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19 Oct 2006 : Column 1359W—continued

East Africa (Crop Failures)

David Taylor: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what assessment he has made of the humanitarian consequences of the crop failure in east African countries. [92681]

Hilary Benn: DFID has been one of the major supporters of the humanitarian response to the failure of the short season rains at the end of 2005. Since then we have committed over £56.2 million to meet the most urgent humanitarian needs. Additional DFID contributions have been made via our support to the UN-managed central emergency response fund (CERF) to which the UK is the largest contributor, and through the EC Humanitarian Office (ECHO).

Prospects are generally quite good for the main 2006 season in east Africa. Crop production is, however, only one of the factors affecting humanitarian needs. While most communities demonstrate impressive resilience in the face of adverse conditions, some remain in need even when crop production is good. There is evidence that in many communities, notably in Somalia, Kenya, Ethiopia and Eritrea, acute malnutrition remains well above levels that are regarded as sufficient to trigger humanitarian interventions. We will continue to monitor these needs carefully and respond where necessary.

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In Eritrea, Ethiopia, Tanzania and Uganda indications are that the main 2006 crop will be good but there is not yet any quantitative assessment. In Kenya production is estimated to be up 15 per cent. on last year, and the numbers of those estimated to require food aid has been reduced from 3.1 million to 2.4 million. Somalia main season production, normally 80 per cent. of total annual crop production, has been estimated to be 30 percent. down. In general however UN estimates of those in urgent humanitarian need in Somalia are down from 1.8 million to 1.4 million.


Jeremy Corbyn: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development how much aid the UK has given to Angola by (a) direct and (b) bilateral programmes; and what future he envisages for the Luanda Urban Poverty Programme. [94880]

Hilary Benn: Over the last five years, DFID has given over £35 million in aid to Angola through its bilateral programme. Statistics are not yet available for DFID’s multilateral contributions for 2005, but from 2000-04, the UK’s imputed share of multilateral funding to Angola (European Commission, World Bank and United Nations) was £46.5 million.

DFID has given approximately £16.5 million to the Luanda Urban Poverty Programme (LUPP) since 1999. A recent DFID end-of-project evaluation of LUPP found that it has been a notable success. We anticipate that it will provide lessons for DFID and our partners on urban poverty and operating in post-conflict countries.

In the context of a declining donor presence in Angola, we consider it very important that LUPP and similar programmes are able to have a sustained impact and reduce their reliance on external funding. We are pleased, therefore, that the Government of Angola has been seeking inputs from LUPP for its own work in urban poverty and service delivery. We are also pleased that LUPP partners will continue similar work in municipalities within and outside Luanda with the support of other partners, including the private sector (Chevron, Coca Cola and the diamond company Lazare Kaplan). To complement this, we have invited LUPP partners to submit a further proposal to DFID for our consideration, focused on their governance and influencing work. This should help capitalise on the gains made by LUPP to date, enable stronger links to be forged between the Government of Angola and civil society on urban poverty, and be manageable for DFID in light of our reduced administrative and financial resources for Angola.

Reproductive Health/HIV

Chris McCafferty: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what his Department’s bilateral aid to (a) reproductive health programmes and (b) HIV programmes was in 2005-06, broken down into (i) project or sector aid, (ii) programme aid, (iii) technical co-operation, (iv) grants and other aid in kind, (v) humanitarian assistance and (vi) CDC investments. [94900]

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Mr. Thomas: Figures for bilateral spending on HIV and reproductive health during 2005-06 are not available yet. They are being finalised and will be published in this year’s “Statistics for International Development” report at the end of this month.


Mark Simmonds: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development how many of his Department’s personnel are based in Somaliland; and if he will make a statement. [94042]

Hilary Benn: There are currently no DFID personnel permanently based in Somaliland. When required, and security permits, DFID officials based in Nairobi and London travel to the region.

