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Written Answers to Questions

Wednesday 28 November 2001


Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards

David Winnick: To ask the hon. Member for Roxburgh and Berwickshire, representing the House of Commons Commission, for what reason the new contract for the post of Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards will involve fewer working days than the present contract. [14931]

Norman Baker: To ask the hon. Member for Roxburgh and Berwickshire, representing the House of Commons Commission, for what reason (a) the hours required from and (b) the salary paid to the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards are being reduced. [15535]

Mr. Kirkwood [pursuant to his reply, 23 November 2001, c. 484w]: The time commitment established for the first Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards was four days a week not three. However, the first Commissioner expressed the view towards the end of his appointment that the Commissioner's contribution could be reduced to two to three days a week, provided that some work could be delegated to the Registrar of Members' Interests. Three days a week was then established as the time commitment for the present Commissioner, and it was on this basis that she was offered the appointment.



Dr. Tonge: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what representations she has made to the Government of Uzbekistan regarding their policy on British and French humanitarian aid entering Afghanistan. [18195]

Clare Short: I have not made any personal representations to the Government of Uzbekistan on UK or French aid entering Afghanistan. However, the UK is fully supportive of the representations made by the humanitarian agencies of the United Nations to the Government of Uzbekistan with regard to the delivery of humanitarian assistance to Afghanistan.


Dr. Tonge: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what the outcome was of the international meeting held in Washington on 20 November on the humanitarian situation in Afghanistan; and if she will make a statement. [18194]

Clare Short: The USA and Japan co-chaired a conference on Afghanistan's reconstruction in Washington DC on 20 November. It was attended by senior officials from over 20 countries, including the UK,

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as well as the United Nations, international financial institutions and the Organisation of the Islamic Conference.

The conference agreed the need for long-term international support for the reconstruction of Afghanistan, the need to involve Afghans—in particular Afghan women—in all phases of the recovery and reconstruction effort; the importance of recovery intervention that demonstrates a quick impact; and the central role of the United Nations. A steering group has been established to guide reconstruction, co-chaired by the US, Japan, the EU and Saudi Arabia. The first meeting of the steering group will take place in Brussels in December.

Dr. Tonge: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what plans she has in place to assist Afghan refugees when they return to their home towns inside Afghanistan; and what plans she has to take account of the needs of women and children in planning and implementing refugee assistance activities. [18196]

Clare Short: We fully support the UN's efforts under Ambassador Brahimi to help with the long-term reconstruction of Afghanistan, including that which will support returning refugees. This will involve such measures as expanding basic health services, carrying out emergency repairs to infrastructure, de-mining and the reopening of education facilities.

We also strongly support Ambassador Brahimi's commitment to addressing human rights issues and his commitment to the involvement of women in discussions. As recovery activities begin, the programmes that we support will be designed and monitored to ensure that women and children benefit.

The principles and priorities guiding our approach are outlined in our paper entitled 'Afghanistan—Recovery: An emergency plan for the first 100 days'. A copy has been placed in the Library of the House.

Democratic Republic of Congo

Tony Worthington: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development if she will make a statement on her work with (a) serving and (b) former child soldiers in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. [16074]

Clare Short: We continue to work for the disarmament, demobilisation and rehabilitation of the negative forces in the DRC in line with the Lusaka peace accord and are closely monitoring the situation.

During the period June 2000—April 2001 we provided a grant of £150,000 to Save the Children for their demobilisation project in the provinces of North and South Kivu. This aimed to provide child soldiers with the social and economic support they required in reintegration into their families and respective communities. We have also provided £400,000 to Rwanda to assist with the DDR programmes for fighters recently from the DRC. This DDR programme includes a special component to provide immediate care for 500 former child soldiers captured in poor physical condition and re-integrate them with their families and communities.

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Global Patent Rules (Africa)

Tony Worthington: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what action she is taking with respect to Africa to prevent global patent rules having a negative effect on health. [16070]

Clare Short: The Trade Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) agreement includes flexibilities which should enable developing countries in Africa and elsewhere to protect their public health in situations of crisis or national emergency. Until now, a lack of clarity around these flexibilities had been a source of concern.

The Government, with the European Commission, worked hard to ensure that the Doha Ministerial produced a meaningful declaration on TRIPS and public health. We welcome and fully support the proposals in the Declaration on TRIPS and Public Health and the World Trade Organisation's (WTO's) efforts to ensure the TRIPS Agreement can and should be interpreted and implemented in a manner supportive of WTO members' rights to protect public health.

The Commission on Intellectual Property Rights, which I established earlier this year, is looking at how international intellectual property rules might need to develop in future best to take account of the interests of developing countries. It is due to report in June 2002.

There is of course more to improving access to medicines in developing countries than global patent rules. The World Health Organisation recognises four key factors. These include sustainable financing, affordable pricing, reliable health and supply systems, and the rational selection and use of existing drugs. My Department remains committed to working with our developing country partners and other international organisations to address all these issues, which are particularly pertinent in Africa. To this end we have pledged US$200 million to the Global Fund to fight AIDS, TB and malaria; set up a Working Group on Access to Medicines to look at options on differential pricing and increasing research and development; and committed over £1 billion since 1997 to help developing countries put in place effective health care systems.

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Mr. Cox: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what financial assistance has been given to Turkey by her Department in each of the last three years; what was the amount of funding; what the projects were for which the funding was allocated; and what supervision her Department has undertaken of the development of these projects. [17881]

Clare Short: Given Turkey's relative wealth and development we do not have a bilateral development assistance programme. We did provide Turkey with over £1.4 million in response to the 1999 earthquake disasters, in the form of tents, medical supplies, blankets and a variety of other humanitarian assistance. Turkey also receives substantial assistance from the EU MEDA programme and through the international financial institutions to which DFID is a major contributor. Our share of EC commitments to Turkey during the last three years has been over £50 million.


Mrs. Spelman: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what actions her Department is taking to alleviate the humanitarian situation in Zimbabwe; and what assessment she has made of the impact of President Mugabe's decision not to allow aid agencies to distribute emergency food supplies. [18633]

Clare Short: We are closely involved in the development of a humanitarian assistance plan by the United Nations Development Programme in Zimbabwe in which UN agencies and NGOs are expected to play a key role. This plan is presently being discussed by UNDP with the Government of Zimbabwe on behalf of all potential providers of funds. We have also begun an initial supplementary feeding programme for 280,000 people (predominantly children) in the worst hit areas. We have not been informed of any decision not to allow agencies to distribute emergency food supplies.

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