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Education (India)

26. Mr. Sheerman: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what steps she is taking to assist the Indian Government to provide education for the children of low-income families. [29149]

Clare Short: We have committed about £200 million to expanding and improving primary education in India through the District Primary Education Programme in Andhra Pradesh, Orissa and West Bengal, through the Lok Jumbish and Shiksha Karmi programmes in Rajasthan, and for post-cyclone reconstruction of schools in Orissa.

The programmes specifically target poor children, especially girls and disadvantaged groups, such as the Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes, and working and disabled children. These are highly successful programmes that are having a significant impact on enrolment, retention and quality, reaching increasing numbers of out-of-school children and involving high levels of community participation.

We are currently discussing with the Government of India how we can further support their efforts to universalise education up to the age of 14, in the light of their 'Elementary Education as a Fundamental Right' Bill and recent Constitutional Amendment on the same subject.

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Debt Relief

29. John Barrett: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what progress the Government are making on relieving debt owed by the world's poorest countries. [29152]

Clare Short: Following a radical overhaul of the heavily indebted poor countries initiative in 1999, to ensure faster, deeper debt relief, up to $100 billion debt could be written off for the 42 HIPC countries. To date, 24 countries have qualified for this exceptional debt relief. Relief of more than $54 billion will be provided to these countries, reducing their debts by more than two-thirds on average. We hope that at least two more countries—Ghana and Sierra Leone—will qualify for debt relief in the coming months, but substantial further progress will be difficult, as many of the remaining HIPC countries are affected by conflict.

The Government have already written off their aid debts to all the poorest countries. The UK is also the second largest contributor ($306 million) to the HIPC Trust Fund to help international financial institutions meet their share of HIPC costs.

Western Sahara Refugees

30. Jeremy Corbyn: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what support she provides for refugees from the Western Sahara in Algeria. [29153]

Clare Short: Support for refugees from the Western Sahara in Algeria is mostly channelled through three agencies: the United Nation's High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR); the World Food Programme (WFP); and the European Commission's Humanitarian Aid Office (ECHO). UNHCR's budget for the refugees from Western Sahara amounted to about US$3.3 million in 2001. The WFP aims to provide 64,500 tons of food (costing US$27.5 million) in its 2000–02 programme. ECHO's Global Plan 2001 began last September and aims to provide Euro 11.8 million in humanitarian support to the refugees, of which approximately 15 per cent. is attributable to contributions from the UK. Smaller amounts of financial and food aid assistance are provided by other EU member states.

Aid (Africa)

Mr. Joyce: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development how much was provided by the Government in (a) development and (b) humanitarian aid to (i) Burundi, (ii) Angola, (iii) Uganda, (iv) Rwanda, the Democratic Republic of Congo, (v) Zimbabwe, and (vi) Zambia in the financial year 1996–97; and what the projected figures are in each case for the 2001–02 financial year. [30369]

Clare Short: Historical expenditure figures broken down by aid type for each of the countries listed, for the five financial years 1996–97 to 2000–01, are published in "Statistics on International Development" (SID), Table 7.1 Bilateral Aid by Country (Africa). Beginning on page 77, the relevant column to read is Total Gross Public Expenditure (GPEX). A coy of this publication is in the Library of the House.

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In the current financial year the following amounts have been allocated to each country for both development and humanitarian assistance (including in some cases peace related activities):

£ million

DevelopmentHumanitarian assistanceTotal
Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC)0.110.410.5

Note that these figures are incomplete estimates as provisional expenditure data will not be available until after the end of the financial year once information on spending by other UK Government Departments has been collected. Countries where final expenditure figures are likely to increase are Uganda, Democratic Republic of Congo and Zambia as they currently receive CDC investments and debt relief.

Inter-Congolese Dialogue

Mrs. Spelman: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development if her Department will provide assistance to South Africa to help further the inter- Congolese dialogue this year. [30400]

Clare Short: Financial support for the inter-Congolese dialogue is channelled through the Office of the Facilitator. The UK has so far made the third largest contribution of all donors to the dialogue. We are in close touch with the Office of the Facilitator about future financial requirements. We are also in close touch with the Government of South Africa, who have offered to meet the main costs of hosting the next session of the dialogue.

Generic Drug Use

Mr. David Stewart: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development if she will make a statement regarding the promotion of generic drug use in developing nations. [31277]

Clare Short: Generic drugs play a key role in addressing the disease burden of developing countries: at present 95 per cent. of drugs on the World Health Organisation's essential drug list (including almost all treatments for TB and malaria) are off patent and available generically.

But patent protection—as set out in the Trade Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights Agreement (TRIPS)—remains important for new medicines as an incentive for future research. We support the TRIPS agreement, and the recent declaration at the World Trade Organisation ministerial meeting in Doha, which made clear that the agreement should be interpreted and implemented in such a way as to protect public health and promote access to medicines for all.

We are promoting the appropriate use of both generic and patented drugs in developing countries. We will shortly be disbursing the first instalment of our

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$200 million contribution to the global fund to fight AIDS, TB and Malaria, to finance increased coverage of tried and tested interventions for the three diseases. Since 1997 we have committed over £1 billion to strengthen developing countries' health systems, in order that more drugs reach the poor who need them.


Forward Strategy Unit

Norman Baker: To ask the Prime Minister, pursuant to his answer of 22 January 2002, Official Report, columns 723–24W, Ref. 29065, for what reason the budgets of the (a) Forward Strategy Unit and (b) Delivery Unit have not yet been set; what working assumption has been applied to the budget provision; and on what date an announcement will be made. [30460]

The Prime Minister: Allocations to the new units within the Cabinet Office will be made in the usual way. They will be fully accounted for as with any other unit in the Cabinet Office. The Cabinet Office publishes an annual account. Budgets are not broken down by management unit.

Norman Baker: To ask the Prime Minister if he will list the projects under consideration by the Forward Strategy Unit. [30458]

The Prime Minister: I refer the hon. Member to the answer I gave him on 19 November 2001, Official Report, column 104W.

Norman Baker: To ask the Prime Minister how many (a) special advisers and (b) civil servants were employed in (i) the Forward Strategy Unit and (ii) the Delivery Unit on 1 January. [30459]

The Prime Minister: At 1 January 2002, eight full-time and three part-time civil servants based in the Cabinet Office were working in the Forward Strategy Unit, and no special advisers.

Civil servants from other Departments assist the FSU with its work as required.

17 full-time and three part-time civil servants were employed in the Delivery Unit, and no special advisers, on that date.

Lord Birt

Norman Baker: To ask the Prime Minister, pursuant to his answer of 22 January 2002, Official Report, columns 723–24W, on Lord Birt, for what reason he is not able to answer the questions relating to the role of Lord Birt, Refs. 29190, 29185, 29315, 29184, 29191, 29187, 29182, 29186, 29183, 29194 and 29188. [30667]

The Prime Minister: I have nothing further to add to my previous answer.

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