Skip to main content

Typhoon Haiyan

Volume 571: debated on Thursday 28 November 2013

With permission, Mr Speaker, I would like to update the House on the United Kingdom’s response to Typhoon Haiyan. Three weeks after Typhoon Haiyan made landfall in the Philippines, its full effect is becoming clear. The impact has been devastating. As of today, the UN reports that more than 14 million people have been affected, with 3.5 million displaced. The official death toll stands at 5,500.

I visited the Philippines last weekend. The devastation the typhoon has wreaked was clearly evident as I arrived in Tacloban in a RAF C-130 that was carrying a cargo of UK supplies. Many of the outer parts of the town have been flattened and debris from the typhoon litters the streets, but aid is now getting through at scale. In Tacloban, clearance work is well under way and reconstruction efforts were evident throughout the town, with small businesses getting going again and activity on the streets. The Philippines Health Secretary told me that 90% of health facilities in the affected areas are now operational, although many had suffered damage, but there is still huge need, particularly in the outlying islands and more remote areas. I heard from non-governmental organisations that only 20% to 30% of those people in need of shelter kits had so far received them.

Through our rapid response facility, the UK was one of the first donors to get relief to the worst-affected areas. The UK has so far committed more than £50 million of support, which is helping to get shelter, clean water and emergency supplies to up to 800,000 people. Our logistical support has helped to transform the relief effort. Aircraft handling equipment provided by the UK to unload supplies from planes has doubled the airport capacity at Cebu. The UK has also extended the reach of our overall humanitarian response through the deployment of the Royal Air Force, HMS Daring and now HMS Illustrious. That military support has been crucial in delivering relief to more remote islands, including the provision of emergency medical assistance through the UK international emergency trauma team. I pay tribute to the outstanding servicemen and women of the RAF and Royal Navy for their tireless efforts to help those hit by Typhoon Haiyan, and to the NHS personnel who are working to take care of those injured and in need of medical assistance.

I believe that the cross-Government nature of our effort, involving the Ministry of Defence, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and a range of home Departments, has hugely enhanced our effectiveness, allowing us to combine a range of assets that is greater than any other country’s response. The British public have shown, and continue to show, overwhelming generosity in response to this crisis, with contributions to the Disasters Emergency Committee appeal now standing at £65 million. It is an incredible display of support to help to maintain the momentum of the relief effort, getting lifesaving supplies to those who need them most.

It is clear that the people of the Philippines face a long road to recovery in the wake of this disaster. During my visit to the Philippines, I met Foreign Minister del Rosario and other members of the Philippines Government, and I gave our commitment that the UK would continue to support their Government as they begin reconstruction and seek further to improve preparedness against future disasters. There is much that the international community can do in support of that goal, and I have already agreed to dedicate £5 million from a regional programme to strengthening the resilience of four Filipino cities to natural disasters.

While in Manila, I met the United Nations, the Asian Development Bank, the World Bank, other donors and NGOs. I heard about their experience of the response so far and discussed with them plans for the longer-term recovery and reconstruction effort. The Government of the Philippines have been clear that they will be leading the reconstruction effort, and the UK will support that work. I raised my serious concerns about the particular vulnerability of women and girls suffering deprivation, a lack of protection and the threat of abuse and trafficking. I hosted a high-level meeting on this issue with many heads of UN agencies in London on 13 November, when a commitment was made to ensure that protection was a core element of the response. We are working with the Philippines Government, the UN and NGO partners to ensure that this important issue is prioritised, and I have deployed UK specialists in this field to the Philippines to help to ensure that the risks that women and girls face are fully addressed.

The Government of the Philippines expressed their heartfelt thanks to the UK Government and the British public for their response to the typhoon. We should be proud of the generosity of the public, including that of the Filipino community living in the UK, and of our medics and military personnel, and Department for International Development and consular staff, who have worked tirelessly over recent days in the humanitarian effort. In addition, we should be proud of the efforts of UK NGOs in delivering so much so quickly. This response—the public’s response—truly represents the best of Great Britain. Our thoughts continue to be with the people of the Philippines, particularly those who have lost loved ones. The dire humanitarian situation and the ongoing recovery effort deserve the continued attention and support of this Government, and I commit my Department to leading that effort. I commend the statement to the House.

