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Veterinary Medicines Directorate

Helen Jones: To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, what plans he has to conduct a Quinquennial Review of the Veterinary Medicines Directorate. [97429]

Mr. Nick Brown: The Veterinary Medicines Directorate was established as an Executive Agency on 2 April 1990. I am today announcing the Quinquennial Review of this Agency, which will include an evaluation of the performance of the Agency, and reconsideration of the Prior Options relating to Agency status as well as the options required under Better Quality Services. If appropriate, the existing Framework Document will also be reviewed.

The terms of reference for the review are as follows:



    to consider in the light of this evaluation, and the views of customers and other stakeholders, whether among the available options Agency status remains the most cost effective way of achieving MAFF's aims; and


    if the review concludes that the Veterinary Medicines Directorate should continue to function as an Executive Agency, then to consider what changes, if any, are required to the Framework Document in the light of the findings of the review. If, however, the review concludes that a different delivery system would provide high quality, more effective and better value for money services, to set out the rationale and to recommend an appropriate option to Ministers.

The review will be conducted by officials from MAFF working with officials from VMD in close consultation with the Cabinet Office and Treasury. It will draw on and take account of other relevant work, for example the considerations feeding into the White Paper and Bill to establish the Food Standards Agency, and other relevant material.

We shall be setting out the arrangements whereby interested parties will be given an opportunity to submit their views.

I hope to publish the outcome of the review in the second quarter of 2000.

INTERNATIONAL DEVELOPMENT

Fair Trade

11. Ms Ward: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what progress has been made in promoting the purchase of fair trade goods by Departments and other public bodies. [95590]

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Mr. Foulkes: My Department takes every opportunity to promote fair trade products and also to support ethical trading in mainstream business. As my hon. Friend knows, fair trade tea and coffee are available in all the Department for International Development (DFID) outlets and in the House of Commons. I understand that a number of Departments have considered stocking fair trade products.

16. Fiona Mactaggart: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what progress there has been among UK manufacturers in adopting a fair trade approach to the purchase of agricultural commodities from developing countries; and if she will make a statement. [95595]

Clare Short: A growing number of products have obtained the FairTrade Mark from the Fairtrade Foundation. Seventy-five such products (covering coffee, tea, cocoa and honey) are now available, compared to 50 a year ago. The FairTrade Mark tends to be applied for more by alternative trading organisations than large UK manufacturers.

Companies can also trade in a way which has a positive impact on the livelihoods of the poor but does not meet the requirements for certification through the FairTrade Foundation. For example, companies can work with the Ethical Trading Initiative, which concentrates on codes of conduct for responsible business. The Ethical Trading Initiative now has fifteen members; one of the most recent is the Tea Sourcing Partnership, whose members represent 60 per cent. of tea packed in the UK.

Multinational Companies

12. Mr. Baker: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what recent assessment she has made of the impact of multinational companies on developing countries. [95591]

Clare Short: The private sector and multinational companies are key to achieving the economic growth necessary to meet the international poverty reduction targets.

We have established a Business Partnership Unit to strengthen our links with the private sector. We have also established a resource centre to help business to access information, expertise and contacts to help them implement socially responsible business and examine and monitor their impact in poor countries. We have provided funding and support to the Ethical Trading Initiative which brings together business, trade unions and non-governmental organisations to examine supply chains in poorer countries against an agreed code of conduct, including key commitments on labour standards.

Zimbabwe

13. Mr. Walter: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what representations she has made to the Government of Zimbabwe regarding United Kingdom assistance to the land resettlement programme. [95592]

Clare Short: We believe that land reforms are needed, as part of a strategy to reduce poverty in Zimbabwe. We have consistently told the Government that as part of such

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a strategy we would be prepared to support a land reform programme that is transparent, cost-effective, properly managed and on which local people are consulted.

Fraud

14. Mr. Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development if she will make a statement on measures to combat fraud in the provision of overseas aid. [95593]

Clare Short: My Department has strong control systems designed to ensure regularity, propriety and value for money in the expenditure of our budget. These systems are reviewed by our internal auditors and they are regularly updated. Our systems are also subject to examination by the National Audit Office (NAO).

