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Freedom of Information

Mr. Roger Williams: To ask the Secretary of State forInternational Development how many freedom of information applications his Department has received; how many have taken more than 20 days to process; and how many of these gave rise to complaints about the time taken. [31217]

Mr. Thomas: Between 1 January and 30 June 2005, DFID received 151 freedom of information requests. Of these, 48 took more than 20 working days to complete. Requesters sought internal reviews on the timeliness of handling for three requests.

The Department for Constitutional Affairs is committed to publishing quarterly updates in relation to departmental performance under FOI, including information on both the volume and outcomes of requests. The bulletin for the second quarter was
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published on 30 September 2005 and can be found on the DCA website at and in the Libraries of both Houses. The next bulletin will be published before Christmas, while an annual report will be published in early 2006.


Mrs. James: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what discussions his Department has had with the Government of (a) Lesotho, (b) Swaziland and (c) Somalia on HIV/AIDS infection, prevention and treatment. [30768]

Hilary Benn: DFID officials have met on many occasions with Government officials and civil society organisations to discuss the HIV epidemic in both Swaziland and Lesotho.

In both countries, DFID is providing support for both prevention and care activities through a programme managed by the Southern Africa Development Community. The project is providing £7.5 million for the sub-region, of which £2 million is being spent in Lesotho and Swaziland respectively. The work focuses upon treatment of Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STDs), behaviour change and the promotion of condom use. DFID has also financed key posts within the Department of Health. In Swaziland, DFID support targets the provision of Anti-Retroviral Treatment (ART) and in Lesotho it is directed towards monitoring and evaluation through the AIDS secretariat in the Ministry of Health.

In Lesotho, DFID is providing additional support (£1.7 million 2005–08) to develop the National AIDS Commission so that the country can develop a more co-ordinated response. This support is combined with assistance to the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS), to strengthen civil society and with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), to help the Government build work on HIV/AIDS into its economic and development planning.

Outside of these project activities, we have most frequently discussed issues of HIV and AIDS with officials in the National AIDS Councils of the respective countries. Because the epidemic continues to infect many people, our discussions concentrate on both prevention and care.

In Somalia, resources from the Global Fund were committed in June 2005. DFID is providing £00,000 to the UNDP to bridge the gap until Global Fund resources come online. DFID support to the UNDP will help to build capacity to the National AIDS Commissions in Somaliland and Puntland, and should benefit the entire population. The funding will also comprise support to Voluntary Counselling and Testing (VCT) and Anti-retroviral (ARV) programmes, which are likely to reach 1,000 people.

We are also contributing funding to UNAIDS for a 'five country strategy' which runs from 2004–06. The aim of the programme is to improve co-ordination on HIV and AIDS across all five countries. Approximately £950,000 will go to Somalia which equates to 26 per cent. of the total funding package for this programme.
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Palestinian Refugees

Mr. Amess: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what discussions he has hadwith Arab States about the provision of aid and assistance to Palestinian refugees; and if he will make a statement. [36168]

Hilary Benn: The United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) is mandated by the UN General Assembly to provide education, health, relief and social services to Palestinian refugees. As a major contributor to the UNRWA, providing approximately £15 million this year, DFID has regular contacts with Arab States that are hosts of refugees or provide financial assistance to the UNRWA. Most recently, DFID participated in UNRWA's annual Hosts and Donors Meeting in Jordan and, as holding the EU presidency, made a statement on behalf of the EU. In September DFID participated in the annual Advisory Commission meeting which includes the four host authorities (Jordan, Lebanon, Syria and the Palestinian Authority) and seven other countries, including the UK.

Public Service Agreements

Mr. Philip Hammond: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development when he will publish a Public Service Agreement delivery plan for 2004 Public Service Agreement target number 5. [29949]

Hilary Benn: We do not intend to publish the delivery plan for 2005–08, as this is an internal document. However, the Government regularly reports progress against PSA Target 5 in the annual Departmental and Autumn Performance Reports. These reports are publicly available on the DFID and other relevant Departments' websites. Details of the measurement systems underpinning the target are published in the PSA Technical Note, which is publicly available onthe DFID website:

South Asia Earthquake

Mr. Hollobone: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what progress is being made in providing shelter for those made homeless by the South Asia earthquake. [35414]

Mr. Thomas: The UN has released a 90-day winter plan that builds on the response of the past eight weeks. The focus remains on providing shelter and food for those living at high altitudes. The Government of Pakistan and the humanitarian community continue to provide relief assistance to between 350,000 and 380,000 people who remain in remote areas, and to provide camp services for up to 250,000 people in official and self settled camps.