I thank the Secretary of State for her statement and for advance sight of it. It is three weeks since Typhoon Haiyan, and our thoughts remain with those who have lost loved ones, those still searching for bodies and those seeking to rebuild their homes, lives and businesses. I will be travelling to the area this weekend. The situation on the ground remains desperate, but it is now clear that this was one of the strongest typhoons ever to make landfall and that many of the communities closest to the shore were ill-equipped and too poorly constructed to deal with the brute force of the barrage. Typhoon Haiyan has obliterated whole towns, destroyed communities and shattered lives. Although many will rightly ask questions about climate change, this is also a story about poverty. The poorest and most vulnerable were hit hardest, the worst quality homes were those most likely to collapse, and families living in some of the poorest provinces in the Philippines are now left with no homes, no assets and no savings to fall back on. I would also like to join in the praise of our aid charities operating there, of DFID staff and Ministers, and of the members of our armed forces who will now, unexpectedly, be separated from their families over Christmas.

Another thing is clear regarding this tragedy: the British public should never be underestimated. Their generosity, through their emotional concern and financial contribution, is a further brilliant reminder that we are not and never will be a nation that looks the other way. The Disasters Emergency Committee public appeal has now topped £65 million. Let us think about that. It is £1 for every person in our country, or an astonishing average of more than £3 million every day since the disaster struck, and all that at a time when many at home are struggling. The appeal started on the same weekend as the separate Children in Need appeal to support families in the UK which, too, broke new records.

So absolute was the destruction that the UN compared the scene on the ground in Leyte island to the devastation of the Boxing day tsunami of 2004. Although the destruction was similar in nature, we can at least be thankful that it was different in scale. Yet lessons, of course, must be learned by the international community about its response to that previous tsunami.

Let me now deal with some specific questions. The Department has not yet briefed the Opposition and, because of that, the time available today does not allow me to ask the full list of questions that I still have. As a former Secretary of State, I have always held the view that the political relationship between the two Front Benches is largely set from the Government Dispatch Box. I hope that I am not going to have to adjust, on this or any other issue, to the fact that even my request for a telephone conversation with the Secretary of State was refused—[Interruption.] It is not weak; it is a fact.

Will the Secretary of State say what assessment she has made of how the response to Typhoon Haiyan has been informed by the experience of the relief efforts following the tsunami? How much UK aid has been delivered and what materials have been sent? What is the plan to help the Philippines Government to ensure that all donations that arrive in the country are of use in that country? The previous Government published plans to ensure that 10% of all disaster relief was directed towards work designed to ensure better preparedness for future disasters. Will the Secretary of State update the House on the progress and delivery of that approach?

The United Nations has said that rehabilitation costs will be more expensive for Haiyan than was the case following the tsunami. With officials on the ground warning that it may take as long as 10 years to rebuild, it is vital that we get this right. What assessment has the Secretary of State made of the Philippines’ capacity to return to growth in the coming years and of the impact of this disaster on the regional economy? I want to conclude on climate change. It is neither wise nor accurate to attribute any specific weather event to climate change, but we do know that climate change is real. Due to the nature of what we are discussing today, I shall make this observation gently: there are worrying noises from parts of the Government regarding renewed scepticism about taking action on climate change. Will the Secretary of State put it on record that she is determined to take renewed action on climate change, which is one of the most pressing developmental and poverty reduction priorities for the Government, I am sure, and certainly for the Opposition?

Typhoon Haiyan is not just a disaster today, but an echo of our future tomorrow. The Philippines will continue to need our support long after our shock has subdued. As the Government set out their plans in the coming months, we will rightly scrutinise them, but we will instinctively support them.

Disappointingly, the right hon. Gentleman has shown that the tone of the relationship can be set by his side as well as by ours.

The right hon. Gentleman asked what we have delivered. The UK has delivered support to around 800,000 victims of Typhoon Haiyan, which has included 12 flights. Two RAF C-17s have landed in Cebu so far, with a third rotation planned. We have also delivered more than 17,000 shelter kits, 38,000 tarpaulins, 16,000 hygiene kits and 1,500 tents, as well as water and sanitary equipment, buckets, jerry cans, 4x4 vehicles and JCBs. We have provided heavy-lifting equipment at the request of the World Food Programme to help to load and unload aid at Cebu airport, and also debris and road-clearing equipment to unblock roads so that we can get aid through. As everyone is aware, we also sent over HMS Daring, which has now been relieved by HMS Illustrious, which enabled medics and supplies to get to isolated and devastated communities. We have also had an RAF C-130 plane in the region shuttling supplies between Cebu airport and the people who need them in Tacloban, for example.

