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Mozambique

28. Mr. Burgon: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development if she will make a statement on the humanitarian situation in Mozambique. [132209]

Clare Short: Almost all those displaced following the severe floods in Mozambique earlier this year have now returned home. Reconstruction and rehabilitation works are under way. These include works on vital health and education buildings. Under Government guidelines houses are being rebuilt using more robust materials. Water and sanitation facilities are also being rehabilitated, and in some cases built where previously there were none.

Landmines have posed a significant humanitarian threat to the people of Mozambique in the past. Although the job of clearing them is far from over, large areas of land have been made safe. We are supporting demining in Zambezia, where most of the Province has now been declared safe from exploded ordnance and landmines.

Aid Administration (Charities)

29. Miss McIntosh: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what representations she has received on administering aid through smaller charities; and if she will make a statement. [132210]

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Clare Short: I receive many representations from a wide range of organisations in Britain, including small development charities.

All the work of my Department is focused on reducing global poverty. Civil society organisations in the UK and in the developing world have an important role to play. We have established a new Civil Society Challenge Fund--the CSCF--to provide finance to civil society groups, that provide support to poor people in asserting their rights and to promote innovation and reforms for sustainable development. The CSCF is open to any UK based non-profit group, organisation or network. My officials will shortly be discussing the operation of the new scheme with all applicants to date. Details of the CSCF are available in the Library of the House.

Debt Relief

Mr. Healey: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development if she will make a statement on progress in writing off the debts of the most impoverished countries in Africa. [132181]

Clare Short: Of 35 countries that could qualify for debt relief under the enhanced HIPC initiative, 30 are in Africa. Nine out of the 11 countries that have so far qualified are African. One, Uganda, has completed the HIPC process. As much as two-thirds of the debt owed by these countries could be written off.

A further 11 African countries could qualify for debt relief under HIPC by the end of the year, though some of these do not meet the standard HIPC requirements. The international community recently agreed to show flexibility in assessing countries' eligibility for relief, focusing on actions that are critical for poverty reduction.

After this group of countries it will be difficult to make substantial progress--nine of the 10 remaining African countries are affected by conflict.

TREASURY

Debt Relief

Mr. Blizzard: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how much debt owed by poor countries has been cancelled (a) unilaterally by the UK and (b) as a result of the Heavily Indebted Poor Countries initiative. [132202]

Miss Melanie Johnson: The UK's policy of 100 per cent. debt forgiveness starts at decision point. The exact amount of debt forgiven unilaterally in addition to the reduction as part of the HIPC initiative depends on the exact settlement reached multilaterally when a country's debts are reduced to a sustainable level. At the start of this month, 10 countries had reached decision point and will see £245 million written off. Twenty countries are scheduled to reach decision point by the end of the year and will receive £610 million debt relief under the UK's policy. The first 10 countries to reach decision point will receive $21 billion in total debt relief, $16 billion in debt relief under the HIPC initiative and $5 billion from traditional debt relief measures.

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In addition, the UK has pledged $316 million to the HIPC Trust Fund and has given $69 million to the IMF to finance its participation in the HIPC Initiative. It has made the second largest pledge of any country.

LORD CHANCELLOR'S DEPARTMENT

Public Trust Office

Mr. Colman: To ask the Parliamentary Secretary, Lord Chancellor's Department what consultation and options for management of funds will take place with clients of the Public Trust Office prior to any change in such management. [134040]

Jane Kennedy: If a client wishes to use alternative fund managers to those offered by the Public Trust Office, they will be able to apply to the Court of Protection to do so. The Court will consider every application on its merits, bearing in mind the performance, charges and financial probity of the alternative fund manager proposed.

PRIME MINISTER

Ministerial Visit (Portsmouth)

Mr. Rapson: To ask the Prime Minister what plans he has to visit Portsmouth. [132215]

The Prime Minister: I have no immediate plans to do so.

