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Mr. Stewart Jackson: To ask the Minister for Women and Equality what (a) primary and (b) secondary legislation has imposed new burdens on local authorities in relation to equality and diversity since 1997. 
This information could be provided only at disproportionate cost. However, the Government are committed to ensuring that all new burdens falling on local authorities are fully and properly funded. Any policy which increases the cost of providing local authority services is subject to the new burdens doctrine and, where appropriate, funding is provided through the formula grant system or through specific grants.
Maria Eagle: In March 2008, the Minister for Women and Equality announced a £1.1 million Special Fund to Rape Crisis Centres (members of Rape Crisis England and Wales). This was a targeted response to specific evidence from Rape Crisis England and Wales that their members faced financial difficulties. Following evidence from The Survivors' Trust, the terms of this year's £1.6million Special Fund have been expanded to ensure that members of both Rape Crisis (England and Wales) and The Survivors' Trust can apply.
The Special Fund and other central Government funds are provided in addition to local funding, for example from local authorities, health bodies and charitable trusts. The Government believe that local decision makers are best placed to assess local needs, and Government expect the majority of funding to the sexual violence voluntary sector to come from local sources.
Nevertheless, the Government recognise the ongoing problems experienced by the sexual violence sector, particularly in respect of accessing local funding. Officials across Government are working to consider what more we can do, based on the recommendations made by the Home Office's Stakeholder Advisory Group on Sexual Violence and Abuse Funding Sub-group.
My Department has commissioned a research project to help improve our understanding of the stability and sustainability of the violence against women voluntary sector, which includes Rape Crisis Centres (members of Rape Crisis England and Wales). We are keen to develop a robust evidence base to help Government better support this sector.
Mr. Thomas: The Government, through the Department for International Development, has received the following amounts of loan interest from developing countries in the financial years 2004-05 to 2007-08:
|Low income countries( 1)||Middle income countries( 1)||Total|
|(1) Developing countries has been interpreted to mean low income and middle income countries as currently defined by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Developments Development Assistance Committee.|
The majority of these amounts (92.7 per cent.) refer to middle income countries; the remainder is for low income countries (7.3 per cent.). A substantial proportion of these interest payments refer to a reducing debt portfolio of old investments by CDC.
Malcolm Bruce: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what plans he has to facilitate international support for the Global Framework for Action for water and sanitation in the next 12 months. 
Mr. Michael Foster: The Global Framework for Action was announced by my hon. Friend the Minister of State on behalf of the UK and the Netherlands, at the partnership event on water and sanitation, during the United Nations High-Level Event on the millennium development goals in September 2008. Since then, a number of steps have been taken to promote the Global Framework for Action.
DFID is now working closely with UNICEF, WHO, the World Bank, the African Ministers Council on Water (AMCOW), the Netherlands and others to refine the operational aspects of the Global Framework for Action. To this end, DFID is hosting a working meeting in May 2009 to address these issues in more detail and to help define a more detailed process for promoting and implementing the Global Framework for Action over the coming 12 months.
Mr. Steen: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development if he will assess the merits of increased use of satellite imagery to monitor the humanitarian conditions of those affected by natural disasters. 
Mr. Michael Foster: The Department for International Development (DFID) makes full use of UNOSAT, the UN programme which provides the international community with access to satellite imagery for use both in humanitarian relief and disaster prevention, on a day-to-day basis and in particular during humanitarian emergencies. For example, DFID used it to monitor the effects of Hurricane Ike and Cyclone Nargis.
Mr. Steen: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development if he will raise at the United Nations the potential for increased use of satellite imagery better to monitor the humanitarian situation of those affected by natural disasters. 
Mr. Michael Foster: The UN is already making increased use of satellite imagery to monitor humanitarian situations. The UN has developed the UNOSAT programme which provides the international community with access to satellite imagery for use both in humanitarian relief and disaster prevention.
Malcolm Bruce: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what priority is accorded to the provision of (a) water and sanitation and (b) health and education in his Departments decision-making processes on aid distribution. 
Mr. Michael Foster: The provision of water and sanitation and health and education are millennium development goals (MDGs). The UK Government are committed to achieving the MDGs and the Department for International Developments (DFID) Third White Paper stated that water and sanitation and health, education and social protection are essential services. The importance of improving these services is reflected in DFIDs commitment to spend at least half its bilateral financial support on them.
Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what aid he has made available to Sri Lanka for 2009-10; and to which projects such aid (a) has been and (b) is to be allocated. 
Mr. Michael Foster: Since September 2008, the Department for International Development (DFID) has allocated £7.5 million of humanitarian assistance to Sri Lanka. Of this, £1.96 million remains on hand to respond rapidly to needs on the ground.
