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Ms. Ruddock : When we began the debates on the Bill, we said that there was much good in it, and that we would co-operate in Committee and hope to improve some parts of it. We were pleased to support new driving offences and construction and use provisions, all of which were designed to improve safety on our roads. Indeed, we had a pleasant Committee in which there was much consultation and co-operation.
Tonight's debate has been exceedingly disappointing in that a major opportunity to add to road safety and to reduce death and injury due to drink driving has been lost. We regret very much that there was not a free vote on the Government side, because we understand that a recent survey of hon. Members gave clear testimony to the fact that a majority of hon. Members, voting according to conscience, would have supported the new clause on random breath testing.
Some hon. Members seemed to say that it was not worth allocating extra resources to police forces to deal with the problem. I said in the debate, and I repeat, that if these were considered to be 800 murders, they would be a priority for the police. There are relatives who feel that such grave offences have been committed
I said at the outset that part II of the Bill would be very contentious. It has proved to be nothing less. It is significant that hon. Members representing constituencies in London boroughs affected by the pilot scheme are receiving from their constituents grave reservations and protests about the schemes that are to be brought forward under the Bill as so-called priority routes. The traffic director will be nothing less than a traffic dictator. There is no Opposition support for the continuation of traffic jams, as the hon. Member for Beckenham (Sir P. Goodhart) suggested. We seek a variety of measures to deal with traffic jams. No one wants more than we do a capital city working and moving in a way which it does not do at present.
To introduce piecemeal measures, as in the Bill, and to call them plans for priority routes is no solution to London's problems. It puts at the forefront the priority of those who seek to rush through certain areas rather than the proper priority--the need for goods and for those who live in those areas to have access and movement on the terms which they desire.
Column 931There is no substitute for strategic planning. That is not available to us in part II. These debates will not go away. We will return to them again and again until the Government bring forward a Bill that can truly deal with the major problems that the capital city faces and which includes a strategic plan giving priority to the movement of people and goods. That means putting public transport before the private vehicle.
I regret the lost opportunities of tonight. We shall not be pressing the Third Reading to a vote, but we shall, as I said, undoubtedly return to these matters in the interests of democracy and the people of the capital city.
Mr. Chope : I regret that the hon. Member for Lewisham, Deptford (Ms. Ruddock) introduced a jaundiced note in her remarks because the measure was a good Bill when it arrived for Second Reading and it is even better now, having had detailed consideration in Committee and on Report. It will command the support of the people of London, who are crying out for action to reduce congestion on the roads of the city. The Government have the courage and commitment to do something about that.
I pay tribute to my hon. Friend the Member for Beckenham (Sir P. Goodhart). Indeed, we could call them the Goodhart routes. Perhaps an amendment to that effect will be introduced in another place. This is a good Bill and I thank hon. Members who participated in debating it. I hope that it will be dealt with speedily in the other place so that it may soon reach the statute book.
Bill read the Third time, and passed.
[Relevant documents : European Community Documents Nos. 8127/90 on conclusion of the Fourth ACP-EEC Lome Convention, 4590/90 on transitional measures between the Third and Fourth Lome Conventions, 5197/90 on the financing and administration of Community aid under the Fourth Lome Convention, 6205/90 on the balance sheets and accounts of the European Development Funds for 1989 and 6704/90 on the operation of the STABEX system in 1989.]
"The Joint Committee on Statutory Instruments has not yet completed its consideration of the Instrument."
That consideration was completed this afternoon. We have made a report to the House. Both the report and the two memoranda from the Department are available in the Vote Office to help the House to complete its consideration of the matter.
That the draft European Communities (Definition of Treaties) (Fourth ACP- EEC Convention of Lome ) Order 1991, which was laid before this House on 29th January, be approved.
The fourth ACP-EEC convention, or Lome IV as it is commonly known, was signed on 15 December 1989. The convention governs development and trade relations between the Community and 69 developing countries described as the African Caribbean and Pacific, or ACP, group of developing countries, which includes 33 of the 43 least developed nations as defined by the United Nations.
