Previous Section Index Home Page

14 Feb 2006 : Column 1806W—continued

Madagascar (British Embassy)

Ben Chapman: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what assessment he has made of the impact of the closure of the British embassy in Madagascar on UK aid and development initiatives in (a) Madagascar and (b) South East Africa. [50583]

Hilary Benn: I refer the hon. Member to the response given on 30 January 2006, Official Report, column 13W. We have made no assessment of the impact of the closure of the embassy, as DFID does not have a bilateral development programme with Madagascar. The closure is unlikely to have any effect on South East Africa.

Middle East

Lynne Featherstone: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development whether the Government have required the Palestinian Authority to meet certain criteria in order to ensure continued financial aid; and if he will make a statement. [50551]

Hilary Benn: The statement by the European Union, United States, United Nations and Russia (the Quartet) on 30 January concluded that future assistance to any new Palestinian government would be reviewed by donors against that government's commitment to principles of non-violence, recognition of Israel and acceptance of previous agreements and obligations, including the Roadmap. The UK government fully supports this approach.

Pending the formation of a new Palestinian government, a caretaker administration is in place. The Quartet has called for measures to facilitate the work of this caretaker administration to stabilise public finances. DFID is in close contact with the World Bank, International Monetary Fund and other donors about how we can help. For the time being DFID's programmes of advice to key Palestinian institutions and assistance to refugees are continuing.


Mr. Stewart Jackson: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what the total amount of aid given to (a) the Pakistan Government and (b) aid agencies has been following the earthquake of 8 October 2005; and if he will make a statement. [50726]

Mr. Thomas: DFID has pledged £58 million for emergency humanitarian relief and £70 million for longer term reconstruction. Of this nearly £53 million has been committed so far, including £43.3 million to aid agencies. The remainder has been in support of interventions undertaken by NATO, MOD and of direct action by DFID. We have not disbursed any money to the Government of Pakistan so far.

Palestinian Authority

Daniel Kawczynski: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development how much the Government gave in aid to the Palestinian Authority in each of the last five years. [51546]

14 Feb 2006 : Column 1807W

Hilary Benn: DFID's support to the Palestinian Authority (PA) over the last five years has been as follows:
£ million

This support has included technical assistance and financial aid, including budgetary support. These figures are in addition to Palestinian projects implemented outside the PA, including contributions to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) for refugees.


Agricultural Support

Mr. Harper: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what her estimate is of the total amount to be paid to farmers under the Single Farm Payment in England in 2005–06. [47984]

Jim Knight: The total amount of money that is available for payments to farmers in England under the single payment scheme is £1.63 billion. The amount each farmer will receive depends on the number and value of the entitlements they are allocated, and whether they activate these entitlements. In addition all payments are subject to modulation.

Miss McIntosh: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs when she expects the first single farm payments to be made. [48205]

Jim Knight: As I stated on 31 January 2006, full payments under the Single Payment Scheme will start at the end of February 2006, with the bulk complete in March 2006.

I expect all payments will be made well within the payment window set by EU legislation which runs until 30 June 2006.

Avian Influenza

Bill Wiggin: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what factors she took into account when deciding not to authorise the use of vaccines against avian influenza. [50086]

Mr. Bradshaw: The use of avian influenza vaccines is prohibited by European Union (EU) legislation except in emergency or high risk situations. They would also have to be specifically authorised by the Chief Veterinary Officer.

The vaccines currently available in the EU are able to reduce mortality but it is likely that some vaccinated birds would still be capable of transmitting the avian influenza virus if they become infected. We are continuing to work closely with vaccine manufacturers to assess information on other possible vaccines.
14 Feb 2006 : Column 1808W

Beacon Towns Initiative

Mr. Pickles: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if she will make a statement on the status of the Beacon Towns initiative. [51102]

Jim Knight: The Beacon Towns programme was part of the Market Towns initiative announced in the Rural White Paper 2000. Between 2003–04 the Countryside Agency identified 18 Beacon Towns in England; demonstrating the range of different problems and challenges which market towns experience, and other towns can learn from. Details of their experiences are set out in the Countryside Agency's report 'Beacon Towns: The Story Continues', available from the Agency's website at

The delivery functions that used to be carried out by the Countryside Agency (including work on Beacon Towns) transferred to regional development agencies and Government Offices from 1 April 2005. Regional development agencies have continued to support the delivery of individual Beacon Town projects during 2005–06.

The not-for-profit organisation Action for Market Towns is also focusing on work with three specific Beacon Towns: Faringdon, Carterton and Wolverton. The aim is to generate an ongoing knowledge and skills exchange between these and other experienced market town partnerships.

Calls to Prayer

Mr. Gordon Prentice: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what guidance she gives local authorities on the acceptable volume of amplified calls to prayer; and if she will make a statement. [50247]

Mr. Bradshaw: Complaints about noise from amplified calls to prayer can be addressed by local authorities under the statutory nuisance provisions of the Environmental Protection Act 1990. It is for the appropriate local authority to determine whether a noise amounts to a statutory nuisance. The Department does not produce guidance on acceptable levels of noise, since these will vary. Factors to be taken into account include the character of the locality, the duration of the noise and the frequency of its occurrence.


Mr. Laurence Robertson: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs to what percentage of the total length of rivers in the United Kingdom canoeists have full access throughout the year; and if she will make a statement. [48366]

Jim Knight [holding answer 6 February 2006]: The lengths of water for canoeing on canals, rivers with public navigation rights, and rivers with formal access agreements in England total some 5,000 km (34 per cent. of the major river and canal network) but the canoeists right of access may be limited at certain times of year (eg during the angling season).

Responsibility for access to rivers in Scotland and Wales lies with the devolved Administrations rather than with Defra.
14 Feb 2006 : Column 1809W


Mr. Hancock: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if she will make it her policy to ban the use of animals in travelling circuses. [50562]

Mr. Bradshaw: We do not believe there is sufficient evidence to justify an across the board ban on animals performing in travelling circuses.

DEFRA plans to introduce a statutory code of practice for circuses to underpin the new welfare offence set out in the Animal Welfare Bill. The code will establish good practice, and assist with enforcement. Together with the proposed welfare offence it may have the effect of making it uneconomic for certain animal acts to perform in travelling circuses.

Next Section Index Home Page