G8

– in the House of Commons at 4:25 pm on 11th July 2005.

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Photo of Tony Blair Tony Blair Prime Minister 4:25 pm, 11th July 2005

With your permission, Mr. Speaker, I would like to make a statement on the G8 summit which I chaired at Gleneagles last week.

There were two major issues on the agenda for this summit—Africa and climate change. Those subjects were chosen because they represent huge problems for the world which require concerted action by the international community. Africa is the only continent in the world that, without change, will not meet any of the millennium development goals. Although there are success stories in Africa, 4 million children under five die in Africa every year, 3,000 children a day die from malaria, and 50 million African children do not go to primary school. Life expectancy is plummeting, and by 2010 it will be down to just 27 years in some African countries. So Africa is an immediate moral cause that commands our attention.

Climate change is perhaps the most long-term serious threat to our environment. Already sea ice in the Arctic has shrunk by 1 million sq km, the 10 hottest years on record have all occurred since 1991, and sea levels are rising. Until now, however, the international community has been divided, with no agreement on the nature or urgency of the problem, what to do about it, or how to start a discussion that would involve the United States and key emerging economies such as India and China.

The Commission for Africa, which I established last year, set out a comprehensive plan for dealing with the continent's problems. At Gleneagles, we agreed a doubling of aid for Africa—that is, an extra $25 billion a year by 2010—as part of an overall increase of $50 billion for all developing countries, which will start to flow immediately. That was made possible by a series of new pledges by G8 partners in the weeks before the summit—notably, the European Union's aid increase of an extra $38 billion, the American and Canadian decisions to double aid to Africa, and Japan's pledge, at the summit, of an additional $10 billion over the next five years. That is a mighty achievement, not only for the summit but for the millions of decent people world wide who have campaigned so long and hard on this issue. I should like to thank not only fellow leaders but my right hon. Friend the International Development Secretary and, most particularly, my right hon. Friend the Chancellor for their work in securing this.

In addition, again thanks to the work of my right hon. Friend the Chancellor, we agreed to cancel 100 per cent. of the multilateral debts of the heavily indebted poor countries. That could amount in total to some $55 billion of relief. We also agreed a special package of debt cancellation for Nigeria worth around $17 billion.

The G8 put particular emphasis on health and education in Africa. We agreed free primary education and basic health care for all, and we agreed these specific measures: on HIV/AIDS, to provide as close as possible to universal access to treatment by 2010; on malaria, to reach 85 per cent. of the vulnerable with bed nets and drugs in order to save around 600,000 children's lives a year by 2015; and on polio, the UK has agreed the funding to eradicate polio this year, and the G8 has agreed to ensure that the programme is fully funded in the years ahead.

However, that help will not make a difference unless we also take action to end conflict and create conditions of stability. That means, above all, supporting the African Union's ability to deploy its forces to prevent and resolve conflict. We confirmed our commitment to train and equip 75,000 troops by 2010, mainly for Africa, including for the 20,000-strong African Union stand-by force.

On trade, we agreed that we should establish a credible end date for agricultural export subsidies. The British Government want the Hong Kong world trade ministerial meeting to agree to an end date of 2010. I believe, on the basis of my discussions last week, that that is possible. We also agreed at Gleneagles concrete measures to build Africa's capacity to trade and recognised poor countries' need to determine their own economic and trade policies.

It was the most detailed and ambitious package for Africa ever agreed by the G8. However, none of it can be implemented or improve the lives of African citizens without significant improvements in standards of governance, transparency and accountability. It is a partnership, not an act of charity. In the end, only Africans can lead and shape Africa. We can help, but every Government in Africa who betrays the principles of good governance betrays Africa. The G8 unanimously deplored recent developments in Zimbabwe. The United Nations Secretary-General told us that his envoy, Anna Tibaijuka, will report back to the UN Security Council in days.

The summit of itself cannot end poverty in Africa but it should mark a turning point. I pay tribute to the organisations around the world whose members care passionately about Africa and who made their voice heard to the G8 leaders in the run-up to Gleneagles. It was a remarkable and brilliantly led campaign by people who have long demonstrated their commitment, and I particularly praise the contribution of Make Poverty History and the organisers of Live 8. Faith groups, schools, businesses and many millions of concerned people attached to no formal organisation made their demands, protested for them reasonably and gave political leaders the support that they needed to turn a campaign into a victory.

In respect of climate change, our discussion included the leaders of China, India, Brazil, South Africa and Mexico. We were able to do four things. First, we agreed that climate change was a problem, with human activity contributing to it. Secondly, we agreed that we had to tackle it with urgency. Thirdly, we agreed that, to do that, we have to slow down, stop and, in time, reverse greenhouse gas emissions. Gleneagles adopted an action plan to exploit cleaner technologies that meet our energy needs and safeguard the climate, including measures to develop technologies such as bioenergy and cleaner coal, to promote energy efficiency and finance investment in clean technologies in emerging economies.

