Andrew Rosindell: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development when he last visited each British Overseas Territory; and whether he has plans for future visits. 
Mr. Thomas: I visited Montserrat in June of last year. I have no immediate plans for any further visits to the Overseas Territories.
Andrew Rosindell: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development if he will make a statement on his Department's plans further to improve transport links that would encourage tourism in each of the overseas territories. 
Mr. Thomas: A new airport financed jointly by DFID and the European Union, became operational in Montserrat earlier this year. Last March, I announced plans for an airport in St. Helena, subject to satisfactory contract bids and a rigorous environmental assessment.
Andrew Rosindell: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what actions are being taken by his Department to limit the effect of natural disasters on the Cayman Islands. 
Mr. Thomas: We are supporting a project, which includes an adviser based in the Caribbean, aimed at improving and strengthening disaster preparedness in all UK Overseas Territories in the region. In the particular case of the Cayman Islands, we also funded a study of the impact of Hurricane Ivan to help learn from the Cayman Islands' experience of handling the emergency.
Andrew Rosindell: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development how much financial assistance was directed to the Cayman Islands after they were struck by Hurricane Ivan in September 2004. 
Her Majesty's Government's assistance totalled approximately £250,000, provided in response to the immediate humanitarian need. This included the cost of deploying naval vessels in the immediate aftermath of the hurricane and the provision of essential water and medical supplies, plus help with the costs of a contingent from the Bermuda Regiment to help with the clean-up operation. We also offered advice to the Cayman Islands authorities in handling the emergency and we have since funded a review of the hurricane's impact.
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Mike Penning: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development pursuant to the answer to the hon. Member for South Holland and The Deepings (Mr. Hayes) of 15 November 2005, Official Report, columns107778W, on damages, why (a) compensation was paid to pensioners for arrears of payment, (b) interest and a penalty payment was made to the Inland Revenue and (c) compensation was paid to a member of staff for personal effects; and if he will make a statement. 
Hilary Benn: Compensation was paid to pensioners to recompense them for the reduced pensions they received. Incorrect exchange rates were used in the calculation of their pensions, which resulted in them being paid lower rates of pension than they were due. Besides paying the arrears, DFID paid compensation for their losses.
Payment of interest and a penalty were made, as required by the Inland Revenue, for backdated national insurance contributions that had not been paid correctly by DFID.
Compensation was paid to a member of staff for the loss of personal effects which had been placed in store at DFID expense, under the terms of the employment contract while she was working in one of our offices overseas. An administrative error resulted in invoices never being received by DFID, leading the storage company sub-contracted by DFID's freight contractor eventually to sell the effects to cover their costs. DFID's payment was a contribution to the total loss, with the bulk of the compensation paid by our freight contractor.
Mike Penning: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development how many (a) consultants and (b) special advisers were employed by his Department in each year since 1997; what the cost of each was in each year; and if he will make a statement. 
Hilary Benn: For details of the consultancy contracts awarded by DFID since 1997 to assist with international development, I refer the hon. Member to the response I have given to the hon. Member for St. Ives (Andrew George) on 28 November 2005, Official Report, column 55W.
Since 2003, the Government have published on an annual basis, the names and overall cost of special advisers and the number in each pay band. For the most recent information I refer the hon. Member to the statement made by my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister on 21 July 2005, Official Report, columns 15862WS.
Information on the numbers of special advisers prior to 2003 was provided at regular intervals and this information is available in the Libraries of the House.
Mark Simmonds: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development how much money the UK has granted for non-poverty reduction direct budgetary support in each year since 1999, broken down by country recipient. 
Mr. Thomas: The following table gives details of DFID spending on direct budget support to UK overseas territories since 1999, with the objectives of maximising economic growth, meeting basic needs on the way to self-sufficiency and supporting good governance.
Colin Burgon: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what financial support his Department has given to organisations assisting low paid home workers in developing countries in the last two years. 
Mr. Thomas: For the period 200406, DFID is providing £500,000 to support HomeWorkers Worldwide to build the capacity of regional organisation in Latin America, South Asia and Eastern Europe who are working to improve the economic and social conditions of poor women home based workers. This builds on support given to the organisation between 200104 to map home based work and establish independent organisations of home based workers in 13 countries.
Home based workers also benefit from many other programmes aimed at improving the livelihoods and labour conditions of poor workers. Examples include: DFID's support to the technical assistance programme of the International Labour Organisation; and support to the work of the Ethical Trading Initiative whose corporate, trade union and NGO members are collaborating in a project to develop guidelines for ethical trading where homeworkers are included in the supply chains of corporate members.
