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British Overseas Territories

Volume 455: debated on Wednesday 10 January 2007

To ask the Secretary of State for International Development when he last visited each overseas territory; and what plans he has for such visits in 2007. (113431)

DFID only provides bilateral assistance to three Overseas Territories, Montserrat, St. Helena and Pitcairn. I have not visited them. My hon. Friend, the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State to whom I have given lead responsibility in the Department for oversight of our work with the Overseas Territories, visited Montserrat in 2004. There are no current plans for visits to Overseas Territoriesin 2007.

To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what plans he has to increase his Department’s disbursements to British Overseas Territories in 2007. (113676)

For all programmes, budgets for 2007-08 are currently being reviewed. Any changes to the expenditure plans indicated in the DFID 2006 departmental report will be included in the 2007 report. Budgets for 2008-09 to 2010-11 will be set after the Comprehensive Spending Review.

Decisions on allocations to individual territories will be taken following annual budget discussions with the territories concerned. These discussions were held with Montserrat in November 2006, and are due to take place with Pitcairn and St. Helena in January and February 2007 respectively, with final decisions for each reached by April 2007.

To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what plans his Department has to further improve transport links to promote the tourism industry in the British Overseas Territories; and if he will make a statement. (113678)

DFID currently provides development assistance to three Overseas Territories, Montserrat, St. Helena (including Tristan da Cunha) and Pitcairn. Following completion of Gerald’s airport in 2005, the next priority for improving transport links to Montserrat will be the improvement of the port at Little Bay. The project is currently at the design stage. It is expected to be jointly funded by DFID and the European Union (EU), and may include an extension to the existing jetty and construction of a breakwater. The cost will depend on the options selected, but could be up to £10 million.

In March 2005, I announced the development of air access for St. Helena, through construction of an airport on Prosperous Bay Plain, and introduction of scheduled flights. The new airport will both meet our commitment to maintaining access, and contribute to economic regeneration through tourism. The project includes significant funding for tourism marketing. The project budget cannot be divulged in order not to prejudice the current procurement competition for the construction works. We also plan, with joint funding from the EU, to develop Jamestown Wharf. Currently the Wharf is the single point of entry to the island for all cargo and passengers. The proposed project addresses the need to improve cargo operations and to develop safe landing facilities for St. Helenians, business visitors and tourists. Costs will be about £11.5 million.

In Tristan da Cunha, DFID, with joint EU funding, is currently rehabilitating Calshot harbour. Repairs to Tristan’s harbour and breakwater were last carried out over 10 years ago and continuous wave action and storm damage now threaten to cause permanent damage to the island’s only point of entry. Total project cost is about £3 million.

Plans for the construction of a breakwater on Pitcairn, again with joint EU funding, are well advanced. Consultants have been appointed to prepare a detailed design and costing, estimated to be about £6 million. A breakwater would provide more predictable and safer access to Pitcairn Island through Bounty Bay. This in turn will promote tourism on the island by increasing the opportunities for cruise ships, yachts and other ships to disembark passengers.