Fourthly, we put in place a new dialogue involving the G8, the emerging economies and the key international institutions. The purpose is to create a pathway to a post-Kyoto agreement, so that when Kyoto expires after 2012, the world can act with unity. The new dialogue between the G8 plus the five and others will have its first meeting in the UK in November.

The G8 also gave its strong support to the middle east peace process and pledged its support for a package of assistance worth up to $3 billion a year for Palestine. We gave warm backing to the mission of Jim Wolfensohn, the Quartet's envoy for disengagement, who reported to us at the summit. I continue to believe that progress in the middle east between Israelis and Palestinians is an enormous part of creating a fairer and more secure world.

Inevitably, some will be disappointed with aspects of the G8 summit. However, on any realistic basis, on the two hardest issues on the international agenda, there was progress, and in the case of Africa, immense progress. We now have to build on that, using our EU presidency, the UN summit in September and the Hong Kong ministerial meeting on trade in December.

Of course, the task is now to implement what has been agreed. However, let us for a moment assume that we can. If we do so, millions of children will not die when otherwise they would have died. Africa will change its destiny from one of decline to advance. The values of democracy, freedom and the rule of law will be strengthened further still. On the environment, if we can implement what is agreed, today's largest economy can achieve agreement with the largest economies of tomorrow to get the framework, technology and policy in place to reverse the threat of global warming.

Such progress, if achieved, would be the most poignant and powerful riposte to the forces of terrorism.

Photo of Michael Howard Michael Howard Leader of the Opposition, Leader of Her Majesty's Official Opposition, Leader of the Conservative Party

This is an afternoon for consensus; we might be in danger of setting an entirely new trend. I congratulate the Prime Minister on what he achieved at the G8 summit. Although it was overshadowed by the atrocity in London, substantial progress was made there. That was in large measure due to the work done by the Prime Minister and others, not only at Gleneagles but in the run-up to the conference.

At Gleneagles, the Prime Minister was fighting for policies and principles that are widely shared across the country. The success of Live 8 and the work of the Make Poverty History campaign have played their part in focusing world attention on these issues, and the Prime Minister's response was entirely appropriate and welcome. Of course international summits, by their very nature, cannot live up to all the hopes invested in them. The Prime Minister has accepted that he did not achieve everything that he wanted to achieve, but the agreements on world poverty and on climate change hold out the prospect of further advances later this year.

We all know what is at stake. In Africa, 8,000 people die every day from HIV/AIDS, while 7,000 die from hunger and 6,000 die from waterborne diseases. These are people who share this planet with us, and we have a moral, as well as a practical, imperative to help them. That is why we welcome the agreements that were reached on aid and on debt relief. We wholeheartedly support the Government's position on both those issues. Will the Prime Minister tell us, however, what proportion of the aid is new money? Will he also say more about the timing of the aid? How much will be delivered immediately and how much in the latter half of the decade? There is also cross-party support for the international finance facility, including the IFF for immunisation. The communiqué is very non-committal on that issue, however. Will the Prime Minister tell us what prospects there are for further agreement on that proposal?

I am sure that the Prime Minister would agree that aid and debt relief are only part of the package that will help Africa to secure a permanent escape from poverty. We all recognise the need to make progress in securing free and fair trade. Protectionism by developed countries at the expense of the developing world is immoral and hypocritical, and it must come to an end. The key meeting on that issue will be the World Trade Organisation ministerial meeting in Hong Kong later this year, and one of the key issues at that meeting will be the removal of export subsidies by the developed countries. Progress was made on that issue at Gleneagles, but no date was set. The Prime Minister has set out his objective for Hong Kong. Will he give us a fuller assessment of the likelihood of progress in that regard?

The communiqué made clear the G8's commitment to strengthening the multilateral trading system and improving the participation of developing countries. The Prime Minister will be aware of our proposals for an advocacy fund, which would help developing countries to make the most of the opportunities that will be made available to them in Hong Kong. Even if the Prime Minister does not accept that specific proposal, will he assure me that he will examine additional alternative means of achieving that goal?

We welcome the fact that the G8 deplores recent developments in Zimbabwe. Will the Prime Minister tell the House what discussions he had with President Mbeki, who is in a better position than anyone to take action to bring to an end the suffering in that troubled land?

On climate change, as on world poverty, we support the Government's overall approach. I recognise that it took political courage to put climate change on the agenda at a G8 summit, given the lack of consensus on how to proceed. The Prime Minister has made progress, but not as much as we all would have liked. The challenge at Gleneagles was not necessarily to agree on a series of new targets there and then, but to provide the impetus for an agreement of that kind that would bind in the United States, China and India as well as the Kyoto signatories. How do the Government intend to achieve that through the dialogue that will now take such matters forward? Will the Prime Minister tell us which other interested countries will be invited to join that dialogue, and when in the second half of the year he proposes to hold meetings to make progress on that agenda? Can he also clarify the purpose of the United Kingdom's international conference in November? Does he envisage that that meeting will lead to binding commitments on the participants, particularly with regard to the plan of action?

