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Promoting Democracy and Human Rights

Part of Points of Order – in the House of Commons at 5:49 pm on 13th October 2008.

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Photo of Bruce George Bruce George Labour, Walsall South 5:49 pm, 13th October 2008

I agree, as a converted male chauvinist pig. Having been beaten around the head for 25 years, I have succumbed to the pressures. The role of women in Parliament is undervalued. Including our illustrious official, there are four or five women in the Chamber, which is a low proportion. That is not enough. It is not good enough.

Some countries are amenable to influence, want NGOs and Governments to help and want embassies to fund democratisation programmes. They are prepared to allow George Soros and the National Endowment for Democracy to give them money. They are almost easy, until we say, "Are you serious? Despite all the assistance we are giving, this Parliament is almost as supine as it was". At that point, perhaps we should put our money into countries that are listening and that do wish to democratise. There are difficult countries; we should not give up on them.

The index in DFID's annual report and in the Foreign Office annual report show that they are doing a very good job, but it is not enough. If only a fifth or sixth of countries in the world can be classified as democracies, we realise how many more resources we need to put in. I wonder what the effect will be. We know what happened to struggling democracies after the Wall street crash following the first world war, and what happened to them after the second world war. Many went under. If there is a cataclysm—I hope there will not be—I hope that it will not result in fascist, Nazi, extremist-type parties putting all the blame on democracies and sweeping them aside. That is one of the great anxieties, but I am pleased with what is being done. There is consensus between Government and Opposition, but we should refine our processes to ensure that we are more successful, because the work to be done is almost limitless and there is no scope for complacency.