There were nine cases of fraud reported in our 1998-99 Annual Fraud Return. There were no reported cases involving the Department for International Development (DFID) staff. In all cases action has been taken to improve systems of control to avoid any recurrence. Legal action is pending for the recovery of DFID funds in three of these cases.

World Trade Organisation

15. Mr. Heppell: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what discussions she has had with non-governmental organisations on the implications for developing countries of the agenda for the Seattle ministerial conference of the World Trade Organisation. [95594]

Clare Short: We are keen to promote dialogue and discussion with civil society. Ministers and officials from across Government meet regularly with non-governmental organisations and a wide range of other civil society representatives, to discuss trade-related issues. On 2 March, I made a speech entitled "Future Multilateral Trade Negotiations: A Development Round?" which has been circulated to NGOs and more widely. A copy is in the Library of the House.

This morning I made a speech to 100 civil society representatives where I set out how we can make the next trade Round work for the world's poor. I will also be speaking at a conference with NGOs and civil society at Seattle on 29 November.

20. Mr. David Taylor: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what steps her Department is taking to ensure that developing countries will derive substantial development benefits from the next World Trade Organisation conference. [95599]

Clare Short: We are working bilaterally and with a wide range of other organisations, to help build the capacity of developing countries to participate effectively in the multilateral trading system. A full list of the work we are supporting has been placed in the Library of the House.

It is not widely appreciated that three quarters of the members of the World Trade Organisation are developing countries. This means that they are in a position to make great gains and improve their development prospects in the next trade round. It also means that agreement in the next round is dependant on developing country support. We have over the last two years provided £10 million to

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support training in developing countries negotiating capacity and ability to make use of trade opportunities. We are also working to encourage the EU, World Bank and other support agencies.

Debt Relief

17. Helen Jackson: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development if she will make a statement on progress in relieving the indebtedness of highly indebted poor countries. [95596]

Clare Short: International agreement on a substantial revision to the Heavily Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC) Initiative was reached at the Annual Meetings of the World Bank and the IMF at the end of September. The new HIPC framework will deliver deeper debt relief, and provide this relief more quickly and to more countries. A comprehensive financing package is still being worked out. I made an additional pledge of $50 million towards the multilateral costs of HIPC, bringing the UK's total commitment to $221 million (approx £135 million). We are pressing the European Commission to bring forward proposals to make a substantial contribution towards the revised HIPC, as they announced at the Annual Meetings.

I very much welcome the agreement in Washington to tie HIPC debt relief to national poverty reduction strategies. The strategies will be country specific and developed through an open, consultative process which is led by national governments. However each will discuss policy options and propose how all resources, not just debt service savings, are used for poverty elimination and the achievement of the international development targets.

22. Sir Sydney Chapman: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development if she will report progress on initiatives to reduce the debt of and poverty in the heavily indebted poor countries. [95601]

Clare Short: Agreement on a substantial revision to the Heavily Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC) Initiative was reached at the Annual Meetings of the World Bank and the IMF at the end of September. The new framework will deliver deeper debt relief, and provide this relief more quickly and to more countries. The debt relief will be strongly focused on supporting poverty reduction strategies. A comprehensive financing package is still being worked out. I made an additional pledge of $50 million towards the costs, bringing the UK's total commitment to $221 million (approx £135 million). We are pressing the European Commission to firm up their proposals to a contribution of at least 1 billion euro. If this is agreed the UK contribution to the trust fund will rise to $400 million.

23. Mr. Kidney: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what her policy is on the attachment of conditions for debt relief in the case of heavily indebted poor countries. [95602]

Clare Short: I very much welcome the new international consensus that the purpose of debt relief for the heavily indebted poor countries is to allow countries to tackle poverty more effectively. We are extremely pleased that the Annual Meetings of the World Bank and the IMF in September agreed that the provision of debt relief under the revised Heavily Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC) initiative should be tied to supporting national poverty reduction strategies.

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