We welcome the communiqué's emphasis on the need to invest in and share clean energy technologies. Does the plan of action guarantee new funding for the development of such technologies? If not, can the Prime Minister give us his assessment of the prospects for securing such funding during the remainder of Britain's G8 presidency?

Climate change is undoubtedly one of the most important challenges facing the world today, and it is essential that it does not drop down the agenda for the remainder of this year and beyond. With Britain having secured a lasting legacy from its G8 presidency on aid and debt, is not it essential that we work to secure a lasting legacy on trade and climate change, too?

The test of the G8 was to provide an impetus that would increase the prospects of a successful outcome in both Montreal and Hong Kong. Last week's summit has certainly moved us in the right direction, but does the Prime Minister agree that the real test of success will come in Hong Kong and Montreal?

Photo of Tony Blair Tony Blair Prime Minister

Again, let me thank the right hon. and learned Gentleman for his broad agreement with what we have tried to achieve and what we did achieve at the G8. This has been a day for consensus, but I am sure that we can find many areas on which to disagree if we think hard enough in the time to come.

On aid and debt relief, in respect of the new money aspect, I am somewhat puzzled by some of the people who have been claiming that it is all recycled money. It is absolutely clear to me that the EU commitment is additional, the Japanese commitment is definitely additional, and as far as I am aware, Canada and the US are agreeing to double their aid from their present position. Although people keep saying that there is an issue about whether it is new money, it seems to me certainly true that it is, at least the vast bulk of it.

In respect of timing, the aid and debt relief can start to flow straightaway—and should do so. Some aspects, such as the international finance facility, will take some time to establish, although in respect of the immunisation programme, for example, people are making a start now on financing in an innovative way. We can therefore start to see the benefits soon, and as the right hon. and learned Gentleman rightly says, it is absolutely urgent.

In respect of trade, I would like the 2010 date to be reached in Hong Kong in December. Whether we can do so, I do not know. President Bush indicated that he would support 2010. I understand and accept that some people felt it was important that whatever dates were given were given in the context of the trade round and that we should not try to overlay a G8 process on a WTO process. I understand that, but it should not prevent us from having a forward position, which is absolutely necessary for the poorest countries. In the communiqué, we specifically indicated the importance of building the trade capacity of those countries, which in a sense is the same idea as is behind the advocacy fund.

I totally agree with what the right hon. and learned Gentleman says about Zimbabwe. Obviously, I discussed the matter with President Mbeki and Kofi Annan. There will be an opportunity when the report from the United Nations envoy is received by the UN Security Council.

Let me be clear about what the problem always is in dealing with Zimbabwe. Although there is no dispute, in any quarter of the House, about the abhorrence that we feel for what is happening in Zimbabwe, once one gets past the expression of abhorrence, the question is: what do we do? The truth is that it is clear that the matter is best dealt with through the United Nations and through putting pressure on those countries in the immediate vicinity. We will continue to do that in any way that we can, and to get anything else that we can in terms of EU or UN measures or sanctions. The only way that the situation in Zimbabwe will come to an end, however, is through concerted international action, particularly from those countries neighbouring Zimbabwe. I confess that, although I suppose I understand what causes the reluctance, I cannot really excuse it, and I cannot understand why it should continue, given the evidence of what has happened to what is, after all, potentially a wealthy country. That is the terrible tragedy. I think that we are agreed on that.

I thank the right hon. and learned Gentleman for what he said about climate change. He is absolutely right. Part of the trouble is that people will say we have not achieved what we never set out to achieve. There was no way in which we could negotiate new climate change agreements or targets here. We need to peel away some of the rhetoric on climate change. Let us be clear: there is no way in which climate change will ever be dealt with without agreement between the United States, China and India—and the European Union, obviously. Without those three countries it will not happen. In the years ahead, the huge consumers of energy will be China and India, and they are willing to join a dialogue, and so is America.

People claim that it is wrong to say that technology is the answer. It is wrong to say that technology can do what is necessary by itself, but it is not wrong to say that technology is the essential part of the process. We need to develop a framework of incentives that allows the technologies to be developed. I hope that, through the dialogue, we will secure a report on the action plan from Gleneagles—that is obviously important—as well as exchanges of information leading eventually, I hope, to an agreement on technology transfer between the United States, the other wealthy countries, and China and India. China is building power stations at the rate of—I do not know—[Hon. Members: "One a week."] One a week. People can say what they like about the United States of America, but unless we can achieve a clean development of that technology it will not really make a difference.

Russia has agreed to put the issue on the agenda for next year, but Japan has agreed to make it one of the centrepieces of its G8 summit in 2008. We need to develop the dialogue so that—this is crucial—when the Kyoto target period ends in 2012, the world is in agreement again, with radical measures that can be implemented to reduce greenhouse gas emissions significantly.

As for the funding of technologies, again I agree, but it is worth pointing out that the United States of America invests more in clean technology research and development than all the other countries in the world put together. We need to do more, but it is worth pointing that out.