AGRICULTURE, FISHERIES AND FOOD

GM Crops

Jackie Ballard: To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food how growers of organic crops six kilometres or less from unpublicised genetically modified plantings can find out the location of such plantings in order to assess the threat to their organic status. [123078]

Ms Quin: Releases of genetically modified (GM) plants for research purposes under Part B of EU Directive 90/220 are advertised locally and placed on the public register of releases before sowing. The locations of these plantings are also published on the DETR website (www.environment.detr.gov.uk).

Plants with a Part C marketing consent under Directive 90/220 have undergone a detailed safety assessment and been approved for commercial release across the EU. The directive does not require the disclosure of plantings with Part C approval, but where they are part of the Farm Scale Evaluation (FSE) programme details are published on the DETR website, and where they are part of National List trials the locations have been made available at civil parish level as set out in the table.

I refer the hon. Member to the reply given by my right hon. Friend the Minister for the Environment to my hon. Friend the Member for South Swindon (Ms Drown) on 15 June 2000, Official Report, column 675W. Other trials of GM plants with a Part C consent--for example, experimental work carried out by the companies concerned--do not need to be notified to the Government.

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However, we understand that only four such trials have been undertaken this year, and that these have been small in scale. Three were co-located with other publicised trials, and all were conducted under the same guidelines for GM cropping as in the FSE trials, including the application of separation distances between the GM plants and equivalent non-GM plants.

The industry's agreement with the Government lays down that there will be no commercial growing of GM crops until the FSE trials have been completed and evaluated.

Locations of 2000 national list trials of GM maize with Part C consent

CountyParish
OxfordshireStoke Talmage
SomersetBrockley
YorkshireBramham cum Oglethorpe
CambridgeshireHiston
ShropshireErcall Magna

Farmers (Internet Technology Take-up)

Mr. Yeo: To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if he will set out, in regard to his reorganisation of his Department, the assumptions he has made for the uptake of internet technology among farmers; and what provision has been made for farmers unable to access the required technology. [134097]

Mr. Nick Brown: The creation of the new CAP Payments Agency (CAPPA) will transform the way in which farmers claim their CAP payments. I recognise that some farmers are concerned about the changes and the CAPPA business case makes the prudent assumption that only around 20 per cent. of farmers will be using electronic forms by 2004. I believe that this is achievable, and that many farmers will recognise the benefits of electronic form submission and will be keen to use them.

Encouraging farmers to submit their claims electronically is clearly important to the success of CAPPA. We will work very closely with them to help them reap the benefits which electronic service delivery offers. As a first step, the consultation exercise "Modernising Key Services" sought views on the best way of ensuring a smooth transition to the new arrangements, and we are currently analysing the response.

Departmental Restructuring

Mr. Yeo: To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (1) if he will publish the reasons he selected his Department's regional service centres in (a) Worcester, (b) Cambridge, (c) Bristol, (d) Nottingham and (e) Crewe for closure; [134095]

Mr. Nick Brown: I announced on 24 July 2000, Official Report, columns 472-74W, the sites that will make up the new CAP Payments Agency (CAPPA). This decision was particularly difficult. All the existing

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Intervention Board and MAFF Regional Service Centres were carefully considered as possible locations for the new Agency.

A detailed analysis of financial issues did not produce clear conclusions on which sites should be selected: in most cases, the choice of one site over another had a very limited impact on the overall funding for the programme. A number of non-financial criteria were therefore taken into account, specifically:




I am satisfied that the final decision on CAPPA sites offers the best balance between the structure of CAPPA, cost and maintaining business continuity during the transition period. CAPPA processing centres will handle claims from all parts of the country, not just their own local area.

At the same time as announcing these changes, I also announced my plans to strengthen MAFF's regional strategic and policy activities through greater integration with the Government Office for the Regions and the establishment of a largely regionally based service organisation for the delivery of rural development policies and programmes. MAFF will retain a presence in Worcester, Cambridge, Bristol, Nottingham and Crewe to handle work on the England Rural Development Programme, as well as maintaining its presence in the GO Regions which have CAPPA sites. I am convinced that strengthening MAFF's regional presence in this way will benefit agriculture and the wider rural economy.


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