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Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 4:13 pm on 30th March 2009.

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Photo of David Miliband David Miliband Foreign Secretary 4:13 pm, 30th March 2009

Of course. The continuing reforms of the CAP are important. The hon. Gentleman knows that, as a result of the CAP health check that has been taking place, some relatively minor moves on, for example, milk quotas, will happen. However, there is far further to go.

The hon. Gentleman will also know that the next reforming round for the EU's common agricultural policy will be critical, as we look to the period between 2013 and 2020. In my view, the vision for CAP reform that the Government set out in 2005 remains the only way forward. It essentially means that the first pillar of the CAP—the direct support pillar—will be massively reduced by 2020. Where there is to be support for agricultural areas, it should be given with a much broader view, to support land management and other factors, rather than distorting the trade basis for agriculture. I am glad to hear that the hon. Gentleman supports that.

The EU also provides direct assistance, through civilian and military ESDP—European security and defence policy—missions in Africa. Currently, Operation Atalanta is providing a counter-piracy mission in the gulf of Aden to protect World Food Programme shipping and, on a case-by-case basis, other vulnerable shipping. The EU also has three civilian missions in Africa. When it comes to development assistance and humanitarian aid, the EU is Africa's biggest donor. In 2005, the EU pledged to channel 50 per cent. of collective aid increased to Africa. If all member states manage to keep their commitments, the EU may provide more than 90 per cent. of the G8's $25 billion pledge for Africa over the period 2004 to 2010, increasing aid in real terms by more than €18 billion a year. That would, on any measure, be a significant achievement.

Britain has a long history in Africa. Today we are partners, not masters, of Governments, businesses and trade unions, seeking to build a decent future there. We cannot change everything, but we do make a difference, every day, to people who need our help. I look forward to this debate and to listening to the voice of experience and expertise that exists across the House.

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