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International Development

– in the House of Lords at 7:33 pm on 8th July 2002.

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Photo of Baroness Rawlings Baroness Rawlings Conservative 7:33 pm, 8th July 2002

rose to ask Her Majesty's Government what action they are taking in response to the international development annual report.

My Lords, I begin by thanking all noble Lords who will speak in this important debate. I greatly look forward to their contributions, especially to that of the noble Lord, Lord Jordan, who will be making his maiden speech. I am delighted that he has waited until today to make his contribution on such a very worthwhile subject—a subject that is rightly so highly respected in your Lordships' House.

I should like to point out, too, that the lack of speakers from this side of the House bears no reflection on any lack of interest in international development. It is entirely due to a special dinner being held in honour of Mr John Major this evening. We even had our Opposition Day debate in the other place last month on trade justice or alleviating world poverty through trade.

I congratulate the Department for International Development on the good work that it does in promoting development—and, at the same time, Britain—across the world. I have spoken to a number of friends who have encountered DfID in their work overseas. It has a strong reputation. This past year has seen DfID involvement in a number of difficult situations, not least Afghanistan, where it has responded well under considerable pressure. Criticisms made of DfID by Her Majesty's Opposition will, I hope, be taken in this spirit.

The debate has been called to discuss the Department for International Development's annual report. As most of the department's work takes place overseas, it is particularly helpful to have a document showing what the department is involved in. Nevertheless, in 2001-02 DfID published almost 90 publications. Of course government should be open and transparent, but it is important to balance the necessity of providing the public with valuable information and what can become an exercise in self-glorification.

I should like to touch on three areas. First, Africa. There are times when the report reads too much like civil-service speak. For example, the section on Zimbabwe begins,

"During the past year, the policy environment in Zimbabwe has deteriorated steadily".

That surely betrays a lack of emergency on the part of the Government. To talk of the policy environment deteriorating "steadily" is surely an understatement in a country where people's land and livelihoods are stolen at gunpoint, in a nation that has been brutalised into submission, a country where the economy is in tatters and where hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of people are facing the prospect of starvation this summer.

It is clear from page 59 of the report that there is no remote prospect of meeting targets. Is the Minister still of the view initially put forward by the Secretary of State that aid should go directly to the governments rather than the aid agencies? Much has been made of NePAD, the new model for aid to Africa. The G8 spent a third of its time in Canada discussing NePAD. Why then does it not merit more than two or three paragraphs in this document?

Of course Zimbabwe is not the only African government in which standards of democratic accountability and the rule of law remain an area of concern—and it is governance to which I should like to turn next.

The noble Baroness may have read an article in The Times a fortnight ago by Simon Jenkins in which he challenged many of the assumptions underlying the New Partnership for African Development. He pointed to the work of the late Lord Bauer, who noted that aid could be more of a hindrance than a help when it came to promoting good governance in African countries. What assurances can the noble Baroness provide that NePAD will mean a real change in the relationship with Africa and that aid will not simply be used as a means of cushioning bad government or corruption but will promote good government, the rule of law and economic competence?

That leads me to the second area on which I should like to touch—that is, debt relief. The report paints a positive picture of the debt relief process. However, that picture fails to accord with the views presented by Jubilee 2000 and many poor countries. There is a real danger that the question of debt relief has become stagnant. The Government need some fresh thinking on how we can take forward debt relief without creating the perverse incentive of rewarding economic mismanagement with debt relief and leaving economically competent countries to struggle under debt burdens.

I was dismayed to read in the Prime Minister's statement on the G8 summit that 20 billion US dollars had been agreed over the next 10 years to be spent on the destruction of chemical weapons and the dismantling of decommissioned nuclear submarines in Russia, and yet only 1 billion US dollars will be put aside for the HIPC trust fund.

My third and final subject is central and eastern Europe. It is, I fear, becoming too fashionable to dismiss the problems of central and eastern Europe as insufficiently poor to concern us. It is right that we focus on Africa, the poorest continent on earth, but not at the expense of other poor countries in Central and Eastern Europe. These countries still face major challenges in overcoming the effects of decades of Communist rule—particularly if they are to join an enlarged European Union.

Photo of Baroness Whitaker Baroness Whitaker Labour 7:40 pm, 8th July 2002

My Lords, I congratulate the noble Baroness, Lady Rawlings, on securing this timely debate and the department on its report, which joins up aid, good governance, investment and trade.

Grant aid is needed to create the foundations: a healthy and educated population. I applaud DfID's partnership with UNICEF and its pressure for strong references to children's rights and reproductive health at the United Nations General Assembly last May. Now we need to implement the language.

Countries also need the help DfID gives for good and clean governance. But after that, the essential levers for economic take-off are trade and investment. My noble friend the Minister's efforts in the G8 response to the NePAD plan to achieve the right conditions for investment in Africa have rightly been noted in The Times. I hope that the World Bank and the IMF might also themselves move to accrediting countries for investment.

But trade is not working. Access to markets is skewed against the countries which need it most. Oxfam's well- thought-out campaign for trade justice needs to be taken on board by governments all over the developed world.

