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Asylum Seekers

Mr. Rooney: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Employment under what circumstances asylum seekers are able to access Programme Centre facilities. [149213]

Ms Jowell: Responsibility for the subject of the question has been delegated to the Employment Service Agency under its Chief Executive. I have asked him to arrange for a reply to be given.

Letter from Leigh Lewis to Mr. Terry Rooney, dated 7 February 2001:

7 Feb 2001 : Column: 595W


Hawk Sale

Q12. Mr. Jack: To ask the Prime Minister what steps he is taking to help BAE Systems secure an order for Hawk aircraft from the Government of India. [147679]

The Prime Minister: During his visit to the UK in June last year I met Indian Defence Minister George Fernandes and offered my full support for BAE Systems' Hawk proposal. Both the company and the Indian Government have indicated that they are optimistic a final decision will be reached shortly.


Q18. Dr. Godman: To ask the Prime Minister if, when he last met the leaders of other member states of NATO, they discussed matters relating to the future structure, functions and membership of the organisation. [147686]

The Prime Minister: NATO leaders last met at the Washington Summit in April 1999. We discussed a wide range of issues including NATO's Open Door policy on enlargement and Alliance plans for meeting future security challenges as outlined in Strategic Concept, which the Summit approved. Copies of the Washington Summit Communique are available in the Library.


Mr. Dalyell: To ask the Prime Minister if he will make a statement on the objectives of the attack on Samawa, Iraq, on Saturday 20 January. [147786]

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The Prime Minister: I refer my hon. Friend to the answer my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Defence gave him on 25 January 2001, Official Report, columns 659-60W. This action had no other objective than the protection of our aircrews while they carry out humanitarian patrols of the no-fly zones. In January alone the Iraqis fired on coalition aircraft on at least 17 occasions, more than in any month in the previous year. In the face of these continuing, determined attempts by the Iraqi Integrated Air Defence System to kill coalition pilots, we will take the appropriate measures to protect them.

Prime Ministerial Meeting

Mr. Spring: To ask the Prime Minister if he will list (a) the items discussed and (b) conclusions reached at his meeting with Chancellor Schroder. [148763]

The Prime Minister: I discussed a range of issues with Chancellor Schroder, including the future direction of the European Union following the Nice Treaty, EU Enlargement, reform of the Common Agricultural Policy and European defence. We also discussed transatlantic relations and Russia. Finally, we discussed football transfers, in advance of our joint statement issued the following day.



8. Mr. Lammy: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development if she will make a statement on her Department's development priorities in Ghana. [147645]

Clare Short: In December Ghana elected a new Government who have committed themselves to continuing economic reform and poverty reduction. Prior to the elections their economic reform programme went off track and there are difficult decisions to be made. Ghana could qualify for HIPC debt relief but has up to now decided not to apply. I will be visiting Ghana to discuss these issues later this month.


9. Mr. Edwards: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development if she will make a statement about the Government's role in reducing debt in Zambia. [147646]

Clare Short: After years of growing poverty and corruption, Zambia has embarked on a programme of economic reform. In 2000 the Zambia copper mines which were inefficiently run and massively subsidised were finally privatised thus releasing resources for social expenditure. The UK provided $81 million to support his reform. This and commitments to improved economic management and focus on poverty reduction enabled Zambia to qualify for debt relief in December 2000. Debt repayments stand to be reduced by $270 million a year over the next three years. However, calls for President Chiluba to stand again for election in breach of the constitution and a halt to the agreed programme of economic reform could endanger further debt relief.

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11. Mr. Fabian Hamilton: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what assessment she has made of the effectiveness of micro-credit schemes in Zambia in reducing poverty. [147648]

Clare Short: We provide £10 million for micro-credit programmes in Zambia.

These programmes are currently providing credit to 11,000 people rising to 50,000 over the next four years, both in rural and urban areas, more than half of whom are women.

Our assessments of these programmes have shown that micro-credit clients have higher incomes, better household nutrition and increased access to education and health services.


10. Dr. Palmer: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what steps Britain and the international community are taking to combat AIDS world wide; and if she will make a statement. [147647]

Clare Short: The fight against HIV/AIDS is a key priority for my Department. We continue to give greatest priority to prevention, but we also place great emphasis on reducing the personal, social and economic impact of illness and death caused by the disease.

Five per cent. of the population of Africa are infected though rates vary greatly between countries. Infection rates among young people in Uganda, Kenya and Zambia are falling.

Infection rates are rising sharply in China, India, Bangladesh and other Asian countries. Because of the large population in Asia there is a risk that numbers of infections will far outweigh those of Africa.

We spent over £100 million on HIV/AIDS related work last year, and we fully expect to spend more this year.

18. Mr. Jim Murphy: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development if she will make a statement on her Department's work on AIDS in southern Africa. [147656]

Clare Short: We have recently agreed with Southern African Development Community (SADC) a Regional HIV/AIDS Programme channelled through the SADC Health Sector Co-ordination Unit, for the provision of £7.5 million over four years for Botswana, Lesotho, Swaziland and Namibia. The programme focuses on developing the capacity within each country and across the region to mount an effective response to the epidemic. It complements a number of existing DFID supported HIV/AIDS programmes in South Africa, including support for the National Aids Centre, condom social marketing, Carltonville mineworkers, National Reproductive Health and Provincial reproductive health and in Lesotho, a condom social marketing programme and activities supported by the World Bank, EC, USAID, Belgium and other development assistance programmes.

We are also funding the design of a youth magazine on HIV and AIDS with the goal of distributing a copy to every 12 to 18-year old in Botswana, Namibia, Lesotho and Swaziland. The first official launch of the "Choose Life" booklet took place on 31 January in Botswana.

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In South Africa itself, we are planning a new HIV/AIDS Programme to commence this year with a budget of £13 million over four years. This programme will focus on attitudinal and behavioural change activities and technical responses to issues such as Sexually Transmitted Diseases and TB.

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