Millennium Development Goals

AIDS – in the House of Commons at 11:30 am on 9th November 2005.

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Photo of Danny Alexander Danny Alexander Shadow Spokesperson (Work and Pensions) 11:30 am, 9th November 2005

What discussions he has had with the United States on progress towards the United Nations millennium development goals.

Photo of Gareth Thomas Gareth Thomas The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for International Development, Party Chair, Co-operative Party

My right hon. Friend and I regularly hold discussions with members of the United States Administration on development issues, including progress towards the millennium development goals.

Photo of Danny Alexander Danny Alexander Shadow Spokesperson (Work and Pensions)

Given the enormous support shown for the millennium development goals by young people throughout the country, including those at Nairn academy, is it not disappointing that the Government have so far failed to use their leverage through the European Union and the G8 to convince the US to pay its fair share towards those goals? Rather than being seduced by the proximity and glamour of US power, should not the Prime Minister be using his influence on President Bush to persuade America to meet its international obligations?

Photo of Gareth Thomas Gareth Thomas The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for International Development, Party Chair, Co-operative Party

The hon. Gentleman will know of the concern of the Prime Minister and the rest of the Government about the lack of sufficient progress towards the millennium development goals, which was why we made Africa a key issue on the agendas of our G8 and EU presidencies this year. I am sure that he would want to pay tribute to the Prime Minister for his success in persuading the President of the United States to announce a doubling of aid to Africa between now and 2010.

Photo of Ann McKechin Ann McKechin Labour, Glasgow North

Does my hon. Friend agree that, if we are to reach the millennium development goals, both the European Union and the United States need to make meaningful reductions in tariffs and subsidies at the ministerial conference in December, as well as giving special differential treatment to the poorest nations?

Photo of Gareth Thomas Gareth Thomas The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for International Development, Party Chair, Co-operative Party

I agree that the trade talks in Hong Kong are hugely important. Although the movement that we have seen from the United States, and indeed from the European Union, is welcome, we want more movement from the US in terms of agricultural subsidies. We want stronger references to cotton and to special products if we are to achieve from the trade talks the outcome that we want and that is genuinely in the interests of developing countries.

Photo of Nick Herbert Nick Herbert Shadow Minister (Home Affairs)

In considering the millennium development goal of eradicating poverty, does the Minister agree that the recent declaration of an emergency in Africa over tuberculosis, which is closely linked with the AIDS epidemic, is of serious concern? It is killing 500,000 people a year. What is his Department doing in response to that emergency, and would he be willing to meet a delegation of parliamentarians, including myself, who recently visited Kenya, where we saw the impact of the disease and where life expectancy for a man is down to 41 years and falling?

Photo of Gareth Thomas Gareth Thomas The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for International Development, Party Chair, Co-operative Party

Either my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State or I would be happy to meet the delegation.

The hon. Gentleman is right to raise TB. Along with malaria and HIV/AIDS, it is having a devastating impact on Africa and, indeed, many other parts of the world. He will be aware of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria. We hosted the replenishment conference for that fund in September and raised $3.7 billion for it. There will be a further funding conference next year, and we hope that further funding will be pledged.