G7: Charlevoix, Quebec - Statement

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 6:00 pm on 11th June 2018.

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Photo of Baroness Evans of Bowes Park Baroness Evans of Bowes Park Leader of the House of Lords and Lord Privy Seal 6:00 pm, 11th June 2018

My Lords, I am grateful to the noble Baroness and the noble Lord for their comments. I say again, as the Prime Minister made clear in her statement, this was a challenging summit, and we are not denying that, and there were difficult discussions, but we continue to believe that continued dialogue is the way to make progress.

In relation to the communiqué, as we said, it was agreed by all parties. We fully intend to honour it, and we certainly hope that the US will also stand by the agreements made, and we will continue to have discussions around that.

On the question that the noble Baroness asked about Russia, the Prime Minister was very clear that, before any conversations can take place about Russia’s future involvement in this group, it must change its approach. Of course, we have to remind ourselves why the G8 became the G7. It was because of Russia’s illegal annexation of Crimea—again, a point that was reiterated at the summit.

On the questions on climate change, the Prime Minister once again made clear that we remain firmly committed to the Paris Agreement, and the international momentum that underpins it, we believe, is irreversible. What we now need to do to move forward is agree on a robust set of rules to enable it to function effectively. While we may differ on the Paris Agreement, we still believe that within the G7 we can work together on solutions to address impacts and build greater resilience while creating economic opportunities.

The noble Baroness rightly raised the issue of the ship that was not taken by Italy or Malta. I think it is good that Spain has now said that it will step in, so we are very pleased that progress has been made there. Of course, we will continue to support international efforts to effectively manage migration flows, tackle people smuggling and prevent people from making perilous journeys across the central Mediterranean Sea. We are committed to working with European partners in continuing with our efforts to aid Italy and other countries with the issues that they face.

On the comments by the noble Baroness and the noble Lord, Lord Newby, about our relationship with the United States, it is true that of course difficulties were experienced in the summit, but we remain strong partners and allies. We have of course recently worked together to expel Russian spies, to increase bilateral data sharing and to make plans for the next generation of F35s. Of course, when the President visits in July, we will be able to continue some of the discussions that we have had over the past few days.

The noble Baroness asked about the £187 million of new funding announced at the summit. That will support more than 400,000 marginalised girls in developing countries such as Afghanistan, Ethiopia, Somalia, Zimbabwe, Nepal and the Democratic Republic of Congo. It builds on the commitments made at the Commonwealth summit and the announcement of £212 million for phase 2 of the Girls’ Education Challenge. Those funds will help nearly 1 million marginalised girls across the Commonwealth to benefit from quality education to 2025.

The noble Lord and the noble Baroness both asked, quite rightly, about tariffs. I reiterate the point that the EU will impose countermeasures, but we all want to avoid a continued escalation and to maintain a constructive dialogue. We will continue to work with the EU and the US to achieve a permanent exemption. The Commission is required to seek member state approval for any countermeasures to come into effect; it has announced its intention to do that this month. We made the point that we believe that the US tariffs hit the wrong target. China alone was responsible for roughly half of the overcapacity in steel in 2017. We believe that we need to use the G20 Global Forum on Steel Excess Capacity, in which China is involved, to help encourage a reduction in excess capacity. We also need a concerted international push to strengthen the global system of trade rules.

We of course want to continue to work constructively with our EU partners and friends. At this summit, we stood firm with them on a number of issues and we will continue to do so.