The Government have carried out significant work on disaster preparedness. Through the UN, we are involved in the work of Political Champions for Disaster Resilience, which works with the Government in Haiti. I have invited the Philippines Government to become involved so that they can be better prepared for disasters and better able to respond to them.

The right hon. Gentleman asked what we were specifically doing in the Philippines. As I said in my statement, we have earmarked £5 million for four main cities in the Philippines that can benefit from better disaster preparedness. In 2010, the Philippines Government passed a law setting out a framework for them better to respond to disasters. As I am sure the House is aware, that part of the world is particularly prone to natural disasters. The challenge they faced was simply the scale of the typhoon, which was possibly the largest ever to make landfall. We will work to help them to improve their ability to withstand such disasters. Part of that will involve looking at how buildings are constructed and helping local government to improve its capacity to work with communities and evacuate people.

The right hon. Gentleman asked me about my assessment of the Philippines Government’s capacity to deliver the reconstruction effort that is needed. They are today and tomorrow looking at the initial needs assessment on infrastructure. I have spoken to the World Bank and the Asian Development Bank, which are likely to mobilise some of the financing that is needed for the reconstruction effort. There is a general willingness on the part of the Philippines Government to drive forward the work and on the part of the international community to support that effort over the coming months and years. Indeed, it is already projected that UN work will take place over the next 12 months as a minimum.

The Government have always made it clear that we want an international agreement on climate change—it is vital that that is tackled. The right hon. Gentleman should remember that it was the Conservative party in opposition that proposed a climate change Act and his Government ultimately took the idea on board. I assure him that we remain resolute in prioritising tackling climate change, as he will see over the coming months.

We are increasingly seeing disasters occurring around the coast and in island states. We have also seen the enormous role that HMS Illustrious has played. Will my right hon. Friend consider whether, when Illustrious retires, we might convert it into Her Majesty’s relief ship, which could be based somewhere such as Gibraltar?

That is an interesting suggestion. It might prove to be an expensive way of ensuring that we can reach people quickly, but we are always open to ideas. I should say that the medical team on Illustrious has already treated two children with infected wounds who unfortunately needed to have limbs amputated. That saved their lives, so we can see how our Royal Navy provides support to people who are in desperate need, and we should be proud of the work that it is doing.

I am glad that my right hon. Friend the Member for East Renfrewshire (Mr Murphy) will be going to the Philippines this weekend to see the situation for himself. Perhaps he will find out how far the Secretary of State’s £5 million will stretch in helping those four cities to prepare to defend themselves in the future. The most shocking fact in the Secretary of State’s statement was that, three weeks on, three quarters of the people who need shelter do not yet have it. Will she tell the House what she is doing to overcome that disastrous situation?

I mentioned that fact in my statement because it is shocking and sets out the scale of the challenge facing us. The typhoon hit a country that has a lot of disparate communities on outlying islands. One of the reasons why we sent out Daring and Illustrious was to get to those western islands in the Philippines that would otherwise not be reached. Obviously, there has been significant focus on Tacloban, but less focus on the area to the west of Tacloban. A lot of work is under way. I flagged up the issue of shelter because it is one of the main things on which we are working with the UN. We have sent significant numbers of shelter kits and six flights will be going out to the region this week. The very generous response of the UK public to the DEC appeal will mean that our leading NGOs will also have the resources to provide the critical shelter about which the right hon. Gentleman talks.

I congratulate the Secretary of State on her announcement and the hard work that is being undertaken. On behalf of the people of South Derbyshire who have written to me—this is reflected in what has been said by Government and Opposition Members—may I say that the great contributions made by the public have been astonishing? I put it on record that it is not just a matter of the Government doing something, because the people are doing something, too.

My hon. Friend is right. People’s generosity is staggering. Some £65 million—that amount is rising—has been delivered to the Philippines appeal. We can be really proud of the way in which our country has responded to the crisis. When I met the Philippines Government over the weekend, their thanks to us were heartfelt. They were really staggered by the response from our country, which they will remember for a long time. In the meantime, we will continue to play our role as one of the leading nations providing humanitarian support in their time of need.

