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Sir Wyn Roberts : The hon. Gentleman is wrong and I am surprised at what he says. During that period, the valleys fared better than Great Britain as a whole. There was an 11 per cent. fall in manufacturing employment between 1988 and 1992 in the programme for the valleys area, but in Great Britain, over the same period, the fall was 14 per cent. That is a fair measure of the value of the programme for the valleys.
Column 522As for unemployment generally, I am sure that even Opposition Members will be glad to hear that unemployment is coming down faster in the programme for the valleys area than it is in the rest of Wales and indeed in the rest of the United Kingdom.
Mr. Winnick : He should indeed, but in view of all the allegations that have been made about the Nadir case, has not the time come for an independent inquiry into all aspects of the case? Of course, such an inquiry would examine the very close relationship between the Tory party and Mr. Nadir. Will the Solicitor-General try to persuade the Prime Minister to ensure that all the moneys that have been donated by Mr. Nadir to the Tory party will be refunded to the creditors? Surely that is the least that the Law Officers should be doing.
The Solicitor-General : This is very old hat. Calls for an inquiry have been made time and again. An inquiry was fixed. A date was fixed in October for a trial at the Central Criminal court which Mr. Nadir should have attended. He did not attend. He should put his arguments in front of a British jury and let them determine the issue. A British jury should be the inquirers in this issue.
Mr. Ashby : As the Serious Fraud Office wrongly and improperly got hold of all the defence papers in the Nadir case and had a chance to peruse them, is there any chance that Mr. Nadir could have a fair trial?
The Solicitor-General : The view that the Serious Fraud Office got hold of all Mr. Nadir's private and personal papers is totally misconceived. This matter has been dealt with by my right hon. and learned Friend the Attorney-General in correspondence with the previous solicitors of Mr. Nadir. There were just a number of papers. They were extracted at an early stage. When Mr. Nadir comes back to this country, the issue will be put in front of the trial judge by the Crown. There really is no excuse for Mr. Nadir staying away.
The Solicitor-General : The Attorney-General's priority is to continue to work with the Director of Public Prosecution and the Serious Fraud Office to ensure the robust and effective prosecution of criminal offences by the prosecuting authorities.
Mr. Hughes : Given the provisional findings of the district auditor with regard to Westminster city council last week, the allegations about Wandsworth and, for that matter, the findings with regard to Tameside, will the
Column 523Solicitor-General undertake that it will be a priority for his Department to investigate whether, in addition to any breach of the law that is currently being investigated by the auditor, there has been a criminal conspiracy in any of those places wrongly to spend public money for party political ends?
The Solicitor-General : The hon. Gentleman should be slow to equate provisional findings with fact. The auditor made it plain that he was minded to find certain things, subject to the respondents being given an opportunity to show otherwise. They will be given that opportunity and will have the possibility of explaining to the district auditor that their behaviour was lawful. It would be wrong to speculate about the outcome. As to the hon. Gentleman's specific request, if he has evidence of a criminal offence, he should place it before the police and the matter will be rigorously pursued.
Mr. Rathbone : My hon. and learned Friend will be aware of the difficulties which were identified and reported in the newspapers over the weekend about an important and large drugs case. Can he give some reassurance that there is the necessary co-ordination of activities between the police, the Law Officers and Customs and Excise? In so far as there is a case to be brought, can he be wary of those siren voices which say that indictments must be made in relation to seizures at port of entry? It is extremely important in many instances to allow such consignments to go to their destinations so that we can track down and bring to trial the big boys in such deals?
The Solicitor-General : This case was dealt with properly. All decisions were taken by Customs and Excise, which is an independent prosecuting authority. The Attorney-General's limited role in the case was entirely proper and in response to an approach from defence counsel. The decision to drop the case against Mr. Charrington was taken by the commissioners of Customs and Excise. Two defendants are to be retried in June. Hon. Members may wish to be circumspect about their comments, bearing in mind the fact that those two cases are sub judice.
Mr. John Morris : Is the Solicitor-General satisfied that the Attorney-General was told all the facts concerning Mr. Charrington? Who was present at the meeting of defence and prosecution counsel, which the Attorney-General chaired? Can the Solicitor-General assist the House as to why a local news agency was urged not to publicise details of the story?
The Solicitor-General : I am not responsible, nor is my right hon. and learned Friend, for reports in local newspapers. I can assure the right hon. and learned Gentleman that the matter was properly investigated. As I said, there was a meeting which was requested by counsel for Mr. Charrington. That meeting was chaired by the Attorney-General, and counsel for the prosecution and I were present. The matter was dealt with properly. As I said, the prosecution was taken by Customs and Excise. That Department took all the material decisions about the conduct of the case.
The Solicitor-General : The Attorney-General has not been consulted about any such prosecutions. He has given instructions that I should deal with any matter in connection with Lloyd's which arises in his Departments.
