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Race Equality Impact Assessments

Keith Vaz: To ask the Minister of State, Department for Constitutional Affairs how many race equality impact assessments her Department had completed in
 
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the period (a) April 2004 to March 2005 and (b) April 2005 to November 2005; and how many assessments in each period resulted in a change of policy. [32822]

Bridget Prentice: The Department Affairs completed 11 race equality impact assessments between April 2004 and March 2005 and two race equality impact assessments from April 2005 to date. No changes to policy were identified as being needed. A list detailing the policies that were assessed for race equality impact during the specified periods are listed at follows.

Parliamentary question: Mr. Keith Vaz (Leicester East)—race equality impact assessments

1. How many race equality impact assessments (REIAs) has your department completed between April 2004 and March 2005?

Which policies have you assessed the race equality impact for during this period? (Please include all regulatory impact assessments that have included race equality impact assessments.)

Policy name

What changes to policies have been made as a result of conducting REIAs?

2. How many race equality impact assessments (REIAs) has your department completed between April 2005 to date.

Which policies have you assessed the race equality impact for during this period? (Please include all regulatory impact assessments that have included race equality impact assessments.)

Policy name

What changes to policies have been made as a result of conducting REIAs?

Policy changes made—none made
 
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Sick Leave

David T.C. Davies: To ask the Minister of State, Department for Constitutional Affairs how many of her Department's employees who are within one year of the official retirement age are on extended sick leave. [32587]

Bridget Prentice: The Department currently has one employee currently on extended sick leave who is also within one year of normal retirement age. The Department is committed to managing all sickness absence promptly and effectively, including absences of those near to normal retirement age, and to putting in place the recommendations of the recently published Managing Sickness Absence in the Public Sector" to ensure that all such absence management is in line with current guidance and best practice.

INTERNATIONAL DEVELOPMENT

Corporacion Fischel

Malcolm Bruce: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development (1) whether during the period in which the Commonwealth Development Corporation had a shareholding in Corporacion Fischel Corporacion Fischel entered into an agreement with the Finnish company Instrumentarium to supply medical equipment to Costa Rica. [35298]

(2) whether the company O. Fischel R. was a controlled subsidiary of Corporacion Fischel during the period in which the Commonwealth Development Corporation had a shareholding in Corporacion Fischel. [35299]

Hilary Benn: Corporacion Fischel did not enter into an agreement with Instrumentarium during the period in which the Commonwealth Development Corporation (CDC) had a shareholding in Corporacion Fischel.

The CDC is aware of two companies called O. Fischel R: one Costa Rican; the other Panamanian. The Costa Rican company was a controlled subsidiary of Corporacion Fischel, in which the CDC had a shareholding. The Panamanian company had no connection with Corporacion Fischel.

Departmental Staff

Dr. Cable: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development how many staff in his Department have been relocated into London and the South East in each of the last five years for which records are available. [31758]

Mr. Thomas: This information is not held centrally. DFID has two headquarters offices in London and in East Kilbride, and offices in some 67 locations overseas. It is normal for a number of UK based staff to transfer between offices each year, mainly between headquarters and overseas. We do not hold a central record of these postings. We have not however, transferred any jobs into our London headquarters. Our relocation plans are in keeping with Government policy with 85 posts being relocated to our office in East Kilbride over the periods 2004–05 and 2005–06.
 
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HIV/AIDS

Mr. Hancock: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what action he is taking to ensure that International Monetary Fund conditions allow increases in spending of money provided by the IMF on health in countries fighting HIV/AIDS. [34783]

Mr. Thomas: DFID is working with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and other donors to improve the predictability of aid flows, the effectiveness of IMF signalling, and countries own expenditure management capacity. This will ensure that countries are better able to plan for increased spending in health and other key sectors identified in their Poverty Reduction Strategies, while maintaining the fiscal sustainability and macroeconomic stability which are essential to long term growth and poverty reduction.

DFID has supported a series of High Level Meetings on the health related Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) over the past 18 months. These meetings have brought together senior representatives of Ministries of Health and Finance from developing countries, donors and international organisations including the World Bank and the IMF. The meetings have looked to develop solutions to the systematic barriers to faster progress in realising the MDGs.

