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On what grounds they are optimistic that Africa can meet the targets set out in Chapter 2.8 of the Department for International Development's departmental report 2006 for poverty reduction, primary school enrolment and child mortality by 2008; and what resources they will now commit to these objectives. [HL6348]
The Lord President of the Council (Baroness Amos): DfID uses international data showing progress towards the millennium development goals (MDGs) to monitor these public service agreement (PSA) sub-targets. These are obtained from the World Bank and agencies of the United Nations, which have in turn obtained data from the countries in question, evaluated its quality and in some cases made adjustments to ensure international consistency.
Most of our 200508 PSA targets for Africa are based on progress in 16 PSA countries. The exception to this is the poverty indicator, for which an internationally produced estimate of overall poverty in the region is used.
Our view that Africa will meet PSA targets for poverty reduction, primary school enrolment and child mortality by 2008 is based on the difference between the baseline and most recent data, together with an assessment of longer-term trends since 1990.
For the overall poverty sub-target, although 2002 data show little or no change from the 2000 baseline and there are enormous challenges, there are also grounds for optimism. For example, according to the World Bank, economic performance in Africa in 2004 was the best since 1997. Our entire aid programme in Africa is targeted at reducing poverty. Our bilateral aid to Africa exceeded £1 billion during 200506 and we are on track to double aid to Africa between 200405 and 201011. We have also followed up on commitments made at Gleneagles on specific support to economic growth, such as providing $20 million to the Infrastructure Consortium for Africa, $30 million to the Investment Climate Facility and $20 million to the Africa Enterprise Challenge Fund.
The trend for primary school enrolment is upwards. Latest figures show 77 per cent enrolment; up from 70 per cent in 2000. We will continue to prioritise education. In April 2006, the Chancellor and Secretary of State for International Development pledged £8.5 billion over the next 10 years to finance 10-year education plans in African countries.
Child mortality is falling in many countries (though countries such as Sierra Leone and Democratic Republic of Congo still have very high rates). The 2000 baseline child mortality rate across our 16 PSA
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countries was 157, on current trends we predict it will fall to 147 by 2008. We are continuing to increase our support for building sustainable, basic health services in Africa and tackling important childhood diseases by expanding access to insecticide-treated bed-nets and immunisation. Access to clean water and sanitation is also critical for child health and we are doubling our expenditure on this up to £95 million by 200708.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Defence (Lord Drayson): We have no plans to conduct such a survey but the views of service personnel are sought on a regular basis and on a wide variety of subjects. They therefore have the opportunity to make their views known on matters of concern to them.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Triesman): We have not provided any additional aid to East Timor since the April 2006 crisis. The Department for International Development will provide aid to East Timor of £2 million per year over the years 200508. Some of these funds are being used to support the relief response, including ensuring access to reliable basic services.
The precise nature of the future UN presence in East Timor is under discussion and we await the recommendations of the UN Secretary-General in this regard. The UK supports a robust political mission, with a focus on governance and capacity-building. We hope that it will be possible to get this up and running quickly.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Triesman): It is important to note that the Commission's
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recent communication Europe in the WorldSome Practical Proposals for Greater Coherence, Effectiveness and Visibility (further information can be found at http://ec.europa.eu/comm/externalrelations/euwcom06278en.pdf) does not seek to enhance the role of the EU in foreign policy, but rather to make the EU's existing external policies more co-ordinated and effective. Further, there are no proposals within the communication to pool the diplomatic resources of EU member states.
The Foreign and Commonwealth Office has deposited an explanatory memorandum with Parliament setting out the Government's views on the communication. In short, these are that, although we do not agree with all of the Commission's proposals, we welcome the paper as a helpful contribution to an important workstream. It is right that the EU should be considering ways of making its external policies more co-ordinated and coherent, within the framework of existing treaties. And we agree that better strategic planning and better co-operation between the EU institutions and the member states can help this.
Further to the reply by the Lord Triesman on 6 June (Official Report, cols. 1131-32), whether they will give details of powers which have passed from the United Kingdom to the European Union and those which have passed back since the implementation of the Treaty on the European Union (the Maastricht Treaty) which introduced the concept of subsidiarity. [HL6270]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Triesman): Changes to the EU's competences since the Treaty of Maastricht were made in the Treaty of Amsterdam (1997) and the Treaty of Nice (2001). The Government submitted explanatory memorandums to Parliament on these treaties (Amsterdam Cm 5090 and Nice Cm 3780) summarising their contents.
"In areas which do not fall within its exclusive competence, the Community shall take action . . . only if and in so far as the objectives of the proposed action cannot be sufficiently achieved by the Member States and can therefore, by reason of the scale or effects of the proposed action, be better achieved by the Community".
Whether Parliamentary Written Questions are subject to the same terms and exemptions as requests made under the Freedom of Information Act 2000; and whether it is government policy to cite exemptions under the Freedom of Information Act 2000 as reasons for withholding information requested in Parliamentary Questions; and, if so, when such a change of policy occurred. [HL5878]
The Minister of State, Home Office (Baroness Scotland of Asthal): The reply to the noble Lord's previous Question (Official Report, 16 May 2006, col. WA 28) erred in relying on an exemption under the Freedom of Information Act 2000, in accordance with Cabinet Office guidance available at www.cabinetoffice.gov.uk/proprietyandethics/civilservice/pqguidance.asp. It is not the Government's policy to cite Freedom of Information Act exemptions in response to Parliamentary Questions.
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