Democratic Republic of the Congo (Development)

Part of the debate – in Westminster Hall at 3:22 pm on 7th May 2008.

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Photo of Mark Lancaster Mark Lancaster Shadow Minister (International Development) 3:22 pm, 7th May 2008

It is a pleasure to follow John Barrett, and to speak under your chairmanship, Mr. Bayley. I congratulate Jeremy Corbyn on securing this timely debate. He gave an excellent opening speech, providing a broad perspective on the current situation in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. That highlights the importance of first-hand experience; he gave a very clear view.

I was intrigued by the hon. Gentleman's opening comment about whether the debate he applied for would be replied to by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office or the Department for International Development, because it was a coterminous responsibility. I might go even further, and argue that, although the Ministry of Defence has no direct responsibility, if we were to consider what, for example, the British Government are doing in Afghanistan, we should take a more comprehensive approach; the third string to our bow would be the role of the United Nations in the Congo, which the hon. Gentleman and other hon. Members touched on. I intend to explore that issue.

I was very encouraged to discover that Nick Kay is our ambassador in the DRC. He was the chap who was responsible in Helmand, for the last two years before going there. He will have first-hand experience of how that comprehensive approach can come together to maximum effect. The hon. Member for Islington, North also gave an excellent summary of what needs to happen in the justice system, to ensure that justice is given, and of the greater efforts needed on demobilisation.