Mark Simmonds: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development how much bilateral development assistance has been provided by the UK to Somaliland in each of the last three years; and if he will make a statement. [94043]

Hilary Benn: Many programmes and projects that DFID supports in Somalia benefit, but are not specific to, Somaliland. However, we estimate that about 30-40 per cent. of our bilateral development assistance to Somalia benefits Somaliland. The UK’s total bilateral programme in Somalia in 2003-04 was £4.0 million; in 2004-05 it rose to £5.3 million; and in 2005-06 is provisionally recorded as £18.8 million. DFID’s support to Somaliland is channelled through UN agencies and NGOs. The following are some examples:

Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

Animal Welfare

Mark Hunter: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what mechanisms are in place to ensure that where animals are abandoned as a result of their owners being jailed, the welfare of the animals themselves is safeguarded. [92096]

Mr. Bradshaw: If an owner is sentenced to a term of imprisonment, it is his responsibility to make arrangements for the care of his animals.

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Under the Protection of Animals Act 1911, it is an offence to cause any unnecessary suffering to any domestic or captive animal. Additionally, it is an offence under the Abandonment of Animals Act 1960 to abandon any domestic or captive animal in circumstances likely to cause unnecessary suffering.

In certain limited circumstances, abandoned animals which are suffering can be legally destroyed by the State Veterinary Service. In other cases, the RSPCA is often able to help.

Under the Animal Welfare Bill, currently before Parliament, an inspector or constable may take an animal into possession if, in the opinion of a veterinary surgeon, the animal is suffering, or is likely to suffer if its circumstances do not change. This will provide a legal basis for acting in cases where animals have been abandoned for any reason and are likely to suffer as a result.

Central Science Laboratory (York)

Chris Huhne: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs whether he plans to change the status of the Central Science Laboratory in York; and if he will make a statement. [92688]

Mr. Bradshaw: I refer the hon. Member to the written ministerial statement by my noble Friend, Lord Rooker, 20 June 2006. It is available at the following link on the DEFRA website:

National Fallen Stock Company

Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what the reason was for the reduction in the allocation of funding to the National Fallen Stock Company; and what plans he has to retain and enhance membership of the company. [94125]

Mr. Bradshaw: There has been no reduction in funding to the National Fallen Stock Company. Government allocated £20 million for the scheme over a three-year period in order to help with initial pump priming. We have recently agreed to extend that funding for a further year, but it was always intended that central Government's contribution would reduce over time. The recent reduction in the percentage contribution to farmers' collection costs reflects this approach.

Last year the Government commissioned an independent review of the National Fallen Stock Scheme to: examine the operation of the scheme to date; make recommendations for retaining and enhancing the membership of the scheme in the future; and identify the transitional steps needed to move towards a post-subsidy situation. The review team delivered its recommendations in April 2006. The Government are now working closely with the National Fallen Stock Company to develop appropriate responses. We aim to publish these later this year.

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North Sea Fisheries

Mr. Greg Knight: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what steps he is taking to prevent French fishing vessels from causing damage to the property of British fishermen off the coast near Bridlington and Flamborough Head. [93967]

Mr. Bradshaw: French trawlers can legitimately operate outside the 12-mile limit off the Yorkshire coast. They also have limited access rights in the 6-12 mile area between Flamborough Head and Spurn Point to fish for herring. The activities of these vessels have been closely monitored by the Marine Fisheries Agency (MFA). A French trawler was successfully prosecuted on 7 July in Grimsby for fishing illegally inside the 12-mile limit and total fines and costs amounted to £14,750. Since this incident, no further evidence of subsequent incursions within the 12-mile limit have been found.

The MFA monitors fishing activity through a programme of inspections on land and at sea, using the Royal Navy's Fishery Protection Squadron. Aerial surveillance, combined with a satellite Vessel Monitoring System, precisely records the position of all vessels over 15m in length, including any French vessels. In recent weeks, approximately 80 per cent. of French vessels operating off the Yorkshire coast have been inspected when their catches are being landed.

