Mr. Peter Bottomley: To ask the Prime Minister what instructions he issues to officials about volunteering corrections to mis-statements of, and righting misunderstandings concerning, his policy, opinions and reactions to public issues. 
The Prime Minister: Official records over 30 years old are routinely transferred to the Public Record Office (PRO) in accordance with the Public Records Acts. Any records of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, the Cabinet Office, the Prime Minister's Office and the Ministry of Defence which refer to the death of Patrice Lumumba in 1961 are available at the PRO and can be found using the PRO's website www.pro.gov.uk. None have been identified as withheld from release.
The Prime Minister [holding answer 6 February 2001]: Lord Paul was appointed Ambassador for British Business in November 1997, along with some 35 other leading figures in British commerce and industry. These positions are voluntary, and their role is not to represent the British Government, but to promote British commercial interests.
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Secretary, the Home Secretary, the Defence Secretary and the Minister of State for Transport. We had productive exchanges on a range of bilateral issues, and agreed measures to deal with the problem of illegal immigration. We established a Cross-Channel commission to improve joint management of issues that affect Cross-Channel relations. In addition we agreed to take forward joint work in the fields of maritime safety, food safety, drugs trafficking and the environment.
We also discussed EU, foreign policy and defence issues, and issued declarations on our shared priorities for the Stockholm Special European Council in March, and on further bilateral work in Africa. Copies of these and other agreed declarations have been placed in the Libraries of both Houses.
Miss Widdecombe: To ask the Parliamentary Secretary, Lord Chancellor's Department what average time is taken to process asylum (a) initial appeals to the Special Adjudicator and (b) further appeals to the Immigration Appeals Tribunal; and if she will make a statement. 
The figure for the Immigration Appeal Tribunal (IAT) naturally includes the Adjudicator process. Average times for the IAT only--from receipt of application for leave to appeal until appeal determination--are not available.
Mr. Steen: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development, pursuant to her letter of 20 January, regarding the Malawi Mission of Buckfastleigh, what progress she has made in her representations to the Malawi Customs concerning the release of the consignment of tools airfreighted for building an orphan village. 
Clare Short: The Malawi Revenue Authority is happy to discuss with the Malawi Mission or its partners in Malawi how to achieve duty free status for the organisation or the consignment in question within the law. The British High Commission in Lilongwe will assist if necessary.
Dr. Tonge: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development, pursuant to her answer of 16 January 2001, Official Report, column 164W, on Commonwealth scholarships, if she will discuss with the Commonwealth Scholarship Commission Chairman
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whether scholarships will be offered to dissidents in addition to those nominated by Governments concerned. 
Clare Short: I welcome the Commission's review of the Commonwealth Scholarship and Fellowship Plan. I am considering, in consultation with the Commission's Chairman, their report's recommendations, which include proposals for ensuring greater openness and transparency in the selection process.
Mr. Gerrard: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development, pursuant to her answer to the hon. Member for Paisley South (Mr. Alexander) of 8 January 2001, Official Report, column 355W, if she will give a breakdown of the money spent on HIV/AIDS related work last year, outlining major headings of expenditure. 
Clare Short: Last year, the Department of International Development spent around £85 million on major bilateral sexual and reproductive health programmes in the range of countries including, Malawi, South Africa, Ghana, Uganda, Zimbabwe, China and India. The work of these programmes impacts directly on HIV/AIDS. My Department also made the following contributions and commitments in 1999-2000 to agencies involved in tackling HIV/AIDS.
|United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA)
|World Health Organisation, Human Reproduction Programme (WHO/HRP)
|United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS)
|International AIDS Vaccine Initiative (IAVI) over five years
Clare Short: My Department is implementing the UK's commitments under the UN Convention to Combat Desertification through its bilateral and multilateral assistance programmes. Given that there are close links between poverty and the problems of desertification and land degradation, much of DFID's work to combat poverty in rural areas helps to meet the objective of the Convention. Over £200 million is currently committed to DFID activities which help poor people protect their livelihoods against problems such as desertification and drought.
Mr. Cox: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development how much the Indian Government owe to (a) the UK and (b) other European Union countries; and what action her Department is taking to press for the cancellation of this debt. 
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Clare Short: According to the Government of India's most recent published data, in 1999 their official debt to the UK was 167.9 million rupees (£2.5 million at the present exchange rate), while their official debt to the European Union was 212.53 billion rupees (£3.16 billion).
The UK supports and advocates debt relief for Heavily Indebted Poor Countries which are undertaking pro-poor economic reforms. But India's external debt position is moderate, with a debt-service ratio of 16 per cent. (as of March 2000), and large-scale international reserves (estimated at US$ 40 billion). We are not therefore pressing for cancellation of India's debt. However our development assistance in India includes substantial support to help the Indian Government reform and improve their fiscal management, particularly at the State level where fiscal deficits are high.
Clare Short: The opportunities for assisting Baghdad-controlled Iraq are greatly constrained by the regime's policies. We are spending some £5 million this financial year to help rehabilitate water and sanitation systems which should reduce risks to children's health. In northern Iraq, through Save the Children's Fund and other non-governmental organisations, we are funding programmes to improve children's well-being. This financial year we expect to spend some £1.25 million.
The UN's oil-for-food programme is contributing significantly to improved life opportunities and reduced infant and child mortality for children in the areas of Iraq not controlled from Baghdad. Tragically in Baghdad controlled Iraq, children are suffering badly as the Government of Iraq manipulate the suffering of their people for propaganda purposes.