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28 Nov 2002 : Column 433W—continued

Women's Prison (Ashford, Middlesex)

Mr. Wilshire: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will make a statement on the delay in signing the contract for a women's prison at Ashford (Middlesex). [83369]

Hilary Benn [holding answer 27 November 2002]: The contract between Her Majesty's Prison Service and UKDS for the new prison at Ashford is expected to be signed shortly. Following usual practice I will write to the hon. Member before the contract is signed.

Young Offenders

Mrs. Brooke: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many under-18 year olds were in each of the last 10 years held in custody in England and Wales on 30 September; broken down by those in (a) each prison, (b) each local authority secure unit and (c) each secure training centre; and in each case how many persons were held aged (i) 10 to 12 (ii) 13 to 14 and (iii) 15 to 16 and (iv) 17 to 18. [81772]

Hilary Benn: The requested information has been placed in the Library. Information is not held in the detail requested prior to 1995.

Information on juveniles held in local authority secure units and secure training units was not collected centrally prior to April 2000.

Mr. Marsden: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what his policy is on the practice of remanding 15 to 16-year-old boys in prison. [82823]

Hilary Benn: For juveniles a custodial remand should always be the last option considered by the courts. We have provided a wide range of community alternatives including bail support and supervision schemes, tagging on bail and the intensive supervision and surveillance programme.

Where a custodial remand is necessary 15 and 16-year-old boys are remanded to Prison Service accommodation, unless the court considers them particularly vulnerable, in which case they could be remanded to a local authority secure unit.


Works Expenditure

Mr. Hammond: To ask the hon. Member for Roxburgh and Berwickshire, representing the House of Commons Commission, what was (a) the total cost of the works carried out to Old Palace Yard and Abingdon

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Street over the course of 2001 and 2002 and (b) the contribution of the House of Commons Commission to such works. [83397]

Mr. Kirkwood: The House of Commons Commission has made no contribution to the cost of the road works, for which the authorities of the House of Lords are responsible.

The House of Commons has paid £33,384 in 2002–03 towards the cost of the Golden Jubilee Sundial.



Mr. Walter: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what plans she has to ensure that every child in the world receives a free basic education as guaranteed under the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights. [83402]

Clare Short: Unfortunately there has been little international effort to implement the rights to education outlined in the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights in the past.

The Government are strongly committed to mobilising greater international efforts to meet the millennium development goals. The target for education is to ensure that, by 2015, children everywhere, boys and girls alike, will be able to complete a full course of primary schooling. We are working with the UN and international financial institutions and national development agencies to heighten commitments to meet the target.

Since 1997 we have committed £700 million to basic education. Forecast commitment for the next five years are £1.3 billion. Of this £500 million will go to Africa and £800 million will go to Asia. These spending figures are forecasts and depend on agreeing quality programmes with partners.


Mr. Edwards: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development if she will make a statement about UK measures to avoid starvation in Ethiopia. [82997]

Mr. Laurence Robertson: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development how much emergency aid her Department will provide to Ethiopia during the present food shortage; what form that aid will take; when it will be delivered; and if she will make a statement. [83156]

Clare Short: I refer my hon. Friend and the hon. Member to the answer I gave the hon. Member for Banbury (Tony Baldry) on 26 November 2002, Official Report, columns 201–02W.

Heavily Indebted Poor Countries

Mr. Paul Marsden: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development when she expects the remaining debts for the heavily indebted poor countries to be cancelled. [83195]

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Clare Short: So far, 26 countries out of a total of 37 eligible countries have qualified for relief under the Heavily Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC) Initiative. Of these, six countries have reached Completion Point and have received full debt relief. A further 20 countries have reached their Decision Point and are receiving interim debt relief. We expect the bulk of these countries to reach Completion Point in the next two years; when they, too, will receive full debt relief. It is difficult to predict when the other 11 countries will qualify for HIPC relief, as many are still affected by conflict and governance problems. Of these, Central African Republic, DR Congo, Comoros and Cote d'lvoire may reach Decision Point in 2003 but, in some cases, this will depend on progress towards peace. The remaining countries are a long way from qualifying as they are affected by conflict or have serious governance concerns; these are Burundi, Congo Republic, Liberia, Myanmar, Somalia, Sudan and Togo.


