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I beg to move,
That this House
has considered the matter of Africa.
We have called this debate to reaffirm our support for Africa at a time when the economic crisis is bringing acute challenges, and to set out our priorities for the next year. I am sorry that, due to the state dinner for the President of Mexico, I will miss the winding-up speeches later tonight, although if the debate goes on for 17 hours, I will, happily, be able to return tomorrow morning for the conclusion.
Africa has been at the top of the Government's foreign policy agenda for the past 12 years. The personal commitment of successive Prime Ministers has enabled the UK to be part of a mass-mobilisation behind ambitious objectives. The millennium goals were agreed in New York in 2000 to eradicate extreme poverty and hunger, and improve education, health and the environment. In Gleneagles, during the UK presidency of the G8, further commitments were made: to double aid by 2010; to give at least 0.7 per cent. of gross domestic product to development; to write off debts of 43 of the world's poorest countries, most of which are in Africa; to ensure that children have access to good-quality, free and compulsory education and free basic health care; and to provide an extra 25,000 trained peacekeeping troops, helping the African Union better to respond to security challenges. The UK has backed up those ambitions by increasing the development budget for Africa from £300 million in 1997 to £1.3 billion this year. In that work, the Department for International Development has established a reputation for global leadership in aid effectiveness.
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