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On 19 January, as the scale of the disaster which had unfolded in Haiti became clearer, the British Government announced a tripling of our humanitarian aid to £20 million. The additional funding will enable our support to extend beyond immediate humanitarian relief. Over the next four or five days, we are sending a further three flights with non-food items such as shelter kits,
jerry cans, blankets. The United Kingdom's stabilisation unit is deploying civilian experts and supplies to help restore vital Government functions. A team of three from the unit has already deployed with equipment including vehicles, field offices and communications equipment to support British efforts and strengthen co-ordination with other partners in Haiti.
We have also taken the decision to deploy the Royal Fleet Auxiliary ship Largs Bay, to carry further vital relief goods. The ship is expected to depart by the end of the month and will help assure continuity of supply of vital goods such as food, shelter and medical supplies. Following a request from the United Nations it is expected to stay on to assist in distributing supplies around Haiti.
We continue to support strengthened co-ordination by the United Nations and Government of Haiti. The United Nations Office for Co-ordination of Humanitarian Affairs has rapidly increased its staffing to co-ordinate relief on the ground. The humanitarian clusters are accelerating their work and we are exploring options for further help to the shelter clusters. The Prime Minister spoke with Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon last week and subsequently with President Obama to discuss how both countries could support the United Nations in their role. The Prime Minister welcomed the role played by President Clinton as UN Special Envoy to Haiti and that of Acting Special Representative Edmond Mullet.
The United States military is playing a crucial role in supporting the humanitarian effort, keeping the airport functioning, clearing the port, and enabling aid to get where it needs to. They are working well with the United Nations in support of the international relief effort.
Aid is now getting through to affected communities but the pace of delivery needs to be accelerated. So far, over 500,000 people have received assistance. By 22 January, there were over 120 water distribution points in Port-au-Prince. The Government of Haiti have identified six formalised settlements to house 120,000 people and work has started to build them. Medical provision is also improving, and the United Nations has announced that there are now enough doctors and surgeons in the country. There are at least nine field hospitals operational in Haiti as well as a 1,000-bed hospital ship and six more on the way. The Department for International Development provided funding for an assessment team and specialised surgical team from Merlin that are now working on the ground in Port-au-Prince.
More still needs to be done. A shortage of trucks and fuel, exacerbated by the airport's limited capacity to receive, warehouse, and dispatch relief supplies, continues to hamper relief efforts in and around Port-au-Prince. Over 200,000 people have left Port-au-Prince for other parts of Haiti and as many as 800,000 people are believed to be reliant on temporary shelters. Our early contribution to the World Food Programme for logistical support has helped, and RFA Largs Bay will transport more trucks to help with aid distribution. Ministers are liaising at the highest level with the relevant authorities to unblock bottlenecks.
The situation for many survivors in Haiti remains precarious. In these difficult circumstances, it is notable how civil society in Haiti has come together in the face of personal tragedy. I am meeting with faith leaders
today to discuss how to support the work of church networks in Haiti and others in bringing people together. The British Government will support Haitians in this task.
We continue to follow the security situation very closely, both for our teams and for the wider operation, and share the concerns expressed by the United Nations that the relatively stable situation could deteriorate. Following Security Council Resolution 1908 to bolster the Haitian peacekeeping mission with an additional 2,000 troops and 1,500 police, we congratulate countries offering additional personnel and urge the speedy deployment of these peacekeepers in their humanitarian role.
Once the relief phase is over, it is essential that the international community does not forget about Haiti. We welcome the efforts multilaterals are already making to support the recovery and reconstruction. We expect our contribution to be through our very substantial support to multilaterals and we are looking urgently at ways of providing longer-term support for Haiti through the European Commission, the World Bank and other multilaterals. To this end, the European Union Foreign Affairs Council meeting of Development Ministers on Monday 18 January pledged longer-term reconstruction funding as well as significant funding for humanitarian support. And today, member countries from the long established grouping "The Friends of Haiti" will meet in Montreal to start the planning process for a major conference in the spring on post-emergency reconstruction which we fully expect to attend. Leading multilaterals will also attend the Montreal meeting, and the United Kingdom will be represented by the European Union delegation.
Going forward, it is clear that Haiti will need grant assistance and development support for the foreseeable future, and on terms consistent with its future debt sustainability. The United Kingdom has already cancelled all debts owed by Haiti as part of the heavily indebted poor countries initiative in June 2009. We will continue to play our part in responding to the short and long-term needs of the Haitian people.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Transport (Paul Clark): In its guidance note "Modernising Trust Ports, Second Edition", issued in July 2009, the Department strongly encouraged the major trust ports in England and Wales to analyse their corporate structure and keep it under review, with a view to identifying opportunities to enhance their efficiency and get value from their assets, and to report their conclusions to the Department by April 2010.
The Government's operational efficiency programme set out a policy framework to guide decisions on how activities using public assets will be delivered. This recognised that in seeking to deliver services more effectively with limited resources, there may be advantages in some cases to adopting alternative forms of ownership.
In considering the appropriateness of sale of an asset, the Government will consider a range of factors. The following statement sets out the factors that the Government currently consider likely to be particularly relevant to consideration of the appropriateness of sale of a major trust port.
whether it is possible to ensure continued delivery of high-quality services and other policy goals (such as supporting economic competitiveness and growth) with a different form of ownership;
whether there is or could be a satisfactory degree of competition if the service were provided in the private sector;
the extent to which the sale could be expected to increase investment, potentially through reduced constraints on borrowing, or enhance efficiency or quality; and
the feasibility of sale in terms of market appetite and the value for money likely to be achieved.
the desirability of giving all bona fide prospective purchasers a fair and equitable opportunity to make an offer;
the desirability of encouraging disposal of equity to managers and employees of the port; and
whether the sale could be expected to help to deliver reliable and efficient transport networks.
The Parliamentary Secretary, Government Equalities Office (Michael Jabez Foster): The Equality Bill, currently before the House of Lords, will introduce a new integrated equality duty which will bring together the existing race, disability and gender equality duties and extend to cover age, sexual orientation, religion or belief and gender reassignment in full. The equality duty will follow the same structure as the current duties and will be underpinned by a number of specific duties, to be set out in secondary legislation, which will help public authorities in the better performance of the duty.
On 11 June 2009, Government published a consultation document entitled "Equality Bill: Making it work-Policy proposals for specific duties" setting out policy proposals for the new specific duties. The consultation finished on 30 September, and today we have published a policy statement in response to the consultation entitled "Equality Bill: Making it work-Policy proposals for specific duties. A Policy Statement" summarising the responses and setting out our further thinking for the specific duties.
We are placing copies of the policy statement in the Libraries of the House. Copies will also be available on the Government Equalities Office website: www.equalities.gov.uk.