International Development Bill [H.L.]
Baroness Rawlings (Conservative)
In speaking to this amendment, I give notice that I shall be speaking separately to Amendment No. 22. I believe that the Minister is aware of this intention. Amendment No. 21 seeks to classify economic development as an important objective of technical assistance. The Overseas Development and Co-operation Act 1980 sets out the definition of "technical assistance" to include assistance in the field of economic development. The Bill makes no reference to economic development.
Technical assistance is a vital part of British development assistance. It is also the part in which the British people have the most confidence. We believe that technical assistance has provided developing countries with valuable know-how and skills which they would not otherwise have had. We also believe that as one of the world's premier financial centres, the UK has a unique role in assisting developing countries with their economic development as well as their social development.
The British public support technical assistance. A survey of opinion for DfID involving 1,772 people chosen at random showed that just 18 per cent thought that providing financial assistance was the most important way of reducing poverty. In a survey of children, DfID found that the majority of support for development was for technical assistance and training nurses, doctors and engineers rather than just financial aid.
Economic growth is also crucial to development, but in the new definition of "technical assistance" economic development is no longer included. The globalisation White Paper states that economic development goes hand in hand with other development, including the environment. It states on page 16:
"Poverty and environmental degradation are often linked. Economic development gives countries improved access to new, less resource-intensive and less polluting technologies. Over the last fifty years, it has been more closed economies--such as the former Communist countries--that have had the worst record of industrial pollution and urban environmental degradation".
The 1997 government White Paper, Eliminating World Poverty, stated in the first line of section 1,
"We shall refocus our international development efforts on the elimination of poverty and encouragement of economic growth which benefits the poor".
The globalisation White Paper also highlighted the importance of multinationals in economic development. It states:
"TNCs can contribute significantly to economic development in host countries through their technology, specialised skills and ability to organise and integrate production across countries, to establish marketing networks and to access finance and equipment on favourable terms".
If the Government support the role of TNCs in contributing to economic development, they should include economic development within the term "technical assistance" in the Bill so that government too can support developing countries through technical assistance in technology and specialised skills. We believe that technical assistance has been vitally important over the past 20 years and want to see the definition remain the same in the new as in the old legislation. I look forward to hearing the Government's response. I beg to move.