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Topical Questions

Volume 647: debated on Wednesday 10 October 2018

I hope the whole House will join me in sending our deepest condolences to those affected by the devastating situation in Indonesia. We have all seen the images of destruction and of people suffering, and the UK stands side by side with the people of Indonesia. As well as providing essential supplies and a team on the ground, the UK has now made up to £5 million available, including £2 million that will match funds raised by the Disasters Emergency Committee appeal. I thank the British public for their generosity.

Will my right hon. Friend confirm that she will be using DFID’s existing budget to help the British overseas territories to rebuild after the devastating hurricanes?

If that sad event does occur, I have instructed my Department to ensure that our response in the overseas territories has a priority call on our DFID reserves—our non-ODA money. The Foreign and Commonwealth Office and the Ministry of Defence are also standing ready. We will deal with these situations as best we can, without having to make further demands on the public purse.

T2. Does the Secretary of State share the concerns of the Minister for Europe and the Americas, the right hon. Member for Rutland and Melton (Sir Alan Duncan), about the situation in El Salvador with regard to abortion being a criminal offence, even in cases of rape? Does she agree that if we want to tell other parts of the world not to criminalise women seeking essential healthcare, we have a duty to lead by example by urgently reforming abortion law in Northern Ireland? (906963)

I agree with the hon. Lady. The Women and Equalities Committee is looking at the issue that she raises with regard to Northern Ireland, and that will be a very helpful piece of work. The hon. Lady is right; in fact, we have some opportunities with the international women’s conference that will be taking place in part in this Chamber—I thank Mr Speaker for allowing that—to send a clear message to everyone that women’s rights matter and that we will work together to ensure that they are upheld worldwide.

Order. There is far too much noise in the Chamber, with a lot of very loud private conversations. Can we have a bit of hush for a south-east London knight? I call Sir David Evennett.

T5. Thank you, Mr Speaker. I was pleased to read that my right hon. Friend had introduced a new test for UK aid—no longer just proving that UK aid is spent well, but that it could not be spent any better. Can she inform the House when that test will be implemented? (906966)

My right hon. Friend is absolutely right that we are not just ensuring that the aid we provide is as effective as possible; we are introducing new tests to ensure that we are doing things that are also in the national interest. The chief economist has placed that in our aid allocation formula and we are also looking at ways of improving that.

T3. What are Ministers doing to ensure that the Government continue their commitment to improving global nutrition beyond the next 2020 nutrition summit? (906964)

Nutrition remains at the heart of the concerns that we have for feeding the most vulnerable. I had meetings in New York with those responsible for looking ahead to the next replenishment. The United Kingdom has always been a leader in this matter and we will remain so.

T7. What steps is the Department taking to support our Commonwealth veterans, who served so bravely alongside our armed forces? (906968)

We are introducing a new programme to support our pre-independence Commonwealth veterans who have been living in poverty. There are about 7,000 of these individuals, to whom we owe an immense debt of gratitude. The new programme will ensure that they can live out the rest of their lives with their families in dignity.

T4. Freedom of expression and democracy are aid programme headings under which we fund Bangladesh, so why has it been able to imprison and torture the acclaimed photojournalist Shahidul Alam for championing those very values? What are we doing to secure his release? (906965)

Once again in New York, I took part in a special session at the United Nations devoted to the pressures on journalists, led by Amal Clooney and others. We were able to state very clearly our support for those Bangladeshi journalists. Representations have been made, and will continue to be made. I met the family, who were there.

Does my right hon. Friend welcome the fact that our Prime Minister is the first Prime Minister to visit Kenya in over 30 years? She committed to help to support the next generation of energetic, ambitious young Kenyans as they seek to build a more prosperous country in the years ahead.

I was absolutely delighted by the Prime Minister’s visit, and I congratulate my hon. Friend on her appointment as trade envoy to Kenya. If we want to eradicate global poverty, trade is part of the answer, and we are absolutely right to put that investment into Africa, as it will lever in an additional £4 billion to grow the economies of those developing nations.

T8. In the week in which the UK hosts a major international conference on the illegal wildlife trade, will the Minister tell us what her Department is doing to tackle that international crime? (906969)

The hon. Gentleman is absolutely right—the UK is leading the world by hosting the summit this week, and it is at the forefront of tackling this heinous crime. I am delighted to announce to Parliament that there will be a further £6 million uplift to the illegal wildlife trade challenge fund, and more money for the international action against corruption programme to tackle illicit financial flows that are linked to the illegal wildlife trade.

Does my hon. Friend share my concern about the Palestinian Authority’s continuing naming of schools after terrorists and the payment of salaries to convicted murderers? Can we be sure that UK taxpayers are not facilitating payments?

My hon. Friend can be absolutely sure that we share his concern in relation to this. The matter is continually raised with the Palestinian Authority. There should be no incitement to terror and no incitement to violence. We make rigorously sure that no UK taxpayers’ money is spent on this.