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UN Aids Conference

Dr. Tonge: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development if she will make a statement on the outcome of the UN Aids Conference in New York. [2290]

Clare Short: The Declaration of Commitment adopted by 189 delegations at the 26th Special Session of the United Nations General Assembly sets out a global consensus on future actions necessary to tackle the HIV/AIDS epidemic. The Declaration commits member states to a series of national targets and strategies to achieve them in the areas of leadership; prevention; care, support and treatment; HIV/AIDS and human rights; reducing vulnerability; children orphaned and made vulnerable by HIV/AIDS; alleviating social and economic impact; research and development; HIV/AIDS in conflict and disaster affected regions; resources and follow-up. The Declaration does not clearly identify those individuals and groups at highest risk of infection because of blocking action by a group of states. Uganda and Thailand have demonstrated that an open and honest approach to tackling the epidemic can lead to a reduction in the rate of transmission of the disease. Other countries must follow their example.

The Declaration confirms what we know needs to be done to begin to contain the spread of the HIV/AIDS epidemic. It is now time to urgently transform commitments into action at country-level to tackle the epidemic.

Internet Access

Dr. Tonge: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development when her Department's study on the cost of internet access in developing countries will be completed. [2287]

Clare Short: The consultants have submitted a draft report which is being discussed by officials of my Department in consultation with officials of the Department of Trade and Industry.

Natural Resources Institute

Dr. Tonge: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development (1) what representations she has made to the University of Greenwich concerning reduction in staff at the Natural Resources Institute; and what assessment she has made of its effect on development and food production; [1689]

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Clare Short: It is for the University and the Institute to judge what staff they need. I understand that planned changes at NRI are designed to relate the numbers and type of staff more closely to the present day demand for research and consultancy and hence to equip NRI to contribute more effectively to development in the field of renewable natural resources.

Poverty Reduction

Dr. Tonge: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what assessment she has made of the effectiveness of poverty reduction strategy papers in reducing poverty. [2292]

Clare Short: Only five countries—Uganda, Burkino Faso, Tanzania, Mauritania and Bolivia have developed full poverty reduction strategy papers. More than 20 low income countries, have produced interim PRSPs and a further 15 could be presented by the end of 2001. PRSPs contain goals and targets for poverty reduction over 3–10 years. One positive early indication is the strong degree of local ownership that has emerged in the course of developing many of the PRSPs.

Technical Assistance

Dr. Tonge: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what assessment she has made of the enhanced integrated framework pilot project to improve the efficiency of trade-related technical assistance to least developed countries; and what plans she has to develop a more extensive initiative. [2293]

Clare Short: The implementation of the enhanced Integrated Framework (IF) commenced as a Pilot Scheme on 3 May 2001 with the adoption of the Pilot Phase Work Programme by the WTO Steering Committee. The three countries selected for the pilot process are Cambodia, Madagascar and Mauritania. The operation of the scheme will be reviewed prior to the fourth WTO ministerial meeting in November 2001, with a view to extension to other countries.


Dr. Tonge: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what progress has been made in providing post-16 education for children in Montserrat. [1306]

Clare Short: The Government of Montserrat manage a programme of post secondary education, through the University of West Indies Distance Learning Centre. The Government of Montserrat are considering how to meet the tuition needs of A-level students in the short term. In the longer term, the Government of Montserrat are planning a new Community College and considering possible funding.

Dr. Tonge: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what representations have been made to the Montserrat Government concerning the withdrawal of benefits from elderly people living with their relatives. [1316]

Clare Short: In February 2000, the Government of Montserrat introduced a means tested social assistance scheme to replace the near-universal food welfare scheme which was made available following the onset of volcanic activity.

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The introduction of the scheme has been closely monitored and levels of assistance are kept under review by the Social Welfare Board which includes representatives of the Government of Montserrat and civil society.

Dr. Tonge: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what recent assessments have been made of volcanic activity and dome buildings in the Soufrière Hills volcano in Montserrat. [1315]

Clare Short: The Montserrat Volcano Observatory's assessment is available weekly through local media and published on their website

The formal scientific and hazard assessment was last updated in January 2001. It concluded that the volcano had entered into a second period of prolonged dome growth, likely to last for at least the next few years. The risk to the populated areas of the island is considered low, though a shift in the direction of dome growth, towards the north or west, would make the areas bordering the exclusion zones a high risk. A copy of the full scientific assessment has been placed in the Library of the House.

Dr. Tonge: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what plans she has to encourage tourism in Montserrat. [1314]

Clare Short: The Government of Montserrat are supporting a number of tourism initiatives, including the development of nature trails, assistance to the Montserrat Tourist Board and the development of volcano-linked tourism.

UN Development Targets

Dr. Tonge: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what progress is being made towards the UN international development targets for 2015; and if she will make a statement. [1748]

Clare Short: An analysis of progress towards the International Development Targets is shown in DFID's "Departmental Report 2001", pages 11 and 12, a copy of which is in the House Library.

Progress is being made against all targets although current trends are not enough to achieve all of them in every region of the world. The income poverty target looks as if it will be met, thanks notably to progress in the large countries of Asia, but some countries are moving less fast. Sub-Saharan Africa, in particular, has stagnated for most of the past decade though some African Governments have made significant progress in reducing poverty. Intense efforts will be needed if Sub-Saharan Africa is to reach the targets.

Much has been achieved, but much remains to be done—1.2 billion people still exist in extreme poverty, 113 million children are currently out of school and over half a million women still die in pregnancy and childbirth each year.

Increased international effort is needed, building on what has already been achieved and on the overwhelming consensus reached at the 2000 Millennium summit last September. This summit reaffirmed the commitment of the international community to achieving the goals as a first step towards eradicating global poverty.

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The challenge over the next few years will be to turn this commitment into solid and sustained action. National Governments must take the lead. Industrialised countries must work for a stronger commitment in global institutions and agreements to the systematic reduction of poverty. Development assistance needs to increase and be deployed more effectively on building national capacity to meet the IDTs. Globalisation must be managed if its effects are to benefit the poorest people in the poorest countries. DFID's approach to this is set out in our White Paper published last December, a copy of which is also in the House Library.

DFID is widely seen as playing a leading role in the drive towards the international development targets. The long-term fall in UK development assistance has been reversed and this Government are committed to increasing the oda/GNP ratio from its year 2000 level of 0.31 per cent. to 0.34 per cent. by 2003–04. Our manifesto committed the Government to further substantial increases during this Parliament.

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