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16 Dec 2003 : Column 827W—continued

Shellfish Licensing Scheme

Andrew George: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs when a new shellfish licensing scheme will be introduced; and whether the scheme will take account of its impact on (a) small boat (under eight metres) fishermen and (b) future new entrants to the industry. [141113]

Mr. Bradshaw: A restrictive licensing scheme for shellfish (crabs and lobsters) will take effect from 1 January 2004 for vessels over 10 metres and from 1 April 2004 for vessels under 10 metres. Shellfish entitlements are being granted to existing fishing vessels which, with their current licences, have taken more than 200 kg of lobsters or 750 kg of crabs in any 12 month period between 1 January 1998 and 31 December 2002. The scheme will apply to vessels under eight metres which will account for more than 40 per cent. of the vessels qualifying under the scheme. Anyone wishing to take up shellfishing will need to acquire an appropriate fishing vessel licence carrying a shellfish entitlement from an existing vessel. Licensed fishing vessels without a shellfish entitlement will be permitted to land up to five lobsters and 25 crabs per day.


Law Officers

Miss McIntosh: To ask the Solicitor-General what recent (a) democratic and (b) human rights issues the Law Officers have considered. [144484]

The Solicitor-General: There is a longstanding convention that the fact that the Law Officers have been consulted is not publicly disclosed. This is consistent with paragraphs 2 and 4(d) of Part II of the Code of Practice on Access to Government Information.

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Tom Brake: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what the progress is of the UN programme for voter registration in Afghanistan. [143936]

Hilary Benn: On 1 December voter registration for the 2004 general election started in eight regional capitals (Kabul, Bamian, Jalalabad, Mazar-e-Sharif, Konduz, Kandahar, Heart and Gardez). Initial results indicated that the UN backed programme has proceeded smoothly with 21,370 voters, including 2,395 women registered to vote in the first week. The government, with the help of ISAF and the international coalition forces has taken measures to ensure security of the teams carrying out the registrations. Voter intimidation however, as well as the reluctance in rural areas to allow women to register, continues to be a major concern. The UN remains confident that they will meet their goal of registering 10 million Afghan voters.


Mr. Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development if he will list the expenditure allocated to each programme in middle income countries prior to his written statement to the House of 6 November 2003, Official Report, columns 41–43WS. [143268]

Hilary Benn: DFID's internal resource allocation process allocates funds to many middle income countries (MICs) on a regional basis only. Individual country expenditure plans within these regions are flexible and are managed collectively within the overall budget. The table shows indicative figures for the amount we were planning to spend on middle income country programmes within these regional budget lines and excludes any multi-country programmes.

Middle income country expenditure plans (£ million)

South Africa353535
Sri Lanka15208
EC Pre Accession (Romania, Bulgaria)
Balkans (Serbia and Montenegro, Bosnia, Kosovo, Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Albania)19.618.818.2
Latin America (Brazil, Peru, Honduras, Bolivia)17.716.215.2
Caribbean (Jamaica, Guyana, Belize, Windward Islands)11.310.610.3
Overseas Territories (Turks and Caicos, Anguilla, Montserrat, St. Helena)
Palestinian Authority15.511.511.5
Middle East Regional (Egypt, Jordan)
Iraq (prior to 14 October statement)

Mr. Rosindell: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development if he will list the aid programmes in middle income countries whose funding from the Department will be reduced as a result of the recent announcement on the diversion of aid. [144677]

Mr. Gareth Thomas: The Secretary of State outlined the middle income countries and regional programmes that will be affected in his statement to the House of 6 November 2003, Official Report, column 42WS. More detailed plans are now being made, in consultation with partner countries and other donors. They will be embodied in the annual revision of DFID's Aid Framework, which is expected to be completed over the next two months.

Annabelle Ewing: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what representations he has received concerning the UK Government's performance in meeting the UN's international development aid target as a proportion of gross national product. [142725]

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Hilary Benn: Representations have been received on this subject from a wide range of correspondents. Since 1997, the UK's level of official development assistance has increased in real terms by 93 per cent. It currently stands at 0.33 per cent. of Gross National Income for this financial year, and will rise to 0.4 per cent. in 2005–06, exceeding the EU target of 0.39 per cent. for member states, and more than double the current G7 average of 0.19 per cent. The UK remains committed to the UN target of 0.7 per cent. oda/GNI and to meeting the Millennium Development Goals.

Art Acquisition

Norman Baker: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development how much his Department has spent on the acquisition of works of art in each year since 1997, broken down by amounts spent on (a) paintings and (b) sculpture; what the single most expensive piece of art purchased by his Department since 1997 was; how much it cost; and what the total revenue raised by his Department through sales of its works of art has been since 1997. [142369]

Hilary Benn: DFID has not spent any funds on the acquisition of works of art since 1997. All works of art in our UK offices are on loan from the Government Art Collection. Most DFID offices overseas have some low value works of art that have been purchased locally, but we have no central records, and the information could not be obtained without disproportionate cost.


Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what assistance his Department is giving to (a) the Government of Eritrea and (b) aid agencies operating within Eritrea. [144156]

Hilary Benn: We are not providing any direct assistance to the Government of Eritrea.

However, in 2003, we have provided the following assistance for Eritrea to address humanitarian needs:

International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC)500,000
World Food Programme (WFP)1,000,000
Dutch Interchurch Aid 550,000

We are considering what support we should provide to the 2004 Consolidated Annual Appeal for Eritrea that has recently been issued.

We also have a Small Grants Scheme, which is managed by our Embassy in Asmara and is for the funding of small development projects in Eritrea. Our total support for this scheme in the current financial year is £200,000.

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Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what discussions he has had with the Government of Eritrea on development aid; and what plans he has to link aid to progress on human rights issues in that country. [144157]

Hilary Benn: We have written to the President of Eritrea indicating that we plan to provide our development assistance to Eritrea through the EU, IMF and World Bank. DFID provides funds to these organisations.

We also indicated that in order for Eritrea to make progress on eliminating poverty through support from partners, they needed to engage in developing a strong Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper. We also stressed the need for these development partnerships to be based on frank dialogue and the sharing of information.

During his recent visit to London, I explained to the Eritrean Foreign Minister that we do not have a bilateral programme with every country and referred to our support through the EU, World Bank and IMF. We also reminded him of the substantial humanitarian support that we have provided to Eritrea in 2003.


Mr. Patrick Hall: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development (1) what assessment he has made of the role in the reconstruction of Iraq of the privatisation of state-owned enterprises being pursued by the Private Sector Development Department of the Iraqi Coalition Provisional Authority; [143302]

Hilary Benn: No decision has been made on the privatisation of Iraqi state-owned enterprises. As Paul Bremer, the US Administrator of the Coalition Provisional Authority, stated at the Madrid Conference,

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