Crop production most benefits poor people. But the rich world spends 1 billion dollars a day subsidising its own farm produce. If Uganda wanted to sell its excellent peanuts to the USA, it would face tariffs of up to 164 per cent. If American cotton prices were not distorted by subsidies, Burkina Faso, which exports 100 per cent of its crop, as 60 per cent of its total exports, could probably cut poverty by half in six years. And even when a country gets itself to the next stage, food processing, it is blocked: the EU puts a tariff on Ghana's delicious cocoa, so that it cannot compete with cocoa processed in the EU.

How do we achieve change? For one, if the USA were to abandon its Corn Laws, otherwise known as the Farm Bill, we might see an even greater decline in famine than in our own country 160 or so years ago. I hope that the noble Baroness opposite will think of Sir Robert Peel and urge the same course. Secondly, the day after tomorrow proposals will be announced to reform the common agricultural policy. I ask my noble friend: can she assure us that we shall be able finally to run down these subsidies?

Photo of Lord Chan Lord Chan Crossbench 7:43 pm, 8th July 2002

My Lords, I congratulate the noble Baroness, Lady Rawlings, on securing this important debate.

Poverty reduction cannot be achieved by statute and money alone. The cycle of poverty, disease, poor health and the death of young children needs to be broken by initiatives that promote child survival, the health of men, women and children and sustainable economic development of local populations.

The United Kingdom has a good record in international development, particularly in Asia and the Pacific, where two-thirds of the poorest people in the world live. I shall speak from my personal involvement of 10 years in the five poorest states of north India when I was consultant paediatrician at the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine.

In 1984-86 the Liverpool school sent multi-disciplinary teams to coastal Orissa to help local health teams improve their care of mothers and babies and to increase their ability to collect data and disseminate information to improve the health of vulnerable people. It soon became clear to us that the large number of children with severe diarrhoea could be reduced rapidly if every village had a supply of clean drinking water. This was achieved when we encouraged the Dutch Government team to sink deep tube wells in coastal areas where water contamination was common.

My team, funded by overseas development through the British Council, concentrated on improving the knowledge and skills of Orissan health workers in the use of breast feeding, vaccinations, good antenatal care and safe child delivery techniques. Dangerous practices such as putting contaminated ash on the umbilical stump at birth causing tetanus, and feeding newborn babies with water before breast milk, leading to diarrhoea, had to be addressed. We did this by good communication with local grandmothers, obtaining their agreement to adopt safe alternatives.

We promoted the supply and use of essential resuscitation equipment made in Bombay, such as face masks and rubber bags for babies, that cost only a fraction of their price in the United Kingdom.

Between 1986 and 1990 the Liverpool team was invited by the Government of India to train trainers from the poorest five northern Indian states in mother and child care in partnership with the National Institute of Health and Family Welfare in New Delhi. Training took place in Himachal Pradesh and in Liverpool. In 1991-1994, the Liverpool team embarked on a partnership project with an Indian NGO working in the slums of old Delhi. Another multi-disciplinary team that I led worked in the slums of Andhra Pradesh and Calcutta. While working with them, I took a team of Indian doctors and nurses to Thailand to learn how Thai NGOs improved the care of people with HIV/AIDS and with malaria.

For the future, it is appropriate that the Government work with other European governments to improve health and tackle poverty in developing countries. We should use all the talent available, such as in the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine and other academic institutions and in our NGOs with overseas experience. They would work in partnership with local professionals, health workers, community groups and voluntary bodies in poor countries. Best practice organisations in other developing countries should be encouraged to join this partnership.

Our priority would be in the transfer of appropriate skills to local trainers and in the use of essential equipment and supplies manufactured in developing countries such as India. It is through these means that we maximise the effectiveness of developmental assistance in all poor countries.

Photo of Lord Jordan Lord Jordan Labour 7:47 pm, 8th July 2002

My Lords, I, too, congratulate the noble Baroness, Lady Rawlings, and thank her for initiating this debate, which enables me to make my maiden speech on an issue, international development, on which I believe the success or failure of globalisation hinges.

It also gives me an opportunity to thank Members, officers and staff for what has seemed like a conspiracy of kindness towards me since I arrived in this House.

I must declare an interest. My working life, which started in Birmingham, in the West Midlands, has been committed to the cause of trade unionism. The greater part of my career was spent within manufacturing industry, where, as president of the Amalgamated Engineering and Electrical Union, now Amicus, I promoted the economic value to Britain of a strong manufacturing base and the need for a high standard of skills within the nation's workforce.

For the past seven years I was privileged to lead the International Confederation of Free Trade Unions, the world's TUC. Affiliated to it are the trade union centres of 148 countries, with 157 million members, the majority of whom are from the developing world. The job let me see at first hand the heart-rending reality that lies behind the world's poverty statistics. But I have also seen in action, and commend, the focused, committed approach of the UK Government and DfID to the elimination of global poverty and to meeting the international development targets.