Photo of Charles Kennedy Charles Kennedy Leader of the Liberal Democrats, Leader of the Liberal Democrats

The Prime Minister is undoubtedly to be congratulated on what was, for the best and happiest of reasons as well as for the most dreadful, an extraordinary week. It was a considerable achievement to produce a coherent communiqué from the G8 members, given everything else that properly demanded his attention and presence.

It has been said by many, but cannot be said often enough, that the approach of those making perfectly legitimate points about the G8—the Make Poverty History campaigners and those involved in Live 8 as well as the leaders themselves—was in such moral contrast to the scenes that we witnessed in London that it will stand the test of history. It will be seen as the way in which to go about things, both by decision-makers and by citizens around the globe seeking, properly and legitimately, to influence those decision-makers.

Does the Prime Minister accept that the agreements reached by the G8 countries at Gleneagles will be judged not on the basis of promises made, but on the basis of the promises that are fulfilled in the months and years to come? The Prime Minister is absolutely right to say in the context of Africa—and we have supported him throughout—that many of the initiatives rely heavily on the willingness of African leaders to root out corruption and improve governance on their own continent and in their own countries. That is, of course, vital. As the G8 rolls on year after year, however, it is also important for us to have mechanisms ensuring that all its members fulfil the pledges into which they so willingly enter in a rather public way, as they did at the end of the Gleneagles summit by putting their signatures on the documents in front of the cameras.

The Prime Minister said a few moments ago that, so far as EU finances were concerned, British contributions definitely constituted new additional money, but perhaps he could be a bit more specific about the UK context. Will any new funds for the commitments given be drawn from the Department for International Development's existing budget, or will all such funds be supplementary to it? As the Prime Minister knows, this remains an abiding source of interest and legitimate concern to many of those who follow DFID's work in detail.

I also welcome the $3 billion-worth of aid pledged to the Palestinian Authority. That far-sighted move is good news that surely must command not only cross-party support in our country, but broad international support. Were any conditions placed on this aid package so far as the Palestinian Authority are concerned, and was it possible—either formally or in the margins of the G8—to discuss advancing the road map and the way forward?

On trade and the elimination of subsidies, how does the Prime Minister intend to progress that part of the agenda? Can he explain the disjunction between the agreement—entered into in principle at Gleneagles—to attack agricultural subsidies in the west, and the parallel universe of the simultaneous lack of progress in the WTO trade talks, which are under way in Geneva? The Prime Minister will accept that that disjunction presents a real difficulty.

Finally, it is significant—indeed, it reflects the balance of the package that emerged from Gleneagles—that the section of the Prime Minister's statement devoted to the all-important issue of climate change was significantly shorter than the sections devoted to other headline matters discussed at the G8. Does he agree—he has more than alluded to this point this afternoon—that the Gleneagles agreements on climate change, in so far as they exist, constitute little more than treading water, and that we will not achieve real success until we have a concrete, target-based, country-based successor to the Kyoto process? He spoke of a pathway and the leader of the Conservatives spoke of impetus and dialogue—the other buzzwords of communiqués and statements during, and concerning, the summit. Were any specific steps actually agreed at Gleneagles to reduce emissions, because that is the bottom line?

Earlier in the year, the Prime Minister set out three tests for the success of his G8 presidency—and fairly so—in addressing climate change: agreement on the basic science; agreement on the process to speed up provision of the technology necessary to meet the threat; and engagement with other countries with growing energy needs, China and India being the most obvious and notable examples. He has mentioned this issue already, but now that he has got through this amazing week, culminating in the summit's conclusion, it would be interesting to hear the answer to the following question, which I ask in no sense pejoratively. Following Gleneagles and thus far into his presidency, to what extent has he been able to meet the objective tests that he set himself, and does he agree that there is much further to go on climate change? As long as he keeps pressing that case, he deserves practical and political support.

Photo of Tony Blair Tony Blair Prime Minister

First, the right hon. Gentleman is right: the promises have got to be fulfilled. On the other hand, there is evidence that such measures are already working. For example, several hundred thousand people are getting relief from HIV/AIDS through the drugs currently going in. Such things can be done, that is for sure. There are countries that, as a result of debt relief, have been able to put their children into primary school education for the first time. Also represented at Gleneagles were the United Nations, the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund and the African Union, so there will be a lot of follow through. September's UN millennium summit will also focus greatly on these issues.

On the new money, so far as we are concerned, the budget for the Department for International Development is rising. We are putting it up every year—it has risen dramatically—and there is the international finance facility as well. For obvious reasons, because of what happened on Thursday, the announcement by Japan's Prime Minister Koizumi of $10 billion extra over the next five years is significant and would not have happened but for the focus of the G8 at that moment. I am not saying that it would not have been done later, but it was significant that it came then.

I agree with the right hon. Gentleman on the Palestinian Authority. Disengagement will be very difficult for Israel, but it is important that there is support for the Palestinian Authority so that it can begin the basic structures of statehood after disengagement. We can then take that further, something I am sure President Bush is determined to do. We discussed the issue at length at Gleneagles.

