DFID – INDIAN EARTHQUAKE – 29 January 2001

Dr Julian Lewis: I congratulate the right hon. Lady and her Department on the fast action that they have taken. She touched briefly on one aspect of co-operation with the Ministry of Defence. Is she satisfied that arrangements for co-operation and co-ordination between her Department and the MOD are working well? In particular, were there other major MOD assets in the area – such as naval units –that might have been able to help? Have any steps been taken in that direction?

[Clare Short: Yes, I am pleased to be able to say that, since the discussions on the Mozambique disaster, arrangements are better and the price is better. I am grateful to the House for securing the outcome that I think everyone, on all sides, wanted to achieve. I am not aware of any request for naval assets. The Indian armed forces are large and efficient. A large number of them are in theatre. They have not requested our armed forces. I will find out whether we have ships in the vicinity – if we did, I suspect that I would know. The Indian Government are controlling the emergency; they are appealing for certain kinds of help – for example, there are many military bodies, but they do not have search and rescue or listening equipment. We are complementing their capacity to bring many people into play. I will check on that matter.]