The global union movement would like to see DfID place a greater emphasis on respect for freedom of association. Let us remember that trade union membership was the instrument used by workers in achieving an escape from the widespread poverty that once afflicted all today's rich industrial countries. I believe that that same power can help to transform the tragedy that we now see in the developing world.

Yes, DfID employs to great effect a range of powerful policies in its war against poverty, but enlisting the millions of trade unionists who are fighting to establish the ILO's core labour standards as the right of every worker in the world can only reinforce DfID's efforts.

Photo of Lord Brett Lord Brett Labour 7:50 pm, 8th July 2002

My Lords, I join others in congratulating the noble Baroness on this timely and important debate. I also congratulate my good and noble friend Lord Jordan on his speech. It is normal on these occasions to praise the contribution of the maiden speaker highly. It is very rare to make a complaint against a maiden speaker. I am sorry, but I am going to defy convention and complain.

First, I shall say the good things about my noble friend's speech. If brevity is the soul of wit, it was a very witty contribution. If personal experience brings power to a speech, it was a powerful speech. My complaint is that it was too short. It is possibly the shortest maiden speech on record. There may be others of the same length, but less than three minutes does not seem possible. It is almost not possible in three minutes even to appreciate the speech, never mind make a contribution to the debate.

I have worked with Bill Jordan for more than 10 years on the TUC and internationally. I have seen him in operation from Brussels to Seattle, from Venezuela to Washington, from Davos to Portalegre. The World Bank, the IMF, the World Economic Forum and the World Trade Organisation have all heard Bill present strong trade union arguments for the ICFTU. His voice has been heard, although not always heeded. He has made a powerful and major contribution to those debates. In the future, we shall have the great value of him making a major contribution to our debates. The House will be greatly enhanced by his contributions to debates on international development.

The problem with saying that is that it gives me less than two minutes to make a contribution to this major debate. I commend the report, DfID and the drive of Ministers in that department. My criticism is not about the report or DfID. I have one point to make. Under the heading, "Making the international system work better for poor people", paragraph 2.17 on page 22 says:

"This involves maximising the effectiveness of international institutions such as the United Nations, the International Monetary Fund and the World Trade Organisation".

We have not been successful to date in doing that.

I declare an interest as the chair of the governing body of the International Labour Organisation. We are not perfect by any means. We are considerably grateful for the financial support and assistance that we have had from DfID on our international programme to eliminate child labour. However, in my 12 years involved in the International Labour Organisation, I have seen the UN system and the Bretton Woods institutions at first hand. I would not say that they are coherent, but they are certainly competitive.

I praise the Chancellor of the Exchequer for his endeavours at the International Monetary Fund and the Secretary of State for her endeavours at the bank. However, there seems to be a difference between what Ministers say, what executive vice-presidents advise and what the bank and the fund do. While the bank is supporting education as a special need, the IMF is still telling countries to cut the number of teachers and introduce charging.

My plea to the Minister is for reassurances that the Government will redouble their efforts to bring in other European Union member states that are on the board of both the bank and the fund and impose a coherent policy on the neo-liberal economists who still run much of what comes from both institutions. I commend Joe Stiglitz and his recent book and today's leader in the Guardian on the IMF. I hope that the good work that is being done here and the excellent job that Ministers are doing will spill over and we can get some of the coherence that I have seen to be more lacking than present in the UN system over the past 10 years.

Photo of The Bishop of Hereford The Bishop of Hereford Bishop 7:54 pm, 8th July 2002

My Lords, I thank the noble Baroness, Lady Rawlings, for introducing the debate and congratulate the noble Lord, Lord Jordan, on his admirable maiden speech. He gave an interesting and important insight into worldwide trade unionism. I also had to compress my maiden speech into three minutes, so it is not unique.

This brief but valuable debate is an opportunity to look with gratitude and even with amazement at the extraordinary scale and success of the trade justice rally which took place here on 19th June. That was evidence, if any were needed, of the enormous support that exists for the developing world across the spectrum of British society, but especially on the part of the Churches, which were strongly represented. It also shows the profound concern, shared by the public, for the business of DfID, which is so well set out in the attractive and comprehensive annual report, for which I thank the department.

I am particularly grateful for what is described on pages 22 and 25. A significant amount is already being done to make the international system work better for the poor. That is a crucial phrase, although I suspect that it is a slightly rosy view of the Doha round from the point of view of the developing countries.

It is encouraging to see the progress being made with the HIPC programme and the United Kingdom Government's leadership of and commitment to that programme. I believe that I speak for many Church people and others in expressing how glad I am that some important trade barriers are being dismantled. Some of your Lordships may have heard the reference on Radio 4 today to the export of textiles from South Africa to the United States creating hundreds of new jobs in areas of high unemployment round Johannesburg, thanks to President Clinton's concession at the end of his presidency. However, that process has a very long way to go.

I am deeply concerned about the nature of much international trade and the working conditions of vast numbers of people in the developing world, on whose labour we depend. An example of the former is the large-scale export of flowers from East Africa to the Netherlands and other European markets. Jumbo jets full of unnecessary and undesirable cargo spew out their filthy pollution to add to global warming, perpetuating a pointless trade that does so much to distort the local economy. One example of the deplorable working conditions of so many in the developing world is the shocking child labour slavery in the cocoa industry of West Africa.

