Previous Section Index Home Page

7 Feb 2006 : Column 1042W—continued

Caribbean Sugar Producers

18. Charlotte Atkins: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what steps he is taking to obtain EU support for vulnerable Caribbean sugar producers. [49018]

Mr. Douglas Alexander: We welcomed December's agreement to €40 million transitional assistance for the first year (2006) for countries affected by reform of the EU sugar regime, in the Caribbean and elsewhere. Discussions are now starting on detailed allocations for 2007–13. We are pressing for significantly higher assistance for this period. We have also been working with the countries affected to help draw up country plans through which this assistance will be delivered.
7 Feb 2006 : Column 1043W


20. Bob Spink: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will make a statement on progress towards a settlement of the situation in Cyprus. [49020]

Mr. Douglas Alexander: The UN Secretary-General recently stated there had been negligible" progress towards a settlement.

I welcomed his statement, on the eve of my recent visit to Cyprus, reiterating his commitment to a comprehensive settlement.

I urge the two communities to resume their dialogue and for progress to be made on all fronts.

Niger Delta

21. Michael Connarty: To ask the Secretary of Statefor Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will make a statement on the security situation in the Niger Delta. [49021]

Ian Pearson: The security situation in the Niger Delta remains tense following recent attacks on oil installations and the kidnapping, and subsequent release on 30 January, of four foreign oil workers. We are and will remain in close contact with the Nigerian authorities. My right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary spoke personally to President Obasanjo of Nigeria on 21 January about the situation.

G8 Summit (Gleneagles)

Anne Moffat: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what steps he is taking at EU level to ensure that the agreements reached at the G8 summit in Gleneagles are taken forward. [48540]

Mr. Douglas Alexander: The December European Council agreed the EU-Africa Strategy to take forward many key Gleneagles commitments on Africa. The Strategy is a comprehensive overview of the EU's support to Africa in promoting peace and security and achieving the Millennium Development Goals, and will provide strategic direction to the EU on its partnership with Africa. It includes commitments on peace and security, governance, sustainable economic growth and trade, investing in people and development assistance.

The UK also used its presidency of the G8 and the EU to ensure that climate change was pushed up the EU agenda. We worked to ensure that, on energy efficiency for example, the EU and G8 approaches were mutually complimentary. We are working to ensure that the progress made during the 2005 EU Summits with India, China, Canada and Russia, and at the Gleneagles summit, continues. In December 2005, the UK was instrumental in producing a clear EU position and a successful overall outcome at the UN Climate Change meetings in Montreal.

HIV/AIDS (China)

Mr. Martyn Jones: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what assessment he has made of the incidence of HIV/AIDS in China; and if he will make a statement. [47540]

7 Feb 2006 : Column 1044W

Mr. Thomas: I have been asked to reply.

The Chinese Ministry of Health, the World Health Organisation and the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) jointly announced new HIV and AIDS estimates on 25 January. They estimate that 650,000 people are living with HIV and AIDS. There were 70,000 new infections, and 25,000 deaths from AIDS, in 2005. Although this figure is less than the previous estimate in 2003 of 840,000, it represents a better estimation rather than a decline in prevalence. Working with China to prevent the spread of HIV and AIDS is a priority for our DFID China programme.


Anne Moffat: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what recent discussions he has had with other EU governments on a diplomatic solution to the situation regarding Iran's nuclear programme. [48544]

Dr. Howells: My right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary discussed Iran's nuclear programme with his EU counterparts at the meeting of the General Affairs and External Relations Council in Brussels on 30 January. On the same day, he and his French and German colleagues discussed Iran with their US, Russian and Chinese counterparts in London. He has also discussed Iran with Ministers attending a conference about Afghanistan on 31 January, and in routine bilateral meetings.

Justine Greening: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what assessment he has made of Iran's support for terrorist groups; and if he will make a statement. [49013]

Dr. Howells: We remain deeply concerned by Iran's approach to terrorism and the nature of its relationship with Lebanese Hizballah and Palestinian Islamic Jihad. We are also deeply concerned by and continue to investigate Iran's links to extremist groups in Iraq. We have pressed Iran to renounce all support for groups using terror and violence. We have urged Iran to act against members of Al-Qaeda and affiliated groups using Iran as a transit route or refuge, and to co-operate actively with the international community against them.

Nursery Schemes

Mike Penning: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what estimate he has made of the cost to the United Kingdom of nursery schemes for the children of EC staff. [46851]

Mr. Straw: None. The Foreign and Commonwealth Office runs nurseries in London and Hanslope Park for its own staff and contributes towards the cost of nursery attendance for children of its staff overseas. It has no knowledge of nursery schemes for EC staff.

Overseas Territories

Mr. Dismore: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will change the eligibility criteria for EU and UK funding for each of the overseas territories (a) to exclude per capita income to take account of their small population size
7 Feb 2006 : Column 1045W
and (b) to include the vulnerability of their micro-economy to outside circumstances beyond their control; and if he will make a statement. [46905]

Mr. Thomas: I have been asked to reply.

DFID already recognises that a wide range of circumstances present significant development challenges to the overseas territories (OT) including small size, isolation and access, limited human resource capacity and vulnerability to external shocks. Funding decisions are not based only, or even primarily, on per capita income criteria, but with limited resources prioritisation is inevitable towards those territories which most need development assistance.

The main focus for DFID's support are Montserrat, St. Helena and Pitcairn. None are able to raise sufficient revenue to balance their recurrent budget so we provide budgetary aid to help them do so. We combine this with a development programme to help increase revenue and manage recurrent expenditure efficiently. We do however also provide assistance to other territories through our cross-cutting programme which provides support for a range of activities that are common to many or all of the OTs. These programmes include natural disaster management, environment protection, HIV/AIDS, law revision and child protection. All OTs benefit in some way from this assistance.

EU programmes have to a large extent focused on those overseas countries and territories whose economic development is least advanced, with wealth per capita criteria being the main deciding factors for allocations. However we are currently in discussion with the European Commission about the arrangements for continued funding for the OTs when the current allocations end after 2007. These discussions have included the commissioning of a study to look at a range of criteria, in addition to gross national income (GNI) per capita, to help determine the allocation of EU development funds to individual territories. We are also working to ensure that, overall, OTs receive an equitable allocation within the total available for EU development funding.

Regulatory Reform Orders

Mr. Prisk: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs how many regulatory reform orders his Department has laid before Parliament in each of the last five calendar years. [46803]

Mr. Straw: None.

Next Section Index Home Page