On trade, I have given the date of 2010. The right hon. Gentleman said that there was a difference between what happened at Gleneagles and what is happening with the WTO, but that is not entirely fair. It is important to realise that what is holding up the WTO is not simply agricultural subsidies—on the contrary, we think that we can get agreement on those—and not simply G8 countries. It is important that we make sure that other countries recognise that they have a responsibility for this, not simply the G8. The head of the WTO was at Gleneagles and briefed us on the obstacles, which were not primarily G8 countries. It is important, of course, that we make a difference.

On climate change, the right hon. Gentleman was wrong to say that we were simply treading water. I am not overselling this, but the position of the international community was that there was no agreement on the science, no agreement on the need to take action to cut greenhouse gas emissions, no agreement that we needed to act with urgency and no agreement on a process for going forward. The international community was, I am afraid, sundered on this issue.

It is true that we have not made a new agreement—the G8 was never going to be able to do that—but we should refer to the three things to which the right hon. Gentleman alluded. We have no agreement on the basic science, but there is agreement for the first time that climate change is a reason for tackling the issue, as well as energy security and supply. There has been some coming together on that.

The right hon. Gentleman asked about action, and there is a plan of action, with measures concerning industry and energy efficiency. That is precisely the action to speed up the technology. Most important, there is an agreement on process. Let us be clear; there is a weakness with Kyoto. We support Kyoto and will meet our Kyoto targets; I am not sure how many other countries will. But the basic issue is the concern that as China, in particular, and India emerge strongly as economies, they will be competing with us economically. We must make sure that we bind them into the process, and they have agreed to be bound in.

Part of America's concern—we accept that there have been disagreements over Kyoto and over the science—is that other countries who have been happy to hide behind America in these matters should now share in the process. As those economies emerge and become immensely strong and powerful, there must be some common sharing of the problem. We are prepared to share the technology, which was one of the important things to come out of Gleneagles. But a situation in which there were tough targets for the developed world and no obligations on the developing world would be difficult to sell to our own people here. That is why I say that this is a pathway to a fresh agreement after Kyoto that will take us further than the right hon. Gentleman thought.

Photo of Robin Cook Robin Cook Labour, Livingston

May I congratulate my right hon. Friend on achieving a greater sense of purpose at this G8 summit than at any previous one that I can recall? Whatever criticism is now being made of the aid and debt package, is not the outcome a far better deal than anyone could have dared hope for only six months ago?

On the issue of follow-through, Russia takes over the presidency next year and may not have our long experience and ties with Africa. Will my right hon. Friend consider what structures we could create within the G8 to maintain the momentum that he has started and to ensure that future summits review progress and commitments that will necessarily take some years to fulfil?

Photo of Tony Blair Tony Blair Prime Minister

I thank my right hon. Friend for his supportive statements. Yes, we certainly should consider what follow-up mechanisms are necessary. On climate change, it is clear that we will follow up, particularly given that the problem has been identified for the Japan summit of 2008. However, in co-operation with the UN, we must ensure that we also follow up in respect of Africa. If we reach this time next year and find that some of these great policies have not been pushed through, there will, quite rightly, be a great deal of cynicism. We must make sure that we push the policies forward.

Photo of Tony Baldry Tony Baldry Conservative, Banbury

On trade, President Bush has made it clear that he is prepared to reduce agricultural subsidies if the European Union also does so. What does the Prime Minister think about the French position on this matter? If the EU negotiates as one in respect of the WTO, we may move forward only at the slowest pace, so has the Prime Minister been able to make any progress with respect to the French position on this matter?

Photo of Tony Blair Tony Blair Prime Minister

We have agreed that we will set a credible end date. That includes the European Union position, which includes the French position. We have not actually set the date, but it has been agreed that such a date will be set and that substantial progress on this matter will have to be made at the Hong Kong ministerial meeting. I cannot be absolutely certain, but my sense is that we are on track to reach an agreement in 2010. The French position, to be fair, is that they are prepared to act if other countries are also prepared to act on their subsidies.

Photo of Michael Meacher Michael Meacher Labour, Oldham West and Royton

On aid and debt relief, the G8 summit was clearly an enormous success, for which my right hon. Friends the Prime Minister and the Chancellor both deserve huge credit. However, if we are to assist African development, is it not right for us to cancel debt unconditionally, rather than make it conditional on forcing some of the world's very poorest countries to open up their markets when, before they are able to build up their own industries, they are not remotely in a position to face the full force of international economic competition?

If President Bush is still unwilling to take any serious meaningful action to combat climate change, should we not be doing far more to reach out to the large, growing and influential group of US political and industrial leaders who are prepared to tackle the problem? For example, there is the Republican governor of California, the Republican mayor of New York, the chief executive of General Electric and the mayors, I believe, of about 140 cities across the US—all of whom have voluntarily decided to enforce carbon emission reductions within their own jurisdictions.