However, I recognise that jobs are jobs, even slave labour or sweatshop jobs. I hope that the Minister will be able to assure the House that DfID's policy is to tread carefully the path of doing all that we can to modify or outlaw these unpleasant practices, but not moving so fast as to create even more distress before better forms of industry and trade are put in place. In that connection, I am acutely conscious of the desperate plight of the United Kingdom farming industry, threatened by easier imports from developing countries. There is much to be said for some increase in world trade, but much also, on environmental grounds, for greater self-sufficiency. I very much hope that DfID will bring its influence to bear in favour of local economic and food production systems, the shortening of the food chain and a reduction in trade miles, unless there is a very good case for creating new patterns of trade because they are of direct and unambiguous value to the poor.

Photo of Lord Parekh Lord Parekh Labour 7:58 pm, 8th July 2002

My Lords, I am most grateful to the noble Baroness, Lady Rawlings, for initiating this urgent and extremely important debate. I also congratulate the noble Lord, Lord Jordan, on his brief but wise and compassionate maiden speech.

I do not need to rehearse the figures on the desperate conditions in which the world's population lives. One in five lives in abject poverty. That is about 1.2 billion people. Another one in five lives in relative poverty of the kind that does not ensure even a barely decent existence. It is therefore only proper that international development should be the compelling moral, economic and political agenda of our times.

The Labour Government fully appreciate that and deserve our gratitude and congratulations. On coming to power, they set up a separate Department for International Development and gave the Secretary of State Cabinet status. They have also actively mobilised international opinion on the issue. I am pleased that the Prime Minister has taken an active interest in the New Partnership for Africa's Development. We are clearly moving in the right direction. I also place on record my appreciation of the great contribution that my noble friend Lady Amos has made in sensitising the Government to the importance of the issue.

Although we have made considerable progress, we still have a long way to go. I am not entirely convinced that the road we have taken is necessarily right in all respects. The road to a just and balanced system of international development has four lanes: aid, trade, debt relief and political stability. I should like to comment briefly on each of these points.

As far back as 1970, the United Nations set a target of 0.7 per cent of GNP for rich countries. This is not an impossible figure to meet. Denmark, Sweden, Norway, the Netherlands and Luxembourg have all met it and sometimes even exceeded it. We in this country have never reached the figure of 0.7 per cent. Our highest figure ever was 0.5 per cent, in 1979, but it decreased to 0.26 per cent under the Tories. Labour has notched it up to just over 0.3 per cent. I very much hope that the Chancellor—whose commitment to the cause is second to none—will in the next spending review at least double that.

There are also other ways of increasing the amount of aid in which we should take the initiative. The Tobin tax of 0.05 per cent on foreign exchange transactions would gather close to 100 billion dollars, enough to wipe out poverty in much of the rest of the world. A European-wide lottery of the type we have in Britain would generate about £20 million a week. Trans-world taxes on global commons also need to be considered.

Poor countries need aid far more than trade. Despite all the free trade rhetoric, we continue to impose tariffs and quotas from which the developing countries lose about 2 billion dollars a day, which is 14 times more than the amount they receive in aid. It is about time that we did something about that.

As for debt relief, we have taken the lead but our progress has been slow. Although linking debt relief to a poverty reduction strategy is a good idea, it is often a way of imposing ill-advised policy prescriptions. The poverty reduction strategy has to be approved by the IMF, which is too committed to free-market development to be fully trusted.

Finally, no country can develop economically unless it enjoys political stability and public accountability. Civil wars spell economic disasters and so do corrupt governments. Therefore, we should do everything in our power to ensure that democratic and responsible institutions are created in those countries. Above all, however, we must bear one point in mind. Just as we supported dubious groups during the Cold War as long as they were anti-communist, we are running the risk of supporting those who help our current campaign against terrorism. There is a danger that we might be clamping down on genuinely progressive movements in the name of fighting terrorism. I very much hope that the Government will continue to provide a lead in this area.

Photo of Baroness Stern Baroness Stern Crossbench 8:03 pm, 8th July 2002

My Lords, I congratulate the noble Baroness, Lady Rawlings, on instigating this debate; the noble Lord, Lord Jordan, on his excellent and forceful maiden speech; and DfID on its radical and determined approach to poverty reduction. I must declare an interest as a board member of Penal Reform International and as a research fellow at the International Centre for Prison Studies at King's College, as both organisations work with DfID.

I should like to make two points. First, I refer to the programmes on access to justice which are, according to the annual report, now running in Malawi and Nigeria and in the planning stage in Ghana, South Africa, Lesotho, India and Mozambique. I understand that £35 million is to be spent in Malawi and £30 million in Nigeria. The basis of these programmes is that a lack of justice is an important element of poverty. Those who are vulnerable to having their livelihood threatened by petty theft, or to being arrested by the police and held until they pay a bribe which they do not have money to pay, or held in prison for perhaps five years waiting for their trial to start, possibly contracting a deadly disease while they wait, are poor people. The lack of a functioning and fair justice system affects their ability to earn their living and their opportunities to right wrongs done to them.

