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Planning Permission: Greater London

Harry Cohen: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government if she will make it her policy to intervene in planning applications which relate to development of areas in London in which war memorials are located. [253338]

Mr. Iain Wright: The Government's policy on the call-in of planning applications was set out by my right hon. Friend the Member for Sheffield, Central (Mr. Caborn) on 16 June 1999, Official Report, column 138W. The Government have no plans to alter this policy at this time.

Planning Permission: Parking

Robert Neill: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what planning policy guidance is in force in relation to the use of car parking charges in developments to encourage alternative modes of transport. [254767]

Mr. Iain Wright: Planning Policy Guidance note 13: Transport (PPG13), published in 2001, asks local authorities to use parking charges to encourage use of alternative modes of transport. Regional Transport Strategies should set out the longer term objectives, ensure consistency
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and avoid wasteful competition between locations. Within this framework, local authorities should set appropriate levels and charges for parking in their local transport plans that do not undermine the vitality of town centres. Local authorities can refuse permission for developments that are not in accordance with the policies set out in their plans.

Regional Spatial Strategies

Robert Neill: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what her (a) powers and (b) responsibilities are to (i) approve and (ii) amend the final versions of the integrated regional strategies. [253870]

Mr. Iain Wright: Part 5 of the Local Democracy, Economic Development and Construction Bill covers our provisions for regional strategies. The Bill is currently being considered in the other place. Clause 72 sets out the proposed powers and responsibilities of the Secretary of State in approving the regional strategy.

Zanzibar eProcurement Service

Justine Greening: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what proportion of her Department’s contracts with suppliers are handled through the Zanzibar eProcurement Service; and what estimate she has made of the resultant savings achieved in (a) 2006-07, (b) 2007-08 and (c) 2008-09. [252704]

Mr. Khan: Four of our supplier contracts are currently handled through the Zanzibar eProcurement Service. For Communities electronic purchase to pay systems are most suitable for low value high volume requirements and the department uses Zanzibar to handle stationery, IT consumables and temporary agency staff.

Savings from electronic purchase to pay systems were estimated, for the purpose of building a business case, at £41 for each transaction. Zanzibar provides catalogue hosting and management for our electronic purchase to pay systems. The future use of Zanzibar is currently being reviewed in the Department.

Justine Greening: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government (1) what estimate her Department has made of the potential annual saving which would result from the full-scale implementation of the Zanzibar eProcurement Service; [252705]

(2) what initiatives, procedures or training programmes her Department has to ensure the take-up of the Zanzibar eProcurement Service by (a) agencies and non-departmental public bodies within her Department and (b) local authorities. [252706]

Mr. Khan: The Department is currently reviewing the use of the Zanzibar eProcurement Service and there are no plans to roll out the service to its agencies and non-departmental bodies or local authorities.


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Women and Equality

Departmental Official Hospitality

David Simpson: To ask the Minister for Women and Equality what records the Government Equalities Office maintains of its expenditure on (a) official hospitality and (b) alcohol for official hospitality. [240464]

Maria Eagle: Information relating to the recording of hospitality expenditure is kept locally within the GEO's finance team and monitored by internal audit and externally by the National Audit Office. Expenses for hospitality can be claimed by GEO's director general and deputy directors in accordance with departmental limits. The provision of alcohol falls under the hospitality account. We maintain records of expenditure on this account.

Wales

Departmental Temporary Employment

Grant Shapps: To ask the Secretary of State for Wales how much has been spent by his Department on (a) agency and (b) temporary staff in each financial year since 2005-06. [251427]

Mr. Paul Murphy: Amounts spent by Wales Office on agency staff in each financial year since 2005 were:

£

2005-06

91,923

2006-07

19,808

2007-08

1,585


Amounts spent for temporary staff were:

£

2005-06

55,488

2006-07

8,332

2007-08

69,845


International Development

Departmental Manpower

Mr. Gerrard: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development how many staff have been employed in each of his Department's country offices in (a) 2006, (b) 2007, (c) 2008 and (d) 2009. [252755]

Mr. Ivan Lewis: Following the National Audit Office's October 2008 report on the Department for International Development's (DFID) work in insecure environments and improvements to the way DFID ensures the safety and security of its staff, the Department does not publicise staff numbers, or changes in staff numbers, for each country office.


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Developing Countries: Debts

Lynne Jones: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what measures his Department has put in place to ensure that new loans to poor countries do not result in unsustainable levels of debt, with particular reference to loans for initiatives to address (a) climate change and (b) food shortages. [253421]

Mr. Michael Foster: The UK has led international initiatives to resolve the debt problems of the poorest countries and is committed to ensuring that they do not reoccur. We have worked to:

One of our major responses to the challenge of climate change has been to set up the climate investment funds (CIFs). Low and middle income countries will benefit from these resources, and the CIFs will provide grants and concessional loans. For low income countries assistance will be consistent with the DSF.

DFID has committed £868 million in response to the food crisis. All of DFID's aid is given as grants and therefore does not contribute to debt accumulation. The World Bank allocated $1.2 billion (£840 million) to the global food crisis response programme. $200 million (£140 million) of this was in the form of grants for the poorest countries.

