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29 Oct 2008 : Column 1158Wcontinued
Michael Gove: To ask the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families how many pupils eligible for free school meals took unauthorised absence in the last 12 months, broken down by national curriculum year group. 
Sarah McCarthy-Fry: It is not possible, given the amount of analysis required, to provide a response to this question within the timeframe required by Parliament. The requested information will be placed in the House of Commons Library shortly.
Mr. Hunt: To ask the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families on what dates the UK Council for Child Internet Safety has met; when it next plans to meet; and how often he expects the council to meet. 
Sarah McCarthy-Fry: The UK Council for Child Internet Safety was launched on 29 September by the Prime Minister, the Home Secretary, the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families, and the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport. All current members of the Council were invited to attend.
With a large and broad membership of over 100 organisations, most Council activity will be conducted through sub and working groups. These groups will consider cross cutting issues or take forward key commitments within the Byron Review Action Plan. The frequency with which these groups meet will be determined by their membership. This work will be overseen by the executive board, chaired by Home Office and DCSF Ministers, which is expected to meet around four times a year. Dates for the first and future meetings of the executive board are currently being considered.
It is currently anticipated that the full Council will meet once per year at the Prime Minister's annual summit for child internet safety. A date for the first summit is yet to be confirmed.
Mr. Keith Simpson:
To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what assessment his Department has undertaken of the effects of
UK-funded reconstruction and development projects in Afghanistan; what plans it has for such studies in the future; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr. Douglas Alexander: Department for International Development (DFID) assistance is helping the Government of Afghanistan to deliver positive results. Since 2002 the non-poppy economy has grown by an average of 15 per cent. per year, with overall growth up to 2005-06 standing at 42 per cent. The first parliamentary elections for 36 years were held in September 2005. 6 million children are now in school of which 35 per cent. of whom are girls. This is in comparison with 2001, when an estimated 1 million children were in school and very few were girls as they were denied education under the Taliban.
DFID assistance also impacts directly on local communities. We have committed £50 million (2003-10) to support elected Community Development Councils (CDCs). CDCs have delivered over 23,000 projects to date, chosen by locals, to improve water, roads, health and education. In 2006 alone the DFID-supported National Rural Access Programme improved 9,790 km of roads, connecting 2,800 rural villages.
DFID is currently developing a new third party monitoring and evaluation project to further increase our ability to assess the impact of reconstruction and development activities.
John Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what grants were given to the Karen Development Committee in Burma in each of the last five years; and what the purpose of each grant was. 
Mr. Michael Foster: The Department for International Development (DFID) has not made any grants to the Karen Development Committee (KDC) in Burma. During 2007 and January 2008, the KDC received support from a civil society project which DFID part-finances. That support ended in January this year.
John Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development whether (a) UN staff and (b) staff of his Department have unrestricted access to all areas of the delta region in Burma where UK-funded aid is being delivered. 
Mr. Michael Foster: The Department for International Development (DFID) and United Nations (UN) staff are required by the Burmese authorities to seek permission to visit the cyclone affected areas of the Irrawaddy Delta.
We understand that no request for permission for UN staff to visit the Irrawaddy Delta has been refused since the donor conference which took place in Rangoon on 23 May. Since then every request for staff from DFID to travel to the Irrawaddy Delta area has been granted except for one in June. DFID staff have made at least 12 field visits to different sites in affected areas, and have been able to meet freely with the United
Nations agencies and non-governmental organisation which have received DFID funds, as well as with the beneficiaries of our assistance in local communities.
John Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what discussions he has had with the Government of Burma on the lifting of aid restrictions in eastern and other parts of Burma. 
Mr. Michael Foster: In August, senior officials from the Department for International Development (DFID) visiting Burma encouraged Burmese Ministers to extend the humanitarian access allowed in the Irrawaddy Delta to the rest of Burma. Although such an extension has not yet been agreed, DFID officials have been able to travel recently to other parts of Burma, including Shan State. DFID officials will continue to make the case for improved humanitarian access throughout Burma when appropriate opportunities arise.
John Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what mechanisms are in place to monitor the response to Cyclone Nargis of these organisations or companies using funds allocated by his Department. 
Mr. Michael Foster: The Department for International Development (DFID) staff monitor the delivery of our response to Cyclone Nargis through field visits, reporting arrangements agreed with recipient organisations, and the annual audited statements of those organisations. A monitoring mission will spends three weeks in Burma in November reviewing the effectiveness of DFID-funded projects in the Irrawaddy Delta.
John Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development which sub-recipients and end recipients received UK relief aid following Cyclone Nargis in Burma. 
Mr. Michael Foster: The Department for International Development (DFID) does not hold records of all the sub-recipients and end recipients of our assistance. The final beneficiaries of UK relief aid following Cyclone Nargis are Burmese communities and individuals living in the Irrawaddy Delta.
John Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development which organisations have received funding from his Department to assist in the response to Cyclone Nargis in Burma. 
Mr. Michael Foster:
The following United Nations, international non-governmental organisations and other international bodies have received funding from the Department for International Development (DFID) to assist in the response to Cyclone Nargis in Burma: Action Against Hunger; Adventist Development and Relief Agency (ADRA); Agency for Cooperation and Technical Development (ACTED); Aide Médicale Internationale; Asian Disaster Preparedness Centre; Care; Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO); HelpAge; International Development Enterprises (IDE); International Labour Organisation (ILO); International Organisation
for Migration (IOM); Internews; Médecins sans Frontières (MSF); Merlin; UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA); Red Cross; Samaritans Purse; Save the Children; Solidarités; UN Habitat; United Nations Development Programme (UNDP); United Nations Childrens Fund (UNICEF); Welthungerhilfe; World Food Programme (WFP); World Concern; World Health Organisation (WHO); and World Vision.
DFID provided in-kind assistance such as plastic tarpaulins, mosquito nets, water containers and flat-bottomed boats to: Médecins sans Frontières; Merlin; Red Cross; Save the Children; and the World Food Programme.
DFID has also provided funding to nine Burmese community-based organisations providing humanitarian relief in the Irrawaddy Delta.
John Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development how much of the aid provided by his Department to alleviate the effects of Cyclone Nargis in Burma has been given to private companies for relief and reconstruction work; to which companies; and for what purpose. 
Mr. Michael Foster: The Department for International Development (DFID) has not contracted private companies to undertake relief and reconstruction work in Burma. Approximately £4.46 million of DFID's £45 million Cyclone Nargis relief aid has been spent on the purchase outside Burma (mainly from the private sector) and the delivery to Rangoon of relief materials such as plastic sheets, mosquito nets, water containers and flat-bottomed boats. DFID funding is also used by recipient UN and non-governmental organisations for the external procurement and delivery of relief materials, and in some cases for the purchase of materials from the private sector inside Burma. Most small scale reconstruction work, such as the repair of footpaths and jetties, is carried out by community-level cooperatives or individual labourers. DFID does not hold records of all the transactions made by the UN and non-governmental organisations which we fund.
DFID monitors relief activities through field visits, reporting from recipient organisations and audited statements. Organisations receiving grants from DFID are expected to adhere to the terms of the European Union Common Position on restrictive measures against Burma.
Mr. Andrew Mitchell: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development pursuant to the Answer of 15 October 2008, Official Report, columns 1339-40W, on departmental fraud, if he will place in the Library a copy of his Departments submission to HM Treasury for the 2007 Annual Fraud Report. 
Mr. Douglas Alexander: A copy of the Department for International Developments (DFID) annual fraud return will be placed in the Library.
Jenny Willott: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development how many and what proportion of civil servants in his Department are members of the (a) Classic, (b) Classic Plus, (c) Nuvos and (d) Premium civil service pension schemes. 