Photo of Tony Blair Tony Blair Prime Minister

I thank my right hon. Friend for his words. On trade, we are very clear in the communiqué that the opening of markets should be viewed from the point of view of the developing world as a process in which developing countries need to have the capacity to trade effectively. Free trade is in their interests in the end, but if it were to happen overnight without a proper process for those countries to engage in and to construct that necessary capacity, it would be difficult for them. That is one of the reasons why we have increased aid—in order to allow them to try to achieve that. We also made the point that it is necessary for many of the African countries to try to break down the barriers of trade between themselves, as there are still major tariff barriers within Africa as well. We have taken my right hon. Friend's point well on board.

As to climate change, the climate group that we have established does precisely what my right hon. Friend mentioned. It involves the state of California, businesses and other countries that share our perspective. In the end, it depends on what people want. I think that, if there is a willingness—and I think that there is—for the Administration to engage on this issue, we might as well engage them and see where we get to. We can pursue the other dimensions with the states, business and industry at the same time. It is important to remember, as I often say, that the Kyoto treaty was, unfortunately but truly, rejected by 100 to nothing in the US Senate under the previous American President. Sometimes people see the US Administration as the only issue in respect of this matter, but I think that it is possible to move the debate forward and our engagement with other groups and people in America is an important part of that.

Photo of Ian Paisley Ian Paisley Leader of the Democratic Unionist Party

The House has received this report with gratitude, because, after all the negative statements that were made, it is nice to know that positive steps are being taken on health and on poverty issues, especially in Africa. I put the question, however, of agricultural export subsidies. The Prime Minister needs to know that the farming community in Northern Ireland is an essential part of our economy. That community has had no real standard of farm income for a long time, and there is considerable worry in the hearts of those men that maybe this year, or perhaps 2010, will be their last. Will they be consulted and will they know what steps are being taken and what the future holds?

Photo of Tony Blair Tony Blair Prime Minister

This is obviously important. We need the farming community to be strong, and as the hon. Gentleman rightly says there is concern in Northern Ireland and elsewhere when people talk about phasing out subsidies. We have time to gear up for this, however, and it is important that we are in full consultation with the farming community about any decision that can be reached. I would say, too, that we can sometimes exaggerate the significance for the poorest countries, particularly in Africa, of the barriers we presently have on trade.

Photo of Gerald Kaufman Gerald Kaufman Chair, Culture, Media and Sport Committee

I applaud the $3 billion dollar package for the Palestinian Authority and my right hon. Friend's key role in helping to bring that about. Does he agree that, even so, hundreds of thousands of Palestinians will continue to live in poverty, deprivation and unemployment of third-world standards unless and until they can live in a free, independent and internationally recognised Palestine, and that pursuit of the road map is the key to achieving that?

Photo of Tony Blair Tony Blair Prime Minister

I agree entirely with my right hon. Friend. It is important that disengagement and the support for the Palestinians is the first step towards a final negotiated settlement and not seen as an end in itself.

Photo of Gary Streeter Gary Streeter Conservative, South West Devon

I warmly welcome the extra money for Africa and agree with the Prime Minister that that must go hand in hand with improving governance in many African countries. Did he discuss with his G8 colleagues whether we in the west can do any more to underpin good governance in African countries by supporting democracy, the rule of law and the general thrust towards freedom? Is there room, perhaps, for an initiative along the lines of the one that America introduced in relation to the middle east?

May I also thank the Prime Minister very much indeed for his leadership over the last few days?

Photo of Tony Blair Tony Blair Prime Minister

I thank the hon. Gentleman.

We can provide help for democracy but should also make the important point to African countries, which I think a new generation of African leaders increasingly understands, that we could put all the aid in the world into Africa and it would make no difference unless it went into countries that had at least the beginnings of a proper judicial system, a proper commercial system, a proper fiscal system—

Photo of Tony Blair Tony Blair Prime Minister

With property rights, and so on. That is very important. The lessons of what countries need to do to attract the right levels of private sector investment and so on are not hard to describe, even if it can be difficult to do. We can show how good governance has its own financial reward; without a shadow of a doubt, that is true. The other thing we can do, which we are working on with business, is the so-called extractive industries transparency initiative, which is to make sure that companies that pay money are open and transparent about the money so that we can root out the corruption that has bedevilled Africa for so long and that is so deeply unfair to its people. If we started to get the right systems of governance in place, the other thing that would happen is that the younger generation of highly talented Africans would want to stay to engage in the politics of their own country, which is tremendously important. Far too often, they have seen no future in that, and although international institutions benefit enormously from them, it would be better for their own countries if they were there.

Photo of Clive Efford Clive Efford Labour, Eltham

Does my right hon. Friend agree that, in terms of the agenda for the G8, the genie is out of the bottle in a way that it has never been before? Over the past few weeks, I have visited Willowdene and St. Thomas More primary schools, where the children have demanded education for children in the developing world, and St. Thomas More secondary school, which is setting up its own fair trade canteen that will sell only fair trade goods. That is a sustainable development that will help future generations to understand the agenda of the G8 and what needs to be done. Does my right hon. Friend agree that such initiatives place an obligation on the people who are charged with delivering the communiqués from the G8 and future summits to make the difference that people want?

