Clause 1

Part of Debt Relief (Developing Countries) Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 10:00 am on 9th March 2010.

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Photo of Stephen Timms Stephen Timms Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Innovation and Skills) (Digital Britain) (also HM Treasury), Financial Secretary (HM Treasury) (also in the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills) 10:00 am, 9th March 2010

I, too, am delighted to serve under your chairmanship this morning, Mr. Chope. I welcome and applaud the pioneering work of my hon. Friend the Member for Northampton, North over an extended period, recently supported by my hon. Friend the Member for Denton and Reddish (Andrew Gwynne).

I also agree with much of what the hon. Member for South-West Hertfordshire said in his remarks. The Government agree that the Bill should mirror the internationally agreed HIPC initiative, as the clause specifies. The aim is to ensure that all creditors provide debt relief in line with the initiative, as the vast majority of creditors are already doing. I welcome the clarification of the scope and the illumination that has come from the debate on the amendment, which we had a few minutes ago.

I also agree that the Bill should not apply to debts taken on after its commencement, as we do not want to deter new lending to countries. Therefore, it is right to exclude new lending. However, I very much support the clause and hope that we can agree to it.