The MFA will be hosting a meeting between members of the UK and French fishing industries in London on 31 October. This will help to develop a dialogue about practical ways of minimising interference with each others' fishing operations, and reduce the risk of damage to fishing gear.


Mr. Greg Knight: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what plans he has to change the legal size limit for catching lobsters and crabs in UK waters; what consultations are taking place; with whom; and if he will make a statement. [93968]

Mr. Bradshaw: A consultation on the legal size limit for lobsters is currently under way, which proposes to increase the minimum landing size of lobsters from 87mm to 90mm carapace length and asks for views as to whether this should be in one stage or incremental steps. It also asks for views on additional measures such as setting a maximum landing size.

The 11-page consultation document is available on the DEFRA website, as is a list of consultees, which includes local authorities, fishermen's associations and universities:

The closing date for the consultation is 17 November 2006.

Most English crab stocks are currently assessed as being fished sustainably, but there are growing concerns that they are at risk of being exploited beyond sustainable limits if fishing effort continues to increase. DEFRA will shortly be publishing a discussion paper on possibilities for controlling effort on fishing for brown crabs. An increase in the European Union minimum landing size for brown crabs is one of the possible measures upon which the Department is inviting comments before formulating more specific proposals.

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Water Resource Plans

Mr. Peter Ainsworth: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what measures he is taking to encourage standardisation of water resource plans in the south-east. [95078]

Ian Pearson: All water companies in the south-east currently have voluntary water resources management plans which were produced using guidelines prepared by the Environment Agency. In April 2007 it is proposed to make water resources management plans a statutory requirement, using powers in the Water Act 2003. All water companies' statutory water resources management plans, including those for water companies in the south-east, will be required to include standard information specified in both primary legislation and in directions. The Environment Agency's water resource planning guidelines will be updated and provide additional guidance.


Act of Union

David Mundell: To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland whether his Department plans to mark the 300th anniversary of the Act of Union between Scotland and England. [91611]

David Cairns: As announced by my right hon. Friend, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, on 15 June 2006, Official Report, column 67WS, the anniversary will be marked by the issuing of a commemorative two-pound coin.

The Scotland Office, in liaison with other Departments, is developing plans to mark the anniversary in a number of ways.

Human Trafficking

Mr. Bone: To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland what assessment he has made of the extent of human trafficking into Scotland for the purpose of the sex trade. [93000]

David Cairns: The Home Office and Scottish Executive carried out a joint consultation earlier this year on proposals for an action plan on trafficking. The results of that consultation together with the views expressed in the Joint Committee on Human Rights report on human trafficking published last week, will be taken into account in framing the UK strategy which the Government expect to finalise later this year. I visited in June this year a counter-trafficking project co-ordinated by Glasgow city council which offers victims counselling and support to help re-establish their lives.

Ministerial Office (Dover House)

Mrs. Spelman: To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland whether the ministerial office in Dover House is (a) occupied and (b) used by his Department. [94673]

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David Cairns: Dover House contains a number of ministerial offices, all of which are in regular use. The principal rooms are used by Scotland Office Ministers and the Advocate General for Scotland; other rooms are currently used by the Leader and the Deputy Leader of the House of Commons and by visiting Ministers of the Scottish Executive.

Offshore Northern Seas Conference

Jo Swinson: To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland what (a) new initiatives and (b) future meetings are to take place further to the Minister of State attending the Offshore Northern Seas Conference in August 2006. [91065]

David Cairns [holding answer 13 September 2006]: My hon. Friend, the Minister for Energy, and I shared UK ministerial representation at the ONS Conference in Stavanger. I was particularly pleased to see so many Scottish-based enterprises participating in this major international event. PILOT, the Government/Industry taskforce, will take a continuing interest in aspects of follow-up activity from ONS, which will include:

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