Photo of Tony Blair Tony Blair Prime Minister

My hon. Friend is right. It is inspiring to see how many schools have taken the issues up. Obviously people were watching Live 8 in large numbers because of the strength of the show, but it was clearly also a demonstration of support for certain ideals. I know, from the massive correspondence with schools up and down the country and in different parts of the world, that something has been generated that is very positive for the future.

Photo of David Curry David Curry Conservative, Skipton and Ripon

The Prime Minister wanted to get an end date for agricultural subsidies into the communiqué, but he was not able to do so. Does he now accept that the best way forward for agricultural change is through the WTO, or does he still intend to press for reform of the CAP during the British presidency? Is he aware that the New Zealand rapporteur of the agricultural text for the WTO has reported in the past few days how difficult it is to make progress? What can be done to keep people to that task and that deadline?

Photo of Tony Blair Tony Blair Prime Minister

I would have preferred the date to be in the communiqué, although—to be fair—I understand why other countries said that that was not appropriate, that the WTO was the right place for that and that it should happen in Hong Kong. Well, let us ensure that it does happen there. As for the CAP, over the longer term, it is important that we move the European budget away from the irrational amount of support for agriculture. It is important also to realise that the difficulties that have been mentioned over the past few days are not simply in respect of Europe, nor in respect of Europe and America.

Photo of Michael Clapham Michael Clapham Labour, Barnsley West and Penistone

May I congratulate my right hon. Friends the Prime Minister and the Chancellor on the work that they have done, especially on Africa and trade? Will my right hon. Friend say more about the international financing arrangement? Is it intended that the promises that have been given for the future will be achieved more quickly through that arrangement? The international financing arrangement should mean that a uniformity of resource is available to bring about the changes my right hon. Friend intends much more quickly. Finally, can my right hon. Friend say whether the issue of the UN environmental programme was discussed, or is that an issue for the WTO agenda?

Photo of Tony Blair Tony Blair Prime Minister

On the last point—

Photo of Tony Blair Tony Blair Prime Minister

Yes, I think that will be a UN process.

My hon. Friend is right about the international finance facility. The purpose is to try to get aid moving more quickly. We will soon be able to finance the immunisation programme in that way, and that will be a huge advantage for many people in Africa.

Photo of Peter Ainsworth Peter Ainsworth Conservative, East Surrey

The Prime Minister is to be warmly congratulated on having the courage to put climate change among his key issues. Nobody ever said that tackling climate change internationally would be an easy job, and I also understand that the key final negotiations took place on a particularly difficult day. However, it is impossible to escape the conclusion that the result of the climate change negotiations is a bitter disappointment. Does the Prime Minister accept that, if we are to tackle climate change, we need an international coalition of the willing, and that, if the United States is not prepared to be willing, he may need to take a lead by building a consensus with other countries that are prepared to get on board? I am thinking in particular of India, China, Brazil and other emerging economies. Are there any circumstances in which he would envisage taking matters forward, perhaps on a temporary basis, without the United States?

Photo of Tony Blair Tony Blair Prime Minister

It is a bitter disappointment only if people had an unreasonable expectation of what we could do at Gleneagles. The problem that I am focusing on is this: it is all very well for people to say, "What if America is not prepared to be part of the agreement?", but if America is not prepared to be part of an agreement post-Kyoto, China and India will be reluctant to enter consensus with others, except the type of consensus reached at Kyoto, which does not put strong obligations on powerful emerging economies. I regret to say that in my view there is no alternative to America and the major emerging economies being part of the consensus.

What America is prepared to do is to act with others on the issue and it is prepared to recognise that such action needs to be urgent. As was said a moment or two ago, there is also gathering support in America for such an idea, which will impose its own pressures on the political system. Whether America is prepared to go further and agree a framework of targets for reducing greenhouse gas emissions is something we need to work on through the dialogue that we have set up. To do it in the way that I described is the right way. Although Kyoto was a remarkable achievement, part of the problem is that it is difficult for more than 100 countries to try to negotiate an international agreement. The truth is that 70 per cent. of the emissions come from the eight plus five countries. The sensible thing is to find a pathway to a new agreement and that is the biggest ambition that we could have at this stage. We have come from a situation where people did not even talk about the issue, never mind about resolving it, to an occasion where they are doing that, with at least some common principles of understanding about its urgency and importance.

Photo of Mark Durkan Mark Durkan Leader of the Social Democratic & Labour Party

The Prime Minister indicated that he sometimes wonders where questions about whether figures are being recycled and whether debt relief comes out of aid budgets come from. I reassure him that, although such questions may be asked often, they are not being asked against him. They arise not from unworthy cynicism but from a healthy scepticism that has, unfortunately, been born of much past experience of targets set and of commitments and promises made but not fulfilled. That is why people want to know what is happening, not just for themselves as interested citizens, but because they want to stand by our pledge to fellow world citizens in Africa.