The United Nations has reported that a significant number of the tents provided are not winterised and efforts are under way to reinforce their protection against the winter conditions. The relief effort is also providing shelter using local materials with support for the construction of shelters with warm rooms.

DFID has provided 5,500 winterised tents directly, and is giving further assistance to shelter provision through its support to United Nations agencies and
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non-governmental organisations working in this sector. DFID officials have, in consultation with the United Nations, identified a further package worth £1 million of the most urgently needed support to shelter provision. We are working with the United Nations to deliver this additional support as quickly as possible.

St. Helena

Norman Baker: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development if he will list the
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applications submitted by non-St Helenians for land purchase licences in each year since 1997; who the applicant was in each case; and what total land mass each application concerned. [34080]

Mr. Thomas: The Governor in Council" has considered, or is considering, the following applications received since 1997. Decisions are made according to the Immigrants' Landholding (Restriction) Ordinance.

Date of application

Land area(s) (Acres)
28 July 1997Janet Lesley Barlow0.29Refused
20 October 1998Rex Alan Bartlett and Cynthia Laura Barefoot1.9Granted
14 June 1998Patrick Solan and Jean Solan0.35Withdrawn
23 February 1999Per Richard Lochen1.7Granted
24 February 1999Robin Castell2.0Granted
9 April 1999Christopher John Grattan-Cooper and Lindsay Helen Grattan-Cooper0.51Granted
25 February 1999Michel Dancoisne-Martineau12.0Granted
28 May 1999Michel Dancoisne Martineau69.0Granted
New Apostolic Church0.37Granted
5 August 1999Kelly Kosky and Kathleen Ann Kosky35.41Granted
1 December 1999Paul Oliver (Joint Ownership With Wife Who Is An Islander)0.31
16 March 2000Mikael Per Olsson10.7Leasehold interest, granted
12 August 2000Eurnest Oliver Crouch and Ingrid Catharina Crouch0.37Withdrawn
13 November 2000Jeremy Robert White (joint ownership with wife who is an islander)1.05Granted
6 September 2000Mikael Per Olsson0.8Leasehold interest
12 January 2001Christopher Armstrong0.0374Granted
11 January 2001Michel Dancoisne Martineau4.88
1 March 2001John Michael Styles and Lynnette Mary Bloomfield3.5Granted
9 May 2001Robin Anthony Fryatt (joint ownership with partner who is an islander)0.45
12 May 2001Janet Lesley Barlow0.247Withdrawn
24 July 2001Richard David Harris0.36Withdrawn
1 September 2002Jean Florence Albert6.8Granted
12 October 2003Mark Loft (joint ownership with wife who is an islander)0.19Granted
9 November 2003John Reid (joint ownership with wife who is an islander)0.78Granted
1 January 2004Stephen Terry and Maureen Terry0.32Granted
16 March 2004Yvonne Helen Clingham0.60Granted
21 May 2004Nicholas Backhouse (husband of the late Cheryl Backhouse)0.47Pending
5 July 2004John Lawrence Terry and Maria Diosa Terry0.63, 1.14Granted
5 September 2005Jurgen Wolf and Johanna Wolf0.32Leasehold interest granted
12 April 2005John Turner and Catherine Jane turner2.0Granted
1 July 2005Frederick George0.11Granted
19 September 2005Ronald Scanes and Fe valiene Scanes1.14Pending
26 April 2005Shelco Investments309.00
26 April 2005Shelco Investments0.052Pending

As part of the St. Helena Access project, DFID is supporting the St. Helena Government to develop appropriate investment and tourism policies aimed at both encouraging economic development and protecting the island's interests.

Norman Baker: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development how many species of (a) insects and (b) plants are endemic to St. Helena. [34081]

Mr. Thomas: The standard work on the natural history of St. Helena and Ascension Island, jointly authored by Philip and Myrtle Ashmole and published in 2000, lists, as currently known to be endemic to St.Helena, approximately 385 species of invertebrates (of which approximately 285 are insects) and 50 species of plants (of which 37 are flowering plants and 13 are ferns).

The protection of St. Helena's unique biodiversity currently benefits from a programme funded under the joint DFID/FCO Overseas Territories Environment Programme which seeks to implement a protected area plan for the Central Peaks including the control of invasive species and the restoration of endemic plants. St. Helena continues to have access to the project for the protection and enhancement of its biodiversity. Work to mitigate the effects on and to further protect the island's biodiversity is also a key component of the project to introduce air access to St. Helena.

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