Mr. Paul Marsden: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what financial assistance her Department is giving to Malawi to (a) treat and (b) prevent HIV/AIDS. [83190]

Clare Short: My Department is providing support for the National HIV/AIDS Strategic Framework by means of a £25 million sexual and reproductive health programme. A further £10 million supports the provision of sexual and reproductive health services by a local non-Governmental organisation (Banja La Mtsogolo).

The UK is contributing £300 million to the Global Fund for AIDS, TB and Malaria, and Malawi was recently granted $200 million from this fund to be utilised over the next five years.

DFID has also been involved with Government and other donors in the development and establishment of the National AIDS Commission (NAC). NAG operates as a trust, relatively independent of Government, and is responsible for the preparation of a national strategy and action plan, which aims to improve prevention, care and support and impact mitigation. DFID will be strengthening its support to the Government of Malawi through NAC, the Ministry of Health and Population and other Ministries which are improving their responses to HIV in the workplace and the communities they serve, and to a stronger national Civil Society response.

All DFID programmes now include sector specific activities to help address HIV/AIDS.

Mr. Paul Marsden: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development when she expects Malawi to achieve the Millennium Development goals. [83191]

Clare Short: Malawi ranks as one of the poorest countries in the world with a per capita income of US$170 in 2001. An equally low UN Human Development Index indicates that progress towards achievement of the Millennium Development Goals (MDG) will be slow.

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Specific challenges include attainment of the MDGs for poverty reduction and gender equality. There have been gains in achievement of universal primary education, but this is marked by concerns regarding the quality of education and participation rates for girls. Progress in achievement of MDGs for child mortality and maternal health has been poor; maternal mortality has doubled to 1,120:100,000 since 1992. There are indications that the high incidence of HIV/AIDS (currently 16 per cent.) and its coincide with the present food crisis, will lead to further increases in mortality. Life expectancy has already dropped below 40 years of age. There are also growing problems with governance standards.

Malawi launched its Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper (PRSP) in April. PRS monitoring will be linked to MDGs. My Department is providing support in partnership with other donors, to ensure this is appropriately robust.

Mr. Paul Marsden: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development if she will make a statement on (a) the level of debt interest payments made by Malawi and (b) the effects on poverty eradication in the country. [83194]

Clare Short: According to the Reserve Bank of Malawi, in 2001, external debt service was Malawian Kwacha 6.4 billion (US$78 million) and of this (30 per cent.) Malawian Kwacha 1.9 billion (US$23 million) was in respect of payments.

Malawi remains eligible for interim debt relief under the Enhanced HIPC (Heavily Indebted Poor Countries) Initiative (US$91.4 million in total). In 2001 Malawi benefited from US$27 million of this. In 2002, the position is different. Although Malawi could have received a further US$50 million in debt relief, this amount has not been forthcoming because of the Government's unsatisfactory economic and financial management performance during the year. The country is currently off track with its IMF programme and has serious problems of corruption. The Minister of Finance has promised to announce a number of remedial measures this next week and the IMF is expected to return to Malawi in mid-December to discuss progress against these. Assuming Malawi can get back on track with the IMF in the near future, the Government could still be on schedule to reach its HIPC completion point by mid 2003. At that stage, all of the debt covered by the HIPC initiative would be irrevocably cancelled. In addition, Malawi would be reimbursed for the relief it is currently losing. HIPC debt relief should be used for increased spending on health, education, and other social priorities.

Domestic debt, which stood at MK20.2 billion (14 per cent. of GDP) in July 2002 and the rising domestic interest bill is also a concern. This underscores the importance of Government implementing the necessary remedial actions to restore fiscal stability and thus reduce the need to borrow domestically.

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