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Child Care Facilities

49. Mr. Casale: To ask the President of the Council to ask the hon. Member for Roxburgh and Berwickshire, representing the House of Commons Commission, what plans the Commission has to improve child care facilities in the House. [130623]

Mr. Kirkwood: None at present, but we will continue to keep the facilities provided for Members and staff under constant review.


Staff Secondments

Mr. Rendel: To ask the Minister for the Cabinet Office how many staff have been seconded from British Nuclear Fuels Ltd. to work within the civil service (a) during 1999-2000 and (b) currently; and to which Departments they were seconded. [131914]

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Mr. Stringer: Due to the amount of interchange activity undertaken, details on organisations are not held centrally and could be obtained only at disproportionate cost.

Red Boxes

Mr. Gray: To ask the Minister for the Cabinet Office, pursuant to her answer of 11 July 2000, Official Report, column 485W, on ministerial red boxes, if she left her ministerial red box unattended on the GWR express from Bristol to Paddington. [131120]

Mr. Stringer: I refer the hon. Member to the answer I gave on 11 July 2000, Official Report, column 485W.

Northern Ireland Executive Committee

Mr. Nigel Griffiths: To ask the Minister for the Cabinet Office if the Northern Ireland Executive Committee intends to become a party to the Memorandum of Understanding between the UK Government and the devolved executives. [132833]

Marjorie Mowlam: The Northern Ireland Executive Committee has recently decided to become a party to the Memorandum of Understanding originally agreed by the UK Government, Scottish Ministers and the Cabinet of the National Assembly of Wales last year. My right hon. and learned Friend the Lord Chancellor is, therefore, publishing today (as CM4806) the text of the Memorandum of Understanding and the supplementary agreements as agreed by all four administrations. The paper will also be made available on the Cabinet Office internet site shortly.


Colombian Earthquake

Mr. David Heath: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what assistance is being provided from (a) the United Kingdom, (b) the EU and (c) UN sources, to assist with rehousing victims of the earthquake in the Quindio region of Colombia on 25 January 1999. [131919]

Clare Short: My Department contributed over £850,000 for immediate emergency relief and rehabilitation assistance--including shelter. But like the United Nations, we have looked to the International Financial Institutions to support longer term reconstruction and rehousing efforts. For example, the World bank provided a loan of nearly £150 million for reconstruction. This is administered by the Colombian authorities and is targeted at supporting the poorest people.

The European Commission also provided over £2 million for emergency relief and longer term rehabilitation assistance--of which the UK share was approximately £300,000.


Mr. Pickthall: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what action she is taking to tackle the HIV/AIDS crisis in Zimbabwe. [133097]

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Clare Short: The scale of the HIV/AIDS crisis in Zimbabwe is enormously serious. Twenty five per cent. of adults are HIV positive. Fifteen-year-olds have a one in two risk of dying from HIV/AIDS in their lifetimes. It is sinking countless families further into poverty.

We have worked with others to tackle HIV/AIDS in Zimbabwe for a number of years. I have recently agreed to continue and expand this work with a new commitment of over £20 million over five years. This will maintain condom supplies to the poor, provide drugs for sexually transmitted infections, and promote behaviour change, particularly among young people.

Dr. Tonge: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what recent discussions she has had with members of the (a) Foreign and Commonwealth Office (b) Ministry of Defence and (c) Department of Trade and Industry concerning the AIDS epidemic in Africa; and how often she had discussed AIDS with them. [132287]

Clare Short: The HIV/AIDS crisis in Africa is a major development policy priority for the UK Government. I myself hold regular discussions with other Whitehall Departments on a wide range of development issues, including HIV/AIDS. My Department has an on-going dialogue with FCO and other Whitehall Departments concerning HIV/AIDS policy both at the international level and within the African region. Recent examples include co-ordination with FCO for the UN Security Council Resolution on HIV/AIDS, the EU-Africa summit in April and on preparation of briefing for last week's G8 summit. My Department, with DTI and FCO, is also involved in developing UK policy on the Trade Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) Agreement, this has been raised as one issue in the debate surrounding access to essential drugs for HIV/AIDS.

At a regional and country level in Africa, DFID and the FCO work closely on the implementation of our country strategies, each of which have HIV/AIDS prevention and care as a major priority. HIV/AIDS is increasingly recognised as a potential threat to security in Africa. The new cross-Whitehall forum and shared budget for conflict in Africa (MOD, FCO, DFID, CO, Treasury) will provide an important means for developing a shared policy and priorities on HIV/AIDS and conflict.


Dr. Tonge: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what proportion of her Department's increased expenditure for 2000-2003 is earmarked for (a) unilateral debt cancellation and (b) the Heavily Indebted Poor Countries Trust Fund. [132288]

Clare Short: This information is as follows:

(a) For 2000-01 and 2001-02 the extra costs incurred for unilateral debt cancellation will be met by access to the Reserve in 2001-02. For 2002-03 and 2003-04 an amount of £6.5 million per year has been included in the addition to the DFID baseline announced by the Chancellor of the Exchequer last week. This is additional to other payments in respect of debt relief for HIPC countries on a multilateral basis.

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(b) During the spending period, DFID will continue to contribute to the international costs of HIPC by making payments to the HIPC Trust Fund. We expect to contribute £35 million in each of 2001-02 and 2002-03.

Departmental Staff

Mr. Burstow: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development how many unfilled vacancies for permanent staff her Department has; what percentage of staff positions in her Department are vacant; what the monthly cost would be to her Department of employing civil servants in these positions; how many and what percentage of staff her Department employs on a temporary basis through employment agencies; how much her Department paid employment agencies to supply temporary staff in each of the last 12 months; and how much she expects to pay employment agencies to supply temporary staff in each of the next 12 months. [131431]

Clare Short: The figures requested are as follows:

As far as the next 12 months are concerned it is not possible to anticipate precise needs but we shall be undertaking a number of external recruitment exercises and would expect to see a reduction in the need to use employment agencies.

Parliamentary Questions

Mr. Stunell: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development how many written parliamentary questions tabled to her Department between 19 October 1999 and 20 April 2000, have not received substantive answers, citing as the reason commercial or other confidentiality. [132126]

Clare Short: Of the 574 written parliamentary questions tabled to my Department between 19 October 1999 and 20 April 2000, three did not receive substantive answers due to reasons of confidentiality.

St. Helena

Mr. Streeter: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what financial support for St. Helena has been provided by the British Government in each of the last five years; and if she will make a statement. [131757]

Clare Short [holding answer 21 July 2000]: Expenditure figures for UK assistance are published in Statistics on International Development which is in the Library of the House.

In January of this year, my Department agreed a new £29 million programme of assistance to the St. Helena Government (SHG) for the three year period 2000-01 to 2002-03. A DFID team is currently en route to the island

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to discuss the public sector investment programme in more detail. DFID has recently recommended to SHG consultants to carry out the comparative costs study of air and sea access to the island. We expect the consultants to start work within the next month.

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