Andrew Rosindell: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what progress his Department has made towards the goal set out in its publication Montserrat: Country Policy Plan 200405 to 200607 to achieve improved public information and publicity. 
A number of initiatives are being implemented by the Government of Montserrat to facilitate public access to information. These include the development of websites for Government News and
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Information, the Tourism Department, the Economic Development Unit, the Government Radio Station and the Montserrat Volcano Observatory. An e-Government Strategy has been drafted, which will further enhance the public availability of Montserrat Government information. Information and Communication Technology has been identified as a priority area for funding from Montserrat's 9th European Development Fund allocation.
Norman Baker: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what rules govern the application for land purchase licences by those holding official Government positions in St. Helena, with particular reference to potential conflicts of interest. 
Mr. Thomas: For officials holding 'islander' status, there are no restrictions apart from the general prohibition in Order 84 of the St. Helena Public Service Orders. This forbids the abuse of office to further personal interests. For officials who do not hold 'islander' status, there are requirements for: (a) a licence from the Governor in Council, under the Immigrants Landholding (Restriction) Ordinance; and (b) concurrent permission of the Governor and the Secretary of State, in accordance with Order 81 of St.Helena Public Service Orders.
Norman Baker: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development pursuant to the answer of 21 November 2005, Official Report, column 1600W, on St.Helena, what evidence he assessed from (a) Dr.Philip Ashmole and (b) the St. Helena conservation officer Vince Williams before reaching his conclusion that the giant earwig is extinct. 
Mr. Thomas: I refer the hon. member for Lewes to the response which I gave on of 21 November 2005, Official Report, column 1600W, in which was explained that the giant earwig is believed to be extinct, not that it is extinct. My understanding is that this is the view currently held by professional entomologists, who are familiar with this species and its habitat. We have frequent contact with Dr.Ashmole and with environmental officials in the Government of St. Helena.
Norman Baker: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development pursuant to the answer of 21 November 2005, Official Report, column 1599W, on St. Helena, for what reason a public inquiry has been ruled out. 
Mr. Thomas: I understand that legislation in St.Helena does not provide for a public inquiry process. Submissions for planning approval are subject to a period of public consultation. This will apply when an application is made in respect of the airport.
Norman Baker: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what the estimated cost is of the proposed airport on St. Helena; and what percentage of this cost will be met by (a) his Department, (b) other UK funds, (c) public funds in St.Helena and (d) other sources. 
Our estimates have not been published, as to do so could commercially prejudice current procurement processes. Our intention is that the full
2 Dec 2005 : Column 795W
cost of building the airport will be funded by DFID, subject to acceptable contract bids and a rigorous environmental impact assessment.
Norman Baker: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what assessment was made of the potential to operate feeder services from Ascension Island to St. Helena in deciding the optimum size of the proposed airport at St. Helena. 
Mr. Thomas: This was considered but rejected as part of last year's feasibility study of future access options for St. Helena. Wideawake Airfield in Ascension Island is a military facility, where civilian operations are limited.
Norman Baker: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development pursuant to the answer of 21 November 2005, Official Report, column 1600W, on St.Helena, if he will instruct the Government of St. Helena to withdraw the requirement for members of the Planning and Development Board to sign the Official Secrets Act on the grounds of disproportionality. 
Mr. Thomas: The Planning and Development Board occasionally considers material which is commercially or otherwise sensitive. The St. Helena Government have advised that the Official Secrets Act is currently the only mechanism for protecting such material within its existing legislation. We will not, therefore, be requesting the Government of St. Helena to withdraw the requirement.
Tim Loughton: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development pursuant to the answer of 29 November 2005, Official Report, column 359W, what proportion of the funding for the airstrip on St. Helena will be provided by his Department. 
Mr. Thomas: The Government's intention is to fund the full cost of building the airport, subject to acceptable contract bids and a rigorous environmental impact assessment.
Andrew Rosindell: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development if he will make a statement on the progress of the building of the new airport in St.Helena. 
Mr. Thomas: A notice has been published in the Official Journal of the European Union, seeking capability statements from suitably qualified contractors. We expect to issue an invitation to tender as early as possible in 2006, with construction starting in 2007. Work on environmental and social impact assessments, the outcome of which will be reflected in the airport design, build and operate" contract, is well under way.
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