I join other Members in applauding all the efforts of the Prime Minister, the Chancellor and the Secretary of State for International Development in taking the issue forward. Will the Prime Minister assure us that his statement and the communiqué on Friday are merely punctuation marks in a story that will continue? Indeed, he has indicated that he will be taking the cause further during the EU presidency and in the trade round.

In the context of the request of the Leader of the Opposition that the Prime Minister examine alternatives to the advocacy fund, will the Prime Minister consider whether, in the build-up to the trade round, we could try to engineer an Africa impact assessment mechanism? That would mean that none of the developed nations in the world trade negotiations could ask for or agree to anything unless it was Africa-proofed.

Photo of Tony Blair Tony Blair Prime Minister

I am sure that that will be part of the discussions in the WTO round. I thank my hon. Friend for his kind remarks in respect of myself and the Chancellor and the International Development Secretary who, as I said in my statement, have done an immense amount to bring the situation about.

I do not take the healthy scepticism personally in any way. It is sensible for people to be sceptical, but it is also sensible that they recognise that, with the support they have mobilised, we now have the opportunity truly to make a difference, and I think it is possible to do so.

Photo of Michael Jack Michael Jack Conservative, Fylde

The Prime Minister attached importance to the climate change action programme. May I ask him whether there was any agreement that those participating in that programme would in due course report back by objective means the progress that they make towards reducing their respective country's emissions of greenhouse gases? May I ask him to consider the possibility of creating some forum where parliamentarians from the eight plus five and other interested countries could meet together to take forward dialogue at that level, so that we may gain greater international understanding of some of these issues?

Photo of Tony Blair Tony Blair Prime Minister

On the latter point, that would be a sensible idea because it would help people understand what the real problems are. Part of what I have been implying throughout my observations today—I felt this even more strongly when I was with the leaders, discussing climate change—is that the politics of this are slightly different from the way that they are presented. There is a possibility of getting agreement between the eight plus five; what I think is impossible—I am very sure of this now—is to get an agreement that either excludes the eight or excludes the five.

In respect of the objectivity of any assessment, it will happen, of course, in part through the UN framework because we have got the Montreal meeting coming up, but the reporting back both through the new dialogue mechanism that we have established and the summits in Russia in 2006 and in Japan in 2008 will be important opportunities for people to make an assessment of this. I think that people may be prepared to move further than is presently contemplated.

Photo of Harry Cohen Harry Cohen Labour, Leyton and Wanstead

Credit to the Prime Minister and the Government on efforts made and progress achieved, but will the 2015 millennium goals be met by 2015 as a result of the conference? Will poverty be made history as a result of the summit? If not, when?

Photo of Tony Blair Tony Blair Prime Minister

If we deliver on what has been promised, yes, we can say that the millennium development goals will be met, but, obviously, we have got to deliver on it. We have got to carry it through and see it through, and so have the African countries got to deliver on their part of it as well. I emphasise, yet again, the importance of conflict resolution—the urgent necessity of establishing a standby African force, large enough to go into any situation of conflict. We can see dramatically the importance of that from what is happening in Sudan, where there are now about 8,000 peacekeepers, but more are needed. If there was a 20,000 force able to move into those situations, it would make a tremendous difference. Again, whatever aid is put in, even whatever attempts by Governments are made to strengthen the systems of governance in those countries, if there are conflicts that ravage an entire country, all the progress is set back immediately.

Photo of Pete Wishart Pete Wishart Opposition Whip (Commons), Shadow Spokesperson (Cabinet Office), Shadow Spokesperson (Culture, Media and Sport), Shadow Spokesperson (International Development)

Does the Prime Minister fully understand the disappointment felt by many non-governmental organisations, aid agencies and many campaigners who felt that he and other G8 leaders would be truly brave in tackling African poverty at the summit? In marks out of 10, how close does he think he and the G8 summit came to meeting the demands of the Make Poverty History campaign?

Photo of Tony Blair Tony Blair Prime Minister

The hon. Gentleman's standing up reminds me of one thing that I omitted to do in my statement that I should have done: to thank the people of the area around Gleneagles for putting up with so much irritation and discomfort. [Interruption.] Chaos would be putting it a bit too high.

Photo of Tony Blair Tony Blair Prime Minister

Hassle, certainly. They bore it with great fortitude. I should also like to thank the police as well for the work that they did in policing the summit, particularly when it is difficult because numbers of people come simply to cause trouble.

I have done enough of these things now to realise that, if the standard is that we get universal acclamation from the NGOs that operate in certain areas, we might as well give up and go and do something else. That is not what is going to happen. However, the marks out of 10 that were given by some of the campaigners who have got the longest track record were pretty good. I think that we have made substantial progress, and it is in the nature of politics that substantial progress is the best that we can achieve. Most people, if they look at it fairly, would recognise that the G8 summit achieved a lot more than many previously.

Several hon. Members:

rose—