What discussions has the Secretary of State had with her colleagues in the Home Office about trafficked people, particularly women and children, who might try to get entry into the UK? What measures are being put in place to deal with that?

I am interested in working more closely with the Home Office on trafficking. It is a key area with an international aspect in which we can up our game as part of the solution. We were concerned by what we came across in the Philippines. One fact that has been less discussed is the significant displacement of people. Many of them turn up in Manila and although they might perhaps get initial support for the first few days they are there, it is easy for them to become lost after that. They are at serious risk, particularly women, girls and children, of becoming involved in all sorts of situations, including trafficking, over the coming weeks and months. That was why I issued my call to action a couple of weeks ago to raise international awareness of the issue, at an event attended by the former Foreign Secretary, David Miliband. On the practical side of things, I sent over two of our experts from DFID to work across the UN effort and ensure that we are doing all we can to co-ordinate and prioritise the protection of women and girls through the crisis.

I thank my right hon. Friend for her statement. I am proud of the contribution we are making both as a Government and as a people to the Philippines. Will my right hon. Friend pay tribute to the Harlow Filipino community, who held a special fundraiser last Thursday night following the tragic death of the Harlow Princess Alexandra hospital nurse, Jeffrey Ducusin, and his son Jairo? Will she express condolences to the family and visit the Filipino community in Harlow sometime in the future to give them support at this difficult time?

I express my deep condolences to the family and to all those people who have lost loved ones in the crisis. I would be happy to meet the Filipino community and I had the chance to meet some of them a couple of Fridays ago when we had a special mass at Westminster cathedral. I have been in close contact with the Philippine ambassador to London since the crisis hit and I saw him this weekend in the Philippines. I would be happy to meet my hon. Friend’s local community.

Others on both sides of the House have emphasised how the UK and the British people have shown great generosity to help out in the Philippines, but what discussions has she had with her international counterparts to ensure that all nations pull their weight and help out?

Those discussions are now well under way. I spoke yesterday with Baroness Valerie Amos, who leads the UN humanitarian effort. It is clear to me that although the UK can play and is playing a leading role in responding to the crisis, it is important that other countries continue to play their role. We have seen massive generosity from across the international community, but there will be a further UN flash appeal in December. I encourage the whole international community to respond to that flash appeal positively so that we can ensure that we keep the humanitarian effort going.

Mountainside mobile signal enabled my constituents Marcus and Ellen to determine that a family of seven of their relations survived the storm on the island of Samar, but none of the homes in the community of Bakhaw withstood the storm. They report that today still no aid workers or representatives of the Philippine Government have been to the island to bring help and assistance. Is the Secretary of State satisfied that there is no unnecessary delay in the distribution of aid by the Philippine Government?

The nature of the storm and the part of the Philippines it hit—the middle third of the country—have made it incredibly challenging to get to all the communities people have wanted to reach. I know that when the UN first arrived at Tacloban airport immediately after the storm had hit, it was initially impossible even to get into Tacloban, just 10 km down the road, because of the debris. Even on the mainland, reaching people was challenging. One reason we have sent our Royal Navy vessels is to reach such communities and the Illustrious significantly steps up the capacity beyond that which the Daring was able to provide to reach more of those islands. As the hon. Gentleman sets out, it is a continued challenge to reach those communities and to ensure that the supply lines that will support them over the coming weeks remain open and are established in the first place.

There has been much rightful praise for the work of the British public in donating to the appeal, but it has involved a younger generation of donors, some perhaps donating for the first time, most of whom will have donated by text. Is the Secretary of State satisfied that we are doing enough to ensure that donations made by text receive gift aid so that more can go towards this important appeal?

I take the hon. Lady’s point on board. There are established processes to ensure that gift aid happens when it is meant to happen and that people have the choice—and are pressed when they are given the option—to sign up for gift aid. In my former role in the Treasury, I did a lot of work to ensure that it became easier for people to get gift aid, whether in the workplace or elsewhere, and I am very happy to follow up her point with the Treasury.

As we have heard, there has been a tremendous amount of support from the British people for those affected by the typhoon in the Philippines and the UK Government have also given £50 million. How confident is the Secretary of State that that money will reach the 800,000 people who need it as quickly and effectively as possible?

We launched the rapid response facility, which meant that over that weekend we were able to start working with huge NGOs as well as smaller ones to get aid out to the people who needed it. We are using trusted NGOs, we have due diligence and I am satisfied and confident that we will ensure that the investment that goes in, whether from the British public or the Government, reaches the people it is intended to reach.