Development Aid

Lynne Jones: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what steps he is taking to ensure that the Government's policy on attachment of economic policy conditions to aid and debt relief is extended to multilateral lenders, with particular reference to the IMF and World Bank Heavily Indebted Poor Countries debt relief initiative. [253419]

Mr. Michael Foster: The UK's policy is clear that conditionality must not be used to impose policy on governments and that conditions should be limited to issues essential to ensure programmes are successful. The UK continues to press the World Bank and IMF to reform their conditionality practice in line with our approach and we have had some success. The World Bank has stopped using prescriptive conditionality and has adopted good practice principles on conditionality. These provide clear guidelines to staff and emphasise a need for country ownership and fewer conditions. The IMF also agreed to limit the number of conditions used, to justify each condition and focus on major macroeconomic issues.

The Heavily Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC) Initiative provides large scale irrevocable debt cancellation. It is therefore essential that we can have confidence that debt relief will be used in ways that will benefit poor people.
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Conditions are agreed with each country, focussing debt relief on poverty reduction, economic management and financial accountability. The UK has pressed the World Bank and IMF to ensure conditions reflect countries' priorities and are applied flexibly where appropriate. Several countries have received their debt cancellation without having met all triggers, but when strong overall progress had clearly been made.

Haiti: Debts

Lynne Jones: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development if he will support (a) Haiti's accelerated progress through the Heavily Indebted Poor Countries debt cancellation process and (b) a moratorium on Haiti's debt service payments. [253420]

Mr. Michael Foster: The International Monetary Fund (IMF) and World Bank anticipate that Haiti will complete the HIPC Initiative in the next few months, at which point it will receive irrevocable debt cancellation. The UK Government therefore do not believe an accelerated progress through the Initiative or a moratorium on debt service is required. Haiti has been receiving relief on its debt service since 2006 and is not making any payments to the UK Government.

The international community recognises the recent challenges Haiti has faced—hurricane damage, and high fuel and food costs—and has provided exceptional assistance. For example, the Inter-American Development Bank, the IMF and the World Bank have agreed additional assistance amounting to a total of $100 million (approximately £70 million).

Sri Lanka: Politics and Government

Mr. Hague: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development (1) what assessment he has made of the security and safety of people within the humanitarian space which has been designated by the government of Sri Lanka in the northern region of the country; [253347]

(2) what recent assessment he has made of the effect of the security situation in the northern region of Sri Lanka on the ability of humanitarian convoys to deliver assistance to those who are displaced. [253346]

Mr. Michael Foster: The security and safety of civilians in northern Sri Lanka, and their access to relief supplies is difficult to assess but causes great concern, especially following the Sri Lankan forces' recent offensive. We are extremely concerned at reports of civilian casualties within the designated safe zone and urge all parties to ensure the safety of non-combatants. We particularly deplore the recent shelling of a hospital.

We constantly monitor the situation through our high commission and other sources, supplemented by field visits by DFID humanitarian staff. We have recently programmed £2.5 million humanitarian funding through the UN, Red Cross and non-government organisations. We are sending another humanitarian mission in the next few weeks and have agreed a further £2.5 million humanitarian funding.


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The problem will not be resolved by funding alone. We are resolute in pressing for better humanitarian access for aid convoys and other relief within safe humanitarian space. The Foreign Secretary repeated this to President Rajapakse on 30 January.

Innovation, Universities and Skills

Adult Education: Numeracy

Michael Gove: To ask the Secretary of State for Innovation, Universities and Skills how many adult learners received basic numeracy skills qualifications under the skills for life funding scheme in each of the last five years, broken down by level of qualification. [251995]

Mr. Simon [holding answer 27 January 2009]: The following table shows LSC-funded Skills for Life achievements—the number of adult learners (aged 16+) achieving LSC-funded accredited Skills for Life numeracy qualifications in the 2004/05, 2005/06 and 2007/08 academic years. Information on Skills for Life achievements is not available prior to 2004/05.

LSC-funded accredited Skills for Life numeracy achievements, 2004/05 to 2007/06
2004/05 2005/06 2006/07 2007/08( 1)

Total numeracy achievements

243,500

326,400

359,500

386,800

Of which:

entry level

22,700

28,900

36,000

42,000

Of which:

Level 1

118,900

167,100

181,400

190,600

Of which:

Level 2

111,600

145,000

159,100

171,200

(1) Provisional
Notes:
1. Figures are rounded to the nearest 100, and may not sum to the total.
2. These figures include learners at Further Education Colleges (including learndirect), Work Based Learning (including apprenticeships, Train to Gain and entry to Employment) and Adult Safeguarded learning.

Building Colleges for the Future Programme

Mr. Hayes: To ask the Secretary of State for Innovation, Universities and Skills (1) how many applications for capital funding from the Building Colleges for the Future programme were made by (a) further education and (b) sixth form colleges (i) in the 2006-07 academic year and (ii) at the latest date for which figures are available; [254190]

(2) what capital expenditure from the Building Colleges for the Future programme in the (a) 2007-08 and (b) 2008-09 academic years has been allocated to (i) further education and (ii) sixth form colleges; [254191]

(3) how many projects relating to (a) further education and (b) sixth form colleges were affected by the moratorium on decisions on capital spending under the Building Colleges for the Future programme; [254192]


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