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BP Signing Ceremony

Norman Baker: To ask the Prime Minister who (a) organised and (b) proposed the signing ceremony at 10 Downing street involving BP on 18 November 1997. [41975]

The Prime Minister: As was stated in the Lobby briefing on 18 November 1997, I witnessed the BP signing ceremony between the Chief Executive John Browne and the Chief Executive of Omexim Bank,

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Vladmir Potanin and Victor Ott the Russian First Deputy Minister of Fuel and Energy at Downing street.

Parliamentary Debates

Mr. Andrew Turner: To ask the Prime Minister on how many occasions he has spoken in the House, other than in statements or questions, and for how long, in each year since May 1997. [42137]

The Prime Minister: It is long-standing convention that the Prime Minister answers weekly questions in the House. Since 1997 I have spent 75 hours in the House answering questions. I have also made 42 statements.

In addition, I have made speeches on the elections of the Speaker in 1997 and 2000, Official Report, 7 May 1997 and 23 October 2000; Debates on the Address, Official Report, 14 May 1997, 24 November 1998, 17 November 1999, 6 December 2000 and 20 June 2001; the Humble Address: Hundredth Birthday of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother, Official Report, 11 July 2000; the Opposition Day on Parliament and the Executive, Official Report, 13 July 2000; and the Retirement of Madam Speaker, Official Report, 26 July 2000.


Mr. Brady: To ask the Prime Minister, pursuant to his oral statement on the Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting of 6 March 2002, Official Report, column 291, if he will make a statement on the outcome of his discussions regarding the exclusion of Zimbabwe from the 2002 Commonwealth Games. [41919]

The Prime Minister: Arrangements for the Games, including participation, are the responsibility of the Commonwealth Games Federation. We are not aware of any discussions having taken place regarding the exclusion of Zimbabwe from the 2002 Commonwealth Games but will keep the situation under review.

As I made clear in my statement last week, the Presidents of South Africa and Nigeria, and the Prime Minister of Australia, will be considering what action to take on Zimbabwe in the light of the findings of the Commonwealth observer team currently monitoring Zimbabwe's Presidential election. Should the Commonwealth, on the basis of these findings, decide Zimbabwe should be suspended from the organisation, Zimbabwe would become ineligible to compete in the Games.


Press and Public Relations

Mr. Andrew Turner: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what the annual budget for communications activities, including press, public relations, marketing and internal communications, was for her Department for each financial year from 1997–98 to 2001–02. [39914]

Clare Short: Our budget for press office costs over the last three years has been as follows.

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(9) to date

Figures for the previous two years are not readily accessible. We do not hold separate budgets for public relations or marketing. We have an overall programme of public information work, which forms part of our effort to raise awareness and understanding of international development issues in the UK. Spending under this programme in the last five years has been as follows:


(10) to date

Internal communications work is also, by its nature, spread across a wide range of activities and functions. However our core central system in this regard is our intranet. The annual budget for this, as well as for our wider knowledge sharing work, is expected to be around £150,000.

Child Labour

Mr. Cox: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what recent discussions she has had with representatives of the International Labour Organisation on child labour; and which issues were discussed. [40517]

Clare Short: Officials from my Department are in regular contact with the ILO as part of our Partnership Framework arrangement. Child labour is an important element of our partnership. Issues discussed recently have included our support to the ILO's International Programme for the elimination of Child Labour (IPEC) and its activities in south-east Asia, India and Bangladesh.


Mr. Boswell: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development if she will make a statement on international educational developments since the Dakar Conference, with particular reference to the completion of national educational development programmes and progress towards universal primary education. [40892]

Clare Short: I refer the hon. Member to the answer given to my hon. Friend the Member for Gedling (Vernon Coaker) on 6 March 2002, Official Report, column 334W.


Dr. Tonge: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development which DFID-funded projects in the West Bank and Gaza Strip have been damaged by Israeli retaliatory attacks; what the damage incurred was; and what was the value of the damage sustained. [40624]

Clare Short: The conflict and closures have had a major impact on all development projects. The only direct damage to a DFID funded project of which we are aware

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from Israeli military activity has been to a community centre in Rafah, part of a water and sanitation project funded through Save the Children Fund. The final cost has not yet been confirmed. 60 houses have also been damaged in Rafah, affecting 100 potential project beneficiaries.

Dr. Tonge: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what success the DFID- funded water and sanitation projects in (a) Rafah, (b) Tabalra, (c) Dura and (d) Arabia have had in improving water supplies to the Palestinians of the Occupied Territories. [40622]

Clare Short: The project in Rafah has led to improvements in both the quality and quantity of water. Sanitary standards have also increased as the majority of households are now connected to a new sewage network. But Rafah is a target for the Israeli military. This has disrupted project implementation.

The establishment of a water network and communal cisterns, and the rehabilitation of springs have increased the quality and volume of water in Dura. At least 75 per cent. of households are connected to the new sewage network. Access and mobility are easier in Dura, but the Israeli port authorities have embargoed important water meters.

Significant progress in both water and sanitation has also been made in Anabta and Jabalia, the two other towns covered by the project. We do not have any activities in Arabia or Tabalra.

Dr. Tonge: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what discussions she has had with the EU with a view to calling for reparations from Israel for the destruction of and damage to the European-financed development projects in Gaza and the West Bank at (a) the Gaza International Airport, (b) the Office of the Palestinian Statistical System and (c) the Voice of Palestine Radio Station in Ramallah. [40625]

Clare Short: The Presidency, with full UK support, has conveyed the EU's grave concern to the Israeli Government. It has been made clear that we view the damage and destruction of all EU-financed development projects in the Palestinian Territories to be out of proportion to any military, security, or political needs. Financial compensation may be sought. A provisional assessment has been made of the affected projects. It has been emphasised that this is not simply an accounting exercise to form the basis of a financial claim; such actions are counter-productive and perpetuate the cycle of violence.

Sexual and Reproductive Health

Mr. Peter Duncan: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what account is taken of the religious and cultural values of people in developing countries before her Department funds organisations providing sexual and reproductive health assistance. [41968]

Clare Short: My Department recognises that sexual and reproductive health programmes must honour the principles of freedom of choice agreed at the UN conference in Cairo and will only be successful if full

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account is taken of the religious and cultural values of those the programmes are intended to help. We only work with organisations that also recognise this approach.

Rail Journeys (Staff)

Mr. Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development if she will make it her policy that rail journeys undertaken by staff in her Department should ordinarily be on standard class tickets. [40433]

Clare Short: Our policy on rail travel has been in place for many years and is derived from guidance which applied across the civil service. It has served us well but we propose to review it to define more clearly that the class of travel should be determined by business need not the grade of the traveller.

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