and Development programme (PROP). The PRDP will focus upon governance reform and development of the social, economic and public infrastructure sectors.

PEGASE covers the full European Commission programme of support to the Occupied Palestinian Territories, as well as the former Temporary International Mechanism (TIM). PEGASE will widen the scope of the former TIM to cover support for private sector arrears and funding provided directly to the PA. PEGASE will retain comprehensive and secure monitoring and control systems that were put into place under the TIM.

Sri Lanka: Overseas Aid

Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what assessment he has made of whether UNICEF funds donated to educational projects in Sri Lanka are being properly spent on those projects; and if he will make a statement. [202495]

Mr. Malik: As Sri Lanka is now a middle income country, there is no UK bilateral aid programme of support to Sri Lanka. The Department for International Development's (DFID) bilateral programme ended in March 2007.

Instead, DFID works in conjunction with the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) and Ministry of Defence (MoD) to provide peace building support to Sri Lanka by pooling funds through the conflict prevention pool (CPP). DFID does not currently fund any UNICEF education projects.

Through the conflict prevention pool, the UK funds UNICEF's human rights and poverty programme called “Children Affected by Armed Conflict”.

To ensure that conflict prevention pool funds are properly spent, projects are regularly monitored by the High Commission in Colombo and three UK Government Departments responsible for the pooled funds in the UK. Quarterly reviews are conducted jointly by the High Commission and the three departments in London. An internal annual review of projects is also conducted.

Sudan: Food Aid

Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what reports he has received on the effect of increased levels of banditry in Darfur on the delivery of food supplies, and in particular the World Food Programme; and how many (a) people and (b) children this has put at risk. [202490]


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Gillian Merron: Due to increased levels of banditry, the World Food Programme (WFP) is currently delivering 900 metric tons per day to WFP warehouses, only half as much food as is needed in Darfur

The WFP provided food to 3.1 million people in March, including 2.4 million in Darfur. 1.6 million of the total were children, including 1.2 million in Darfur. This is likely to rise as the rainy season begins in May/June. The WFP will cut rations of cereals, pulses and sugar for Darfur by half in May. Rations will therefore have 42 per cent. less calorific value.

To mitigate this, WFP will continue to provide blanket feeding for children under five in targeted areas in South and West Darfur, and plans to introduce this throughout North Darfur, where the highest malnutrition rates were reported in 2007. It will resume school feeding when schools reopen in June.

Iraq: Peacekeeping Operations

Andrew Mackinlay: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what arrangements exist for UK-based law enforcement agencies to investigate allegations of misconduct by (a) British nationals and (b) nationals of other countries, other than Iraq, who are employees of private military or security companies contracted to work in Iraq by his Department; and if he will make a statement. [203693]

Dr. Howells: I have been asked to reply.

If any personnel employed by organisations contracted by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) were suspected of committing a crime in Iraq but appeared to be immune from Iraqi legal process, the FCO would refer them to the disciplinary authority of their employing organisation with a view to having them removed from our contract in Iraq and would also bring the matter to the attention of the UK police and/or the authorities of the individual's nationality. The decision whether to pursue a criminal investigation and ultimately whether a prosecution should be undertaken in an individual case would be a matter for the police and prosecuting authorities, acting independently from the Government.

In the case of suspected non-criminal misconduct, we would take up the matter with the employing organisation, and either investigate the matter or have the employing organisation do so and report back to us, depending on the circumstances and the nature of the allegations.

Justice

Departmental Freedom of Information

Harry Cohen: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice how much (a) has been spent by the Information Commissioner's Office and (b) paid to the Commissioner's counsel in relation to the appeals to the Information Tribunal relating to freedom of information requests made by (i) Campaign Against Arms Trade (EA/2007/40) and (ii) Nicholas Gilby (EA/2007/71/78/79). [202721]

Mr. Wills: The Information Commissioner is an independent body created by statute with responsibility for handling complaints made to him under the Freedom of Information Act 2000.


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The Commissioner's Office does not maintain separate records of the total internal cost incurred for handling each case where his decision on a complaint is appealed to the Information Tribunal.

The total paid to counsel by the Commissioner for the appeals made by the Campaign against the Arms Trade and by Nicholas Gilby was £12,337.51. Parts of the appeals were heard together as evidence was provided by the same witness. Therefore the amount paid to counsel covered both appeals and was not billed or invoiced separately.

Departmental Temporary Employment

Mr. Todd: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice how many full-time posts in his Department were filled on a temporary basis for a period in excess of six months in each of the last three years. [200667]

Bridget Prentice: The number of unfilled permanent posts being filled temporarily is not recorded centrally and could be obtained only at a disproportionate cost. However, information on contractors, consultants and Agency staff excluding Public Sector Prison Service covering full-time and part-time vacancies or other posts engaged for more than six-months is reflected in the table as follows.

