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14 Jan 2004 : Column 777W—continued


Mr. Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what his latest assessment is of the number of people facing food shortages in Zimbabwe. [147341]

Mr. Gareth Thomas: The Zimbabwe Vulnerability Assessment Committee's survey in April last year estimated that approximately 4.4 million people in rural areas and 1.1 million people in urban areas would require food aid during the pre-harvest months of January, February and March 2004. However, it is now clear that this figure is an underestimate and is being revised upwards to 5.1 million people in rural areas. Results of a comprehensive urban vulnerability assessment are yet to be released, but are also expected to show a significant increase in people requiring humanitarian assistance.

This increase in beneficiary numbers is partly due to spiralling inflation (now over 600 per cent.), which has affected food prices in shops. There is also emerging evidence of up to several hundred thousand people facing crisis in the former commercial farming areas, most of whom are former farm workers displaced by the Government's disastrous land reform programme.

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Additionally, the state-controlled Grain Marketing Board has proved erratic and unreliable in contributing to food supply and distribution in the country. Donors are monitoring the situation closely, in close consultation with the World Food Programme.

Mr. Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what recent discussions he has had with the Government of South Africa on food imports to Zimbabwe. [147342]

Mr. Gareth Thomas: Apart from being a major exporter of food to Zimbabwe, South Africa is also a donor in the on-going humanitarian relief effort. The South African Government donated approximately 58,000 metric tonnes of maize to the previous WFP emergency operation for 2002–03, and may make a further contribution to the current operation. Accordingly, representatives of the South African Government participate regularly in co-ordination meetings concerning the humanitarian programme in Zimbabwe, where issues such as food imports are discussed.

Outside Zimbabwe, representatives from UK Government regularly discuss the Zimbabwe crisis with the Government of South Africa, though discussions usually focus on broad political and humanitarian issues, rather than food imports.

The UK Government, together with the other major donors (EU and USAID), continue to promote the liberalisation of food imports to Zimbabwe and the role of the private sector.


Arms Exports (Israel)

Richard Burden: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry whether approvals have been given for the export to Israel of categories of equipment covering (a) mortars, (b) rocket launchers, (c) anti-tank weapons, (d) military explosives, (e) infrared and radar sensors and (f) chemical and biological agents. [146989]

Nigel Griffiths: Since May 1997, the Government have published an Annual Report on Strategic Export Controls containing details of all goods authorised for export from the UK and to which destinations. Copies of the Annual Report are available from the Libraries of the House.

British Energy

Anne Picking: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry pursuant to her written statement of 5 January, Official Report, column 1WS, on British Energy, what the current outstanding drawdown on the Government's credit facility by British Energy is. [147777]

Mr. Timms: Nil. As the company stated on 23 December 2003 the proceeds from the sale of Amergen were used to pay down all outstanding drawings on the credit facility.

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Business Support Schemes

Mr. Stephen O'Brien: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry how much has been spent on business support schemes in the UK in each year since 1997, broken down by region. [146145]

Ms Hewitt: Regional analysis of the Department's net spend on Promotion of Enterprise, Innovation and Increased Productivity (including Regional Development Agency expenditure) for the years 1998–99 to 2001 -02 is as follows:

£ million

Financial year
North East23.632.045.871.0
North West67.371.593.8120.4
Yorkshire and Humberside49.952.857.772.7
East Midlands43.437.749.156.5
West Midlands53.762.482.279.0
South West49.844.449.566.5
South East102.484.9103.5110.0

Similar data are not readily available for 1997–98 and the full analysis has not yet been completed for 2002–03.

Cancun Summit

Mr. Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry whether it was her policy to support the decision of the European Union at the World Trade Organisation ministerial in Cancun to pursue negotiations on the Singapore issues. [146601]

Mr. Mike O'Brien: The Government remain convinced that it is important for developed and developing countries alike to reduce bureaucracy on cross border trade (trade facilitation), to encourage a climate which facilitates foreign direct investment, to promote economic growth through fair competition and to encourage transparency in the procurement of public goods and services to help reduce corruption and increase good governance.

Mr. Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry if she was consulted about the drafting of the Derbez text at the World Trade Organisation ministerial in Cancun. [146602]

Mr. Mike O'Brien: The draft Ministerial Declaration, circulated by the Mexican Foreign Minister Derbez, was produced following extensive consultations with WTO members and the European Commission. The UK and other EU member states made their views known to the commission formally, through meetings of the Article 133 Committee and the European Council, and informally.

Miners Compensation

Mr. Clapham: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what the total amount of full and final

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settlements and interim payments paid to former miners and their families to date is in South Yorkshire. [147405]

Nigel Griffiths: To date £127 million has been paid in respect of respiratory disease and £163 million in respect vibration white finger to claimants in South Yorkshire.

Credit Registers

Chris Ruane: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry how many people were placed on a bad creditor register as a result of incorrect information in each of the last 10 years; and what right of appeal those wrongly placed on such registers have. [147699]

Mr. Sutcliffe: There is no register of bad creditors as such. Credit reference agencies hold details of credit accounts and payment histories. In some cases these may show late payments or defaults. Lenders use this information to make decisions regarding the suitability of lending to a particular consumer. These decisions may vary depending on individual lenders commercial decisions.

If individuals believe a particular lender has registered incorrect information about their account with a credit reference agency, they can contact either the lender or the agency to seek correction. Checks should then be made on the accuracy of the information, and corrections made where appropriate. Where individuals can show that the information on their credit file is inaccurate and the lender has refused to amend it, the matter can be referred to the Information Commissioner. Alternatively, individuals have the right to seek redress through the courts.

There are no centrally collated results to show the number of applications for corrections on credit reference files, nor the number of corrections made as a result of those applications.

Departmental Advertising

Michael Fabricant: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what the total expenditure on information campaigns and advertising was for her Department in 1997–98. [145329]

Ms Hewitt: My Department's expenditure on advertising through the Central Office of Information in 1997–98 amounted to £2,504,885 excluding VAT and subsequent COI rebates. Records of expenditure on other information campaigns are not held centrally.

Departmental Grants

Brian Cotter: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what funding her Department has provided to the Industry Forum Adaptation scheme since its inception; and what time scale applies to this funding. [145487]

Ms Hewitt: My Department undertook to support an initial two-year Industry Forum Adaptation (IFA) programme comprising a number of separate sectorally-focused projects. An initial tranche of £15 million funding was agreed in July 1999. This allocation was fully committed by March 2002. Following a high degree of demand from sectors, I announced a further

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£20 million (£11 million devoted to IFA) at the Manufacturing Summit in December 2001. Funding support the majority of IF A projects is over three to five years on a tapering basis. Contractual spending commitments under IFA extend to financial year 2007–08.

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