The draft Order in Council to which the motion refers allows the convention's provisions to be effected in United Kingdom law. This in turn opens the way for ratification of the convention by the United Kingdom. The convention takes force when ratified by all EC member states and two thirds of the ACP countries, and concluded by the Community.
This debate provides an opportunity to consider other Community documents, and I am grateful to the hon. Member for Bradford, South (Mr. Cryer) for his point of order. These are the internal financing agreement, 5197/90, to which I shall return, the accounts of the European development fund, 6205/90, a report on the question of STABEX, 6704/90, the transitional measures, 4590/90, bridging the gap between the third and fourth conventions and conclusion by the Community of the fourth convention, 8127/90.
Because of the wide scope of Lome and the limited time available, I shall not address the Community's other aid instruments outside Lome , such as programmes for Asia and Latin America and the Mediterranean, or food or emergency aid. That would be outside the debate. But I wish to comment further on one of the other Community documents to which I referred. The draft Order in Council
Column 933specifying the Lome convention followed established practice by also specifying the internal financing agreement, document 5197. As the hon. Member for Bradford, South has said, the Joint Committee on Statutory Instruments met today and reported that it considers that no useful purpose is served by specification of the agreement. The Joint Committee's report draws this to the special attention of both Houses. It is important to comment on that. I agree with the Joint Committee that this specification is not legally essential. However, politically, this specification is an appropriate method of bringing the agreement before the House in the context of a debate on the whole series of instruments relating to the Lome convention. This financial commitment, arising from our obligations under the convention, will this year consume 9 per cent. of my total aid budget. I needed to comment on that, and the easiest way to do so was to tag it with the other documents to be discussed. Having been closely involved in the negotiations, I am especially pleased to present the order to the House. There is much to commend in the treaty, which builds on its predecessors. The convention is the cornerstone of the European Community's relationship with the developing world. The provisions cover a wide range of development instruments and the convention's scope is unique. The high degree of commitment is demonstrated by the improvements contained in Lome IV.
Lome represents a partnership between the EC and the developing world, and brings the expertise and resources of the Community and member states to bear on agreed development goals. Under Lome IV, there are some changes in the structure and, to an extent, to the scope of the convention. Those changes will make it even more effective. The structural changes are in the duration and membership of the convention. Where previous treaties covered five-year periods, Lome IV runs for 10 years. Increasing the duration to 10 years reflects the Community's commitment to the aims of Lome and our will to provide a stable framework for all parties involved. Cutting the frequency of full-scale negotiations will better enable us all to focus effort on the tasks involved in implementing Lome IV. Within this time period, the money for the financial instruments contained in the convention will be provided under two separate five-year European development funds or EDFs. EDF VII covers the first five years. EDF VIII will be negotiated in 1994. This will also provide an opportunity to review the aid provisions of the Convention at the halfway stage.
I welcome the addition of Haiti and the Dominican Republic to the membership of the convention, but in agreeing to this, the United Kingdom insisted, initially with little support but later with the full agreement of our partners, that traditional sugar and banana interests of the Commonwealth Caribbean should not be put at risk by this enlargement.
Mr. John P. Smith (Vale of Glamorgan) : Is the Minister concerned at the apparent attempts by the Dominican Republic to export large quantities of bananas to the United Kingdom? That is contrary to the existing Lome convention.
Column 934the hon. Gentleman takes a special interest in the matter. As he knows from our discussions on the matter, I have fought hard to renew the protection provided for our traditional banana suppliers by earlier Lome conventions, and I do not intend to give up now. As the House may know, Namibia signed the treaty on 20 December last year. I know that the House shares my pleasure at that accession. I hope that the Community will help Namibia through the testing early stages of independence and democracy.
There are also important extensions to the scope of the convention. These include a new emphasis on the environment, on health and population planning, on participatory democracy and, above all, on human rights. We pressed hard on all these issues during the negotiations. I shall discuss these further after I have described the technical and financial aspects of the treaty.
