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3 Jun 2003 : Column 283W—continued


Mrs. Spelman: To ask the Minister of State, Department for International Development what assessment he has made of the current food shortages in (a) Tanzania and (b) the Singida region of Tanzania. [116699]

Hilary Benn: The Government of Tanzania carried out an initial food crop assessment in May. Plans are also under way for the Food Security and Information Team (a joint donor, NGO and government working group) to undertake an assessment in July to identify particular areas of vulnerability. These assessments are normally conducted on a countrywide basis. DFID is ready to consider any request which the Government of Tanzania may make as a result of these assessments.

Mrs. Spelman: To ask the Minister of State, Department for International Development how much aid the Department is giving to Tanzania to deal with the current food shortages. [116700]

Hilary Benn: During 2003–04 DFID will provide £80,000,000 to Tanzania to support the Poverty Reduction Strategy (PRS). Agriculture and food security is a priority sector in the PRS and therefore a proportion of our support is used by the Government of Tanzania to address issues of vulnerability and food insecurity throughout the country. The Government of Tanzania is currently undertaking assessments of food shortages. DFID is ready to consider any request which the Government may make as a result of these assessments.

Mrs. Spelman: To ask the Minister of State, Department for International Development whether there have been early warning system forecasts on the food shortages in Tanzania. [116701]

Hilary Benn: It was anticipated that the exceptionally low rainfall so far this year could potentially threaten food security in Tanzania. This led the government of Tanzania to carry out an initial food and crop survey in May. A further assessment is anticipated in July to identify particularly vulnerable areas following the June harvest.


Lembit Öpik: To ask the Minister of State, Department for International Development for what reasons his Department decided to end funding for the UNESCO UK Commission at the end of March 2003; and if he will make a statement. [115992]

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Hilary Benn: I refer the hon. Member to the written statement made on 6 May 2003 by the previous Secretary of State for International Development, Official Report, column 27WS.


Mrs. Ellman: To ask the Minister of State, Department for International Development what assessment he has made of child labour used in cotton picking in Uzbekistan. [115630]

Hilary Benn: Although DFID has not made an assessment of child labour used in cotton picking in Uzbekistan, the Department is committed to tackling child labour as part of its work on eliminating poverty and promote human rights and social justice. We are working towards long-lasting changes, tackling the underlying poverty and discrimination that force children into harmful work. In addition we are supporting the work of the International Labour Organisation and its International Programme for the Elimination of Child Labour (IPEC). This includes addressing the problem of child labour through our basic education projects, through support to the programmes of civil society organisations such as Save the Children and by working with socially responsible business through the Ethical Trading Initiative.


Mrs. Spelman: To ask the Minister of State, Department for International Development what recent assessment he has made of the humanitarian situation in Zimbabwe. [115426]

Hilary Benn: Zimbabwe is still facing an acute humanitarian crisis. Although there is likely to be a modest increase in the maize crop, many Zimbabweans will remain vulnerable due to a poorly managed and funded Government food distribution programme; dramatic economic decline—particularly rising inflation and unemployment; and chronic illness (particularly AIDS).

People in the south and west, where there has been little or no crop, are particularly vulnerable, as are approximately 200,000 farm workers—perhaps 1 million people with their families—who lost livelihoods after the fast track land programme. DFID is awaiting more details on the numbers and the location of populations at risk from the national vulnerability assessment, FAO/WFP crop survey and the national nutrition survey, which will give more precise information on the scale of the humanitarian crisis.

DFID support for the humanitarian crisis will continue in 2003–4 through NGOs and UN feeding programmes. At this stage we envisage the DFID response will be on similar scale to last year.

Mrs. Spelman: To ask the Minister of State, Department for International Development how much food aid is reaching the people of Zimbabwe. [115440]

Hilary Benn: In the last year, the Government of Zimbabwe has imported 700,000 tonnes of maize, though the targeting and distribution of this food has not been transparent and has been criticised by Zimbabweans as erratic and biased. Many areas have received no

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distribution from Government sources for up to six months. Donors have imported and distributed around 300,000 tonnes of maize. This has been distributed to vulnerable people according to humanitarian principles and has been monitored closely.

