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Ministerial Policy Advisers: Codes of Practice

Mr. David Jones: To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster what guidance he issues to special advisers on compliance with the provisions of the Civil Service Code in respect of online participation. [219608]

Mr. Watson: I refer the hon. Member to the answer I gave to my hon. Friend the Member for Blaydon (Mr. Anderson) on 18 June 2008, Official Report, column 929.

International Development

Africa: Food Aid

Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development how much the World Food Programme’s programme of food aid to Africa has cost in each of the last 10 years; and what his Department’s contribution to the programme was in each year. [219130]

Gillian Merron: The following table shows how much the UN World Food Programme’s (WFP) food aid programmes in sub-Saharan Africa cost over the last 10 years and the Department for International Development's (DFID) direct bilateral contributions in each year.

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Million USD

Expenditure DFID contributions




































n/a = Not available.

The DFID contributions shown do not take account of significant UK funding to WFP through the following multilateral channels:

The European Commission

The UN C entral Emergency Response Fund

Pooled funds

Departmental Research

Bob Spink: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what proportion of his Department's budget was spent on research in each of the last 10 years. [218067]

Mr. Malik: The proportion of Department for International Development (DFID) Programme expenditure used for research in each of the last 10 years is shown in the following table:

Table 1: Proportion of DFID programme expenditure used for research since 2002-03

Programme expenditure (Percentage)





















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Developing Countries: Land

John Battle: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what assessment his Department has made of those regions which will be worst affected by land degradation between 2008 and 2015; and if he will make a statement. [218027]

Mr. Thomas: The Department for International Development (DFID) does not undertake its own assessment of regions that will be worst affected by land degradation. However, we work closely with organisations, funded by DFID, that have expert capacity in this area (such as the International Institute for Environment and Development). We also draw on recent international assessments; for example, the Food and Agricultural Organisation's Global Assessment of Land Degradation and Improvement (GLADA) that was released on 2 July. Based on quantitative analysis, and use of satellite imagery, this identifies southern Africa, Burma, Malaysia, Indonesia and south China as areas particularly affected by degradation. 1.5 billion people depend on degrading areas for their livelihoods. The 2007 United Nations Environment Programme's Global Environmental Outlook 4 (GEO-4) included an assessment of land degradation and concluded that demands on land resources and risks to sustainability are likely to intensify.

Better land management can prevent and reverse degradation leading to improved agricultural production and availability of other resources such as forest products. The recent GLADA provides positive examples of land improvement such as land reclamation in north China. DFID has worked with the World Bank in its projects to better manage land and reduce poverty in the degraded and remote Loess Plateau region of north China. The World Bank funded improved land use and erosion control, boosting incomes for farmers, with DFID assistance focused on improved benefits for the poorest.

Overseas Aid

Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what models his Department uses to project the effects of (a) food shortages, (b) fuel price increases, (c) climate change and (d) water distribution issues in developing countries; and what contribution such modelling makes to the process of policy formulation in his Department. [218506]

Mr. Douglas Alexander: The Department for International Development (DFID) relies on estimates made by credible and expert international development organisations and research institutions. In particular:

DFID development policies and assistance are formulated mainly at country level. Information from models feeds directly into our development policies, for example we use climate models to propose actions to reduce climate related risks to partner countries and DFID programmes, to estimate the costs to developing countries of moving to a low carbon global economy and inform the UK position at the climate negotiations.

Somalia: Overseas Aid

Mr. Keith Simpson: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what recent reports he has received on the situation of British aid workers in Somalia; and whether all British aid workers known to be working in Somalia are accounted for. [218323]

Gillian Merron: The UK Government work in close liaison with the Somalia non-governmental organisation (NGO) consortium who maintain a register of all international aid workers present in Somalia. They also circulate frequent security reports which highlight any incidents involving international aid workers.

One UN-contracted British aid worker was kidnapped on 1 April 2008. The UK Government are working with United Nations (UN) authorities to secure his release. Otherwise all British aid workers are accounted for under the auspices of the Somalia NGO consortium and UN agencies. The UK Government have no resident presence on the ground and any staff visits are subject to rigorous security clearance.

Zimbabwe: Sanitary Protection

John Mann: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what steps his Department is taking to help women in Zimbabwe access sanitary protection. [219413]

Gillian Merron: The problem of sanitary provision in Zimbabwe is part of the wider political and economic crisis which has led to an acute shortage of basic and essential goods.

The Department for International Development's (DFID) current programme of assistance aims to protect the livelihoods of more than 1.5 million poor people in Zimbabwe, tackle HIV/AIDS, and help meet humanitarian needs. Although there is no specific allocation, some of our NGO partners are providing sanitary products to girls and young women as part of a £22 million programme of support to orphans and vulnerable children. Our £5 million programme with the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) to support internally displaced people and deportees is also providing sanitary wear in non-food emergency packs. To date 2,092 female victims of the recent wave of political violence have received sanitary wear from IOM.

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Double Taxation

Jim Cousins: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how many reports he received under the terms of each double taxation agreement with a non-EU tax jurisdiction in each of the last five years. [219800]

Jane Kennedy: HM Revenue and Customs does not release statistics on the number of exchanges of information with individual countries and territories, as release of this information may be detrimental to tax enforcement and the operation of the relevant arrangements under which the information is exchanged.

Excise Duties: Fuels

Dr. Kumar: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will reduce levels of fuel tax. [219844]

Mr. Darling: I am postponing the 2p per litre increase in fuel duty that was planned to take place on 1 October 2008 to support motorists and businesses in the face of sharp rises in world oil prices.

This means that main road fuel duty rates will remain at 50.35p per litre after 1 October this year. The duty is 17 per cent. lower in real terms than in 1999.

Consequential increases in road fuel gases, biofuel duty rates and rebated oils rates will also be postponed.

Postponing the planned increase in fuel duty is consistent with the Government's commitment to support the Bank of England in maintaining low inflation.

Investment Income Surcharge

Jim Cousins: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will estimate the income to the Exchequer in 2007-08 had an investment income surcharge of the form in existence until 1983 been in place. [219777]

Jane Kennedy: Applying a surcharge of 15 per cent. to individuals’ investment income above an exemption limit of £19,000 would yield around £4.9 billion in respect of the 2007-08 tax year, although most of this income would not be received until the following year.

Minimum Wage

Mr. Laws: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what assessment he has made of the effect of the minimum wage on (a) child poverty, (b) pensioner poverty and (c) poverty in working age households without children in each year from 1997 to 2008; and if he will make a statement. [218286]

Jane Kennedy: Since its introduction in 1999 the national minimum wage has increased by 59 per cent. It has helped to narrow the regional pay gap and had a positive effect on the earnings gap of disadvantaged groups such as workers with disabilities, women (around two thirds of the workers who stand to benefit from the October 2008 rise are women) and certain ethnic minorities. Through the introduction of tax credits and the NMW, this Government provided a minimum income guarantee for the first time. In October 2008 this will guarantee that every family with one child and one person working
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35 hours a week will receive a minimum income of £295 per week. For the similar families without children, this figure is £225.

National Insurance Contributions: Females

Steve Webb: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will place in the Library a copy of the flyer that employers were asked to pass to married women with their pay slips in the 1970s with an election to pay the reduced rate of national insurance, to inform them about the phasing out of the reduced rate contribution. [219778]

Jane Kennedy: Copies of all the extant documentation relating to this matter were placed in the House of Commons Library in 2003—20 January 2003, Official Report, column 86W.

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