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10 Oct 2005 : Column WA1

Written Answers

Monday, 10 October 2005.


Lord Marlesford asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord Davies of Oldham: Her Majesty's Government have not received any specific proposals from Suffolk County Council regarding improvements to the A12 between Ipswich and Lowestoft.

A40: Headington Roundabout

Lord Goodhart asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord Davies of Oldham: This is a matter for Oxfordshire County Council which is the highway authority for the roads concerned.

Adult Literacy

Lord Trefgarne asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Education and Skills (Lord Adonis): Skills for Life Survey: A national needs and impact survey of literacy, numeracy and ICT skills (DfES, October 2003) provides the latest estimates of adult literacy levels across England. The survey assessed the literacy, numeracy and ICT skills of around 8,000 adults aged 16 and above in England.

The survey findings are shown in the tables below. The assessment levels correspond to the literacy national standards: these were introduced in 2000 to provide a framework for all adult screening tests, diagnostic tools, programmes of study and qualifications. Learners are assessed for levels of literacy from entry level 1 to level 2—and encouraged to progress from the lowest levels of literacy to level 2 (broadly equivalent to a higher grade GCSE (A*-C)).

Overall around 16 per cent. of adults had literacy skills below level 1.

Overall Literacy
Base: all respondents with literacy level (7874)

Percentage of 16 to 65 year-oldsNumber of 16
to 65 year-olds
Entry level 1 or below3%1.1 million
Entry level 22%0.6 million
Entry level 311%3.5 million
(All Entry level or below)(16%)(5.2 million)
Level 140%12.6 million
Level 2 or above44%14.1 million
100%31.9 million

Source: Census 01

Skills for Life survey, 2003

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A copy of the survey report is in the House of Commons Library and on the DfES website at

The department does not collect comparable information for Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

Aircraft Carriers

Lord Astor of Hever asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Defence (Lord Drayson): Given that both we and France are embarking on major, complex carrier procurement projects, we are examining areas of mutual benefit and opportunities to deliver economies. Co-operation through industry-to-industry links may offer potential benefits to both sides. It is for industry to put forward proposals which will be judged on their merits and in light of national policies.

A-Levels: General Studies

Lord Desai asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord Adonis: The information requested (where available) has been placed in the House Libraries.
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Armed Forces: Ammunition

Lord Garden asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord Drayson: The Ministry of Defence has met all the requirements for the provision of training ammunition to regular, reserve and cadet units in the past 12 months.

Asian Tsunami

Baroness Northover asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Lord President of the Council (Baroness Amos): DfID has allocated £65 million to meet reconstruction needs in the Tsunami affected region. To date, £41 million of this money has been committed, while the remaining £24 million of the allocation has not yet been programmed.

In Indonesia, the joint government/donor needs assessment undertaken shortly after the tsunami estimated damages and losses of around US$4.5 billion. The UK has committed £36 million to Indonesia, of which £6 million has so far been paid out to the Multi Donor Trust Fund.

In Sri Lanka, the total cost of reconstruction and rehabilitation is estimated to be some US$2.2 billion. Pledges of support in excess of US$3 billion have been secured, which is more than ample to meet the required needs. However, we are concerned that the magnitude of the reconstruction task might be beyond the capacity of local authorities in Sri Lanka to implement efficiently. We are therefore working with the Government and donors to develop programmes to augment the planning and implementation capacity of local government, and have allocated £2 million to meet the costs. In addition, DfID is meeting 10 per cent. of the cost of Sri Lanka's interest payments on their debt to the World Bank. This is worth some £41 million over the next 10 years. The government of Sri Lanka have agreed that the funds released will be allocated to tsunami recovery and poverty reduction programmes.

DfID provided £1.6 million towards the humanitarian and recovery effort in the Maldives but has not directly provided commitments towards reconstruction, as we do not have a bilateral programme in this country. However, we are working to encourage the EC to allocate more funding to the Maldives. We have also contributed to the financing of
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the World Bank and the Asian Development Bank. The World Bank has provided $14 million in financial support to the Maldives reconstruction and recovery programme, while the Asian Development Bank is providing an initial new assistance of $20 million in grants to help reconstruction and rehabilitation.

Baroness Northover asked Her Majesty's Government:

Baroness Amos: Aid in response to the tsunami is reaching all affected sections of the community in Indonesia. International donor and non-governmental organisations (NGOs) are working very closely with the Government of Indonesia (GoI) in responding to the areas of need, as identified by the GoI. Regular monitoring and reporting from the UN indicates that in a number of areas, and with the large resources available, recovery programmes are able to offer more than just meeting the basic needs.

The sheer scale of the devastation and its impact on the local administration and infrastructure placed many constraints on the delivery of the assistance in the early stages but the government of Indonesia's strong system of decentralised government and comprehensive planning approach has put the reconstruction efforts to the forefront. The establishment of a specific Agency for Reconstruction and Recovery is proving to be very effective and has recently approved over US$408 million for 96 programmes covering such areas as infrastructure, housing, education, health and economic development.

In Sri Lanka emergency assistance immediately after the tsunami was promptly provided to all affected communities. The government of Sri Lanka and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) co-operated effectively in the north and east. The absence of deaths from disease and serious illness in communities devastated by the tsunamis provides the clearest evidence of success. The Department for International Development (DfID) is currently undertaking a review and evaluation of the emergency response to substantiate this.

Gareth Thomas MP, Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State at DfID, visited Sri Lanka in June to assess the recovery effort. He found that, although reconstruction and recovery assistance is also reaching all affected communities, it is reaching some communities sooner than others.

There are several reasons for this. First, the size of the recovery programme is enormous and there are literally hundreds of non-governmental organisations implementing recovery programmes. Co-ordinating these programmes, ensuring consistency with government plans, and equitable delivery and standards across the island is an enormous task for the Sri Lankan authorities. There are limited administrative and technical resources and local
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government authorities are over-stretched. Inevitably there are bureaucratic delays and frustrations. Donors, including DfID are working with the Government to strengthen their administrative structures and to make the delivery of recovery programmes as efficient as possible.

In addition, in some districts of Sri Lanka, the availability of land is a major constraint and is delaying resettlement and recovery. To prevent damage from future tsunamis the government of Sri Lanka have forbidden any reconstruction or new construction within a buffer zone stretching 100 metres from the coast (200 metres in the north and east). Many people previously lived within this zone, and many schools and medical facilities were also situated there. It is proving difficult to secure alternative land where families can be relocated, and where schools and medical facilities can be rebuilt. As a result some people are having to remain in temporary accommodation longer than we all would wish. The situation is further complicated because many of the displaced families were illegally squatting before the tsunamis. DfID and other donors continue to encourage the government of Sri Lanka to be flexible and pragmatic in the application of the buffer zone regulation. In response, the government of Sri Lanka have commissioned an inquiry into the buffer zone and have indicated that they may consider flexible implementation where appropriate.

There has been concern that the lack of an agreement between the government of Sri Lanka and the LTTE on how to manage donor assistance was delaying the delivery of assistance to communities in areas contested by the LTTE. The recent agreement concluded between the Government and the LTTE (the Post-Tsunami Operational Management Structure, P-TOMS) provides a mechanism for ensuring that these areas have access to assistance. We are optimistic that the legal challenge to establishing the structure will be overcome and that it will be made operational in September.

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