The national nutrition and health survey is expected to confirm that, overall, the aid effort in the last year has been successful, although there are areas with raised levels of malnutrition, unmet needs and continuing dependence on food aid. The prospects for the coming year remain dismal. The Government of Zimbabwe have yet to release a revised crop forecast or the results of a vulnerability assessment and the afore-mentioned national health and nutrition survey. They have no public plans to address the situation, and it seems likely that despite a higher maize harvest, the need for humanitarian assistance may be as high or even greater than last year as the collapsing economy limits the Government's capacity to import food.


Agency Workers

Mr. Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many agency workers have been employed by the Department in each of the last two years; and at what cost to public funds. [115194]

Mr. Hoon: The information requested is not held centrally and could be provided only at disproportionate cost. Temporary staff are generally used as an interim measure to fill posts that cannot be filled conventionally in the required timescale or to cover short term peaks in workload.


Mr. Keetch: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence pursuant to his Answer to the hon. Member for North Norfolk (Norman Lamb) of 16 May 2003, Official Report, column 442W, in which locations chartered Antonovs were used in (a) 2001, (b) 2002 and (c) 2003; what the total cost of chartering the Antonovs has been since October 2001; how many Antonovs are under charter; and if he will make a statement. [116052]

Mr. Ingram: Chartered Antonovs have been used in the locations set out as follows:

KenyaFalkland IslandsBahrain
Saudi Arabia
Sierra Leone
United Arab Emirates

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The total cost of Antonov charters since October 2001 has been some £48.5 million. This figure is provisional and subject to final audit. There are no Antonov aircraft currently on charter but a requirement may arise at any time for such commercial airlift, to supplement the RAF Air Transport Force, in time of crisis or high tasking. The Antonov AN-124 is used in a heavy-lift role and is primarily utilized for the movement of out-sized or wheeled loads which exceed the capacity of RAF aircraft. Such large capacity can enable the more rapid deployment of equipment in support of UK operations overseas.

Armed Forces (Academic Lessons)

Mr. Wray: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what non-operational academic lessons are given in training to officers in all branches of the armed forces; what (a) history, (b) military history and (c) political lessons are provided; what links there are to civilian educational establishments; and if he will make a statement on the value of such education to professional soldiers. [115161]

Dr. Moonie: The training and education provided to military officers is designed to underpin operational capability and to develop a skills base for our people. The courses in the areas raised vary across the three Services. I will write to my hon. Friend with details of the courses available and place a copy of my letter in the Library of the House.

Mr. Wray: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what provision is made to teach naval history to Royal Navy (a) officers and (b) crew; whether visits to historical naval sites are made available; and if he will make a statement on the purpose of teaching British naval history to the Royal Navy. [115163]

Dr. Moonie: The teaching of naval history is an integral element of initial and through-career training and education of RN officers. Specific teaching is delivered at Britannia Royal Naval College (itself a significant historical site) for new entry RN officers and at the Commando Training Centre for Royal Marine officers. At key points of an officer's career further naval history is taught.

Naval ratings receive, as part of their initial training, periods of instruction under the title of 'Naval General Training' which is fundamental to the inculcation of the naval ethos and includes defence and political studies. Royal Marine other ranks receive lessons in naval history and amphibious operations.

Visits are undertaken routinely to the historic dockyard at Portsmouth housing the Royal Naval Museum, HMS Victory, Warrior and the Mary Rose, as well as to the Royal Navy Submarine Museum in Gosport.

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Naval history thus continues to form a key part of naval thinking and ethos. In addition to engendering a sense of esprit de corps, tradition and a pride in past achievements among those serving in the Royal Navy, current debates on the future role of maritime forces are being informed by Naval Historical Branch staff. The Ministry of Defence also contributes some £2.6 million per annum towards the running costs of the Royal Naval, Royal Marines, Submarine and Fleet Air Arm Museums.

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