The financial package for the next five years is covered by EDF VII, which was, as usual, settled outside the Community's budget procedures. There will be 10.8 billion ecu, or £7.5 billion, available for development assistance. Up to 1.2 billion ecu, or £0.84 billion may be added from the European investment bank's own resources. Those figures represent together a 46 per cent. increase compared with EDF VI. The British share of contributions to the 10.8 billion ecu EDF VII is fixed at 16.37 per cent. of the total. That amounts to 1.8 billion ecu. In sterling, our commitment is about £1.3 billion but the precise figure will depend on the exchange rate prevailing at the time that the funds are drawn down.
This is our largest ever single aid commitment and will represent an important part of the United Kingdom's total aid effort, which for 1991-92 will amount to some £1.9 billion. The funds will be spent and drawn down from the United Kingdom aid programme over a period of years as projects and programmes are implemented.
A particular feature of this convention is that 1.15 billion ecu has been earmarked from EDF VII to provide direct financial support for structural adjustment measures. This is to be used to support countries undertaking agreed economic reform programmes. In this way, the Community aid channel can lend its considerable weight to the work of the international financial institutions and the bilateral donors, including the member states, in this field. This will include in particular the special programme of assistance to debt-distressed low-income countries in sub-Saharan Africa ; an effort co-ordinated by the World bank, to which we are giving very active bilateral support.
The Government believe that, if developing countries are to make sustainable economic and social progress, they need to participate as fully as possible in the world economy. That means encouraging trade, investment and private sector development. We therefore pressed hard during the internal EC negotiations for provisions which enable support to be given to the promotion of private sector activity. We believe that a healthy private sector is essential for the economic progress of all the ACP states. There, the role of the EIB is important, as its tasks include indentifying and channelling funds to efficient private sector activities.
It is, of course, of paramount importance that the very substantial resources involved are used effectively. The Commission and the EIB manage the funds in close collaboration with representatives of the member states in the EDF committee which approves all significant
Column 935spending proposals. EDF VIII in the Commission applies policies and criteria shaped by the discussions of the EDF committee and developed by the Commission. The Development Council of EC Ministers meets twice a year to decide on overall policy issues. The joint ACP-EC Council of Ministers provides a forum for policy dialogue between Ministers of the EC and the developing world.
Lome IV looks to bolster the trade concessions enjoyed by the ACP states. The new convention retains all the generous provisions of its predecessor for ACP access to the EC market. Some further improvements have proved possible, and the United Kingdom, with other like-minded member states, pressed very hard indeed for those advances.
All ACP industrial products other than rum are already admitted duty-free. The changes to the rules of origin, which define what counts as an ACP product, will provide greater access for ACP goods. Such technical changes hardly make thrilling headlines, but they serve to stimulate processing and manufacturing industries, and help diversify the economies of ACP states. Some agricultural products are still covered by tariff or quota restrictions. Many of these are dismantled or reduced by the new convention. Examples are molasses and rice, on which the access restrictions are reduced, and the inclusion of a number of horticultural products previously outside the benefits of the convention.
Two agricultural projects of major importance are sugar and bananas, which has already been mentioned. The sugar protocol of Lome IV maintains the position of the separate agreement, which was not renegotiated in 1989. As I said, the United Kingdom fought hard to ensure that the new banana protocol maintained preferential access. We are awaiting proposals from the Commission for the arrangements to apply to bananas in the single market, after 1992. We shall stand by our commitments, as well as taking account of consumer interests, trade policy considerations and the competition and efficiency objectives of the single market.
In extending the scope of the convention, I attach special importance to the human rights provisions. For the first time in Lome , and among the objectives and principles of the convention, is an explicit statement of the link between development and respect for human rights. I warmly commend this linkage to the House. It will be backed up by the provision of funds to activities aimed at fostering and nurturing good human rights practices. This is not a question of aid donors imposing their will on recipients. It is a partnership, in which both sides recognise what is needed for sustainable development. The convention allows us to promote human rights and participatory development, through the funding of specific projects-- for example, by strengthening public administration. I am pleased that the EDF funds will now be allocated to many more non-governmental and decentralised groups in the ACP countries. Assistance channelled in this way can encourage the growth of greater participation in society, and of more pluralism. These actions will also exemplify our desire to see ACP-EC partnerships established at all levels, and not merely between Government representatives and Commission staff.
