HL Deb 23 June 2004 vol 662 cc63-4WS
Baroness Amos

My honourable friend the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for International Development has made the following Written Ministerial Statement.

DfID has agreed a new three-year package of assistance worth £40 million for the UK Overseas Territory of Montserrat. The commitment is included in a new Country Policy Plan, as part of our ongoing partnership with Montserrat. The plan sets out our agreed strategy for continued working in support of efforts by the government of Montserrat to rebuild essential infrastructure and to regenerate the island economy, in the aftermath of the volcanic crisis of the mid-1990s.

As a result of that volcanic activity, most southern areas of the island—which included the capital town of Plymouth and the international airport—became uninhabitable and still remain subject to extremely restricted access for safety reasons. While the volcano remains active, the challenge has been to rebuild and provide basic facilities and services for the island community in the "safe" northern half of the island. Considerable progress has already been made, with DfID support totalling some £206 million since the onset of the crisis.

The focus for future support will be on activities that will help generate local revenue and encourage private sector investment. There are already some encouraging signs of private sector interest. A new airport, part funded by DfID, replacing the one lost to the volcano, will be completed later this year and should be a key contribution to the process of stimulating the economic growth that is needed.