Has the Secretary of State had the opportunity to review our immediate response to the disaster to ensure that the right sort of support was prioritised, given the unfortunate reports of aid sitting on the tarmac?

Lessons can be learned from every single humanitarian or disaster response. For example, this was the first time we had used our NHS emergency trauma list of NHS professionals, so we will absolutely ensure that we learn the lessons. One reason we sent the loaders and rubble and debris clearing equipment was that we found that planes could land in the nearby airport, whether that was Cebu or Tacloban, but there were then two problems. Either they could get supplies off the plane but not down roads as they were not clear, or the supplies were so huge that there was no equipment to get them off the planes as that had been damaged by the typhoon. My Department sourced from the Netherlands a massive piece of equipment that could clear the biggest loads off planes. We got it from the Netherlands to Tacloban and Cebu airports to double the capacity of what we could offload from planes. The hon. Lady is absolutely right: this was a big logistical effort and as we encountered various bottlenecks they had to be removed.

I, too, thank the Secretary of State for her statement. She highlighted that NHS personnel and staff are doing quite a lot of work in the Philippines. Will she elaborate on the expertise that they are bringing and the good work they are doing on the ground?

I had the chance to meet some of those fantastic people and one was from my local hospital, St George’s in Tooting. There were surgeons, anaesthetists and doctors who were working alongside other international medics, such as those from AusAID, to provide support. Some of the stories of what they have done are phenomenal, particularly those about dealing with the initial casualties who came in following the typhoon. They have latterly been dealing with some of the broader issues, such as the fact that shelter is limited, which means that we are starting to see challenges with pneumonia in children. The work those people are doing is evolving over time. Our support is now principally being delivered through HMS Illustrious and health care is being provided by the NHS people on board.

Following on from the answer to my hon. Friend the Member for Kingston upon Hull North (Diana Johnson) about the measures being taken by DFID to protect vulnerable women and girls from being exploited and trafficked, can the Secretary of State tell us which NGOs she is working with in the Philippines so that the great British public, who have already been so generous and who may want to donate directly to those NGOs or even offer time and expertise to help those women, girls and families rebuild their lives, can do so?

We are working with so many that it is difficult to give a complete list. Save the Children, Plan International, Christian Aid—a range of fantastic NGOs are now involved in the effort. One of the things that we are rapidly setting up is women-friendly and child-friendly spaces so that women and children at risk have safe spaces to go to. I heard reports today when I spoke with our DFID team on the ground of children being offered for sex trade sale to aid workers in Tacloban, which of course is absolutely disgusting and unacceptable. It is why we are right and working so hard to minimise the risks to vulnerable people.

I thank the Secretary of State for co-ordinating so successfully the fast and wide-ranging response of our Government to this enormous disaster, which is especially sad for those of us who have lived in the Philippines and travelled in this part of the Visayas. I also share the feelings expressed by several hon. Members about the generosity of the British people to the tragedy. I highlight the response in my constituency led by Raymond Padilla in the Gloucestershire Filipino Association, the headmaster and staff of St Peter’s high school, including Dan Hudson, who has organised a 24-hour basketball session this weekend, both the Anglican and Catholic Churches, Gloucester Rotary and many others, including the Philippine Community Fund, which was founded by my constituent Jane Walker. Does my right hon. Friend agree that, as the emphasis in due course moves from saving lives to rebuilding communities, there will be an opportunity for DFID to highlight specific needs for goods or equipment to which our wide-ranging civic society organisations could respond?

My hon. Friend makes an excellent point. Although the focus has initially been on providing life-saving support, going forward that will gradually evolve into the reconstruction effort, including people’s longer and medium-term needs. The Government of the Philippines are working on shaping what that response needs to be, and the UN is there to support them. I shall be interested to hear from my hon. Friend what he thinks his local community could do. I pay tribute to them for all the work they have already done. It is outstanding, and it is a tribute to the generosity and selflessness of people in this country that they respond so generously.

How much of the initial £30 million that she announced in response to the UN’s $300 million appeal has gone through the UN and how much has been allocated through other routes, and which routes?

About £23 million of the £30 million went to the UN flash appeal. A further £6 million or so went to the Red Cross movement in one form or another. In addition, we had set aside £8 million for the initial response through the rapid response facility. We spent £2 million on getting equipment and supplies out there. So we are now at just over £50 million. A UN flash appeal will be coming out in the next couple of weeks, once the latest needs assessment has been done.

