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19 Jan 2004 : Column 932W—continued

EU Aid Target

Mr. Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what the cost will be to public funds of the UK achieving the agreed EU target of aid amounting to 0.39 per cent.of GNI. [148143]

Hilary Benn: Under current spending plans we expect official development assistance (oda) to exceed the EU target and hit 0.4 per cent. of GNI in 2005, a year earlier than the target date. The cost of achieving 0.4 per cent. in 2005, including that part of oda which is not financed through the DFID budget, is estimated to be £4.9 billion.

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Keith Vaz: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development in how many speeches during 2003 he declared support for the Government's policy on the euro. [147293]

Hilary Benn: I refer the hon. Member to the answer given by my hon. Friend the Financial Secretary on 12 January 2004, Official Report, column 517W.

Global Interventions

Mr. Challen: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development whether he has made formal representations to the United Nations about his proposal for global intervention in countries whose Governments abuse their populations, made in his speech on 30 October 2003 at the UN High Level Dialogue on Financing for Development; and what criteria would be used for such global interventions. [147449]

Hilary Benn: No formal representations have been made to the United Nations concerning intervention in countries with humanitarian crises. The Department for International Development is working closely with the Foreign and Commonwealth Office to contribute to the debate on UN reform. The High Level Panel on Threats, Challenges, and Change appointed by Kofi Annan has an important opportunity to make proposals for a more effective UN response in this area. The UK supports reform that will ensure that the UN Security Council assumes its full responsibility to guarantee peace and security. We cannot allow a repeat of the mistakes made in Rwanda in 1994.

Framing acceptable principles for intervention, so that people are protected effectively, and so that states are treated equally, is part of the challenge presently facing the United Nations. An important attempt to develop common ground on principles and criteria for intervention was made in the report of the Canadian-sponsored International Commission on Intervention and State Sovereignty (ICISS). We welcomed the commission's report, The Responsibility to Protect, which was published in December 2001. It attempts to move the debate from an unproductive discussion of intervention towards a new focus on the responsibilities held by states to protect their own citizens from avoidable catastrophes from mass murder, rape and from starvation. When states are unwilling or unable to fulfil their responsibilities, it argues that the responsibility to protect should be borne by a broader community of states. It also stresses that the responsibility to prevent conflict is as important as the responsibility to react, and that any intervention is accompanied by a responsibility to rebuild.

Heavily Indebted Poor Countries Initiative

Mr. Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development if he will make a statement on the working paper from the International Monetary Fund on the effect of the Heavily Indebted Poor Countries initiative upon Africa's poorest nations. [148084]

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Hilary Benn: On 1 September 2003, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) published a working paper entitled "Fiscal Sustainability in African HIPC Countries: A Policy Dilemma?" The paper focuses on the link between fiscal policy and debt sustainability. The authors concluded that, without more international assistance in the form of grants or private non-debt financing (such as foreign direct investment), Governments would need to raise taxes or scale down social spending programmes in order to maintain sustainable fiscal positions in the face of possible adverse shocks. The authors noted that the paper's conclusions were sensitive to assumptions on growth rate, interest rate, and exchange rate dynamics.

This problem has already been recognised by the World Bank and International Monetary Fund (IMF), and the UK is pressing for additional relief at HIPC Completion Point, where necessary, to ensure that countries have sustainable external debt levels. On longer-term debt sustainability, the UK welcomes the report being prepared by the World Bank and IMF on ensuring debt sustainability for low-income countries, including HIPCs, while enabling them to access sufficient finance for their poverty reduction strategies. We hope to reach agreement on the appropriate policy response at the spring meetings of the World Bank and IMF in April.

We also recognise that, in order to meet the Millennium Development Goals, an additional US$50 billion a year until 2015 is required from the international community. That is why the UK's proposal for an International Finance Facility is so important. It could provide the much-needed substantial increase in resources that debt relief alone would not achieve.


Mr. Tynan: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what support he is providing to tackle the spread of HIV/AIDS in (a) India and (b) China. [147529]

Hilary Benn: DFID India is supporting the Government of India's National AIDS Control Programme through the National AIDS Control Organisation (NACO) with a commitment of £123 million over a period of five years. The main approach of the programme is to support innovative, targeted work with highly vulnerable sections of the community in the various states of India. Our partners in this programme are World Bank and the US Agency for International Development. The programme includes support to UNAIDS for effective implementation of its HIV strategy in India and BBC-World Service Trust for media campaigns to raise awareness in the general public.

The communities covered under the programme include sex workers, their clients, street children, men who have sex with men, industrial workers and injecting drug users. For example, in West Bengal one of DFID's focus states, our work to date have covered more than one hundred thousand people through 17 NGOs in 52 sites.

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DFID China is working in partnership with the Government to tackle and combat the spread of HIV/AIDS. DFID currently supports a £20 million HIV/AIDS initiative, which pilots replicable models of HIV/AIDS prevention, treatment and care in Yunnan and Sichuan for high risk and vulnerable groups. This project aims to inform and develop national policy and good practice on HIV/AIDS. In addition, DFID will provide £5 million to assist the Government of China in developing its strategic capacity to deliver an effective and co-ordinated response to HIV/AIDS.

Mr. Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development if he will make a statement on progress in Africa towards a reduction in the proportion of 15 to 24-year-old pregnant women with HIV from 16 per cent. [148136]

Hilary Benn: UNAIDS will publish global HIV/AIDS figures this year, which will allow for a proper assessment of the progress towards this target. The Department for International Development will report on this in its next Departmental Report in 2004.

Meanwhile, the latest "AIDS Epidemic Update", published by UNAIDS in December 2003, reports that HIV prevalence in pregnant women in selected urban areas seems to show the following trajectories in recent years (UNAIDS "AIDS Epidemic Update", December 2003):

The update concludes that we are not witnessing a decline in sub-Saharan Africa's epidemic. Significant challenges remain to arrest the epidemic and meet the target to reduce the proportion of pregnant women with HIV/AIDS.

DFID has HIV/AIDS activities in most of our 16 focus countries in sub-Saharan Africa. Many of DFID's interventions support National AIDS Councils and help to integrate efforts to address HIV/AIDS into a range of other sectors. In addition to direct HIV/AIDS activities, in an increasing number of countries significant, indirect support for addressing HIV/AIDS is being provided through budget support.

DFID has also invested £1.5 billion in supporting health systems since 1997. We are working with partners to improve maternal and child health and reduce the impact of HIV and other major communicable diseases.

The recently published "UK Call for Action on HIV/AIDS" (copy enclosed), makes clear our own commitment to significantly increase our efforts to address HIV/AIDS and poverty.

We will make reducing the vulnerability of poor people to HIV and to the impact of AIDS a priority for the extra resources the UK will be devoting to Africa by 2006. All DFID Africa country offices are currently considering what needs to be done, by those countries, to enhance their HIV/AIDS programmes, and how the UK and others can best help them, including through additional financial contributions.

The Government will also make HIV/AIDS—and Africa—a centrepiece of our presidencies of the G8 and the EU in 2005.

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