The success of these programmes in Nigeria and Malawi and the others that are planned are very important because they are trailblazers. DfID is to be congratulated on making these attempts to work with partner countries to reform their justice systems since past attempts have not succeeded. However, the information that we have so far suggests that in both Nigeria and Malawi there are difficulties. In Nigeria, according to the annual report,

"the government's reform effort has been disappointing. Corruption remains endemic".

Of Malawi, the Annual Portfolio Performance Review 2001 notes that,

"The Malawi Government shows hints of increasing authoritarian tendencies", and that there is,

"less demand for good government", than was assumed.

If the Minister could give us any indication of how these programmes are performing, and if there are successes to report, I would be most grateful.

My second area of concern is the situation in Russia and the spread there of HIV/AIDS. The figures are startling. The rate of spread is one of the fastest anywhere in the world. Researchers at Imperial College working for UNAIDS has found that 5 per cent of adult Russians will be HIV positive by 2007. The figures for the penitentiary system are even more startling. The fact is that 15 per cent of registered HIV cases are in prison. Prison is a high-risk environment, and dealing with HIV infection there is complex. Yet it cannot be ignored in any programme for AIDS prevention. Prisons are a concentration and a reservoir of infection.

I know that the Ministry of Justice in Russia is taking steps to deal with this problem. I am also aware of the DfID country strategy for Russia and of plans for a major programme of perhaps £25 million for AIDS prevention in Russia. I would welcome a categorical assurance from the Minister that this strategy will include the Ministry of Justice, which is responsible for prison healthcare, and that the practical work on the ground will include the prisons in the locality.

Photo of Lord Judd Lord Judd Labour 8:06 pm, 8th July 2002

My Lords, I must declare an interest as a member of the Oxfam Association. I also hope that I will be forgiven for perhaps breaking convention by adding my appreciation to my noble friend Lord Jordan for his outstanding maiden speech. If that is what he can do with three minutes, we look forward to what he will do with the more usual 10 or 15. It is great to have him in the House. I add my thanks to the noble Baroness, Lady Rawlings, for having secured this debate. I also congratulate DfID on its outstanding work and my noble friend Lady Amos on the lead she has given on the issues of Africa.

There is no room for complacency; the challenges are immense. Let us consider health. The United States AIDS programme estimates that, by 2010, life expectancy in 11 African countries will be barely 30 years. It will be much lower in countries such as Botswana. Around the world, measles kills three children every minute. We have no room for complacency. We cannot congratulate ourselves yet on the level of our aid performance, let alone that of our colleagues in other parts of the world.

Following September 11th, we all wanted to see a stable, secure world. We talked about the necessary security measures, but we also argued very strongly that there had to be economic and social justice. There had to be a redistribution of wealth and resources around the world, because without that there could be no hope of security for the future. If that is to be tackled, we shall have to look at the international institutions.

It is not simply a matter of the redistribution of wealth and resources; it is also a matter of the redistribution of power. Too many people in the world feel powerless. They do not feel that they decide the agendas that are addressed by those institutions; they feel that they respond to the agendas established by others. We therefore have to look at the governance of the IMF, the World Bank, the World Trade Organisation. We have to look at the voting balance within those organisations to ensure that, in future, they reflect the interests of the world population as a whole.

I must mention one other issue. We talk about the importance of the rule of law, but I think that we are sometimes being cynical in effect when we do so. Law costs money. I say in great friendship to DfID that I should also like to see more evidence of its commitment. If we are to see the rule of law around the world, we shall have to ensure that the judges are there and trained and that the courts, prison administrations and the lawyers are there and trained. It will not happen just by demanding the rule of law; it will happen because we put our money where our aspirations are. The issue of establishing a system of law in Afghanistan, to give but one example, is absolutely crucial to the stability of that country.

Photo of The Earl of Sandwich The Earl of Sandwich Crossbench 8:09 pm, 8th July 2002

My Lords, DfID has enjoyed five years of relative freedom from parliamentary scrutiny. I congratulate the noble Baroness, Lady Rawlings, on her persistent questioning of it. I also warmly welcome the noble Lord, Lord Jordan, to this House.

The Government's two White Papers have brought a marked change of emphasis in the aid programme, especially its new poverty focus. There have been welcome increases in the aid budget; notably, the latest announcement on Africa; and yet spending aid funds is getting much more difficult just as the international development targets in Africa are receding.

Some in DfID may long for the days when a project was a project—it soaked up the money and the auditors were well satisfied. Now we have civil society, local participation, good governance, and it all seems like hard work. Much of this has been NGO-led. Here I declare an interest as someone who has worked with Christian Aid and the Save the Children Fund which have long campaigned to enable the poor to have a voice in programmes designed to help them. As has been mentioned, even the IMF is now supposed to see things from a pro-poor perspective. It is not easy for the IFIs to turn themselves inside out and see the world from the underside, but they must try.

