Gambia

Oral Answers to Questions — International Development – in the House of Commons at 11:30 am on 16th July 2008.

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Photo of Linda Gilroy Linda Gilroy Labour, Plymouth, Sutton 11:30 am, 16th July 2008

What developmental projects and programmes his Department supports in the Gambia; and if he will make a statement.

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Photo of Gillian Merron Gillian Merron Parliamentary Under-Secretary, Department for International Development

The Department for International Development allocated £3 million this year towards programmes to improve basic education, financial governance, access to justice and support to civil society in the Gambia. We work closely with the Gambian Government and we also provide additional funding to donors such as the European Union, the World Bank and the United Nations agencies.

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Photo of Linda Gilroy Linda Gilroy Labour, Plymouth, Sutton

I thank my hon. Friend for that response, which refers to a welcome investment in the rule of law and democracy in a relatively stable country, but does she understand the concerns of the Northfield family in Plymouth for their relative, Charlie Northfield, who has been detained without his passport since February in a country where the rule of law seems to grind exceeding slow, with the courts not yet having disclosed the grounds of the charge on which he is being detained?

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Photo of Gillian Merron Gillian Merron Parliamentary Under-Secretary, Department for International Development

My hon. Friend has done much to support the case to which she refers. Having sought the Foreign and Commonwealth Office's assurance, I understand that it is providing Mr. Northfield with full consular assistance. Consular staff are in regular contact with Mr. Northfield, most recently on 8 July. He is in good health, and treatment seems to be positive. However, I will ensure that my hon. Friend's comments are drawn to the attention of my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary.

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