Column 936I should also like to mention the associated Community provisions for aid to member states' dependent territories. The overseas countries and territories, as they are known, will enjoy the same general trade regime as the ACP countries. Where provisions differ, it is right that they are more generous towards our dependencies. In parallel with EDF VII, over the next five years they will be allocated 140 million ecu of aid, a 40 per cent. increase over Lome III, supplemented by 25 million ecu from the EIB's own resources. The Lome convention is the cornerstone of Community relations with the developing world. It is the product of a major effort of discussion and negotiation between the ACP and the Community. To establish an effective aid and trade relationship between the Twelve and such a diverse group of 69 ACP states, is, as I know from many hours of detailed work, no easy task.
The prospects of the ACP states can only be enhanced by the kind of arrangement contained in Lome IV--liberal trading provisions offering real opportunities for ACP states, and the largest single Community aid programme. For their part, the Government will continue to work hard and constructively to make Lome work well.
I believe that Lome IV represents an important advance in the Community's relationship with the developing world, and I am confident that the House will share my view.
Mrs. Ann Clwyd (Cynon Valley) : The fourth Lome convention was negotiated at a critical time. It was concluded at the end of a lost decade for development within the African, Caribbean and Pacific and other developing countries, and at the beginning of a decade which will see great change. The completion of the single market, the implementation of any Uruguay round agreement and the development of central and eastern Europe will have profound effects on the European Community and on our relations with ACP countries.
In assessing the Lome IV convention, we must not only compare it with its predecessor, Lome III, but measure it against the needs of ACP countries in a new international environment. It must also be assessed according to the original spirit of Lome --the spirit of innovation of 1973, when the first contractual partnership was entered into between north and south, explicitly recognising the interlinking of air and trade.
As the Minister made clear, compared with Lome III, Lome IV contains some significant improvements. The emphasis on the environment and human rights and the commitment to pay earlier and greater attention to the needs of women are much welcomed. The convention talks of "decentralised co- operation", which should bring non-governmental groups into the process of development in ACP countries. The decision that most Lome funds will now be given as aid, not grants, is eminently sensible, given the ACP debt burden. At least this Lome convention mentions the debt crisis. Both STABEX and SYSMIN have been considerably improved ; strict rules of origin have been slightly relaxed, new products have been added, falling exports to non-EC countries will be taken into account and their funds have been increased. Of course, those changes must still be implemented effectively, and I hope that the Minister will tell us what work has been done in that respect.
Column 937Lome funds are disbursed very slowly. Little more than 20 per cent. of the Lome III budget had been spent at the end of its five-year duration in 1989. Lome IV includes new areas of co-operation, but DG VIII has no new staff to implement them. Can the Minister tell us how local communities who were never really consulted in the drawing up of the convention will be encouraged to participate in its implementation, and whether respect for human rights will be used only to hold up aid in cases of gross abuse, or will it be brought to the fore in programming for all countries? Doubling the life of the convention with the renewal of the financial protocol in five years ensures continuity and guarantees Europe's long-term commitment to the ACP countries. At least the amount of money available for those five years has increased in real terms in comparison with Lome III. The real increase of 20 per cent. to 12 million ecu is considerably more than the United Kingdom Government's negotiating proposal of 10 million ecu. Fortunately, other member states prevented the Lome budget from going the way of the UK suggestion ; but, when we look at the desperate economic straits in which many ACP countries find themselves, we must ask again, "Is this enough?".
The 1980s saw economic decline and profound human suffering across much of the developing world. In sub-Saharan Africa, average incomes fell last year for the 12th year in a row. With ACP countries relying on non-oil commodities for 60 per cent. of their exports, and prices of those commodities at all-time lows, the main cause of the economic setback is clear : added to the trade crisis is the debt crisis, and the result is that citizens of ACP countries are now threatened with another lost decade.
