Millennium Development Goals

Oral Answers to Questions — Treasury – in the House of Commons at 10:30 am on 10th November 2005.

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Photo of Steve McCabe Steve McCabe Labour, Birmingham, Hall Green 10:30 am, 10th November 2005

What discussions he has had with other Governments on financing the millennium development goals.

Photo of Betty Williams Betty Williams Labour, Conwy

If he will make a statement on progress towards the millennium development goals during the UK's presidency of the G7.

Photo of Ivan Lewis Ivan Lewis The Economic Secretary to the Treasury

The UK is contributing towards meeting the 2015 millennium development goals through our aid programme and by working with the international community. UK aid will reach nearly £6.5 billion a year by 2007–08, and the Chancellor has announced that we will reach the UN target of 0.7 per cent. overseas development aid as a proportion of gross national income in 2013.

Photo of Steve McCabe Steve McCabe Labour, Birmingham, Hall Green

I know from talking to my constituents in Hall Green how much they value the leadership that this Government and our Chancellor have shown on this issue. But does my hon. Friend accept that it is now the time to focus on the outcomes and the real contribution that each country makes, and to put less store by the warm words and vague promises of those who are dragging their heels?

Photo of Ivan Lewis Ivan Lewis The Economic Secretary to the Treasury

I agree entirely with my hon. Friend. I pay tribute to the work that he has been doing in his constituency, with Hall Green churches and other organisations, on the "Make Poverty History" campaign.—[Interruption.] It is interesting that the Conservative party scoffs when we talk about the moral mission of making poverty history and the Government's leadership in that respect around the international community. My hon. Friend is absolutely right. We will be judged on actions, not words, which is why the Chancellor has personally focused on ensuring that both nation states and individual institutions make definite commitments that are transparent and can be judged in terms of our credibility with the people of the world.

Photo of Betty Williams Betty Williams Labour, Conwy

I congratulate the Government on the leadership shown and the excellent progress made thus far. On the basis of that success, may I draw my hon. Friend's attention to early-day motion 899, tabled by my hon. Friend Gordon Banks? It calls on the Government to consider introducing a new target date of 2010 instead of 2013.

Photo of Ivan Lewis Ivan Lewis The Economic Secretary to the Treasury

I must confess that I have not studied the early-day motion, but I shall do so now. As for changing the target, I can give no such assurance today. I will say, however, that while we are absolutely committed to making progress as quickly as possible, it is also important that our target is credible and that we can be judged to have delivered. That is why we intend to stick to our current target.

Photo of Geoffrey Clifton-Brown Geoffrey Clifton-Brown Opposition Deputy Chief Whip (Commons)

Does the Minister agree that by far the most helpful way of reaching the millennium goals in developing countries is through free and fair trade? Will he say exactly what the Prime Minister is doing in the European Union presidency to break down trade barriers facing the developing world?

Photo of Ivan Lewis Ivan Lewis The Economic Secretary to the Treasury

The hon. Gentleman makes an important point about the United Kingdom's position and about our role as EU president. We are determined that the trade talks scheduled for December should deliver real and radical change, and should not repeat the historic fudge, compromise and failure that have characterised such talks in the past. The hon. Gentleman can rest assured that we are leading in that respect, and in particular that we are using our EU presidency to persuade some of the other nation states that we must step up to the mark in terms of our responsibilities to the developing world and in the context of the trade talks.