Oral Answers to Questions — Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 12th December 2000.

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Photo of Alun Michael Alun Michael Labour/Co-operative, Cardiff South and Penarth 12:00 am, 12th December 2000

What steps he is taking to support and encourage progress on stability and reconstruction in Somaliland. [141968]

Photo of Peter Hain Peter Hain Labour, Neath

We welcome the establishment of a transitional National Assembly in Mogadishu, but have made it clear that it must not undermine the peace and stability achieved by the regions of Somaliland and Puntland.

Photo of Alun Michael Alun Michael Labour/Co-operative, Cardiff South and Penarth

I am grateful for the personal interest that my hon. Friend the Minister takes in Somaliland, in particular the north of Somalia, from where so many British Somalis come. They have made a considerable contribution to organisations such as the British Army and the Merchant Navy over the years. Does he agree that it is remarkable, given the unsettled state of most of Somalia, that Somaliland has become well ordered, that it has governance if not a Government, and that it has democratic institutions and is working towards an election? Does he also agree that the British Government, and we as parliamentarians, should do everything possible to encourage the continuation of that stability and the development of those institutions and of law and order in Somaliland?

Photo of Peter Hain Peter Hain Labour, Neath

I very much welcome the points made by my right hon. Friend, and acknowledge his long-standing expertise and interest in the future of the Somali people, some of whom reside in his constituency. We are very proud to have them in Wales.

Somaliland's stability, which is remarkable in a country that has been torn apart by some of the most vicious skirmishing and warlordery, is a model for the rest of the country and one that we should support and encourage. I shall work with my right hon. Friend to achieve that.

Photo of Roger Gale Roger Gale Conservative, North Thanet

While the Minister is considering the promotion of democracy in Somaliland, will he widen his view to take in the whole of the African continent? Will he tell the House, in the light of the present circumstances in Ghana, what additional assistance the Government will give to ensure that the elections there—

Photo of Michael Martin Michael Martin Speaker of the House of Commons

Order. The question is not about Ghana. Let us move on to the next question.