We need an imaginative response from both north and south in the Lome partnership, based on a generous commitment by the EC. In the words of the ACP negotiators :
"The fourth convention should be seen as a major instrument in arresting and reversing the economic crisis in ACP states." But, in financial terms, the new agreement gives no more per person than the previous one.
The ACP states themselves requested 15.5 million ecu for Lome IV, but the Commission imposed its own last-minute offer, with no room for negotiation. That "take it or leave it" approach to the financial package sadly indicates a lack of genuine dialogue throughout the Lome IV negotiations. The first Lome convention was unique in its emphasis on partnership between north and south, but in these nogotiations the EC Commission clearly dictated the pace. Last week, we heard that the Lome ideal of partnership had been extended to the World bank and the International Monetary Fund. Under the new structural adjustment fund of Lome IV, World bank conditionality is replacing dialogue between the EC and the ACP. When quick disbursing aid for import support was first introduced in 1987, the Commission promised that it would develop a distinctive European policy on structural adjustment.
According to article 244 of Lome IV, social conditions culture and regional differences would all be taken into account. Food security, environmental protection and other developmental objectives would be supported and
"the right of ACP states to determine the direction of their development strategies and priorities shall be recognised and respected".
Column 938Yet only last week, the Commission announced that almost all the 1 million ecu structural adjustment fund would be handed over to the World bank's special assistance programme for sub- Saharan Africa. Countries without IMF or World bank programmes will not even be eligible for assistance. The ACP countries were not even consulted. That calls into question the whole basis of the Lome partnership. How can article 244 possibly be implemented now?
The preamble to the first Lome convention talked of changing the north- south relations that were hampering development, and of promoting a
"new, more just, and more balanced world order."
The ideal--that huge gaps in wealth and power could be transcended by a new north-south partnership based on mutual respect--was trail-blazing at the time. That ideal was conspicuously absent, however from the Lome IV negotiations. There have been improvements, but no major innovations, since Lome began. As the EC-NGO liaison committee put it,
"The spirit of Lome is lost."
Lome IV bans the export of hazardous and nuclear waste from EC countries, and we welcome that, but a real model of north-south co-operation would surely include an agreement on the activities of all multinationals in developing countries. It would tackle the debt crisis and the international trade regime. Lome IV unfortunately does not match that task.
I will try to demonstrate that by considering the trade provisions of Lome IV--in financial terms, 20 times more important to the ACP countries than aid. The increased concessions that the Minister described sound impressive, but let us put them into perspective. Some 75 per cent. of ACP exports are to the EC, so we are a vital trading partner. Only 10 per cent. of the exports receive preferential treatment under Lome , and even those goods are still subject to many restrictions.
Most of the restrictions--particularly on sugar, beef and other essential exports--survived the Lome IV negotiations intact. It is true that the beef quota was increased from 30,000 to 39,000 tonnes per year, but to put that, too, into perspective, that would do no more than supply Sunday lunches in a couple of major cities. The tomato quota, fixed at 2,000 tonnes, is equivalent to about three hours' worth of EC consumption. Increased quotas for milk, cheese and curd sound fine, but in fact less than one tenth of 1 per cent. of EC imports of those products come from ACP countries. They are simply not significant ACP exports.
The changes will not provide the secure market access needed to encourage investment in the ACP. The EC rejected ACP requests for a special programme to improve the processing, marketing, distribution and transport of commodities. The simple industrial products that the ACP countries can most easily produce continue to be blocked by strict rules on value added, rules of origin and the exclusion of "simple assembly" manufactured goods.
Lome trade preferences have not been able to prevent the increasing marginalisation of ACP goods in EC imports over the past decade. Lome certainly does not address the changes that can be expected in world trade over the next decade. For example, 1992 and the single market are fast approaching. There is no doubt that exports from some of the poorest ACP countries will be squeezed by the single market even if exports in developing countries benefit. Fifty thousand banana workers in the
Column 939Windward Islands, and many more workers in the south Wales docks, will risk losing their livelihood if the preferential access given to their bananas disappears.