The focus of much of the Government's expectations is now on the PRS process, to be found prominently in Chapter 2 of the report. The participation of civil society, evidence of direct benefit to the poor, proper co-ordination of partners and donors and the involvement of the IFIs which have the final say are among the factors critical to its success.

Personally, I am not so sure whether governments can ever involve people directly. I remember the famous Laxman cartoons in India which have long satirised Gandhian politicians pretending to help the poor, and few believe that any government are capable of truly understanding local need. However, the PRSPs are the latest attempt to overcome that scepticism.

Christian Aid has done some work on the methodology of PRSPs looking in particular at the quality of participation and using case studies from Rwanda, Malawi and Bolivia. One key finding is that,

"Poor people and CSOs are more likely to participate in the process during the analysis phase, and more likely to be excluded in the policy formation".

The case studies show, unsurprisingly, that the more vertical the government structure, the less likelihood of participation. The Malawi Government did not take kindly to the process. In Bolivia the NGOs had expectations of joint decision-making which were not matched by commitment from government. Only in Rwanda where local democracy had received a boost from intensive development efforts was there a measurable degree of participation.

I have one question for the Minister: does she agree with Christian Aid that a stronger framework for CSOs is needed in the next round of PRSPs, and that the views of civil society on the process itself should be represented in the final document approved by the boards of the IFIs?

In conclusion, I suggest that the PRS process, while it depends on the good will of governments, may easily become another smokescreen. Obviously, at this early stage participation should be encouraged. But whether a strong civil society by acting as a quasi-opposition contributes to lasting good governance, I am not sure.

Photo of Lord Hunt of Chesterton Lord Hunt of Chesterton Labour 8:12 pm, 8th July 2002

My Lords, I welcome this opportunity to participate in the debate introduced by the noble Baroness, Lady Rawlings, on the excellent work on poverty reduction being done by Her Majesty's Government in the Department for International Development and to hear the maiden speech of the noble Lord, Lord Jordan.

I have four brief points informed by my interests as chairman of ACOPS and member of the Risk Group. First, I welcome the mainstreaming of sustainability into national development (page 51 of the report). The NePAD environmental projects in Africa are, as I saw in a lively meeting in Nigeria in June with NGOs and governments bashing away at each other, really being led by Africans and being supported by the Global Environment Facility. It is good news on page 106 that there will be a 50 per cent increase in the UK contribution to GEF. But surely the UK should participate in these projects by also funding them bilaterally. The current policy means that UK GEF funds are in some large projects effectively not involving relevant UK expertise and NGOs, as I have seen in Africa and Russia.

Secondly, we must welcome in the report the support of humanitarian projects at times of natural disasters which sometimes have the largest impacts on societies. However, the emphasis here is on assistance in disasters and conflict. There is not much on preventive measures, which are also important and where the UK insurance industry and technical institutions could help very effectively.

On page 28 the report refers to information exchange as a means of reducing the impact of natural disasters. It is essential that the developed and developing countries must improve their practices. For example, the effect of flooding in Mozambique could have been considerably reduced if the data between hydrological and meteorological services in Mozambique, Zambia and Zimbabwe had been more rapidly exchanged. In this and many other matters, action and training in developing countries need to be implemented by other government departments, perhaps even in the much maligned business of air traffic control. I am surprised that the report makes little reference to the role of other government departments and agencies which have an enormous role to play.

This brings me to my last point, about corruption. I heard a Nigerian businessman in Abuja criticising the hypocrisy of western countries talking about governance when the banks of those countries seem happy to receive the proceeds of corrupt practices. That is an extremely urgent matter which could have a huge impact, almost as huge as trade. I commend the report and the persistent work of the noble Baroness, Lady Amos.

Photo of Lord Joffe Lord Joffe Crossbench 8:15 pm, 8th July 2002

My Lords, I, too, should like to express my appreciation to the noble Baroness, Lady Rawlings, for initiating the debate. I congratulate the noble Lord, Lord Jordan, on his maiden speech. It is fortunate that the House has another Peer who is able to talk with such authority on international development.

The DfID report is a model of clarity with clear objectives, clear priorities and clear strategies, demonstrating a deep understanding of the complexities of sustainable development. It is immensely encouraging that, in addition to the outstanding leadership of the Secretary of State for DfID, both the Prime Minister and the Chancellor of the Exchequer have taken such a prominent role on key initiatives such as NePAD, debt relief, finance, development and trade.

As the noble Lord, Lord Brett, pointed out, it is also encouraging that under this Government the aid budget has steadily increased and is scheduled to rise to 0.33 per cent by 2003. Like the noble Lord, Lord Parekh, I hope that the Chancellor will go beyond the 0.39 per cent target fixed at Monterrey when he shortly announces his comprehensive spending review so as to set an example to other European Union laggards.

It is a sobering thought that, based on the current speeded-up rate of UK aid increases, it would take the United Kingdom at least another 20 years to hit the UN target of 0.7 per cent—a target which, as the noble Lord, Lord Parekh, pointed out, has already been attained, and in some cases exceeded, by Sweden, Denmark, Luxembourg and the Netherlands.

