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Aid Conditionality

6. David Taylor: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what steps have been taken to reduce the conditionality of overseas aid; and if he will make a statement. [7786]

Hilary Benn: The UK Conditionality Policy which I launched in March this year aims to reduce the overall burden of conditionality on developing countries. UK aid will be subject to only three fundamental conditions, which ensure that aid is used to reduce poverty, is not misused through corruption and supports good governance and human rights. We will no longer make UK aid conditional on specific policy choices by partner governments—including in sensitive economic areas such as privatisation or trade liberalisation.

11. Ms Barlow: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what steps he is taking to encourage bilateral and multilateral donors to adopt the UK's policy of not placing economic conditions on the aid, loans and debt relief given to developing countries. [7791]

Hilary Benn: I published a UK policy paper on conditionally in March 2005. Increased transparency about DFID's approach to conditionally and about the conditions that we use will help us to achieve change in other organisations. Last year, I pressed the World
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Bank to carry out a review of its conditionality. The review will be finalised before the Annual Meetings in September 2005. We have had good discussions with our Nordic Plus partners who are in broad agreement with the principles set out on our policy paper. At country level, when working with other donors, we will encourage others to adopt the approach and principles laid out in our conditionality policy.

HIV/AIDS (Africa)

7. Mr. Evans: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what discussions he has hadwith Ministers in recipient countries in relation to HIV/AIDS aid in sub-Saharan Africa. [7787]

Hilary Benn: Over the past few months my hon. Friend the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State and I have met with Ministers and others in a number of African countries to discuss ways of doing more to fight HIV and AIDS prevention, provide better treatment and care, improve and encourage research into protective microbicides and vaccines.

Debt Relief

8. Mr. McFall: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what measures he plans to put in place to ensure that heavily indebted poor countries receiving debt relief do not incur heavy debts in future. [7788]

Hilary Benn: Heavily indebted poor countries that have demonstrated a commitment to poverty reduction are receiving substantial debt relief, and would receive more under the G8 proposal agreed recently.

It is essential that these countries do not build up unsustainable debts again. We have therefore agreed a new arrangement—the Debt Sustainability Framework—to determine whether new assistance should be in the form of loans or grants. We will discuss with partners whether the framework should be adjusted in light of the multilateral relief proposed by the G8.

We are also providing assistance directly to countries to strengthen their debt management capacity.

10. Sir George Young: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what steps he is taking to ensure that funds released by debt relief are used to reduce poverty. [7790]

Hilary Benn: Debt relief under the heavily indebted poor countries (HIPC) initiative, as well as proposed in the recent G8 deal, will go only to countries that have demonstrated their commitment to poverty reduction and good public expenditure management.

On average, 65 per cent. of the savings from HIPC debt relief are used on health and education. There are already many excellent examples of the difference this debt relief can make—after receiving HIPC debt relief in 2001 Ghana has increased spending on reducing poverty by almost 50 per cent. In Uganda, debt relief has seen spent on reducing poverty rise by 75 per cent. since 2000, and access to health services and immunisation rates have almost doubled.
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9. Ann Winterton: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what steps his Department is taking to assist people in Zimbabwe's urban areas. [7789]

Hilary Benn: It is estimated that 66,000 households (approaching 330,000 people) have been affected by the callous destruction of people's homes and livelihoods by the government of Zimbabwe. DFID have responded to this man-made disaster by providing US$450,000 so far in humanitarian assistance to the most vulnerable. A further contribution is imminent. To date nearly 10,000 families have been reached with food, blankets, soap and other forms of assistance. Where appropriate emergency water and sanitation facilities have been provided. We will continue to press the Government of Zimbabwe to respect human rights and to put a stop to these cruel evictions and arrests.

Palestinian Territories

12. Mr. McGovern: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what aid programmes his Department has in the Palestinian territories. [7792]

Hilary Benn: The Department for International Development is working with partners to help end conflict and create a viable Palestinian state that will reduce poverty. The central themes of our programme are to enhance the prospects for peace, promote effective and accountable Palestinian institutions and make international aid and development assistance more effective. We plan to spend £30 million in bilateral aid during 2005–06. Half of our funding will help the United Nations Relief and Works Agency deliver education, health and social services to Palestinian refugees. We will also continue to provide budget support to the Palestinian Authority.


13. Mr. David Anderson: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what assistance the Department is providing to Iraq in 2005–06. [7793]

Hilary Benn: DFID plans to provide £65 million in assistance to Iraq in 2005–06. Our programme is focused on improving infrastructure, including power and water supplies in southern Iraq, and support for public administration, economic reform and participation in the political process in Iraq.

Full details of DFID's programme of assistance in Iraq since April 2003 can be found on the Departments website at

User Fees (Education)

14. Ann McKechin: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what steps his Department is taking to ensure that user fees for education are abolished in all countries not on track to meet the millennium development goals. [7794]

Mr. Thomas: DFID supports governments to develop education policies that reduce the financial burden of education for poor families. In Kenya, the recent removal of user fees resulted in over 1 million extra
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children going to school. We will continue to support countries not on track to meet the education Millennium Development Goals in their efforts to remove user fees for basic education. Over the next three years, DFID plans to spend £1.4 billion supporting education in developing countries. Removing school fees must be part of a plan to ensure the quality of primary education for children is improved.

Asian Tsunami

15. Simon Hughes: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development if he will make a statement on reconstruction in the tsunami-affected regions. [7795]

Mr. Thomas: Following a successful humanitarian relief effort, reconstruction after the Asian Tsunami will take several years. Progress is now being made.

In Sri Lanka, 30,000 transitional homes replacing temporary shelters have been constructed so far. Of 182 schools damaged, contracts have been signed to rebuild 176; and roads, railways and electricity supplies have been restored. The recently agreed Joint Mechanism between the Government, the LTTE and Muslims will aid reconstruction in the North East.

Indonesia is still essentially in the relief phase but reconstruction is now beginning through the Aceh Reconstruction Agency. I announced during my recent visit £30 million to be made available to the Indonesian Multi Donor Trust Fund from the £65 million for reconstruction.

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