Mr. John P. Smith : Does my hon. Friend share my deep concern that Geest, this country's largest importer of bananas--currently importing two thirds of all the bananas consumed here--is contemplating moving from Barry, which is on the west of the United Kingdom, to the south of England? Does that not amount to a vote of no confidence in the maintenance of supplies from the Windward Islands?
Mrs. Clwyd : My hon. Friend makes a valid point. Recently, he and I visited Geest's headquarters at Barry docks in my hon. Friend's constituency, when the concern of management and unions was made very clear to us. That source of employment at Barry docks is vital to the employment prospects of south Wales as a whole, which in the past 10 years has suffered very severely as a result of Government policies. Clearly, this is a matter of great concern to the whole of south Wales and, in particular, to my hon. Friend.
The arrival of 1992, the Gulf crisis, changing relations between the EC and eastern Europe, and the Uruguay round, may all have severe effects on ACP trade. The EC should be ready with structural measures to mitigate those effects. Such measures are not covered in Lome IV, but I hope that action can still be taken to secure them before Lome V.
Proposals tabled in the Uruguay round will erode trade preferences offered under Lome in respect of ACP exports. For example, according to an UNCTAD study published last July, the EC-Uruguay offer on liberalisation of trade in tropical products would cut imports from sub-Saharan Africa by about $120 million, with trade being diverted to Latin America and the industrialised countries. Worse, the Uruguay round proposals present a threat which goes to the heart of ACP development, and directly contradicts Lome principles.
The United States and the Economic Community are moving towards a deal on agriculture that would require the Governments of all developing countries to reduce their support for food producers. Protecting farmers leads to surplus and food mountains in the Economic Community, but in developing countries it can make the crucial difference between having enough to eat and going hungry. Governments need to protect their farmers from food dumping and to encourage agricultural investment. With 29 million people in 25 sub-Saharan countries starving right now, surely no one can fail to see the importance of encouraging food security. How can the Economic Community talk in Lome conventions of improving food security in ACP countries, and then support GATT proposals which would outlaw the very Government measures needed to achieve that security? Instead of making a mockery of its own proclamations of concern, the Economic Community should observe the Uruguay round mandate, which recognises the right of developing countries to special and differential treatment. It should commit itself to GATT rules that outlaw dumping and, as the Common Agricultural Policy reform debate intensifies yet again, should seek to improve the
Column 940very ACP interests of which it talks so earnestly in the Lome convention. Unless the Economic Community takes on board those wider economic issues, Lome cannot possibly pretend to be the catalyst for re-ordering north-south relations.
At last, proposals to write off debt owed by ACP to the Economic Community under Lome are being discussed, but still the Community opts out of taking a stronger role on international debt initiatives. It has not even established a joint framework for bilateral debt reduction. Commissioner Marin's proposal to cancel Lome debts--about 1 per cent. of total ACP debt- -is modest but important. It is a logical extension of the decision to switch to grants in Lome IV and of the bilateral action of member Governments. Lome IV commits the Economic Community to
"support ACP efforts to reverse the outflow of capital" and
"contribute to the attenuation of debt burden."
This is a good place to start.
What position do the Government take? The Minister will probably say that the matter was discussed, has been referred and will be discussed again, just as she said that in reply to several parliamentary questions last year. It is shameful that hon. Members have to rely on the grapevine which operates between Brussels and London, often via other cities and organisations, to discover that the Government have been opposing Commissioner Marin's proposals to write off debts owed by the ACP.
Will the Minister provide details today of every vote--every nod and shake of the head--by United Kingdom Ministers and officials, on 5 November at the Development Council, on 3 to 6 December and 18 December at the General Affairs Council, and on 28 January at ECOFIN? If the Government's policy is defensible, there should be nothing to hide.
That is just one example of the lack of information and accountability from which all EC development policies suffer. We should not only debate the Lome convention in Parliament once every five years--we should also debate the other half of EC aid to non-ACP countries. We should consider the reforms of food aid that are so desperately needed, the absurdly small amounts of aid which go to Asia, where the majority of the world's poor live, the need to improve monitoring and evaluation and to focus EC aid on the poor--a need made all too clear by the Court of Auditors report of 12 December 1990 on EC aid to Bangladesh. The report concluded : "The allocation of more than half a billion ECU between 1976 and 1988 to Bangladesh has largely failed to achieve the general Community aid objective of improving the conditions of the least favoured inhabitants of developing countries."