The DfID report deals at some length with the initiatives it has supported in relation to conflict resolution and prevention which are to be applauded. The importance of focusing on peace and stability is also touched upon by the Prime Minister in his report on the recent G8 summit in which he states:

"Peace and stability are preconditions for successful development everywhere . . . eight million Africans have died in conflict in the last 20 years".

Against that background it is incomprehensible that in the Export Control Bill presently before Parliament the Government steadfastly, and without presenting any credible reasons, refuse to impose controls on the extraterritorial trafficking of small arms by UK nationals who have been responsible for so many deaths in the developing world. Perhaps the Minister in her response could touch upon that deep gap between the Government's words and action in that respect.

In conclusion, it occurred to me as a former chairman of Oxfam and a trustee of a number of other development agencies, that it would have been pleasing for NGOs to have received some recognition in the DfID report of the important role that they play in development, often working with or alongside DfID. I think that their millions of supporters would have been surprised that the only recognition that NGOs even existed was 12 words in a 135-page report. That said, I warmly congratulate DfID on its report and achievements. It is undoubtedly one of the outstanding government departments.

Photo of Lord Shutt of Greetland Lord Shutt of Greetland Liberal Democrat 8:19 pm, 8th July 2002

My Lords, I, too, should like to thank the noble Baroness, Lady Rawlings, for introducing the debate. I congratulate the noble Lord, Lord Jordan, on his maiden speech. I trust that he will have an opportunity to speak at greater length on another occasion.

In this debate of three-minute speeches, in summing up the debate from these Benches I let the 10 splendid contributions stand. This report is a very useful document; it contains some very useful tables and charts, leaving us quite well informed. The noble Lord, Lord Parekh, mentioned four subject headings, of which I have three: aid, debt and trade. I had not considered political instability but the noble Lord rightly raised it. I also have a fourth heading: joint enterprise for the developed world. Reference has already been made to the Scandinavian countries, Holland and Luxembourg. I hope that this country can take others forward with us towards the 0.7 per cent figure.

I have three questions. First, in the introduction to the report, the Minister, Clare Short, referred in the penultimate paragraph to the work being done with the EU. It absorbs one-quarter of UK development assistance but spends an ever-declining percentage of its budget on poor countries. It appears as if the EU is going in a different direction from that of DfID. What is to be done about that?

Secondly, having looked at the many tables, I wonder, bearing in mind the scourge of HIV/AIDS, whether the balance is right in terms of resources. Of the £3,400 million spent by this country, which is referred to in the report, does the £11 million or £12 million or so represent the right balance in terms of the attempt to eradicate HIV/AIDS?

Thirdly, reference has been made to trade. The document contains a paragraph entitled, "How are we doing?" but there is no answer to the question: how are we doing so far as trade is concerned? Do the international initiatives mean that there is more trade? It will be very difficult to assemble in a table in such a document details about what is happening in international trade, but the fact that the document refers to Britain suggests that there might be some indication of what trade there is between developing countries and the United Kingdom.

Photo of Baroness Amos Baroness Amos Parliamentary Under-Secretary, Foreign & Commonwealth Office, Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign and Commonwealth Office) 8:22 pm, 8th July 2002

My Lords, I thank the noble Baroness, Lady Rawlings, for giving us this opportunity to debate DfID's annual report. It has been an excellent and wide-ranging discussion. I thank my noble friend Lord Jordan in particular for choosing to make his maiden speech in this debate. It was a notable maiden speech and we all look forward to benefiting from his experience and wisdom.

I apologise at the outset if I am unable, because of time constraints, to respond to all the points that have been raised. I shall do my best. I also thank noble Lords for the positive comments that they made about the work of DfID and some of the work in which I am engaged specifically on Africa.

All noble Lords will be aware of DfID's core aim: the elimination of world poverty. Poverty reduction is now established in law as the first objective of UK overseas aid. Many noble Lords who contributed to this debate were involved in the passage of the International Development Bill—it is now an Act—earlier this year.

Achieving the elimination of global poverty is an ambitious but achievable objective. To deliver that requires collective action by the entire international development system. Important progress has been made during the period of the 2002 departmental report. In November last year, the World Trade Organisation meeting in Doha laid the foundations for a round of negotiations focused on making the international trade system fairer to developing countries. I shall come back to trade.

In March this year, the Financing for Development conference in Monterrey agreed a reform agenda focused on achieving the millennium development goals, with commitments by both developed and developing countries on the action needed to tackle poverty. At Monterrey, the European Union made a commitment to reach 0.39 per cent of GDP by 2006, which, with the commitment from the United States, will increase annual levels of development assistance by 12 billion dollars by 2006. My noble friend Lord Parekh and the noble Lord, Lord Joffe, in particular, mentioned aid levels. Of that additional 12 billion dollars, 6 billion dollars or more could go to Africa as a result of the G8 Africa action plan. The Prime Minister pledged that the United Kingdom would be giving £1 billion in aid to Africa by 2006.