The Prime Minister made it clear to the president of the Philippines the weekend the storm hit that we would continue to look at what more we can do as a country to help his country respond to this crisis.

I pay tribute to the Secretary of State and her Department. She has responded outstandingly to this crisis. Like many colleagues, I pay tribute to the British public. In Eastbourne alone the response has literally bowled me over. More than £5,000 has been raised on an Eastbourne typhoon appeal JustGiving site. Ocklynge school raised £1,600. The Rotary raised £1,500. The list goes on. It is absolutely fantastic.

I grew up in Africa and I know that after very heavy floods, or in this case a typhoon, waterborne diseases are a real threat. I would appreciate it if the Secretary of State gave some detail about what vaccines have been provided. Is there a recognition that this could be a real issue?

Picking up on my hon. Friend’s first point, I pay tribute to the officials in my Department, who have been working around the clock since the crisis began both in the Philippines—we had people who went out there that very weekend—and the whole team back in Whitehall, who have been co-ordinating with the Philippine team. These are people who literally drop everything and head over to a place to be part of the humanitarian support at the drop of a hat. We should pay tribute to their creativity, their effort and their relentless good humour in dealing with a challenging situation. They are flying the flag for our country and working alongside our fantastic MOD and NHS colleagues to deliver a cross-government response.

My hon. Friend is right to raise the generosity of the British public and I am delighted to hear that his own community have been so generous.

The hon. Member for Gloucester (Richard Graham) rightly raised the importance of the reconstruction phase. I know from previous disasters that, whereas the international community has responded generously and quickly to the immediate disaster, it is sometimes difficult to get a full response to international appeals such as that from the UN. What is the Secretary of State doing to focus attention within the UN and EU on preparing for the fundraising for the reconstruction phase?

It is one of the reasons why I met with the World Bank and the Asian Development Bank when I was in Manila over the weekend. The effort on setting out the infrastructure and longer-term reconstruction need is rightly being led by the Government of the Philippines. It will cover a number of areas, including housing, building and building standards, water and drainage and community resilience. Over the coming days and weeks we will have a clearer sense of the Philippine Government’s assessment of future need. That will feed into a World Bank or Asian Development Bank trust fund of some sort, and the UK stands ready to be supportive of that approach.

I congratulate my right hon. Friend on her personal energy and commitment in co-ordinating the UK aid effort, alongside her excellent Minister of State. Does she recognise the welcome but late response of the Chinese Government in increasing its aid and sending a hospital ship. Will she put it on record that the Chinese Government should not ruin that by politicising its aid and relief effort?

I agree. I do not think that humanitarian effort should be politicised. It is about helping the people who have been put in so much need by the typhoon that hit, and getting support to them. That surely has to be the most important thing. I hope that all countries, including China, will respond positively and generously to the next UN flash appeal.

People in Kettering and across the country have been incredibly generous in contributing £65 million to the financial appeal. It shows that this is the sort of international aid that everyone can support. The United Kingdom was already one of the world’s most generous donor nations, and the contributions from the NHS, the Royal Navy and other parts of Her Majesty’s armed forces will not have come cheap. How are those contributions counted against DFID’s aid target, and how are those costs reimbursed to both the Ministry of Defence and the national health service?

I hope that I can provide my hon. Friend with some assurance. Where International Development spend and effort takes place in other Departments, it is classified as official development assistance and is part of the UK’s 0.7% commitment, which this year for the first time this Government are reaching. Part of our just over £50 million response is the money that we have spent sending HMS Daring and HMS Illustrious. We will fund the marginal costs that the MOD has incurred to get those vessels into the area and do the work that they have done, which I think is quite right.

My question builds on that asked by my hon. Friend the Member for The Wrekin (Mark Pritchard), while the British public have been responding generously to the appeals for the victims of Typhoon Haiyan, China has been seeking to extend its air right, raising concerns in the Philippines about its claim over the Spratly Islands. As the Prime Minister is shortly to visit China, will my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State put a note in his bag outlining the United Kingdom’s outstanding and selfless response to the tragedy as an example of how China should respond in future?

My hon. Friend makes his point clearly. I am sure that is something the Prime Minister will take on board when he visits China shortly.