The IMF's focus is appropriately, on maintaining fiscal sustainability and overall macroeconomic stability, as an essential underpinning to planned Government programmes and economic growth. Within these objectives, DFID has worked with the IMF on the issue of creating 'fiscal space'—that is increasing the financial scope for countries to expand their allocations to provide critical services such as health and HIV/AIDS services. The IMF has led much of this work.

The UK has also worked with the IMF to improve its role in 'signalling' and donor co-ordination. The unpredictability of future aid flows from donors is a significant constraint on countries' ability to plan future spending, creating uncertainty about both overall budgets, and about the availability of resources to finance individual programmes, including in the health sector. The IMF has a role to play in supporting countries' own budget processes, and in working with donors to improve the predictability of their aid.

The UK is pushing for greater predictability and less volatility of aid and longer-term financial commitments. This would provide confidence to Ministries of Finance to establish more ambitious financial frameworks and take on the long term recurrent costs associated with, for example, scaling up comprehensive HIV/responses. Malawi is a good example where the IMF has worked effectively with the Ministry of Finance to support the implementation of an ambitious emergency human resource programme for health.

Mr. Hunt: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what steps his Department has taken over the last 12 months to ensure a long-term supply of affordable paediatric drugs for HIV in developing countries; what discussions he has had with the pharmaceutical industry on this; and if he will make a statement. [35204]


 
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Mr. Thomas: The UK Government, led by DFID, has done a great deal of work to increase access to medicines for people in developing countries, including for children.

In 2004 we published the UK Government's policy and plans on increasing access to medicines, which focused on: support to developing countries to build health services; support to countries to understand and appropriately use the flexibilities contained in the World Trade Organisation (WTO) Trade Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) agreement that governs intellectual property rights; new work to increase investment in research and development (R and D) for diseases affecting developing countries; and direct engagement with the pharmaceutical industry to increase access. In DFID's 2004 HIV and AIDS Treatment and Care Policy, we made a commitment to focus on the needs of children, women and the poor.

In March of this year we published jointly with the Department of Health (DH) and Department for Trade and Industry (DTI) a 'good practice' framework, building on good practice in the pharmaceutical industry and the work of the World Health Organisation, the (WHO) and others to set out recommended actions companies could take around pricing, Research and Development investments and how they work in developing countries, to help increase access to medicines. The framework had clear recommendations around the importance of ensuring medicines, including ARVs, were available in appropriate paediatric formulations. In the context of this work, DFID has convened a series of meetings with the industry, at which this issue has been addressed.

The UK also played a key role in the 30 August 2003 decision by the WTO TRIPS Council to allow developing countries with no pharmaceutical industry of their own to import copies of patented medicines under compulsory licence in accordance with the provisions of the decision. This historic decision will help developing countries to negotiate with drug producers, and help to maintain access to cheaper copies, including for paediatric formulations where they exist.

The UK has also taken a lead internationally to support more research into treatments and vaccines for diseases affecting developing countries, including for children. In the UK's AIDS strategy Taking Action" (2004) the UK committed to increase our support for research into: microbicides; treatments and new technologies for the poor, women and young people including children; and the social, economic and cultural impact of AIDS.

DFID continues to support Product Development Public Private Partnerships (PDPs) for the development of HIV vaccines. DFID has also funded research on the appropriate use of existing medicines in developing country settings including, clinical trials demonstrating the efficacy of co-trimoxazole prophylaxis in reducing mortality among children, and co-funding trials with the
 
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Medical Research Council (MRC) accelerating the development and evaluation of ARV treatment protocols that are simple to use, but remain safe, effective and relevant to the needs of people with HIV and AIDS, including women and children, in resource poor settings.

More does need to be done to ensure a long-term supply of affordable paediatric drugs for the treatment of HIV and AIDS in developing countries. We will therefore continue our work with the pharmaceutical industry, to support appropriate use of TRIPS and to increase R and D investment, and work to ensure that children are able to access the drugs they need in the formulations they need.


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