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James Purnell: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development how much in (a) overseas aid and (b) debt relief assistance has been spent per year on Bangladesh by the Government since 1997. [55475]

Clare Short: The Bilateral Development Assistance and Debt Relief for Bangladesh since 1997 was:


Bilateral development assistance39,07867,36171,79476,920
Of which was debt relief5594432920

In addition the UK contributes development assistance via multilateral organisations. The estimated contribution for Bangladesh is as follows:

Year£ million

James Purnell: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development how the Commonwealth debt

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initiative aided (a) Bangladesh and (b) other moderately- indebted countries; and what future plans the Government have to extend debt relief to Bangladesh. [55476]

Clare Short: The Commonwealth debt initiative does not apply to Bangladesh. The initiative was launched in 1997 to cancel aid debts of poorer Commonwealth countries who are committed to international development targets. Bangladesh had already had its UK aid debts written off under retrospective terms adjustment prior to that date.

Aid debt worth about £50 million has been written off under the Commonwealth debt initiative for middle- income countries largely in the Caribbean.

There are no plans to extend debt relief to Bangladesh since Bangladesh's current external debt burden is sustainable. But Bangladesh received £773.88 million in aid, of which £68.28 million came from the UK in 2000 (the latest year for which figures are available).

Sick Leave

Mr. Heald: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development how many days of sick leave were taken in her Department last year; how many related to employees suffering (a) stress and (b) other mental health problems; and what the cost was to her Department. [56479]

Clare Short: 8,399 days were taken in the year 2000, the last year for which published figures are available.

Information on sick leave is not held by these precise categories but can be provided in terms of staff suffering from stress related illnesses generally. The number of days lost in 2000 in this category was 1,277.

Information on costs is not readily available and could not be obtained without disproportionate cost.

Primary Education

Paul Goggins: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what proportion of her budget is allocated for the provision of primary education in developing countries; and if she will make a statement. [56440]

Clare Short: I refer my hon. Friend to the answer given to the hon. Member for Ceredigion (Mr. Thomas) on 7 February 2002, Official Report, column 1067W.

Disclosure of Interests

Mr. Paul Marsden: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what rules apply to the disclosure of interests on the part of those serving on public bodies which are responsible to her Department. [56458]

Clare Short: The holders of public appointments which are the responsibility of my Department have been advised of the requirements contained in the Cabinet Office Model Code of Practice for Board Members of Advisory Non-departmental Public Bodies which require declaration of any such interests and withdrawal from any discussion of matters in which they have an interest.

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Humanitarian Assistance (Middle East)

Angus Robertson: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development (1) what meetings have taken place since 1 April between members of the British diplomatic staff in Israel and Israeli officials, with regard to securing the safe delivery of humanitarian aid to the Palestinian territories occupied by the Israeli Defence Force; what the outcome of these meetings was; and if she will make a statement; [55157]

Clare Short: In parallel with representations by Ministers and those made to Israeli officials by British diplomats in the UK, the British ambassador has on the instructions of my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary raised our concerns about the safe delivery of humanitarian medical aid to those in need. The Israeli response has not been satisfactory. It is still not certain that the humanitarian agencies have unrestricted access to the affected areas. Israeli forces have obligations under international humanitarian law to allow these agencies to do their work in the Occupied Territories.


Mr. Peter Ainsworth: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what measures were taken to ensure the use of sustainable timber in procuring timber for the refurbishment of 1 Palace street; and if she will make a statement. [56038]

Clare Short: The contractual documentation required all such procurement to be carried out in accordance with standards set by the Building Research Environmental Evaluation Assessment Methodology (BREEAM) in relation to materials and the environmental implications of materials selection.

The background to this is that a small section of our new headquarters is grade 2 listed, and was built in 1861. It contains sections of mahogany doors and panelling. Under planning regulations we were required, when refurbishing the building, to match the appearance of the existing finishes. In order to do so the contractor obtained a quantity of Sapele wood veneer from F. R. Shadbolt and Sons, for use in this area of the building. Shadbolts are founder members of the WWF 1995+ group, a timber and timber buyers group set up by WWF for the purpose of improving forest management. The Sapele veneer supplied by Shadbolts came from existing stocks, bought in 1983, and which, with the consent of WWF, they are allowed to continue to supply.