In the 2009-10 financial year DFID has made available: £500,000 to the United Nations Childrens Fund for water and sanitation provision and child protection activities; £500,000 to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees for the emergency airlift of 5,000 tents for internally displaced persons; £550,000 to the United Nations Operations to provide 1,400 emergency shelters together with water and sanitation provision for at least 11,500 IDPs; and £650,000 to the International Organisation for Migration to establish, equip and staff 10 emergency mobile health clinics in IDP camps and provide emergency transport and logistics services.
Paul Rowen: To ask the Minister of State, Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform whether he has had recent discussions with the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government on the reduction of the decibel level of fireworks permitted under regulation 8 of the Fireworks Regulations 2004; and if he will make a statement. 
Dr. Starkey: To ask the Minister of State, Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform what steps his Department has taken to ensure that individuals or companies which market or sell within the UK properties in Israeli settlements in East Jerusalem, the West Bank or the Golan inform potential purchasers of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office's recently issued advice on the risks of such purchases; what steps the Government is taking to publicise that advice; and what steps the Government is taking to enforce the legal responsibilities of those who sell or market the properties. 
[holding answer 30 April 2009]: The Foreign and Commonwealth Office advises UK citizens that there are risks involved in purchasing property in Israeli settlements on land considered to be occupied under international law in East Jerusalem, the West Bank or the Golan. Prospective purchasers should be
aware that future peace deals could have consequences for properties purchased in these settlements. The advice is available on the FCO website.
Legislation specifically regulating the conduct of estate agents in the UK is not considered to apply to overseas property transactions. However, estate agents marketing overseas properties do have legal obligations to prospective purchasers under the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008. The Regulations oblige businesses not to mislead consumers through acts or omissions in their commercial practices. Failure to inform prospective purchasers of the risks involved in purchasing properties in the settlements could potentially amount to a misleading omission under the Regulations where this was likely to cause the average consumer to make a different choice. The Regulations are primarily enforced by local trading standards departments.
Chris Bryant: Because the Office of the Leader of the House of Commons joined the Cabinet Office in June 2007 separate figures are not available for expenditure on furniture in the Leader of the Houses Office.
Andrew Rosindell: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department which departments participate in the inter-departmental group on the replacement, refinement and reduction of animals in research established by her Department; and if she will make a statement. 
Mr. Malik: The Group is led by Home Office officials and has members from the Department of Health, the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, the Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform, the Food Standards Agency, the Health and Safety Executive, the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency, the National Centre for the Replacement, Refinement and Reduction of Animals in Research, the Health Protection Agency, the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory, the Veterinary Medicines Directorate and the Pesticides Safety Directorate.
Andrew Rosindell: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what mechanisms the inter-departmental group on the replacement, refinement and reduction of animals in research (3Rs) uses to ensure that other UK regulatory bodies take account of progress made in relation to the 3Rs. 
Mr. Malik: The Inter Departmental Group on the 3Rs (IDG3Rs) was originally established by the Home Office to improve the application of the 3Rs and promote research into alternatives, reduce the need for toxicity testing through better sharing of data, and encourage the validation and acceptance of alternatives.
The group is one of the key mechanisms by which government policy and practice with respect to the scientific validation of alternative methods is co-ordinated by officials. The group also provides a means for Government Departments and Agencies to work with the National Centre for the Replacement, Refinement and Reduction of Animals in Research (NC3Rs).
As part of its work, the group ensures that the United Kingdom representative to the European Centre for the Validation of Alternative Methods (ECVAM) Scientific Advisory Committee (ESAC) is briefed in advance of meetings and that developments at ESAC and ECVAM are given due weight by Government Departments and regulatory agencies. Information on the validation of alternative methods within Europe is provided through the United Kingdom representative to ESAC. Relevant papers are distributed to members of the group as soon as they become available.
Andrew Rosindell: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what proportion of Government funding for the National Centre for the Replacement, Refinement and Reduction of Animals in Research was provided by her Department in the last 12 months. 
Mr. Malik: In 2007-08, the latest year for which accounts are available, the Home Office provided £250,000 towards the funding of the National Centre for the Replacement, Refinement and Reduction of Animals in Research (NC3RS). This represented 9.5 per cent. of total Government funding for the centre. The Home Office has also provided £250,000 funding in 2008-09 and 2009-10.
Mr. Oaten: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many asylum seekers have been waiting 12 months or more for a decision on their case; and how many of these (a) have sought permission to work and (b) have been granted permission to work under the provisions of the 2003 EU Reception Directive. 
The United Kingdom Border Agencys asylum targets are based on case conclusion times and the agency is committed to fully concluding 90 per cent. of new asylum applications within six months by the end of 2011.
Fiona Mactaggart: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many female asylum seekers were interviewed with their children present during the first or subsequent substantive interview in (a) 2007-08 and (b) 2008-09. 
Mr. Woolas: The UK Border Agency does not record statistics in relation to the attendance of mothers with their children during the substantive interview on any of our internal databases. The information could be obtained only at disproportionate cost through the examination of individual case files.
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