G20

Part of Oral Answers to Questions — Education – in the House of Commons at 3:41 pm on 9th September 2013.

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Photo of David Cameron David Cameron The Prime Minister, Leader of the Conservative Party 3:41 pm, 9th September 2013

Let me deal first with the right hon. Gentleman’s questions about Syria. We do not have a date for the inspectors’ report, but we are pushing for an early report. I think that that would be useful. We should not overestimate what the inspectors can do, because they are not there to apportion blame but simply to add to the picture of what we already know, which is that a war crime took place.

The right hon. Gentleman asked about the prospects of further humanitarian aid between now and the United Nations General Assembly meeting. I think that they are good. The European Union, the United States and others are all seeking to increase their contributions, in the knowledge that at present we are fulfilling only—I think—44% of what the UN has said is necessary. Britain wanted to get the ball rolling, and that is why we ensured that some money was pledged at the meeting in order to get things going in time for the UN General Assembly meeting. As for access to humanitarian aid, if it is necessary to sponsor a UN Security Council resolution, we can consider that in the weeks ahead.

The right hon. Gentleman is absolutely right about the neighbouring countries: the pressure is immense. The increase in, for example, the Lebanese population is the equivalent of 15 million people coming here to the UK. We are providing aid and support; for instance, we are providing support for the Lebanese armed forces and sending to Jordan specific pieces of equipment that it has requested.

The right hon. Gentleman asked what was discussed about Geneva II at the G20. In the margins of the dinner that took place, there was a general debate about Syria. Obviously there is enthusiasm for getting the process going, and I think it encouraging that in spite of the different positions that countries took on the immediate chemical weapons crisis, the support for a Geneva process is very strong. He also asked about the opposition. They are, of course, in favour of political transition and the steps that are necessary.

The right hon. Gentleman asked again about the issue of a contact group, neighbouring countries and the role of, I suspect, Iran. Let me remind the House that Iran has not yet signed up to the principles in Geneva I. I think it is important for people to remember that.

The right hon. Gentleman asked about the economy, and specifically about transparency. He asked about the follow-up from the G8 and the G20. All the G8 countries agreed to have action plans on beneficial ownership in place, and they are all doing that. The G20 has now endorsed the overall approach on transparency, an issue that the G20 had never really considered properly before. We will be consulting shortly on whether to make a register of beneficial ownership public.

The right hon. Gentleman went on to make a few remarks about the economy. He said that the recovery that was taking place in the UK was simply for the few. I would say: what about the 1.3 million private sector jobs? What about the fact that there are almost a million extra people in work? What about all the small businesses that are being set up? What about all those people who are in apprenticeships? The fact is that under this Government, growth is up, exports are up and manufacturing is up. What is down and out is his economic policy and reputation.