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Northern Ireland Prison Service

Mr. Donaldson: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what support he has given to the establishment of a Prison Service Trust to assist the families of those who have served with the Northern Ireland Prison Service. [45968]

Jane Kennedy: I recognise the contribution that those in the Northern Ireland Prison Service have made during difficult times and I welcome the establishment of a Prison Service Trust.

I believe that the groups which have the greatest needs are dependent family members of murdered officers and officers who have died in service and officers who have retired due to ill health.

I have agreed to provide funding of £600,000 over a three-year period to assist in the work of the trust. Additionally I am providing the trust with accommodation, services and office equipment.

CULTURE, MEDIA AND SPORT

European City of Culture

Kevin Brennan: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport when she will announce the composition of the panel to choose the European City of Culture 2008. [51252]

Dr. Howells [holding answer 22 April 2002]: It is expected that my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State will announce the panel chair shortly, followed by the panel members in May.

Community Fund

Mr. McNamara: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport how much and what proportion of available moneys the Community Fund has allocated to black and ethnic minority organisations; what evidence he has collated on measures that the Community Fund has taken to promote (a) sustainability and (b) capacity building in the black and ethnic minority voluntary sector. [51783]

Mr. Caborn: Since its establishment in 1995, 11 per cent. of the Community Fund's grants have gone to the black and minority ethnic (BME) voluntary sector. During the financial year 2000–01, Community Fund made 1,183 grants to projects benefiting BME groups. This represents 12.1 per cent. of their total allocation. Of these, 47 grants, worth £8.6 million were made to projects designed to help capacity building in the BME voluntary sector.

The Community Fund's Strategic Plan for 2002–07 highlights the BME community as one of their priority beneficiary groups and includes revised funding policies which will encourage greater sustainability.

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INTERNATIONAL DEVELOPMENT

Departmental Report

Mrs. Humble: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development when she plans to publish her Department's 2002 departmental report. [52868]

Clare Short: DFID's departmental report for 2002 is being published today. It provides an overview of my Department's achievements during the past year. It shows how we are placing poverty reduction strategies at the heart of the development process and supporting developing countries in their efforts to address poverty. It also describes how we have responded to challenges such as events in Afghanistan.

During the past year important steps have been made to improve the effectiveness of the international system. Developing countries seized the opportunities presented at Doha to secure favourable commitments on issues such as agriculture and building developing countries' capacity to negotiate on trade issues. The recent UN conference on Financing for Development led to commitments by the European Union and the United States which will increase development assistance by $12 billion a year by 2006.

The report also shows the progress made against the targets in our 1998 and 2000 public service agreements which cover 1999–2000 to 2001–02 and 2001–02 to 2003–04 respectively, and our plans for allocating resources during 2002–03 to 2003–04.

Iraq

Mrs. Curtis-Thomas: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development if she will make a statement on the recent research which has been commissioned by her Department in connection with aid projects for Iraq. [51639]

Clare Short: It is a regular part of my Department's work to evaluate the impact of country programmes on an on-going basis. This includes the bilateral humanitarian programme for Iraq.

Malawi

Mr. Cox: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what aid is being given to Malawi; and if she will make a statement. [51643]

Clare Short: My Department has allocated £70 million in the 2002–03 financial year, making DFID the largest donor in Malawi. Assistance is concentrated on rural livelihoods, health, education and governance. There has been a substantial shortfall in the country's 2002 maize harvest due to unusually heavy rains and flooding last year. Since January, DFID has provided £4.6 million in food relief for distribution through local non- governmental organisations. We are helping Government with preparation of a medium term food security strategy and stand ready to provide more direct food aid when April/May harvest figures are clarified.

Afghanistan

Mr. Edwards: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development if she will make a statement on progress in ensuring that humanitarian aid reaches hospitals in Afghanistan. [51723]

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Clare Short: Despite three years of drought and 23 years of conflict, basic health facilities, including hospitals and clinics, continue to operate in Afghanistan with the support of the humanitarian community. The improving security in recent months has facilitated the delivery of increasing quantities of medical relief items into Afghanistan and their distribution to areas of the greatest need. This has included the recent vaccination of around 6 million Afghan children against polio, and the rehabilitation of health facilities through quick impact projects funded by my Department.

While immediate humanitarian needs remain a priority, the Afghan Interim Authority (AIA) has laid the foundations for a stronger health care system through the drafting of a National Development Framework, including a policy for reconstruction of the health sector, in partnership with the United Nations and assistance community. This focuses on equitable access to health care and will involve the construction of around 1,000 new health facilities around the country in coming months and years.

SOLICITOR-GENERAL

Private Finance Initiative

Mr. Bercow: To ask the Solicitor-General what the total external spending by her Department was on public-private partnership consultants in each of the last four years; how many full-time equivalent consultants were employed over this period; how many billed consultancy days there were per year; what the implied average cost of each PPP consultant was; how many consultancy firms were used by her Department over this period; and if she will make a statement. [43202]

The Solicitor-General: I refer the hon. Member to the answer I gave on 30 January 2002, Official Report, column 347W.

Mr. Bercow: To ask the Solicitor-General how many private finance initiative projects have been subject to refinancing after the contracts have been signed; and what has been the financial effect in each case. [50559]

The Solicitor-General [holding answer 18 April 2002]: None.

Creche Facilities

Mr. Bercow: To ask the Solicitor-General what creche facilities are provided by her Department; and at what cost. [44852]

The Solicitor-General [holding answer 25 March 2002]: None of the Departments for which the Attorney- General is responsible provides creche facilities.

Public Service Agreements

Mr. Bercow: To ask the Solicitor-General (1) what recent assessment she has made of whether the PSA target to increase the proportion of undisputed invoices paid in accordance with terms of 30 days from 96 per cent. to 100 per cent. by March will be met; [47816]

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The Solicitor-General [holding answers 10 April 2002]: Information about progress on PSA targets will be published in the Law Officers' 2002 departmental report.

Mr. Bercow: To ask the Solicitor-General (1) what recent assessment she has made of whether the PSA target to reduce accommodation costs per head in real terms by 10 per cent. by March will be met; [47885]

The Solicitor-General [holding answer 10 April 2002]: Information about progress on PSA targets will be published in the Law Officers' 2002 departmental report.

Mr. Bercow: To ask the Solicitor-General, what recent assessment she has made of whether the PSA target to increase the Serious Fraud Office caseload to 77 cases by March will be met. [47886]

The Solicitor-General [holding answer 9 April 2002]: Information about progress on PSA targets will be published in the Law Officers' 2002 departmental report.

Mr. Bercow: To ask the Solicitor-General what recent assessment she has made of whether the PSA target to reduce the average time from accepting a case and completing investigations to 17.5 months and to reduce the average length of the prosecution stage between transfer/committal and verdict to 16 months by 31 March will be met. [47887]

The Solicitor-General [holding answer 9 April 2002]: Information about progress on PSA targets will be published in the Department's 2002 departmental report.

Mr. Bercow: To ask the Solicitor-General what recent assessment she has made of whether the PSA target to improve sickness absence by 30 per cent. by 2003 will be met. [47884]

The Solicitor-General [holding answer 10 April 2002]: Information about progress on PSA targets will be published in the Law Officers' 2002 departmental report.


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