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24 Oct 2005 : Column 25W—continued

Members' Visits

Mr. Hoyle: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence (1) how many hon. Members have visited the tunnels controlled by his Department in Gibraltar in each of the last five years; [18960]

(2) how many (a) politicians, (b) military personnel and (c) others from overseas have visited the tunnels controlled by his Department in Gibraltar in each of the last five years; [18962]

(3) in what circumstances hon. Members may be refused access to the tunnels controlled by his Department in Gibraltar; [18963]

(4) what the correct procedure is for hon. Members to apply for permission to visit (a) departmental sites and (b) the tunnels controlled by his Department in Gibraltar. [18964]

Mr. Touhig: Applications from hon. Members for permission to visit departmental sites, including the tunnels, controlled by the MOD in Gibraltar should be submitted to me. Such applications in relation to the tunnels may be refused if there is any on-going structural or maintenance works in progress, or military training exercises taking place; applications must also take account of the availability of a tunnel guide. Records of tunnel visits are only available from January 2004 until the present date, details of which are shown in the table:
Members of Parliament or other UK politicians0
UK military personnel425
Overseas personnel48

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Mike Penning: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what plans he has to (a) replace and (b) extend the life of the Vanguard class submarine; and if he will make a statement. [20675]

John Reid: I have nothing to add to the answers I gave to the hon. Members for Pendle (Mr. Prentice) on 20 October 2005, Official Report, column 1217W and for New Forest East (Dr. Lewis) on 7 June 2005, Official Report, column 466W.

UK Military Advice/Training

Mr. Godsiff: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will list the training schemes available to members of overseas armed forces (a) at Ministry of Defence establishments in the UK and (b) provided by members of the UK armed forces overseas. [21046]

Mr. Touhig: I refer my hon. Friend to the answer I gave him on 22 June 2005, Official Report, columns 1062–64W.

Mr. Moore: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence (1) to which countries the UK has sent advisory military and training teams in each year since 1997; [15939]

(2) in which countries the UK has stationed military personnel for training purposes in each year since 1997; and how many such personnel were involved in each case. [15941]

Mr. Ingram: For a comprehensive list of countries where we have provided in-country training since 1997 I refer the hon. Member to the answer I gave on 20 March 2003, Official Report, column 888W to the hon. Member for Liverpool, West Derby (Mr. Wareing). It lists countries in which a range of training activities (vice formally established teams) has taken place since 1997, without stating a breakdown of manpower.

The requested breakdown of information regarding the breadth of where we have stationed military personnel for training purposes, broken down by each year since 1997, is not held centrally and could be provided only at disproportionate cost. However, the following list is a summary of established in-country training teams (as opposed to the more general range of training activities previously provided) and their existing manning levels:
CountryEffective datesStrength
AntiguaFrom 19996
BahrainClosed August 2005
BarbadosTo 1999
Bosnia-HerzegovinaFrom 20043
Czech RepublicFrom 200326
EstoniaFrom 20031
KenyaFrom 200012
Saudi Arabia15
Sierra Leone90
SlovakiaFrom 200310
South Africa9
United Arab Emirates5
ZimbabweClosed 2000

Where no effective date is shown, UK had a training/advisory presence prior to 1997.

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Mr. Holloway: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what plans he has to channel aid directly to the people in Africa through non-governmental organisations. [19822]

Hilary Benn: The Department for International Development (DFID) endeavours to ensure that all our aid benefits poor people, whether provided through national governments, multilateral organisations or non-governmental organisations (NGOs).

Whenever possible, DFID provides aid to African countries through their own systems in support of their own plans. This ensures country ownership of development efforts and helps build capacity in countries to continue delivering services in the long-term. This includes means providing aid to the state in the form of Poverty Reduction Budget Support (PRBS) or support to specific sector, such as education and health.

DFID also recognises the important role that non-governmental organisations play in tackling poverty. For example, during 2004–05, DFID provided £328 million to UK civil society organisations working in developing countries throughout the world. And more than £70 million of humanitarian assistance to Africa in 2004–05 was channelled through non-governmental organisations.