Just 10 days ago in Canada, the Prime Minister and other G8 heads of government and state agreed a comprehensive and important package of measures to support development in Africa, building on the leadership and commitment being shown by African leaders themselves. Developing country leadership is vital for making rapid, sustainable progress with poverty reduction. African leaders have set a bold vision for African development, peace and good economic and political governance in the New Partnership for Africa's Development.

At the heart of the G8 Africa action plan is the concept of mutual accountability and partnership. The noble Baroness, Lady Rawlings, asked about the governance element within that. I quote from the document:

"assuming strong African policy commitments and given recent assistance trends, we believe that in aggregate half or more of our new development assistance could be directed to African nations that govern justly, invest in their own people and promote economic freedom".

DfID is committed to building development partnerships based on a shared agenda that is set by a credible poverty reduction strategy. We are now looking forward to the world summit on sustainable development, which will provide a unique opportunity to bring together the development and environment agendas.

My noble friend Lord Judd spoke of the importance of working multilaterally and in particular of the importance of the redistribution of power. The UK spends nearly half of its development funds through multilateral agencies. Noble Lords will know that we have a strong commitment to ensuring that those organisations work effectively. We have produced institutional strategy papers for each of those organisations. I assure my noble friend Lord Brett that we shall continue to work to ensure that those organisations work effectively.

The right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Hereford raised the importance of trade and in particular what the United States Government are doing through AGOA. We have looked at AGOA and the EU has the Everything but Arms initiative. As part of the commitments made in the G8 Africa action plan, we are committed to raising awareness of what is available through Everything but Arms to facilitate greater trading.

The noble Lord, Lord Shutt, mentioned the European Union. We are aware that the EU does not spend enough of its resources on the poorest countries. We want that to change. We have been pressing for reform for many years. Some progress has been made but I agree with the noble Lord that it is not enough.

I shall say more on trade. My noble friend Lady Whitaker, the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Hereford and the noble Lord, Lord Shutt, all discussed the importance of trade. We know that long-term sustainable development requires economic growth. In Africa alone, we need growth rates of 7 per cent. The World Bank estimates that international trade reforms for developing countries could lift 300 million more people out of poverty.

The Doha ministerial meeting resulted in agreement on the need to reduce, with a view to phasing out, subsidies and barriers to trade in agriculture. The challenge now is to ensure that those commitments become a reality and that there is a genuine development round.

My noble friend Lady Whitaker raised the issue of the common agricultural policy. My right honourable friend the Prime Minister made it absolutely clear that we want to see CAP reform.

The noble Baroness, Lady Rawlings, discussed debt and the debt relief initiative in particular. So far, 26 countries have qualified for debt relief worth more than 62 billion dollars under the initiative. The HIPC trust fund currently stands at some 30 billion dollars, and the 1 billion dollars agreed at Kananaskis is in addition to that 30 billion dollars. The 20 billion dollars agreed with respect to the cleaning up of the nuclear arsenal will cover a 10-year period.

The noble Lord, Lord Chan, talked in particular about the importance of health and he referred to his own experiences. We have been working in four provinces in India for many years. In Andhra Pradesh, for example, our current portfolio includes health. We are working specifically in the area of maternal mortality, where we are committed to making an effective contribution to the Millennium Development Goals in order to reduce such mortality. We are doing so through improving coverage of skilled care at delivery and improving access to and use of emergency care.

I assure my noble friend Lord Jordan, who talked in particular about the importance of trade unionism and freedom of association, that we strongly support the protection of fair rights and conditions for workers. We have a current programme with commitments and plans of more than £30 million to support the work of the ILO.

The noble Baroness, Lady Stern, and my noble friend Lord Judd raised issues relating to access to justice. The document, Voices of the Poor, identified the lack of public security and personal safety as a major concern. Justice systems are key to supporting people's development. That is why DfID has developed a new approach to safety and security which starts with the law. It is a huge agenda, ranging from legal reform, community policing, judicial reform, capacity building and penal reform. We shall continue to make that a priority.

The noble Earl, Lord Sandwich, and the noble Lord, Lord Joffe, talked about the role of NGOs. We recognise their importance and the fact that civil society is weak in many countries. That is why we work to strengthen civil society in many developing countries. The noble Earl made a very important point about the political role of NGOs. We shall, of course, need to consider that in the long term.

I agree with my noble friend Lord Hunt that we in the developed world also have a responsibility to ensure that we have effective controls so that our businesses do not act corruptly. We must also ensure that our financial systems act robustly to prevent money laundering. Those areas are covered in the Proceeds of Crime Bill.

The noble Lord, Lord Joffe, raised the issue of small arms. DfID is the lead department in implementing the joint FCO, MoD and DfID three-year small arms strategy, which comes under our global conflict prevention pool.

Huge challenges remain. We must deliver on the commitments that we made at Doha and Monterrey and ensure that they lead to real opportunities for poor countries and poor people. We must find ways to reduce conflicts and support change in countries which are not committed to poverty reduction. We must be ready to seize opportunities to promote stability and development as countries emerge from conflict. This Government remain totally committed to working towards a safer, more just world.