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25 Nov 2002 : Column 30W—continued


Dr. Tonge: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what recent assessment her Department has made of the rate of spread of HIV/AIDS in (a) India, (b) Bangladesh, (c) Thailand and (d) Indonesia. [82239]

Clare Short: DFID is working closely with the Governments of both India and Bangladesh to prevent the spread of HIV/AIDS. India has a significant HIV epidemic, with prevalence in some states at around 2 per cent. The number of people with HIV/AIDS is estimated at 3.9 million. In Bangladesh, although HIV prevalence is less than 1 per cent., even in high risk groups, we recognise as a priority the prevention of its further spread.

We are currently considering what role there may be for DFID in working on HIV/AIDS in Indonesia, where evidence suggests that prevalence in certain places and in certain groups has risen quickly. Thailand is often held up as one of the world's success stories in combating HIV/AIDS, having reduced the number of new infections from 143,000 in 1991 to 29,000 in 2001. DFID has no bilateral programme there, but we do continue to monitor carefully the status of the epidemic.

Overseas Aid

Tony Baldry: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what plans her Department has to announce the timetable for the UK meeting the UN on 0.7 GNI aid commitment following the announced aid increase to its ODA in the Queen's Speech; and whether aid increase is additional to that announced during the Comprehensive Spending Review. [82074]

Clare Short: It was announced at the recent Comprehensive Spending Review that UK ODA/GNI will be 0.4 per cent. in FY 2006–07. Subsequent changes will be decided infuture spending reviews. The UK remains firmly committed to the 0.7 per cent. target.

The Queen's Speech referred to the increase already announced in the Comprehensive Spending Review.

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Plan Puebla Panama

Dr. Tonge: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what discussions she has had with (a) her counterparts within the EU and (b) the World bank regarding the Plan Puebla Panama in Mexico. [82229]

Clare Short: None.

Sierra Leone

John Barrett: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what progress is being made in improving the judicial system in Sierra Leone. [82658]

Clare Short: The Sierra Leone judiciary has been in a state of decline for at least the last 30 years. Its operational independence has been deeply undermined. Low pay is a cause of poor morale and contributes to all round ineffectiveness. Investment in training and infrastructure has been minimal. The perception in Sierra Leone is that it is unresponsive, unaccountable, corrupt and inaccessible. It is neither trusted nor respected.

Starting from this very low base my Department has been working with the Sierra Leone judiciary to support reform. Assistance to date has concentrated on the restoration of infrastructure, the provision of equipment, court recording systems and procedures and legal drafting.

We are considering a further programme of assistance that would take an integrated approach to the justice system (police, legal and judicial and penal systems). This will be a joint project with the World Bank. We expect the UN agencies active in Sierra Leone and the Commonwealth Secretariat to take part. We intend the programme to take place over at least five years.

John Barrett: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what progress is being made towards the alleviation of poverty in Sierra Leone. [82661]

Clare Short: Sierra Leone agreed an interim Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper (PRSP) with the international financial institutions in September 2001. It outlines a post-conflict transitional phase focused on restoration of security, re-launching the economy, and provision of basic services to the most vulnerable groups. Longer term programmes for poverty reduction will be contained in a full PRSP that the Government of Sierra Leone intend to prepare by late 2003. Agreement of a full PRSP will be the key step for an agreed agenda between the Government of Sierra Leone and the donor community for poverty reduction.

Peace was declared in Sierra Leone in January this year. Inevitably, the Government's initial focus has been on disarmament, demobilisation and reintegration of ex-combatants, and measures to assist the millions of internally displaced persons and returning refugees. After 10 years of conflict, Sierra Leone faces a huge task in developing and implementing policies to address poverty reduction and the Millennium Development Goals. There are some encouraging developments, for example, in improving primary school enrolment and immunisation rates, but much remains to be done in a country severely damaged by conflict.

