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5 Jan 2004 : Column 43W—continued


Mr. Rosindell: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what recent discussions he has had with officials from the (a) EU and (b) UN regarding human rights in Zimbabwe. [144679]

Hilary Benn: Human rights abuses are an increasing cause for concern in Zimbabwe. There continue to be high levels of political violence and repression, particularly against trade unions and the independent media. Failed economic policies have also undermined basic social and economic rights. This is reflected in the 5.5 million people requiring food aid and the collapse of basic services.

The subject of human rights in Zimbabwe is regularly discussed by officials at meetings of the EU's Africa Working Group. In Harare, we work closely with the UN Resident Representative and EU Ambassadors to promote human rights. This has included work on humanitarian principles to ensure relief and recovery programmes are not politicised and reach those most in need.

Hugh Bayley: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what the criteria are for identifying recipients of food aid in Zimbabwe. [146154]

Hilary Benn: Criteria for the distribution of food aid through the World Food Programme have been set out in a recent Memorandum of Understanding between WFP and the Government of Zimbabwe. These criteria use a number of different indicators of vulnerability to ensure that food assistance is distributed on the basis of need. The households that receive highest priority include those with chronically ill adults, those headed by children or disabled people, and those without access to land or income.

In addition to these general rations distributed to households, DFID and other humanitarian partners are providing supplementary feeding through clinics and home based care programmes. Priority has been given to

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areas where there is limited coverage of general distributions, high rates of childhood malnutrition and poor harvests last year.

Hugh Bayley: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what contingency plans are in place in the event that food needs remain unmet in (a) Zimbabwe and (b) other parts of southern Africa before the next harvest. [146155]

Hilary Benn: In Zimbabwe it is unlikely that there will be sufficient food for the 5.5 million people who are expected to need assistance during the pre-harvest season, i.e. January to April. DFID is again providing almost £20 million for emergency feeding programmes this year, but the Government of Zimbabwe's contribution to the humanitarian feeding operation is expected to be negligible. The World Food Programme has responded by reducing rations, and is now providing about 50 per cent. of daily needs. DFID is working with the World Food Programme, other UN agencies and various non-governmental organisations to ensure that the available humanitarian resources are used efficiently and prioritised to reach the most vulnerable, including households affected by AIDS.

We are monitoring closely the situation in other countries in the region. We have already provided almost £3 million for food aid programmes in Mozambique, Lesotho and Swaziland to cover immediate requirements until the harvest season, and are augmenting this with support for agricultural recovery activities. We are also funding the work of the Vulnerability Assessment Committees to provide more detailed information on vulnerability, and have used this data to target nutritional support operations in Mozambique and Lesotho to complement food aid deliveries in these countries.


Boundary Review

26. Dr. Evan Harris: To ask the hon. Member for Gosport, representing the Speaker's Committee on the Electoral Commission, what plans the Commission has to reform the process of parliamentary boundary review. [145853]

Mr. Viggers: The Commission has no such plans. Section 16 of the Political Parties, Elections and Referendums Act 2000 provides for the functions of the Boundary Commissions to be transferred to the Electoral Commission, but these provisions have not yet been implemented. Consequently, the Electoral Commission has no responsibility yet for the process of parliamentary boundary review.

Voting Procedures

27. Mr. Carmichael: To ask the hon. Member for Gosport, representing the Speaker's Committee on the Electoral Commission, what discussions the Committee has had with the Electoral Commission on ensuring that people unable to sign or mark proxy or postal application forms are able to vote. [145854]

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Mr. Viggers: The Speaker's Committee's statutory remit does not normally require it to discuss such matters with the Electoral Commission, and no such discussions have taken place. The Commission considered this matter in its report on absent voting, published in March 2003, but having regard to the practical difficulties in preventing abuse if the law allowed severely disabled voters to be assisted outside a polling station, recommended that the law should not be changed in relation to the application procedure for proxy votes.


Air Transport

Mrs. May: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport when he expects to start the consultation on a new night noise regime at (a) Heathrow, (b) Gatwick and (c) Stansted. [145636]

Mr. Darling: In the first half of this year.

Mrs. May: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport (1) if he will define the phrase 'longer term' in the context of paragraph 11.103 of, The Future of Air Transport; [145638]

Mr. Darling: In paragraphs 12.15 to 12.18 of the SERAS consultation, the Department asked for views on the potential of six existing business aviation sites including Farnborough, Northolt and Southend, to accommodate future demand for business aviation. This took account of the findings from the Department's study of business aviation in the South East which was published as the part of the consultation in July 2002.

In addition to these sites, the business aviation study also considered that two predominantly general aviation airfields, White Waltham and North Weald, were well located to meet some of the demand for business aviation in the longer term, but the case for White Waltham would be largely dependent on the future provision of capacity at Luton, Farnborough, and Northolt during the 30 year period of the White Paper. Consequently, the White Paper recognised this potential but did not arrive at any conclusions about whether White Waltham should be expanded to meet demand for business aviation.


Mr. Donohoe: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if he will make a statement on the ownership of BAA following the publication of the Government's White Paper on aviation; and what plans he has to break up the company. [145157]

Mr. McNulty: The Government's position on the ownership of BAA is set out in its response to the Transport Committee's Report on Aviation, Cm 6047, published in parallel with the White Paper.

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Birmingham Airport

Mrs. Spelman: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport whether the counter proposal for a second runway produced by Birmingham International Airport is formally being considered as part of the consultation process on the future of aviation; and if he will make a statement. [142025]

Mr. McNulty: The Department considered Birmingham International Airport's proposal as a refinement of the wide-spaced parallel runway option which was included in the Midlands Consultation Document. For the reasons set out in the White Paper "The Future of Air Transport", we have decided to support it.

Child Pedestrians (Road Accidents)

Mr. Sheerman: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what the location was of each incident resulting in the death or serious injury of a child pedestrian on UK roads in 2002; what the posted speed limit was at each of these locations; and what the actual speed was at which the vehicle involved was travelling at the time of incident. [144713]

Mr. Jamieson: The total number of fatally and seriously injured child pedestrians in road accidents in Great Britain in 2002 was 2,828. Details of every such accident could be provided only at disproportionate cost.

The following table shows the number of road accidents in Great Britain in 2002, where at least one child (0–15) pedestrian was either killed or seriously injured, by the speed limit and road class.

Information on actual vehicle speeds at the time of the accidents is not recorded as part of the Department's road accident data collection system.

Fatal or serious accidents

Road type(11)BU(12)NBU

(11) Built-up roads, roads with a speed limit of 40mph.

(12) Non built-up roads, roads with a speed limit of 70mph.

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