UN Convention on the Rights of the Child

Mr. McNamara: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills if she will list the non-governmental

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organisations consulted in drawing up the Second UK Periodic report under the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. [53773]

Mr. Denham: Although non-governmental organisations were involved in drawing up the Second UK Periodic report, it has not been possible to locate records of the full list of those consulted following the transfer of responsibility for this between Departments.

Teachers' Pensions

Mr. Jim Cunningham: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills if the teachers' pension index is linked; and if she will make a statement. [55730]

Mr. Timms: Teachers' Pensions, in common with all other public service pensions, are increased in line with the Retail Prices Index. The increase for the current financial year, as specified in the 2002 Pensions (Increase) Review Order, is 1.7 per cent.

Services for the Deaf

Mr. Jim Cunningham: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills how many teachers are able to teach deaf children; and how many are able to teach using sign language. [55335]

Mr. Timms: My Department does not hold these statistics centrally. However we understand, from an exercise undertaken by the British Association of Teachers of the Deaf (BATOD) in January 2000, that, at that time, there were approximately 1,800 qualified teachers of the deaf in England and approximately 200 in training.

Mr. Jim Cunningham: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what measures are in place to ensure that deaf students are able to continue their education to the level of their choice. [55336]

Margaret Hodge: The Government are committed to ensuring that everyone has the opportunity to go as far as their talents and efforts will take them. The Learning and Skills Act 2000 sets out the statutory provision for the assessment of young people with learning difficulties and disabilities and the Connexions Partnerships will deliver that requirement. From April 2002, where a Connexions Partnership is not operational, the local careers service is required to draw up action plans for all statemented young people who are in their final year of compulsory schooling and who intend to leave school for further education or training. From the academic year starting September 2002, Connexions Partnerships, where operational, will be expected to conduct assessments for all young people with learning difficulties and disabilities (whether or not they have statements) who are in their last year of compulsory schooling, who are over compulsory school age but under 25, or if they are receiving or are likely to receive post-16 education or training or higher education.

Under the Learning and Skills Act 2000, the Learning and Skills Council (LSC) has a specific responsibility to help young people and adults with learning difficulties and/or disabilities (LDD). For those learners who wish to pursue a programme of further education, the LSC provides funding to enable colleges to provide the learning support necessary to ensure individual learners have access to their chosen programme of study, for

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example, to provide a signer to support a deaf/hearing impaired learner. Where learning needs are more complex or specialised, the LSC will work with Connexions and other agencies to secure appropriate boarding accommodation as part of a much broader learning package. Although most young people with learning difficulties should find their educational needs can be met locally, some will need to be placed in specialist colleges away from their home area. Connexions Partnerships can make flexible arrangements in the best interests of young people so that someone at a specialist college may be supported by a personal adviser from either their home or host area. We will ensure that Connexions and the LSC work together with learning providers, social services departments, health authorities and other support agencies, to ensure that young people with profound and complex learning difficulties have access to an appropriate mix of personal care and learning provision.

The Government have also demonstrated their commitment by introducing Part IV of the Disability Discrimination Act (DDA) 1995 as amended by the Special Educational Needs and Disability (SEND) Act 2001. From September 2002, it will be unlawful for bodies responsible for the provision of further education, higher education, adult and community learning and youth services to discriminate against disabled students or other disabled people by treating them less favourably than others. The Act covers everything from physical disability, hearing and visual impairment, to mental health problems and dyslexia. The Government have made £172 million available over 2002–04 to support the implementation of the Act; this will enable responsible bodies to raise awareness of and make any adjustments necessary to meet the needs of disabled people. Additional funding, guidance and support will be made available through organisations such as the Disability Rights Commission, the LSC and the Higher Education and Funding Council for England.

Financial support is also available for learners with learning difficulties and/or disabilities to complete their studies via their school, Connexions/careers service, college or university.

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