Ministry of Justice (excluding Public Sector Prison Service)—Contractors and Agency staff in posts in excess of six months over the past 3 financial years
Headcount
2005-06 2006-07 2007-08

Ministry of Justice’ Headquarters (former Department for Constitutional Affairs )

Contractor

1

0

7

Agency staff member

1

1

2

Ministry of Justice’ Agencies National Offender Management Service

Contractor

26

0

5

Agency staff member

17

13

17

Ministry of Justice’ Agencies Office of Criminal Justice Reform

Contractor

44

2

4

Agency staff member

2

3

0

Ministry of Justice total (excluding Public Sector Prison Service)

91

19

35

Notes:
1. The information held does not reflect these contractors, consultants and Agency staff filling permanent, vacant posts on a temporary basis.
2. The information reflects contractors, consultants and Agency staff excluding Public Sector Prison Service covering full-time and part-time vacancies or other posts engaged for more than six-months.

Electoral Register

Mr. Pickles: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice what evidence there is that a move to individual registration would increase under-registration of those who are legally entitled to vote. [203026]

Bridget Prentice: The only comparable evidence that a move to individual registration would increase under registration in Great Britain is what happened in Northern Ireland. The Electoral Commission report, ‘Electoral Registration in Northern Ireland’, published in 2004, found a decrease of 10 per cent. in the number of names included on the August 2002 register and the December 2002 register, equating to approximately 120,000 fewer names. Since this time the situation has
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improved, as demonstrated by ONS figures which confirm the number of electors for 2007 grew by 50,078 (4.7 per cent.) to 1,120,343 for parliamentary elections and by 50,857 (4.7 per cent.) to 1,125,935 for local government elections.

The report concluded that the system of registration could make it difficult for specific groups in society to access the electoral process. These included young people and students, people with learning disabilities and other forms of disability and those living in areas of high social deprivation.

Any new system of electoral registration in GB would need to be tailored to current circumstances, and in particular would need to address the challenge of under-registration in GB, where an estimated 3.5 million eligible electors are not registered to vote.

We are already committed to the principle of individual registration. But this would be a far-reaching reform, and it would need to be undertaken with great care—both to make sure a new system is robust, and to ensure that it properly tackles the problem of under-registration.

Our vision for electoral registration is clear: We want to protect the rights of every eligible person to participate in the United Kingdom's democratic process by ensuring complete, accurate and secure electoral registration.

Electoral Register: Information and Communications Technology

Mr. Pickles: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice whether the technical specifications of the Co-ordinated Online Record of Electors' database will allow the introduction of individual electoral registration. [203139]

Mr. Wills: Any work that is carried out in respect of individual registration will be done on its own merits, and is not reliant on the progress of the CORE Project.

A final decision as to the scope and specification of the CORE project will be made once an analysis of both the business and user requirements has been made. However, in accordance with good practice on the management of projects, any database that is developed will be, as far as is possible, capable of adapting to future requirements that may be anticipated.

Fraud: Elections

Mr. Gordon Prentice: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice how many prosecutions were brought against Commonwealth citizens for voting in UK elections when they did not have indefinite leave to remain in the UK in the last two years. [202922]

Bridget Prentice: Under the Representation of the People Act 1983, all Commonwealth citizens who are lawfully resident in the UK may vote in UK elections. It is a matter for local electoral officers to ensure they have included eligible persons on their electoral registers, and to take appropriate action where it is thought that electoral law has been breached. My Department does not hold central data on the numbers of prosecutions brought against persons voting at UK elections who are not eligible to do so.


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Land Registry Board: Pay

David Wright: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice what change in pay each member of the Land Registry Board received in each of the last five years, giving the percentage change in each case. [203160]

Mr. Wills: Pay for Land Registry staff in the Senior Civil Service (SCS), including Board members, is governed by a centrally determined pay system for which the Cabinet Office is responsible. Land Registry, along with all other departments and agencies, applies the pay system to its SCS members of staff in accordance with the guidance provided by the Cabinet Office. The level of SCS base pay awards and bonuses are recommended to the government each year by an independent review body, the Senior Salaries Review Body.

The following table, taken from the audited accounts of Land Registry’s annual report and accounts from 2002-03 to 2006-07, covers the gross salary and bonuses received during the financial year for each executive member of the Land Registry Board. In accordance with the Financial Reporting Manual issued by HM Treasury, Land Registry discloses the salary details of each director, including any allowances, in bands of £5,000. Presentation in this form is required in order to comply with the provisions of the Data Protection Act 1998.

As the answer is necessarily restricted to pay bands, providing percentage changes year on year for individual directors is inappropriate. The salary details of Land Registry directors for 2007-08 will be available in similar bandings when this year’s annual report and accounts has been audited. Copies will be laid before Parliament before the summer recess.

£ thousand
2002-03 2003-04 2004-05 2005-06 2006-07

Chief Land Registrar and Chief Executive

115-120

125-130

135-140

145-150

150-155

Deputy Chief Executive and Business Development Director

100-105

105-110

110-115

115-120

125-130

Director of Operations

80-85

95-100

100-105

110-115

120-125

Director of Legal Services

90-95

100-105

110-115

115-120

120-125

Director of Human Resources

65-75

75-80

80-85

85-90

95-100

Finance Director

75-80

80-85

80-85

85-90

90-95

Director of Information Systems

65-70

70-75

75-80

(1)35-40

90-95

(1)50-55

(1 )Reflects change in Director of Information Systems during year
Source:
Audited accounts for 2005-06

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