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Mr. Cousins: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what assistance has been offered to the Republic of Georgia to further the inquiries into the enriched uranium seized by anti-terrorist police in Batumi, Georgia on 18 July; and if he will make a statement on the destination of the uranium. [11423]

Mr. Bradshaw: The Republic of Georgia has not requested any assistance from either the UK directly, or the International Atomic Energy Authority with respect to the seizure of 1.7 kg of low enriched uranium in Batumi in July. It is not usual for the UK to become involved in these matters unless there is such a request. There is no information available on the intended destination of the low enriched uranium.

Immigration (Ministerial Intervention)

Mr. Vaz: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs on how many occasions Ministers have intervened in immigration cases to overturn a decision by an ECO; and at which posts. [11429]

Mr. Bradshaw: I refer to the answer my hon. Friend gave to the hon. Member for Bury St. Edmunds (Mr. Ruffley) on 22 March 2001, Official Report, columns 316–17W. Since then seven decisions to refuse entry clearance to the United Kingdom have been overturned following the exercise of ministerial discretion. The posts concerned were: Bombay (2), New Delhi (2), Islamabad (2) and Casablanca (1).


Mr. Cox: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs how many British citizens were living in Zimbabwe on 1 September. [12081]

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Mr. Bradshaw: On 1 September 2001 there were 25,223 British nationals registered with the British High Commission in Harare.

Mr. Peter Duncan: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will make provision for Zimbabwean farmers who have had their land removed from them, and have been forced to leave their home country, to receive compensation for their loss. [12095]

Mr. Bradshaw: The Government of Zimbabwe are responsible for land seizures in that country. They remain responsible for meeting their legal obligations in implementing land reform. In Abuja, my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary reaffirmed our willingness to make a significant contribution to a fair, effective and sustainable land reform programme on the basis of the UNDP proposals of December 2000. He made it clear that our support for land reform depended on action by the Government of Zimbabwe to implement the commitments it made in Abuja. We have so far seen little evidence of such implementation. We understand that UNDP have an assessment mission in Zimbabwe at the moment looking at the prospects for a credible land reform programme. We welcome this. But in the circumstances, it is too soon to speculate on a possible UK financial contribution and the possible arrangements for payment.


Mr. Savidge: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what recent changes have been made to export controls in place against the Former Republic of Yugoslavia. [12795]

Mr. MacShane: The EU arms embargo was lifted at the General Affairs Council on 8 October 2001 due to the improved security situation and on-going process of internal reforms undertaken by the FRY authorities. In light of this, the Government have decided to lift the controls imposed in 1996 on exports to the FRY of:

An amendment to the Export Control (Goods) Order will be made in due course.

The Government have also decided to lift the policy, as announced to Parliament on 14 March 2000, of presumption of refusal for the export of dual use goods to the FRY which could benefit the armed forces, internal security forces or similar entities of the authorities in Belgrade. Again, with the change to a democratic government in the FRY and on-going improvements in the security structures there, we have no reason to continue doing so. This will bring our export control policy on the FRY in line with that on most other countries. All future applications for dual use goods to the FRY will be judged on a case-by-case basis, on their merits, against the consolidated EU and national export licensing criteria.

2 Nov 2001 : Column: 912W


Mr. Page: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what access to consular services is available to British citizens serving with the Taliban. [11973]

Mr. Bradshaw: The British Government have no consular representation in Afghanistan, and advise strongly against all travel to Afghanistan.



Mr. Burns: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if she will make a statement on the recent flooding in mid and north Essex, indicating what help the Government propose to make available to help prevent future flooding in the area. [11770]

Mr. Morley [holding answer 1 November 2001]: The Government sympathises with all those who were affected by the recent flooding in Essex. This followed exceptional rainfall with up to 109 mm of rain falling in a 12 hour period on 21 October. While we can and do take action to reduce the risk of flooding it is not possible to remove that risk altogether when faced with extreme events of this type.

The Government have substantially increased funding for flood and coastal defence in successive spending reviews and total annual expenditure in England now exceeds £400 million. DEFRA funding alone is set to increase from £66 million last year to £114 million in 2003–04.

Flood defences are designed, built and operated by the Environment Agency and other operating authorities. The Agency will be undertaking a study of the flooding from the River Blackwater in the Bocking area of Braintree. Within Essex the Agency is currently undertaking a flood defence scheme at Chadwell Cross in Tilbury and works on two sections of the River Crouch near Battlebridge and at Hullbridge. Works are also planned next year on the River Roach.

