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7 July 2008 : Column 1218W—continued


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In May, the Department for International Development (DFID) provided £5 million in support of humanitarian initiatives. I have approved a further £20 million in response to the worsening humanitarian situation.

The severity of the situation is increased by the shortage of food available in the country. Other donors to Ethiopia are shipping cereal to the country, but this will not begin to arrive until late July at the earliest. DFID’s assistance therefore will fund emergency feeding programmes for the most vulnerable, especially children, until food availability improves.

DFID is also increasing its funding to the Government of Ethiopia’s Productive Safety Net Programme for chronically food insecure households bringing total for this year to £27 million.

Family Planning: Finance

Mr. Amess: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what payments his Department has made to (a) Marie Stopes International, (b) the International Planned Parenthood Federation and (c) the United Nations Population Fund for (i) abortion, (ii) family planning and (iii) other reproductive health services in 2007-08; how much is planned for 2008-09; what restrictions his Department places on the use of such funds; and if he will make a statement. [216347]

Gillian Merron: The Department for International Development (DFID) is unable to break down spending by (i) abortion, (ii) family planning, and (iii) other reproductive health services. However, DFID provided the following amounts to the organisations named;

In 2007-08 DFID provided £854,432 to Marie Stopes International (MSI) in support of 10 projects in developing countries to improve sexual and reproductive health services. The estimated disbursement figure for 2008-09 is expected to be about £700,000 for six projects.

In 2007-08 DFID provided £7.5 million of un-earmarked funding to the central budget of the International Planned Parenthood Federation (IPPF) and £20 million of un-earmarked funding to the central budget of the United Nations Fund for Population Activities (UNFPA) in 2007-08. Un-earmarked central funding carries no restrictions and enables IPPF and UNFPA to deliver their strategic plans, which include improving sexual and reproductive health services (including provision of safe abortion services where these are legal) and family planning, as agreed by their member states through their governing bodies. DFID's 2008-09 central budget contributions to IPPF and UNFPA are still being considered and will be announced soon.

DFID provided a further £2.050 million to IPPF towards the multi-donor funded Safe Action Abortion Fund (SAAF) and an additional £107,000 to IPPF in 2007-08 for a safe motherhood project in Asia which is now completed. DFID estimates a further £1.2 million will be allocated to IPPF for the SAAR in 2008-09.

DFID will also provide a total of £100 million between 2008-13 to support UNFPA's Global Programme to Enhance Reproductive Health Commodity Security. This will benefit the sexual and reproductive health needs of women and men in developing countries including access to life saving drugs and equipment to improve maternal health.


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G8: Overseas Aid

Mrs. Curtis-Thomas: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development (1) what steps are being taken by his Department to fulfil funding commitments made by the Government at the Heiligendamm Summit, with particular reference to the timetable for AIDS funding contributions; and what steps are being taken to encourage other G8 countries to contribute; [215483]

(2) what progress has been made in fulfilling the financial commitments relating to the £1.5 billion required for prevention of mother-to-child transmission of AIDS. [215484]

Gillian Merron: At the G8 summit in Heiligendamm in 2007, the G8 committed to scale up their efforts to achieve Universal Access to comprehensive HIV prevention programmes, treatment, care and support by 2010, including providing with other donors a projected $60 billion over the coming years for disease control and health systems. This includes a commitment of $1.5 billion for prevention of mother to child transmission (PMTCT) of HIV. The UK Government are working to encourage G8 colleagues to ensure previous summit commitments are implemented as a priority at the forthcoming G8 leaders’ summit in Japan on 7 to 9 July and to encourage G8 and other colleagues to contribute their share towards the goal of Universal Access.

In “Achieving Universal Access—the UK’s strategy for halting and reversing the spread of HIV in the developing world” the Government committed £6 billion to strengthen health systems and services over seven years to 2015, including PMTCT. In addition to this recent commitment, the UK Government have made a long-term commitment of £1 billion (2007-15) to the Global Fund to fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, a leading source of PMTCT funding.

The UK will continue to work with others to intensify international efforts to increase to 80 per cent. by 2010 the percentage of HIV-positive pregnant women who receive antiretroviral treatment, to reduce the risk of mother to child transmission, both in low income and high prevalence countries. The UK also helps to tackle HIV-related mother and child mortality and to prevent mother to child transmission of HIV through our support to health systems strengthening.

A copy of the updated strategy ‘Achieving Universal Access—the UK strategy for halting and reversing the spread of HIV in the developing world’ and supporting evidence paper have been placed in the Libraries of both Houses. These are also available on the Department for International Development (DFID) website:

Overseas Aid: Health Professions

Mr. Clifton-Brown: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what discussions he has had with (a) the Secretary of State for Health and (b) relevant stakeholders on the quality of the contribution to be made to aid efforts by healthcare workers volunteering on development and relief programmes. [208208]


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Gillian Merron: Department of Health (DH) and the Department for International Development discussed this topic extensively in relation to the Government's response to Lord Crisp's report, “Global Health Partnerships: The UK contribution to health in developing countries”. I have had meetings with Lord Crisp, my DH counterpart Dawn Primarolo, and the Tropical Health and Education Trust (THET), a key stakeholder. DFID and DH value long-term sustainable partnerships in the health sector, and consider there are significant opportunities for healthcare professionals to participate in international development.

As outlined in the Government response to Lord Crisp's report, DH is producing a framework for international development; this will update their “International Humanitarian and Health Work: Toolkit to support good practice” and be a guide for those considering developing country work. DFID and DH also commissioned an independent evaluation of links programmes between UK and developing country health organisations to identify what has worked well and good practice lessons. This will help inform the design of (i) a new funding scheme for links, and (ii) a Links Centre, which will include information for individuals wishing to volunteer for humanitarian work.