The House will want to know as much as I do what action has been taken on that.
Clearly, the spirit of all EC aid--not only Lome --needs to be revived. There is growing incompatibility between EC objectives relating to aid, trade, agriculture, central and eastern Europe, and the single market. Within Lome IV, articles which give priority to long-term, self-reliant development compete with sections on short-term structural adjustment. The Lome partnership is collapsing back into dominance and dependence.
The spirit of Lome demands imagination and political will. The ACP states have seen the Community display those qualities in taking the lead in the reconstruction of central and eastern Europe. As a Senegalese delegate said during the Lome negotiations, the Community has already
Column 941promised $60 per head in aid to Poland and Hungary over the next two years, but will provide only $9 for each ACP citizen over the five yers of Lome IV. The exact levels and terms of that aid may be disputed, but the political point is clear : Europe must reinvigorate and restate its commitment to development in the south.
Lome IV has been described as the best that can be achieved in the present tight circumstances. That analysis may well be right, but it is no reason to be complacent. The challenge for both the EC and the ACP is to rebuild the spirit of co-operation between north and south to transform the very circumstances which constrained our co-operation and their long-term sustainable development.
Mr. Bowen Wells (Hertford and Stortford) : There is much to be welcomed in the Lome IV agreement. I particularly want to congratulate my right hon. Friend the Minister on the very constructive role that she played in negotiating and enhancing it. All the parties to the agreement, including the hon. Member for Cynon Valley (Mrs. Clwyd), have always had many misgivings about some parts of it. We all want the agreement to succeed, to be more dynamic, imaginative and helpful to the poorest countries with which the EC has traditionally been associated for many centuries. It is for those reasons that we want to improve the agreement.
I believe that many of the suggestions given to the House by the hon. Member for Cynon Valley are worthy of much greater and deeper study and implementation. The EC's 40 per cent. increase on the last Lome III agreement is not enough but it is nonetheless an improvement, but before the EC pats itself on the back for that, I remind the House that the Community, through subsidisation of agriculture, does the third world much harm. It reduces world prices for commodities such as sugar, which could be produced in the third world.
When 3 million tonnes of sugar are put on to the world market, that reduces the world price of sugar, and thus the incomes for many people in the third world. The same is true of palm oil. When we look around in the spring and see the yellow fields of rape seed oil throughout Europe, we know that that is due to subsidies and that the people who will suffer for it are those in the poor countries that produce palm oil. There are many other such examples where the CAP severely undermines the trading ability of third world countries. We could improve the European development fund and its administration in two sectors : first, the co-ordination of the EC's efforts with its 12 member countries and their own bilateral programme ; secondly, co-ordination with other international aid organisations. Like the hon. Member for Cynon Valley, I welcome the adherence to the structural adjustment policies of the international monetary fund and the World bank, but they need to be modified and rethought. I am cynical about adjustment policies because, very often, they simply allow payment for imports for which they cannnot otherwise obtain foreign exchange. That does not promote wealth-creating development in those countries--it is simply a form of emergency aid. That does not help the changes necessary to help those countries overcome their economic difficulties.
Column 942There are problems with structural adjustment policies, but they present a means by which to co-ordinate the efforts of the EC, the World bank, the IMF and bilateral programmes. Therefore, I welcome the allocation of a significant sum of money for that purpose. But there is also major concern about the way in which EC delegates in the various ACP countries fail even to make inquiries about the way in which other countries, which have had bilateral programmes for many years, construct their aid. There is little assessment within the EC of the economic needs and how economies can be helped to grow. Therefore, the combination of efforts and talents that we in the EC, through bilateral and European economic aid, can co-ordinate with the private sector to enhance the development of those countries. Time and again, I have visited countries and asked the European delegate what he knows about the programmes of the other 12 member states--the answer is often, very little indeed. I am sure that that could be easily rectified and I hope that, through its new organisation, the Community will pay it more attention. That would provide benefits at no additional cost and would aid those countries in a more constructive and imaginative way.
