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20 Jan 2003 : Column 30W—continued

Sexual Reproductive Health

Mr. Key: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development if she will list the organisations her Department works with which specialise in sexual reproductive health; and if she will make a statement. [91181]

Clare Short: My Department works with a large number of sexual and reproductive health organisations in developing and developed countries. Information is not held centrally on all of these organisations, and to collate the information would incur disproportionate cost. However, a key element of DfID assistance for sexual and reproductive health programmes is that it is provided in support of the principles of free and informed choice set out at the International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD) in Cairo in 1994.

Statutory Instruments

Mrs. Calton: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development how many Statutory Instruments subject to negative procedure made by her Department (a) came into force and (b) were considered by a delegated legislation committee in each of the last three Sessions. [88029]

Clare Short: Over the last three Sessions the Department for International Development has made one Statutory Instrument which was subject to negative procedure. It was not considered by a delegated legislation committee.

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Trade Liberalisation

Mr. Challen: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what steps her Department has taken to assist developing countries to carry out impact assessments on the effects of trade liberalisation agreements, broken down by country. [91354]

Clare Short: DFID supports a variety of trade related technical cooperation programmes which are designed to help developing countries participate more effectively in trade negotiations and to take advantage of trade opportunities. A number of these programmes include consultancy or study funds which can be used to undertake impact assessments or to secure advice on trade liberalisation issues. Particular examples include:


Mr. Andrew Turner: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what her latest estimate is of the productivity of the agricultural sector in Zimbabwe. [91259]

Clare Short: Official figures for agricultural production are not issued in Zimbabwe until late February following the national assessment. Preliminary figures indicate that the area planted to maize, the staple crop this year is larger than last. However widespread shortages of tillage, seed and fertilisers will suppress yields. Early planted crops in some areas wilted and had to be replanted. The condition of the maize in the main growing areas is reported to be average. Providing the rains continue then Zimbabwe is expected to produce between 850 000 to 1.0 million tonnes, an improvement over 2002 but only 60 per cent. of its annual maize requirement.

No figures have been released for the late 2002 wheat harvest but a figure of 160,000t is being used which was 50 per cent. less than the previous year. This year's wheat crop will be planted in July as usual.

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The harvesting of flue-cured Virginia tobacco, the main foreign exchange earner for Zimbabwe, is just starting. The main producer group is forecasting a total crop of 80 million kilogrammes, considerably lower than the 165 million kg in 2002 and the 202 million kg produced in 2001.


Prisoner Conveyances

14. Dr. Pugh: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, what recent assessment he has made of the efficiency and value for money of private firms who deliver prisoners to court. [91437]

Hilary Benn: The contracting out of prisoner escort arrangements has offered better value for money, a reduction in escapes and has freed up prison officers to concentrate on their main duties. A recent Prison Service review confirmed that escorts should continue to be contracted out, and the existing contracts, which are planned to be re-let in 2004, will be replaced with more flexible ones to allow the Prison Service to respond more effectively to business needs and population.


17. Mr. Martyn Jones: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, what plans he has to support communities in the fight against drugs. [91440]

Mr. Bob Ainsworth: The new communities target was simplified to focus it on what matters most—reducing drug related crime. The target is to reduce drug related crime, as measured by the proportion of offenders testing positive at arrest.

Additionally we have invested through the Community Against Drugs fund to empower local people to take action on local problems.

Police Resource Allocation

18. Mr. Luff: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what discussions his Department has had with representatives of local constabularies about the allocation of police resources used in the investigation of crime. [91441]

Mr. Denham: Home Office Ministers and officials have regular discussions on a wide range of police resourcing issues with representatives of the police service.

Police (Gwent)

19. Mr. Edwards: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will make a statement on police numbers in Gwent. [91442]

Hilary Benn: On 31 March 2002 Gwent police had 1,333 officers, a record number. Gwent was allocated 81 recruits from the Crime Fighting Fund for the three years to March 2003.

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The provisional grant settlement for 2003–04 provides Gwent with an additional £40,000 from the Crime Fighting Fund for further additional officers. We estimate that this will allow a strength increase of up to seven officers by the end of 2003–04.

Gun Crime

20. Mr. Prisk : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what progress his Department is making in tackling gun crime. [91443]

Mr. Bob Ainsworth: While the overall proportion of crime involving firearms is low the increase in gun crime in the year 2001–02 is unacceptable and is being tackled vigorously. My right hon. Friend the Home Secretary has announced:

EU Drugs Policy

21. Mr. Jim Cunningham: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what plans there are to implement a common drugs policy throughout the European Union. [91444]

Mr. Bob Ainsworth: European Union member states, including the UK, develop national drug strategies, identifying national priorities and developing national solutions. The fight against drugs is complemented and co-ordinated by a range of EU-wide action. The EU Drugs Strategy 2000–04 guides this action and is practically implemented by means of the EU Action Plan on Drugs. These common measures aim to co-ordinate, complement and add value to action by member states.

Youth Crime

22. Ann Keen: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what international evidence he has taken into consideration in developing policies to tackle youth crime. [91445]

Mr. Denham: To help inform our approach to youth crime, we hosted an international youth crime seminar involving leading academics, practitioners and policy makers, in October 2002. A clear message from the seminar was that early prevention programmes, such as Sure Start, and tailored services for children and young people, are more likely to have a substantial impact in preventing the onset of offending behaviour and other adverse outcomes.

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