As this work is implemented both departments continue discussions with key stakeholders. For example, officials from both DFID and DH participated in the recent twentieth anniversary national health links conference organised by THET.

Sierra Leone: Politics and Government

Ms Keeble: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development how much funding his Department allocated to the National Democratic Institute for learning and development provision for parliamentarians in Sierra Leone in each of the last two years. [216778]

Gillian Merron: The Department for International Development (DFID) has currently allocated £300,000 to the National Democratic Institute (NDI) to work with the newly elected Parliament of Sierra Leone. This project, entitled “Strengthening the Parliament of Sierra Leone”, commenced in September 2007 and is due to be completed by the end of July 2008.

Work and Pensions

Child Poverty

14. Mrs. Hodgson: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what assessment he has made of the effectiveness of his Department's policies in reducing the number of children in poverty. [216464]

15. Phil Wilson: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what steps he plans to take to meet the Government's target of eradicating child poverty. [216465]

Mr. Timms: We have succeeded in arresting and reversing the rising trend of child poverty with 600,000 children lifted above the line in the past decade. On Budget Day we published ‘Ending child poverty: everybody's business’ setting out progress to date and the Government's strategy.


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Child/Pensioner Poverty

16. Mr. Chaytor: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what steps he plans to take to speed up the reduction of child and pensioner poverty. [216467]

Mr. Mike O'Brien: Since 1998-99 we have lifted 600,000 children and 900,000 pensioners out of relative poverty. We have announced measures that are estimated to lift around a further 500,000 children out of poverty and we will continue to tackle pensioner poverty by encouraging take-up of benefits, and through the commitments made in Pensions Act 2007.

Index-linked Pensions

17. Mrs. Riordan: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what the Government's time scale is for restoring index-linking of pensions with earnings. [216468]

Mr. Mike O'Brien: The Pensions Act 2007 provides a statutory requirement to uprate the basic state pension in line with average earnings. Our objective, subject to affordability and the fiscal position, is to do this in 2012 but, in any event, we are required to do this by the end of the next Parliament.

Pensioner Poverty

18. Mr. Walker: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what recent steps he has taken to alleviate pensioner poverty. [216469]

Mr. Mike O'Brien: Through targeted support and around £12 billion extra funding, we have lifted 900,000 pensioners out of relative poverty. We have raised the pension credit standard minimum guarantee by at least earnings in every year since its introduction, and the value of the safety-net we provide for the poorest pensioners has increased by over a third in real terms since 1997.

Welfare to Work Contracts

19. Derek Wyatt: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what steps he has taken to promote the availability of welfare to work programme contracts to voluntary organisations. [216470]

Mr. Timms: Many voluntary sector organisations have expertise in helping people overcome barriers and return to work. The Department's new commissioning strategy envisages a full role for them as subcontractors to prime contractors. We set up last month a Third Sector task force to advise on any further steps to ensure voluntary organisations can play a full role in welfare to work.

Disabled Children

20. Kerry McCarthy: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what proposals his Department is considering to improve the support given to parents of children with disabilities. [216471]


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Mrs. McGuire: In May 2007 ‘Aiming High for Disabled Children’, announced £370 million for short break services over the CSR period. In addition, as a result of the Carers' Strategy, we will be investing £255 million to support carers, including those with disabled children over the short term.

Child Support

21. Mr. Quentin Davies: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what recent estimate he has made of the number of outstanding Child Support Agency cases; and if he will make a statement. [216472]

Mr. Plaskitt: The Operational Improvement Plan is delivering impressive results on outstanding cases. Uncleared new scheme applications have fallen from 221,000 to just under 107,000. Uncleared old scheme applications have fallen from 65,000 to 27,000.

The Agency continues to clear more cases per month than it receives.

22. Miss McIntosh: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what recent representations he has received on child support issues. [216473]

Mr. Plaskitt: I received several representations on child support issues during the passage of the Child Maintenance and Other Payments Act. In particular, I received representations from One Parent Families/Gingerbread, Families Need Fathers, Resolution, and the Law Society of Scotland on a variety of issues that were debated in both Houses. This followed on from the consultation on the Government's response to Sir David Henshaw's review of Child Maintenance, where we received 191 responses, 33 of which were from stakeholder groups.

The new chair and Commissioner of the Child Maintenance and Enforcement Commission have also received representations and are actively working with stakeholders on the development of the reformed Child Maintenance system.

Departmental Service Delivery

Lynne Jones: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what steps he is taking to encourage innovative policy development by his Department's staff to improve service delivery. [216461]

Mr. Timms: All our agencies are committed to delivering a first class service to their customers. Jobcentre Plus, for example, is an acknowledged world leader.

To further improve our service, we are increasingly devolving the power to those best placed to deliver—giving control to customers, to advisers, to providers and to communities to help provide the service people deserve.

One way of ensuring this is to encourage provider organisations with whom we work to suggest innovative programmes—in effect giving them a right to bid—so that we can consider how best we might make use of their innovation and flexibility.


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Children: Maintenance

Mr. Touhig: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what estimate his Department has made of the number of Child Support Agency cases in arrears that will go uncollected in the next five years. [212701]

Mr. Plaskitt: The administration of the Child Support Agency is the matter for the chief executive. He will write to my right hon. Friend with the information requested.

Letter from Stephen Geraghty, dated 7July 2008:

Departmental Conferences

Mr. Hoban: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what the (a) scheduled date and (b) title was of each conference proposed to be hosted by his Department and its agencies which was cancelled before taking place in each of the last 10 years; and what costs were incurred in respect of each. [215167]

Mrs. McGuire: The information requested is not available centrally in the format requested and could be collected only at disproportionate cost.


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