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INTERNATIONAL DEVELOPMENT

Trade Agreements

Mr. Andrew George: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what plans she has to review the effect of trade agreements to which the UK is a party on developing countries. [100423]

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Mr. Foulkes: The EU is funding a Sustainability Impact Assessment by Manchester University of the next trade round currently underway in Seattle. The study is developing a methodology for sustainability impact assessment and will make a broad qualitative assessment of the next round. It will look at impacts for four groups of countries--the EU, developing countries, least developed countries and the world as a whole. The Government fully supports the EU's approach and will be consulting with the EU and the consultants as the work progresses. In addition, the UK is part funding a World Bank programme of research on trade and development, which will include some work on impact assessment.

The EU is currently negotiating new trade arrangements with the African, Caribbean and Pacific developing countries as part of the successor agreement to the Lome IV Convention. The EU funded a consultancy study to investigate the effects of the proposed new arrangements. The results of the study were shared with EU member states and the ACP countries.

Mr. Andrew George: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what recent representations she has received on the effect of trade agreements to which the UK is a party on developing countries. [100421]

Mr. Foulkes: My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State has received representations from a variety of UK based development agencies and NGO organisations over the past few months. In October, she met with representatives of the British Overseas Aid Group. She gave a speech hosted by the Commonwealth Business Council on 3 November to over 100 NGOs entitled "Making the Next Trade Round Work for the World's Poor". I addressed the United Nations Environment and Development Committee conference "Seattle: A Challenge for Sustainable Development" on 18 November, a conference attended by most of the interested parties within the UK. I represent the Department for International Development (DFID) at the Government's regular meetings with the UK NGO Trade network.

In the preparatory process for the Seattle Ministerial Meeting which will be held this week all WTO members have had an opportunity to put their points across, including their concerns about existing agreements. We will be working to ensure that these comments are taken forward appropriately in the WTO.

Pakistan

Mr. Baldry: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what aid programmes her Department is supporting in Pakistan; and what criteria she is adopting in determining which aid programmes to support. [99895]

Mr. Foulkes: Direct development assistance to the Government of Pakistan remains frozen following my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State's announcement of 15 October. Through civil society channels we are continuing programmes that directly help the poor.

Our priorities include support for improved rural livelihoods, better basic education and health services and assistance to tackle child labour issues. We screen all proposed programmes to ensure they are poverty focused and take account of issues such as gender equality and environmental impact as a matter of course.

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Private Aid

Mr. Streeter: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what annual assessment her Department makes of private aid and development assistance to the developing world from the United Kingdom. [100051]

Mr. Foulkes: The Department for International Development reports annually, in our Departmental Report, on the progress of implementation of the Government's official development assistance strategy. Private or non-governmental development agencies are independent organisations, accountable to their own Boards, and to the public and others who provide their funds. We try to ensure, through regular meetings, consultations and monitoring, that there is synergy between the work undertaken by these organisations and the official development programme. We are also about to embark on Partnership Programme Agreements with major non-governmental development agencies which will set out shared objectives over a fixed time-period.

South Africa

Dr. Tonge: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what estimates she has made of the effect of UK gold sales on employment in South Africa. [99609]

Clare Short: The world price of gold has been in decline for many years prior to the recent announcement of UK gold sales. The relatively modest size of UK gold sales is not sufficient to explain the fall in price of gold earlier this year. The price of gold has risen again since the second auction in September, and continues to fluctuate within a broad margin.

Employment in the gold mining sector in South Africa has fallen from around 385,000 in June 1995, to around 210,000 at present. South African mines are comparatively high cost producers--the present industry average in South Africa is about $230 per ounce, compared to about $100 in parts of South America--and their relative contribution to the South African economy has been in decline for decades. Our development co-operation supports South Africa's efforts at economic diversification and employment creation.

St. Helena

Mr. Cummings: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development if she will make a statement concerning progress made on the extension of the jetty to form a breakwater in Jamestown Harbour, St. Helena. [100119]

Mr. Foulkes: The St. Helena Government is presently finalising proposals for a Wharf Improvement Project, including construction of a breakwater. The bulk of the project is expected to be financed from the European Development Fund (EDF). We have advised both the European Commission and the St. Helena Government that we will support the project when it is considered by the EDF Committee. We are also considering the Department for International Development's proposed contribution to the project.

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Mr. Cummings: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development if she will make a statement concerning the breakdown of the RMS St. Helena and the future arrangements for transportation of goods and people to and from St. Helena, Ascension Island and the United Kingdom. [100118]

Mr. Foulkes: The RMS St. Helena suffered a failure of its starboard main engine on 5 November on its way from Cardiff to the south Atlantic. Technical investigation indicated major repairs were required. The ship is expected to be out of service until 10 February. The operators took immediate action to ensure RMS St. Helena's commitments could be met. Its cargo departed from Brest on 27 November and will arrive at St. Helena on 16 December. Parallel arrangements have been made for the delivery of cargo from Cape Town to arrive at St. Helena on 3 December. The schedule for an interim passenger service, with a first arrival date in St. Helena of 19 December, was published on 26 November.

Mr. Cummings: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development if she will estimate the costs of consultants' reports for proposed schemes on the Island of St. Helena in each year since 1995. [100117]

Mr. Foulkes: The total value of consultancy contracts entered into for the provision of advice to the Government of St. Helena for each year since 1995 is as follows:

£
199588,104
199697,833
1997400,490
1998188,238
199946,522

These figures do not include the value of contracts entered into for the provision of practical support or for the implementation of projects, eg medical personnel, nurse and teacher training, and construction design/ supervision.

Chechnya

Mr. Streeter: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what support her Department has given in the past six months to Chechnya by way of humanitarian aid. [100052]

Mr. Foulkes: The Government is deeply concerned about the humanitarian consequences of the conflict in the North Caucasus. We are in close touch with the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and UN agencies about those displaced as a result of the conflict. We have contributed £0.5 million to the ICRC's appeal for the region. The UK has also contributed through its part of the 1.2 million euro earmarked by the European Community Humanitarian Office (ECHO); of this 1 million euro has been disbursed to UNHCR.




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    3. We received an appeal from ICRC to which we contributed £0.5 million. We have now also received a UN inter-agency appeal which we are considering.


    4. This reply is consistent with the draft reply to Lord Moynihan's question answered on 10 November.


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