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Human Rights (Nigeria)

Mrs. Spelman: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what recent assessment her Department has made of human rights in Nigeria; and what actions her Department is taking to improve human rights in Nigeria. [20637]

Clare Short: We welcome steps taken by the Nigerian Government and the National Assembly towards ratification of the Convention against Torture, the drafting of a National Action Plan on Human Rights, strengthening of the National Human Rights Commission and the removal of existing laws that contravene international human rights obligations. There remain areas of concern including the handling of tensions between ethnic groups, the use of capital and corporal punishment, prison conditions and the high numbers of Nigerians that live in extreme poverty.

I recently approved a £30 million programme to support Nigerian efforts, at both federal and state level, to enable poor people to obtain rapid and fair justice. This involves the whole justice system—courts, police, prisons, legal aid, and traditional and informal mediation. We will focus this programme in our four partnership states. These are Benue, Ekiti, Enugu and Jigawa. We will ensure that the assistance programme is taken forward in all four states in ways that uphold international human rights standards.

We are also providing £2.4 million to civil society organisations in Nigeria working for better governance and the realisation of the rights of the marginalised people in Nigeria.

In order to address the economic and social rights of poor people in Nigeria, we are currently designing and implementing a range of programmes (in basic health, support to the electoral process, state and local government reform, among others) with a probable value of some £140 million.

We are working closely with the Foreign and Commonwealth Office to establish a high-level bilateral human rights dialogue with the Nigerian Government on issues such as child and women's rights (including trafficking issues), and international and regional human rights obligations.

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African Trade and Poverty Programme

Mr. Hepburn: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development which African countries will benefit from the UK's contribution to the African Trade and Poverty Programme; and what criteria were used to decide these countries. [20970]

Clare Short: Through the Africa Trade and Poverty Programme (TPP) we are making available funding of £7.5 million to work in up to 12 countries across sub-Saharan Africa, as well as in regional organisations, to build capacity for trade reforms which serve poverty reduction objectives.

Trade and Poverty Programme projects are expected to start in 2002 in Kenya, Tanzania, Malawi and Botswana (as well as with the East Africa Community). The main criteria for selection of these countries have been strong demand for TPP within the country, and consistency of the TPP approach with DFID's other work on poverty reduction. Exploratory visits have been made to nine other countries. This may lead to further country projects being developed during 2002.


Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development if she will list the aid agencies that are active within Afghanistan; where they are operating; and what level of food aid they are providing. [20811]

Clare Short: Information on which agencies are working where in Afghanistan, and the kind of relief goods that they are distributing can be obtained from the Humanitarian Information Centre (HIC) in Islamabad, set up by the UN Office for the Co-ordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) with technical and financial assistance from my Department. Regularly updated activity maps can be found on their website at

The UN world food programme (WFP) is the lead agency in terms of emergency food assistance. Before 11 September, they were transporting enough food into Afghanistan to feed 5 million people. Since then, despite significant constraints on the operating environment, they have continued to dispatch increasingly large amounts of food into the country. WFP currently has food distribution contracts with 61 non-governmental organisations (NGOs) working inside Afghanistan.

Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development (1) what discussions are taking place between the Government and aid agencies on how to gain entry to Taliban-controlled areas; [20810]

Clare Short: Humanitarian agencies, particularly the world food programme (WFP), continue to make good progress in transporting humanitarian relief into Afghanistan. Some international staff of humanitarian agencies have now returned to the country and are working with national staff to reach those in need of assistance. However, despite the best efforts of humanitarian agencies, some areas of Afghanistan are proving difficult to access. We are in regular contact with aid agencies about how to gain access to vulnerable

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people living in insecure areas of Afghanistan, whether Taliban-controlled or otherwise. Areas of particular concern, where vulnerable people are in need of food and other relief supplies, and access is constrained by insecurity, are the western and central highlands; southern Afghanistan, particularly the area around Kandahar city; and Badghis and Faryab Provinces.


House of Lords Appointments Commission

Mr. Gordon Prentice: To ask the President of the Council what recent discussions the House of Lords Appointments Commission had concerning the criteria they use for selecting people's peers with the objective of making the House of Lords more representative. [20408]

Mr. Robin Cook: I understand that the Appointments Commission asked for feedback on the criteria which it used for its first round of appointments. It has considered responses to this request, and has concluded that the criteria it originally adopted remain relevant. The commission's criteria are set out on its website

Mr. Gordon Prentice: To ask the President of the Council how many civil servants and at what grade are working (a) full-time and (b) part-time for the House of Lords Appointments Commission. [20406]

Mr. Robin Cook: I understand that one member of the senior civil service works part-time for the House of Lords Appointments Commission. One other member of staff works full-time at Cabinet Office range A level. There is a full-time administrative support post which is currently vacant.

Mr. Gordon Prentice: To ask the President of the Council how many days per month members of the House of Lords Appointments Commission devote to their Commission duties. [20407]

Mr. Robin Cook: I understand that on average the members of the House of Lords Appointments Commission devote two to three days a month to their duties.

Mr. Gordon Prentice: To ask the President of the Council when the printed version of the annual report for 2000 of the House of Lords Appointments Commission will be lodged in the Library. [20404]

Mr. Robin Cook: I understand that the House of Lords Appointments Commission's annual report will be lodged in the Library when it is published in the new year. The report will cover the period May 2000 (when the Commission was set up) to November 2001.


Contract Staff

Angus Robertson: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs how many (a) special advisers and (b) press officers were employed (i) full time, (ii) part time and (iii) on a contract basis by his Department in each year since 1992. [6933]

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Mr. Bradshaw: I refer the hon. Member to the answer given by the Parliamentary Secretary at the Cabinet Office to the hon. Member for Banff and Buchan (Mr. Salmond) on 21 November 2001, Official Report, column 340W.

Royal Prerogative

Mr. Gordon Prentice: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs how many ministerial decisions were made where authority for the same derived from the royal prerogative for the most recent calendar month for which information is available. [9367]

Mr. MacShane: Records are not kept of the individual occasions on which powers under the royal prerogative are exercised nor could it be practicable to do so.

Unallocated Funds

Mr. Burstow: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will estimate the total unallocated funds within his departmental expenditure limit (a) at the start of the financial year and (b) to date; and what was the month seven forecast on outturn underspend against his departmental expenditure limit in (i) real and (ii) percentage terms. [19448]

Mr. MacShane: The Foreign and Commonwealth Office allocated its full 2001–02 provision, other than on conflict prevention, where we hold a departmental unallocated provision (DUP) of £27,849,000. This figure is set out on page 130 of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office's departmental annual report for 2001–02. There has been no draw-down of this DIP to date.

Outturn against our six-month forecast for each request for resources will be published in the Winter Supplementary Estimates Summary request for supply as usual.

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