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31 Oct 2002 : Column 952W—continued

World Food Programme (Africa)

Mr. Simon Thomas: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what contribution her Department has made to (a) the World Food Programme for Saharawi refugees and (b) the additional appeal by the WFP for funding for Saharawi refugees in the last year. [77399]

Clare Short: DFID has not contributed directly to the World Food Programme (WFP) funding for Saharawi refugees. Our assistance to the Saharawi refugees is channelled through contributions to the European Community Humanitarian Office (ECHO). A new global plan agreed by the EC in May will provide Euro14.34 million of assistance to the Saharawi refugees over a 15-month period. The total assistance provided since 1993 is over Euro95 million, including over Euro79 million in food aid co-ordinated by ECHO, the office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and the WFP. ECHO works in close co-ordination and

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co-operation with the WFP to provide basic food items to the Saharawi refugees. 19 per cent. of ECHO funding comes from my Department's budget.


Mr. Randall: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what organisations she met on her recent visit to Yugoslavia; and with whom she had discussions. [77295]

Clare Short: I visited Belgrade on 7 October 2002, to meet with various Republic of Serbia and Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (FRY) representatives; I then flew to Pristina to have meetings with Kosovo and UN representatives, returning to the UK on 9 October. Meetings held were as follows:

Separate meetingsRoundtable discussions
Vojislav Kostunica, FRY President
Miroljub Labus, FRY Deputy Prime Minister
Goran Svilanovic, FRY Foreign Minister
Goran Pitic, Serbian Minister for International Economic Relations
Rory O'Sullivan, Head of the World Bank Office, Belgrade
Richard Zink, Director European Agency for ReconstructionGordana Matkovic, Serbian Minister of Social Affairs
Dragan Milovanovic, Serbian Minister of Labour and Employment
Aleksandar Vlahovic, Serbian Minister of Economy and Privatisation
Dejan Popovic, Serbian Deputy Minister of Finance
Gordana Lazarevic, Assistant Minister, Serbian Ministry of International Economic Relations
Discussion with DFID funded consultants on Privatisation, Banking, Social Policy and Justice projects
Ibrahim Rugova, President of Kosovo
Bajram Rexhepi, Prime Minister of Kosovo
Charles Brayshaw, Principal Deputy Senior Representative of the Secretary General, United Nations Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK)
Richard Zink (Director), Michael Doyle (Head of Programming) and Thierry Bernard-Guele (Head of Operations), European Agency for ReconstructionJean-Christian Cady, Deputy Special Representative for UNMIK Pillar One (Police and Justice)
Gerard Fischer, UNMIK Pillar Two (Civil Administration)
Freidhelm Frischenschlager UNMIK Pillar Three (Institution-Building)
Andy Bearpark, Deputy Special Representative for UNMIK Pillar Four (Reconstruction)
Other donors:
Sidi Boubacar (World Bank), Earl Gast (USAID), Robert Piper (UNDP), Peter Rondorf (German Office), Anna Maria Madsen (Danish Ministry of Foreign Affairs), Tamara Sorger (CIDA), Christoffer Sjoholm (SIDA) and Valerie Sluitjer (Netherlands Office)
Young Kosovar Representatives:
Arianit Shehu (National Democracy Insitute), Jetemir Balaj (Forum(NGO), Arieta Emra (British Council), Leon Malazogu (Kosovo Civil Society Foundation), Albin Kurti (student leader) Jehona Gjurgjeala (KACI(NGO), Fisnik Abrashi (Chevening Scholar), Tanja Martic (OSCE) and Vladimir Josifovic ('Just Do It'(NGO)

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Firefighters' Strike

Mr. Evans: To ask the Parliamentary Secretary, Lord Chancellor's Department what preparations he has made to ensure the safety and continuity of service to the public in the event of a firefighters' strike. [77668]

Ms Rosie Winterton: I refer the hon. Member to the answer given by the Minister for Local Government on 28 October 2002, Official Report, column 527W.

Public Guardianship Office

Mr. Edwards: To ask the Parliamentary Secretary, Lord Chancellor's Department if the Public Guardianship Office public service agreement contains assurances about the time it would normally take to deal with cases; and if he will make a statement. [77774]

Ms Rosie Winterton: The Public Guardianship Office (PGO) has Service Delivery Agreement targets, (SDAs) supporting the Lord Chancellor's Department Public Service Agreements (PSAs).

The PGO's targets are as follows:

The PGO is on course to meet these targets.

Service to the Community

Dr. Naysmith: To ask the Parliamentary Secretary, Lord Chancellor's Department what steps he is taking to encourage employers to enable employees to undertake service to the community for magisterial and other duties without being out of pocket; and if he will make a statement. [78322]

Yvette Cooper: Many employers view service as a magistrate as a valuable contribution and allow their employees paid time off to undertake their duties. Where magistrates do not receive paid time off they can claim a financial loss allowance linked to average gross earnings. The LCD is working with the Magistrates Association, with whom it has produced a guide for employers, and through local Advisory Committees, who are in touch with businesses in their area, to encourage employers to support staff who wish to serve the community in this way

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Women Entrepreneurs

32. Mr. Huw Edwards What she is doing to increase the number of women setting up their own businesses. [76452]

Ms Hewitt: The Cross-cutting Review of Government Services for Small Businesses, published earlier this month, reinforced our commitment to encourage more women entrepreneurs. Yesterday I attended the launch of Prowess, an organisation promoting women's enterprise, which is supported by the Small Business Service's Phoenix Fund. The SBS is working with Prowess and key Departments to develop a strategic framework to foster women's enterprise.

Race and Employment Directives

34. Joan Ruddock: If she will make a statement on the implementation of the Article 13 Directives on Race and Employment and the feasibility study on a single equality body. [76454]

Ms Hewitt: My hon Friend the Member for Hornsey and Wood Green (Mrs. Roche) last week published a summary paper setting out the Government's plans to take forward implementation of the Race and Employment Directives, and a consultation paper on creating the right framework to support equality legislation.

Equal Pay

33. Michael Fabricant: What proportion of her time was spent over the last month on the pay gap between the sexes. [76453]

Ms Hewitt: In the last month I have launched the public consultation on the Equal Pay Questionnaire. My hon Friend the Member for Hornsey and Wood Green (Mrs. Roche) and I have hosted the first annual Castle Awards ceremony, which recognised steps taken by employers to address issues of pay inequality. Because the provisions of appropriate childcare for working parents can help in closing the gender pay gap, I have also been working with my noble Friend the Baroness Ashton of Upholland and colleagues in other Government Departments on developing a delivery plan for childcare.

35. Mr. Kidney: To ask the Minister for Women what plans she has to introduce legislation to enforce equal pay by criminal law sanction. [76455]

Ms Hewitt: I have no plans to enforce equal pay by criminal law sanction. Since the Equal Pay Act was introduced in 1970 the pay gap has reduced from 37 per cent. to 19 per cent. today.

We have amended the law to provide for equal pay questionnaires and every Government Department and Agency is conducting an Equal Pay review by April 2003.

36. Jim Knight : What steps she is taking to reduce the pay gap between the sexes. [76456]

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Ms Hewitt: The Government has set in place a number of measures designed to tackle the gender pay gap. We are leading by example, through our commitment to equal pay reviews in the Civil Service'; we are making it easier for women to get equal pay through changes in the Employment Act 2002; we are making it easier for employers to pay fairly through the work of the Fair Play Champions and the Castle Awards, and we are tackling the wider causes of the pay gap by helping mothers stay attached to the labour market, investing more resources than any other Government in childcare, improving the skill levels of those already in the labour market and helping employers make the most of their female workforce.

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