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Land Mines

Mr. Hollobone: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what progress is being made on international land mine clearance under the Ottawa Convention. [31916]

Mr. Thomas: At the Review Conference for States Parties to the Mine Ban Treaty held in Nairobi last year there was unified acknowledgement that this treaty had been successful but it was also acknowledged that there
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was more work to be done in the aim of a world free of anti-personnel land mines (APIs). An eight point action plan was agreed on how to take the work further.

144 countries have now signed the convention. Land mine casualties continue to decrease and the trade and manufacture of these weapons is virtually finished apart from some illicit activity. The ban is in practice universal, such is the stigma attached to the use of APLs.

Through DFID, the United Kingdom continues to be a major donor in global mine action. In 2005–06, DFID will spend some £10 million in this area. A further sum of approximately £5 million will be attributed as the United Kingdom spend via European Community programmes on mine action in the same period.


Mrs. James: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what Lesotho's remaining debt to the international community is; and if he will make a statement. [30769]

Hilary Benn: According to the Government of Lesotho, the Kingdom of Lesotho's public and publicly guaranteed external debt stood at US $768 million in the financial year ending in March 2005. Of this 82 per cent. ($630 million) was owed to multilateral creditors, 13 per cent. ($97 million) to bilateral creditors and 5 per cent. ($41 million) to private sector creditors. The following table breaks the debt down further.

Of bilateral creditors, 82 per cent. ($80 million) of the total bilateral debt was owed to Paris Club creditors such as France, Norway, South Africa, and Sweden, and 18 per cent. ($17 million) to the non-Paris Club creditors such as China, and the Arab funds.

Of multilateral creditors, 53 per cent. ($334 million) of the total multilateral debt is owed to the World Bank, 30 per cent. ($188 million) to the African Development Bank, 5 per cent. ($32 million) to the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the remaining 12 per cent. to other multilateral creditors.
Lesotho: external debt

$ million
Multilateral Debt
World Bank333
African Development Bank188
Bilateral Debt
Paris Club80
Non-Paris Club17
Private Sector
Total External Debt768

In June 2005 the IMF conducted a debt sustainability analysis (DSA) and concluded that Lesotho's debt levels were sustainable. This means it does not classify as a heavily indebted poor country (HIPC). Although it will not have its debt written off as part of the G8 proposal
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for multilateral debt cancellation, it will, however, benefit from the increased resources provided under the proposal. When the World Bank, the IMF and African Development Bank write off debts of HIPCs, donors including the UK, will compensate these institutions for the money they lose. This additional money will be allocated through those institutions' systems to all poor countries, including Lesotho, irrespective of whether they are HIPC countries or not.

The UK also operates a multilateral debt relief initiative (MDRI). Under this initiative, the UK is prepared to pay its share of the debt servicing costs of non-HIPC low-income countries like Lesotho. A key feature of this initiative is for countries to have demonstrable robust public financial management systems to ensure the savings are used for poverty reduction. The UK is providing support to Lesotho to improve its financial management systems to help it achieve this.

Mrs. James: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development how much financial aid the United Kingdom Government have given to Lesotho since 1997; and if he will make a statement. [30771]

Hilary Benn: DFID's primary development objective in Lesotho is to assist the Government to implement its Poverty Reduction Strategy, published in 2004. DFID support focuses on: strengthening Government efforts to address the HIV/AIDS pandemic; raising revenue more efficiently; developing financial management capacity to deliver public services; improving the enabling the environment for investment and growth, food security and governance and co-ordinating efforts with other development partners to achieve poverty reduction outcomes.

DFID's bilateral and multilateral financial aid to Lesotho since 1997 is set out in the following table.

Financial yearTotal bilateral gross public expenditureTotal multilateral sharesGrand total


Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development when he expects malaria to be eliminated from sub-Saharan Africa at the present rate of progress of disease eradication; and if he will make a statement. [30480]

Hilary Benn: Working in partnership with the World Health Organisation (WHO) and the international community, DFID is committed to halving the burden of malaria by 2010 and reducing malaria mortality by 75 per cent. by 2015. Given that 90 per cent. of malaria deaths in the world today occur in sub-Saharan Africa,
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the attainment of these goals will go someway to eliminating malaria from this region. There is however, no internationally agreed target for the elimination of malaria from sub-Saharan Africa.

To combat malaria in sub-Saharan Africa, DFID works at both the bilateral and multilateral level. Since 1999, DFID has provided over £48 million to the WHO in support of its Roll Back Malaria campaign. At the country level, for example, DFID has pledged £27.8 million between 2002 and 2006 towards the distribution of heavily subsidised nets to target populations in Kenya.


Andrew George: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what assessment his Department has made of the effectiveness and speed of its response to the food crisis in Malawi in 2002. [31158]

Hilary Benn: DFID carried out a comprehensive review of the response to the crisis with the assistance of experts from the Overseas Development Institute in the latter half of 2003. This review took account of the report on the Southern Africa regional crisis by the House Committee on International Development and of reports by a wide range of international academic and agency reports. Among the lessons learnt and implemented were the development of the Malawi Vulnerability Assessment Committee which has informed decisions about food aid requirements and the integration of NGOs into food aid operations. Both these developments have played an important part in enabling the Government of Malawi to respond promptly and appropriately to this year's food shortages.


Mr. Hancock: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development if he will cease all non-humanitarian aid to the Maldives in response to the human rights abuses there. [30907]

Mr. Thomas: We are seriously concerned about the human rights situation in the Maldives. The UK has raised these concerns with the Government of the Maldives, bilaterally and with EU partners and will continue to do so.

The UK provides a small allocation of non-humanitarian aid to the Maldives from the Small Grants Scheme.

The UK has no current plans to cease this non-humanitarian aid to the Government of the Maldives. Such actions are most appropriate where existing efforts at dialogue and co-operation are not able to lever positive progress. We note recent moves from the Government of the Maldives to establish dialogue with all political parties and we look forward to seeing early progress on democratic reform.

Ministerial Travel

Norman Baker: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development how much has been spent in each year from 1 May 1997 on ministerial travel, broken down by (a) provision and running costs of vehicular transport, (b) first class travel by rail, (c) standard class
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travel by rail, (d) first class travel by air, (e) club or equivalent class travel by air and (f) economy class travel by air. [27778]

Mr. Thomas: My hon. Friend the Parliamentary Secretary at the Cabinet Office (Jim Murphy) has asked Roy Burke, Chief Executive of the Government Car and Despatch Agency (GCDA) to write to the hon. Member with details of the costs of ministerial vehicles provided to Departments in 2004–05. Copies of his letter will be placed in the Library.

For information for the financial years 2000–01 to 2003–04 I refer the hon. Member to the letters from the Chief Executive of the GCDA to the hon. Member for Buckingham (John Bercow) dated 10 January 2005 and to the then hon. Member for Arundel and South Downs (Howard Flight) dated 13 September 2003. Copies of these letters are available in the Library.

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