DFID plans to continue channelling aid through non-governmental organisations in a number of ways. The Civil Society Challenge Fund is DFID's main channel of support for UK-based non-government organisations. We also provide reliable funding to non-governmental organisations on the basis of agreed outcomes through Partnership Programme Agreements and our bilateral programme in Africa will continue to work with non-governmental organisations to deliver humanitarian and development assistance to poor people.


Mr. Holloway: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what steps he is taking to improve the humanitarian situation in the Darfur region of the Sudan. [19823]

Hilary Benn: The humanitarian needs in Darfur are huge and major challenges remain. 1.8 million people have been displaced from their homes and 3.4 million people are relying on humanitarian assistance. The UK is at the forefront of the humanitarian effort. We have provided £92 million in humanitarian assistance to Darfur since September 2003 and are the second biggest
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bilateral donor after the US. The UK is also leading in work with other donors to improve the co-ordination of humanitarian donor funding to Sudan.

However, humanitarian assistance is not the solution for Darfur; only a political agreement will result in lasting improvements in the humanitarian situation in Darfur and allow people to return to their homes. To this end we fully support the African Union (AU) mediated peace talks in Abuja, at which a UK observer is present.

Security is also a concern and the recent deterioration in the security situation, particularly in West Darfur, could have significant impact on humanitarian relief operations. Contingency planning for disruption is underway by the humanitarian agencies and we stand ready to provide additional support if required. The UN is confident however that it can meet immediate humanitarian needs with existing resources.

The AU Mission also has a vital role to play in improving security, and is having a positive impact where it is deployed. The UK is fully supporting the ongoing expansion of the AU's force in Darfur to almost 8,000. We have allocated an additional £19 million to help the AU achieve this, bringing the total UK contribution to the mission to almost £32 million.

Debt Relief

Lynne Jones: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development when he expects negotiations to be completed to finalise the details of the International Development Association and African Development Fund aspects of the G8 debt proposal. [20618]

Hilary Benn: The G8's proposals for 100 per cent. International Development Association (IDA), International Monetary Fund (IMF) and African Development Fund (AfDF) debt stock cancellation for Heavily Indebted Poor Countries (HIPCs) were discussed at the Annual Meetings of the World Bank and IMF. The IDA and IMF components were subsequently agreed by the Development and International Monetary and Financial Committees at those meetings. The approval process for African Development Fund (AfDF) component is being taken forward separately at African Development Bank.

Negotiations are under way to resolve some outstanding technical details on the proposals, as well as on the implementation of financing assurances from donors. We expect agreement on these issues over the coming weeks, and that detailed implementation plans will be discussed by the Boards of Directors at each institution in November. We remain confident that implementation of the debt relief will begin in 2006.

Lynne Jones: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what governance measures the Heavily Indebted Poor Completion Point countries will need to meet in order to be eligible to benefit from the G8 debt proposal; and if he will make a statement. [20619]

Hilary Benn: Countries will qualify for debt stock cancellation under the proposals by completing the Heavily Indebted Poor Countries Initiative (HIPC). By
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definition, Completion Point HIPCs have demonstrated a sustained commitment to poverty reduction and sound macroeconomic management that provides confidence that the savings from debt relief will be used for poverty reduction. Good governance is part of this, with standards drawn from national strategies. Once countries have qualified for debt stock cancellation, they will get 100 per cent. irrevocable relief. There will be no ongoing conditionally.

Countries that have already completed the HIPC Initiative must demonstrate that they have maintained their commitment to poverty reduction and good macro-economic management in order to qualify for relief. They must therefore have remained current with their repayment obligations to the International Financial Institutions, and not have experienced serious lapses, including in governance, such that their International Monetary Fund (IMF) programmes would be at risk.

In addition, extra donor resources will be provided to the World Bank and African Development Bank to compensate for the costs of the debt stock cancellation. These resources will be allocated to all poor countries through the Institutions' existing Performance Based Allocation System, thereby providing a strong incentive for good policy (including governance) and performance. The World Bank and IMF staff will also continue to monitor and report on the overall efficiency of public expenditure as well as on progress in reducing corruption and enhancing transparency in recipient countries.

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