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We are supporting a major programme of support to reform and poverty reduction in Sierra Leone, including direct assistance with the preparation of a full PRSP. Under the Poverty Reduction Framework Arrangement signed with the Government of Sierra Leone this month, we have committed £120 million over the next three years, as part of a 10-year commitment of support. This complements the US$172 million poverty reduction and growth facility agreed by Sierra Leone with the IMF in September 2001, and the US$950 million of debt relief available through the Highly Indebted Poor Countries Initiative, both of which will assist Sierra Leone to address recovery and poverty reduction.


Dr. Jenny Tonge: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what action her Department has taken since the seminar on education in Sudan on 29 July held by her Department; and if she will make a statement. [82234]

Clare Short: Since the seminar, my Department has given £316,000 to UNICEF for education in the Nuba Mountains cease-fire area. This is proceeding well: 600 school kits have already been delivered and more are on the way; rehabilitation of school buildings has also started. We are also supporting a range of scholarship programmes particularly targeting women and students from conflict-affected areas. My Senior Education Adviser visited north and south Sudan in October to review this work and to discuss plans to rehabilitate the education system in Sudan. We continue to plan for what we hope will be a comprehensive peace in the New Year.

Dr. Tonge: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what steps her Department is taking to combat the epidemics of kala azar and guinea worm in southern Sudan. [82238]

Clare Short: So far in 2002 we have provided a total of 743,048 to Medecins sans Frontieres for three urgent health care projects in southern Sudan, which include the treatment of people suffering from the recent outbreak of Kala Azar (also known as visceral leishmanaisis).

We are not presently funding any projects dealing with Guinea Worm in Sudan as this need is being met by other organisations, such as the Carter Centre. However, should the situation worsen, we would consider providing support.


LPG Stations

Mr. Sayeed: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what strategies her Department has adopted to promote the supply of liquefied petroleum gas. [80504]

Mr. Wilson: This Department is actively working with colleagues in DTLR and HMT, and with the energy and transport industries to promote wider uptake of alternative fuels in particular liquid petroleum gas (LPG).

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At the opening of the 1000th LPG filling station in February this year, I announced LPG Boost, a £1 million DTI funded programme over two years to boost the uptake of LPG, as a vehicle fuel. I recently announced further details of this scheme which will introduce grants for converters and seek to raise awareness of LPG, particularly in four targeted rural areas of the country—Highlands and Islands, Mid and North Wales, Cornwall and East Ayrshire.

University Research (Government Funding)

Mrs. Iris Robinson: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry how much Government funding for investment in university research and development each part of the United Kingdom receives (a) in absolute terms and (b) in proportion to its population [82030]

Ms Hewitt: Government funding for investment in university research and development through the Research Councils and Funding Councils (and, in Northern Ireland, the Department for Education and Learning) in the UK is as follows:

Absolute terms (£ million)Per head of population (£)
Northern Ireland2414

Animal Experiments

Norman Baker : To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry (1) what plans she has to take (a) legal and (b) other action against British-based companies and their subsidiaries which carry out cosmetic testing on animals outside of the EU where such testing is illegal within the EU. [80838]

Norman Baker : To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what guidance her Department offers to British companies in respect of the use of animals for cosmetic testing purposes. [81597]

Miss Melanie Johnson [holding answers 20 November 2002]: A ban on animal testing finished cosmetic products was introduced in the UK in 1997 and a subsequent ban on animal testing cosmetic of ingredients was introduced in the UK in 1998. These bans are to be made Europe-wide following the recently agreed 7th amendment to the Cosmetics Directive.

This Amendment will introduce a ban on the testing of finished cosmetic products on animals. It will also introduce a ban on the sale in the EU of cosmetic products or their ingredients which have been tested on animals, once alternative tests are in place. It will also,

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within 10 years, prohibit the marketing in the EU of cosmetic products which have been tested on animals wherever in the world that testing might have been carried out.

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