Mr. Liddell-Grainger: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if she will make a statement on (a) flood defence in England and Wales and (b) how managed retreat will affect Somerset. [10767]

Mr. Morley: DEFRA has policy responsibility for flood and coastal defences in England, and the National Assembly for Wales has similar responsibilities for Wales. I plan to reduce the risk of flooding by investing in effective flood warning arrangements and in flood defences in the highest risk areas. Funding for the Department's programme is increasing from £66 million in 2000–01 to £114 million in 2003–04.

This Department provides funding to the Environment Agency (EA), local authorities and Internal Drainage Boards for capital flood and coastal defence works that meet certain criteria. DEFRA encourages authorities to take a strategic approach to flood and coastal defences and to draw up shoreline management plans. These consider natural processes; planning pressures; current and future land use; flood and coastal defence needs; and

2 Nov 2001 : Column: 913W

environmental needs. The Shoreline Management Plan covering Bridgwater Bay to Bideford Bay was produced for a consortium of the EA and local authorities, each of whom have coastal defence responsibilities. It considered a range of options and identified one for each management unit along the coast from Brean Down, Somerset to Hartland Point in Devon. I understand that managed retreat was the preferred strategic option for the shingle ridge at Porlock. For the lengths between Stolford and Fanning Island, and along the west bank of the River Parrett to Combwich, an observe and monitor strategy was proposed, while consideration is given to managed retreat on undeveloped frontages to promote saltmarsh growth for nature conservation and coastal defence purposes.

Malcolm Bruce: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what the total expenditure in England and Wales on flood defence has been for each financial year since 1990; and what the projected expenditure on flood defence is for each of the next five years. [11006]

Mr. Morley: Flood defence is a fully devolved function with this Department having policy responsibility for England only. The following table therefore shows expenditure by the Environment Agency in England and by English local authorities. Figures for 1990–91 and 1991–02 are not available separately for English local authorities.

Flood defence is also provided by internal drainage boards but comprehensive information on their expenditure over this period is not available. However, in 1999–2000 expenditure by boards in England was £40.7 million and this is likely to have grown by modest annual amounts over the period.

£ million

YearEnvironment Agency (National Rivers Authority until 1995–96)Local authoritiesTotal

(23) Provisional

Expenditure beyond this period depends on a number of factors including the balance between expenditure on flood defence and coast protection and the availability of funding from sources other than Government. However, the total Government provision for flood defence and coast protection in England is set to increase by some £45 million in 2001–02, a further £16 million in 2002–03 and a further £20 million in 2003–04. Flood defence funding beyond that period will be determined by the Spending Review due to be conducted in 2002.

Miss McIntosh: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what assessment she has made of the impact the catchment abstraction management strategy proposed by the Environment Agency will have on seasonal flooding. [10734]

2 Nov 2001 : Column: 914W

Mr. Morley: Catchment abstraction management strategies are the vehicle for ensuring long-term sustainable water abstraction management. As such they will have no direct impact on seasonal flooding.

Miss McIntosh: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what assessment she has made of the implications for council tax payers in north Yorkshire of proposed Government expenditure in 2000–03 on flood defences. [11185]

Mr. Morley: No such assessment is possible at this stage. The Environment Agency is currently considering the proposed flood defence budget for the Yorkshire region for 2002–03 and this will inform consideration of the levy which the Yorkshire Regional Flood Defence Committee will set in January 2002. It will then be for the local authorities to consider how the levy should be funded taking account of the provision made available to them through revenue support grant.

The Yorkshire Regional Flood Defence Committee will also take account of my recent announcement that we will increase DEFRA grant to support capital works undertaken in their area in 2002–03. The figures stands to rise from some £8 million this year to nearly £13 million for 2002–03 and reflects in large measure the need for new capital works in areas affected by the autumn 2000 floods as well as the Humber Estuary.

It is also the case that Yorkshire has been a major beneficiary of DEFRA's special funding of emergency costs and repairs from last year's severe flooding and of design and feasibility costs for accelerated river defences and associated strategies, receiving some £8.5 million.

Malcolm Bruce: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what assessment her Department has made of the economic and flood defence benefits of sustainable urban drainage. [11009]

Ms Keeble: I have been asked to reply.

My Department contributed to the research carried out for the Construction Industry Research and Information Association that produced design manuals for England and Wales and for Scotland and Northern Ireland (both published in 2000) and a best practice manual on sustainable urban drainage systems (published in 2001). These were based on demonstration projects that clearly showed both the benefits in flood defence, water quality and local amenity.

No formal assessment of the benefits has been made on a national scale since these depend on the local intensity of rainfall for which individual sustainable drainage systems are designed. Such systems can assist in reducing the impact of intense rainfall and they can be as economical as conventional drainage systems. The use of sustainable urban drainage systems is generally encouraged in the new Planning Policy Guidance Note 25 issued in July 2001 but decisions by developers to install them must be based on site-specific assessments of the loads they would need to deal with.

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