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World Poverty

Oral Answers to Questions — International Development – in the House of Commons at 2:30 pm on 11th December 2002.

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Photo of Neil Turner Neil Turner Labour, Wigan 2:30 pm, 11th December 2002

What action she is taking to ensure that programmes to tackle world poverty continue after 2015.

Photo of Sally Keeble Sally Keeble Parliamentary Under-Secretary, Department for International Development

Some 900 million people are still likely to be living in extreme poverty in 2015, even if the millennium development goals are achieved, so our commitment to work against poverty must continue. The 2015 targets have been extremely effective in focusing our development work, and we will need new targets after that date.

Photo of Neil Turner Neil Turner Labour, Wigan

I thank my hon. Friend for that reply and for recognising the importance of the need to fight poverty in the future. Does she agree that poverty and the hopelessness that comes from it provide ready recruits to those sectarian and fanatical organisations that seek to divide the nations of the world rather than to bring people together?

Photo of Sally Keeble Sally Keeble Parliamentary Under-Secretary, Department for International Development

There is a very clear link between conflict and poverty, and my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State has addressed some of those issues in her goals. We are currently undertaking research to find out what will be the needs of the 900 million people who will still be in poverty after 2015. All our efforts and those of the multilateral organisations—including the European Union, for example—must focus on combating poverty.

Photo of Stephen O'Brien Stephen O'Brien Shadow Paymaster General

What progress are the Minister and her right hon. Friend the Secretary of State making to deal with the collapse in commodity prices, which is having such a significant effect on the progress towards tackling poverty in the developing countries under the programmes of the various international bodies?

Photo of Sally Keeble Sally Keeble Parliamentary Under-Secretary, Department for International Development

The hon. Gentleman is right to identify the trade and aid issue. We are obviously working very closely to look at the impact of commodity prices, and we also hope to diversify agriculture in some of the countries that are dependent on a single commodity. Although we are making progress in dealing with the trade-related issues, it is also extremely important that we now increase the amount of aid going to developing countries to combat poverty.

Photo of Hugh Bayley Hugh Bayley NATO Parliamentary Assembly UK Delegation

Does my hon. Friend agree that the key to meeting the millennium development goals in the poorest countries in Africa is the initiative under the New Partnership for Africa's Development, and that if we in the rich world are to deliver our part of NEPAD, we must take action to reduce food subsidies and to open up our markets to African products, particularly agricultural produce?

Photo of Sally Keeble Sally Keeble Parliamentary Under-Secretary, Department for International Development

My hon. Friend is absolutely right to link the work that is being done in Europe in relation to the common agricultural policy with the work on the Doha agenda in opening up trade to deal with some of the deep-seated problems. He is also right to identify the importance of NEPAD as an African solution to African problems and to focus on some of the Government issues. Meanwhile, of course, the task of dealing with the worst poverty will be affected in particular by increasing the amount of aid. The Department for International Development is working very closely to increase the amount of aid to combat poverty in the poorest countries of the world.