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Floods

Fiona Mactaggart: To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food when he will undertake studies of the causes of floods since October 2000 in Colnbrook, Slough. [156238]

Mr. Morley: Responsibility for such studies rests with local flood defence operating authorities, such as the Environment Agency and local councils, and other bodies, such as water companies. I understand from the Environment Agency that the flooding experienced at Colnbrook was due to a combination of factors, with prolonged and exceptional rainfall exceeding the capacity of local watercourses and surface water drains, and giving rise to high groundwater levels. For its part, the Agency is investigating the feasibility of flood alleviation measures for County Ditch.

INTERNATIONAL DEVELOPMENT

Mozambique

Dr. Tonge: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development if she will make a statement on flooding in Mozambique. [156539]

Clare Short: The situation in Mozambique is stabilising and is showing some signs of improvement but remains serious. The continued effective management of the dam discharge rates has helped to alleviate the effects of the seasonal rains on the lower Zambezi. The wet season is now drawing to a close reducing the threat of further flooding.

Government of Mozambique reports continue to describe some 494,500 people in the Zambezi Valley as being affected by the current flooding. The Government of Mozambique estimate that some 204,130 are now accommodated in 77 temporary accommodation centres in the four flood affected provinces of Sofala, Tete, Manica, and Zambezia. As floodwater in the eastern part

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of Zambezia Province recedes, some of the displaced population are leaving the temporary accommodation centres and returning to their homes.

Following the immediate relief operation in response to last year's catastrophic floods in Mozambique, my Department has remained engaged in rehabilitation as well as in developing new measures, via the United Nations system, to strengthen both UN and Government of Mozambique contingency arrangements for future disasters. Over the past few months DFID, FCO, MOD, the Royal National Lifeboat Institution and the UK Fire Service have been working together to prepare contingency plans for different emergency scenarios. In addition we have continued to work closely with the Government of Mozambique's National Directorate of Water to set up early warning flood systems with the UK Met Office.

Following the onset of the current floods, we switched gear to immediate response operations deliberately aimed at 'preventative' rescue and relief, i.e. extricating people before the worst hits them and there is substantial loss of life and suffering. In addition to contributing £250,000 to the Red Cross and £160,000 to Food for the Hungary's appeal for Mozambique, we funded two Puma helicopters to move people from the riskiest areas and transport urgent relief supplies; provided three logisticians to the World Food Programme to assist in its operational response; and provided a humanitarian specialist in Beira to reinforce DFID presence on the ground and conduct field assessments.

Clean Water Supplies

Mr. Cox: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development if she will list those countries for which her Department provides aid for the development of policies relating to the accessibility of clean water supplies. [156702]

Clare Short: The countries in which my Department supported development of policies, at either local or national level, relating to the accessibility of clean water supplies are listed. This relates to financial year 1999-2000.


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NORTHERN IRELAND

Dublin and Monaghan Bombings

Mr. Corbyn: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what requests he has received to provide information to the independent commission of inquiry established by the Irish Government into the 1974 Dublin and Monaghan bombings; and what has been his response. [155971] [155972]

Dr. Reid: I have received a request from Mr. Justice Henry Barron, the Independent Commissioner of Inquiry into the Dublin, Monaghan and Dundalk bombings, for all relevant information held by the UK Government relating to these incidents. This request has been shared with all relevant Government Departments and Agencies, including the Ministry of Defence, who are currently

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researching archived records to establish what information they hold. I have assured Judge Barron that I will respond substantively as soon as I am in a position to do so.

I am replying on behalf of the Secretary of State for Defence of whom this question has also been asked but who has not received a separate request from the Independent Commission of Inquiry.

Fatal Incident Inquiries

Dr. Godman: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what representations he has received concerning the holding of an inquiry into a controversial death at the same time as (a) the continuation of a police investigation, (b) the continuation of an inquiry by the Northern Ireland Police Ombudsman and (c) the continuation of a coroner's inquiry; and if he will place a copy of this advice in the Library. [156538]

Dr. Reid: I have received a range of representations concerning the holding of inquiries in such a case. I am not legally precluded from establishing a public inquiry in advance of the conclusion of any criminal investigation. However, I believe that to do so would carry the significant risk of prejudicing the outcome of any investigation.

FOREIGN AND COMMONWEALTH AFFAIRS

Palestine

Mr. Gareth R. Thomas: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will make a statement on the EU Commissioner's meetings with Chairman Arafat with particular reference to (a) violence and (b) corruption. [155758]

Mr. Wilson: The EU Troika of Anna Lindh, the Swedish Foreign Minister, Commissioner Patten and Miguel Moratinos (the EU's Special Envoy to the MEPP) visited Israel, the Palestinian Authority and Egypt on 12 and 13 March. They met with Israeli Prime Minister Sharon, Israeli Foreign Minister Peres, President Arafat, Egyptian President Mabarak and Egyptian Foreign Minister Moussa. The visit went well. The Troika delivered strong messages to the Israelis and the Palestinians, including on the need to end the violence. The Troika urged the Israelis to end the economic siege of the Palestinians and resume the transfer of customs revenues due to the Palestinian Authority.

The Palestinians have, since the visit, written to Commissioner Patten accepting the EU requests that they work up an austerity budget and improve the transparency and accountability of their financial management.

Dr. Vis: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what recent representations he has made to Chairman Arafat about the actions which he has taken against the Tanzim. [156067]

Mr. Wilson: The Government expect both the Palestinian Authority and the Government of Israel to insist on restraint and disciplined behaviour by their military and security personnel, and to restrain extremism. We are in regular contact with both parties, and urge them to take immediate parallel steps to address the current crisis.

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Turkmenistan

Mr. David Atkinson: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he has received a formal response from the Turkmen authorities to the demarche issued in February concerning the continuing incarceration of Shageldy Atakov. [156086]

Mr. Vaz: The Turkmen Foreign Minister undertook to respond formally to the EU/US demarche in February but has not yet done so. We intend to remind the Turkmen authorities of our concern within the next week.

Mr. David Atkinson: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will make representations to the Turkmen authorities about their obligations in respect of the Shageldy Atakov case under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the Convention against Torture and other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment. [156087]

Mr. Vaz: On 23 February, EU Partners and the US issued a demarche to the Turkmen Foreign Minister regarding Shageldy Atakov's detention. We used this opportunity to remind the Turkmen Government of their international human rights commitments, which include those under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the Convention against Torture and other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment. We will continue to remind the Turkmen Government of their legal obligations in future representations regarding Mr. Atakov.


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