Another concern about Lome IV is that there continues to be a major gap in ACP-EEC trade, despite all the apparently generous trade concessions that were given in that agreement, as in Lome I, II and III. They are not taken advantage of by our ACP partners, and we must ask why. The principal reason is the rules of origin, although we welcome the fact that we have reduced the input necessary to qualify for tariff-free import into the European Community from 60 per cent. to 45 per cent. of the product produced by the exporting country. However, I doubt whether even that will enable those countries to take advantage of the concessions. I refer to the smaller states--especially the island states--where much of the product is imported and only the labour is added. That means that few of the products will qualify for the tariff-free import into the Community. We must improve that, to enable those countries to make use of their most valuable and largest resource--their people's energy and ability to add value to a product which does not qualify for inclusion under the rules--even if the countries could understand the rules of origin which apply to many products.
One way to overcome the problem is to encourage wealth-creating investment from our private sector into those countries. A controversial proposition-- although it is an idea in which I have always believed--is that, if those countries are exporting products to sophisticated western markets, they need to be able to benefit from the marketing profits made in Britain. In that way, they will benefit more than they do merely as producers and exporters.
External investment by the developed world will give the developed world a greater interest in ensuring that those economies work well. Equally, investment by the developing countries in the marketing sector of the developed world will give them an insight into what is required and into the standards needed successfully to market their products and give them a greater share in the profits from their efforts. In that way, we can begin to create a world that will enable them to benefit from the Lome IV agreement. It is a good agreement, but it could be a good deal better.
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Mr. Bob Cryer (Bradford, South) : I will concentrate my remarks on the technicalities of the order because, as Chairman of the Joint Committee on Statutory Instruments, I brought to the attention of the House the fact that the Joint Committee had reported the order. In the ordinary course of events, precautions are taken so that the Joint Committee has the opportunity to complete its examination of an order, under the terms of the Standing Orders of the House, which involves asking the relevant Department for a memorandum or memoranda, depending on the scale of our investigations. On this occasion, the arrangements appear to have fallen down.
I understand that the Government Whips, through the usual channels, offered not to move the order tonight, so that we could make a more leisurely report. However, I did not feel that that was right, because the Committee was able to finish its consideration and we were able to put our report in the Vote Office to enable hon. Members to take copies if they wanted. The Minister was able to make a comment on our observations.
I want to put on record our concern within our range of duties of reporting to the House about the unusual use of powers and the vires of orders. An important issue is involved. The Joint Committee is the only scrutiny Committee for the huge outpouring of statutory instruments by which the majority of legislative powers are applied to the United Kingdom and related organisations, such as those in the order.
We have no quarrel with the first item in the schedule to the order--the fourth ACP-EEC convention of Lome . We are concerned with the second item in the schedule--the
"Internal Agreement on the Financing and Administration of Community Aid".
Both agreements are designated as treaties. When we asked the Overseas Development Administration for the reason why the internal financing agreement was designated as a treaty, it gave only one reason, which was not the reason that the Minister gave--it was politically a method of bringing the matter before the House. The Overseas Development Administration said that it was a means of bringing the treaty under section 2(3) of the European Communities Act 1972, and no other reason was given. It enables
"expenses incurred under or by virtue of the Treaties or this Act by any Minister of the Crown or government department"
to be paid. That is an unusual way in which to describe payments to the 7th European development fund. As that is an unusual use of ministerial powers- -I will come to the qualification that the Committee made--we sought to report the matter to the House. It is an important precedent.
There is much talk of a European central bank. It would be wrong if the Minister used the powers under the European Communities Act 1972 to designate a treaty as a means of transferring funds to a European central bank. I hope that that bank never comes into existence, and I believe that it would have little merit. However, the Committee is not considering that. It is considering the way in which Ministers operate. We felt that the procedure set a principle that should not be followed.
In its memorandum, which we attached to our report, the Overseas Development Administration points out that it did not need the powers to bring the internal financing