Mr. Ivan Lewis: The Department for International Development (DFID) currently has 1,640 staff who are eligible to join the civil service pension scheme arrangements. The following table shows the proportion of those staff who are members of the Classic, Classic Plus, Nuvos and Premium pension schemes.
|DFID staff who are members of pension scheme|
Jenny Willott: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development how many civil servants working in his Department have pensions with a cash equivalent transfer value of over £1 million. 
Mr. Ivan Lewis: It is not appropriate to disclose pension information for civil servants other than board members whose details are shown in the Remuneration Report in annual Resource Accounts. A copy of the Department for International Developments Resource Accounts for the financial year 2007-08 can be found in the Library or accessed electronically by the following link:
Mr. Andrew Mitchell: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development how many individuals his Department recruited from the fast stream through (a) the Central Departments option and (b) the Technical Development option in each of the last five years. 
Mr. Douglas Alexander: The number of all our current civil servants who were recruited through the fast stream, for each of the last five complete years (i.e. 2003 to 2007 inclusive), plus 2008 to date, are shown in the following table.
|Number of current DFID civil servants recruited to the fast stream||Generalist||Technical|
However, we do not have readily available information on the numbers specifically recruited via the (a) Central Departments option or (b) the Technical Development option, and this could be obtained only at disproportionate cost.
Mr. Jim Cunningham: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what steps the Government have taken to increase access to AIDS medication in developing countries. 
Mr. Ivan Lewis: At Gleneagles in 2005, the UK Government led efforts to secure the commitment of the G8 to the goal of universal access to HIV treatment by 2010. In 2007, the G8 committed to scale up their efforts to achieve Universal Access, including providing, with other donors, a projected $60 billion over the coming years. G8 leaders at their meeting in July this year reiterated their commitment to work towards the goal of universal access to HIV/AIDS prevention, treatment, care and support by 2010. The UK Government continue to push G8 colleagues to ensure they fulfil and implement previous summit commitments.
In June 2008, the UK Government made a commitment to spend £6 billion over seven years to 2015 to strengthen health systems and services which are essential to the provision of effective treatment. Subject to performance, the UK Government has also committed an additional £1 billion to the Global Fund for AIDS, TB and Malaria from 2008-15 and has made a 20 year commitment of up to €60 million per year by 2010 to the UNITAID drug purchase facility. Both play key roles in supporting countries to access high quality, affordable medicines for the treatment of HIV.
In addition, the UK Government has worked with pharmaceutical companies to develop a Good Practice Framework (2005) to help support access to medicines for the poor. The UK Government continue to support the right of developing countries to use, judiciously and where necessary, flexibilities available under international trade rules to ensure access to affordable, high quality medicines.
Mr. Jim Cunningham: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what steps the Government have taken to assist developing countries to meet the costs of AIDS medication. 
Mr. Ivan Lewis: The UK Government are committed to work with international partners to reduce drug prices and increase access to more affordable and sustainable treatment over the long term in developing countries. We are working with the World Health Organisation and others to develop a global procurement database that could yield cost efficiency savings of at least £50 million per annum, enough to fund medicines for an additional one million people every year.
The UK Government launched the Medicines Transparency Alliance (MeTA) in May. By disclosing information on the price, quality and availability of medicines, MeTA will help to increase public accountability and improve access to medicines, including HIV treatment. The UK Government have made a 20 year commitment of up to €60 million per year by 2010 to support the international drugs purchase facility, UNITAID. This will help reduce the cost of HIV treatment. This also includes exploring the possibility of a voluntary patent pool for antiretroviral drugs.
The UK Government support the use of generic medicines where patents have expired, or where there is no patent on the medicine concerned. We have consistently and strongly supported the right of developing countries to use flexibilities available under World Trade Organisation agreements to facilitate access to medicines. This includes using compulsory licences, which permit countries to produce or import generic versions of patented drugs.
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