Mr. Hain : Does the Minister agree that in Lloyd's recently there has been well-documented evidence of insider trading, criminal activity and fraud, and that the Government have treated the whole corruption of the Lloyd's insurance market with a cavalier disregard which contrasts with the way in which they pursue ordinary citizens who may top up their social security benefits with a bit of part-time gardening or something similar? Are there not two standards--one for the rich and one for the poor?
The Solicitor-General : The hon. Gentleman addresses me as a Minister. I am a Law Officer of the Crown and I have duties in respect of the public interest which other Ministers do not have. The hon. Gentleman asked a specific question about Lloyd's. Where there has been evidence of dishonesty, investigations have been rigorously pursued by the regulatory and the prosecuting authorities. The Serious Fraud Office is pursuing two cases which involve Lloyd's and the Crown Prosecution Service is pursuing one.
Mr. Hawkins : Does my hon. and learned Friend agree that it is extremely important for all hon. Members to consider carefully what they say about Lloyd's insurance market? Clearly, untoward things have gone on in Lloyd's during the past year or two, but there is a particular responsibility on the hon. Member for Neath (Mr. Hain) to check his facts before he makes wild allegations. Shortly after the general election, the hon. Gentleman released to the press a list of a number of seats where hon. Members were, he said, names at Lloyd's. That list included my parliamentary seat, because the hon. Gentleman had not noticed that my predecessor had retired. I am not a name at Lloyd's and the hon. Gentleman, despite being made aware of that fact, has refused to apologise either to me or to my predecessor, Sir Peter Blaker.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs (Mr. Mark Lennox-Boyd) : About £28.6 million or1.55 per cent. of the total aid programme was identified as being spent directly on population activities in the calendar year 1992. There is, in addition, much spent through the multilateral institutions.
Mr. Clifton-Brown : The Government stated in the United Kingdom report to the International Conference on Development and Population that development assistance "remains too low". What steps is my right hon. Friend taking to increase resources and, more importantly, to encourage new donor agencies, particularly in the European Union, where countries have not previously contributed aid in that area?
Mr. Lennox-Boyd : The Government continue to encourage the mobilisation of additional resources for population in all suitable international forums, which must include the European Community. My hon. Friend referred to the conference on population, which is in Cairo this year. That provides opportunities for reminding and encouraging greater commitment to population issues.
Mr. Worthington : Does not the Minister think that the people of sub -Saharan Africa, where the population doubles every 25 years, have the same right to choose the size of their families as do the people of Italy, where the population doubles every 3,500 years?
Mr. Lennox-Boyd : The hon. Gentleman is aware that we want policies which encourage people to reach decisions by choice, not by chance. The purpose of all our policies is to give people, and women in particular, the right information and assistance to come to their own decisions about the size of their families.
Mr. Ottaway : Is my hon. Friend aware that last November the United States State Department established a global action committee? Is he further aware that one of that committee's objectives is to give full access to contraception for all people across the globe by 2000? Does my hon. Friend share that objective and, if so, what percentage of the ODA budget should be allocated towards such a programme?
Mr. Lennox-Boyd : We are always loth to adopt specific targets, but we certainly share the objective which my hon. Friend is encouraging. It is significant to remind my hon. Friend that British ODA aid for population has increased by about 60 per cent. during the past four years.
Mr. Lennox-Boyd : The priority objectives for the aid programme for 1994-95 were set out in the speech of my right hon. and noble Friend the Minister for Overseas Development at Chatham House on 18 October 1993, copies of which have been placed in the Library of the House.
Mr. Pike : In that speech, the Minister for Overseas Development said that the poorest nations were unable to benefit fully under the Trinidad terms and that there was a need to extend and improve those terms. In the year ahead, do the Government intend to do that for the poorest and most needy nations in the world?
Column 526have so far benefited. We have also relieved developing countries of £1 billion of aid debt burden. We are continuing to examine debt relief in conjunction with the Paris club.
Mr. Lester : Does my hon. Friend agree that both the Prime Minister and the Chancellor of the Exchequer have committed themselves to the Trinidad terms and argued strongly at the Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting and the World bank meeting in Washington for not only the Trinidad terms but the extended Trinidad terms, to which the Government are also committed?
Mr. Lennox-Boyd : I heartily endorse what my hon. Friend has said. The British Government, and in particular the two members of the Government to whom my hon. Friend referred, can take the fullest possible credit for the Trinidad terms. My right hon. Friend the Prime Minister launched the Trinidad terms himself. I agree with the sentiments expressed by my hon. Friend.
Mr. Tom Clarke : If everything in the garden is so lovely, will the Minister explain why only last week we had an announcement of 47 redundancies of scientific personnel at Chatham? Does he accept that is a direct result of the real cut in overseas aid by the Government, including a cut confirmed in the last Budget? Given that 47 people are to lose their jobs and that some of the poorest countries in the world benefit from their crucial scientific research, where is the Government's strategy for any development for the poorest of this universe?
Mr. Lennox-Boyd : I cannot accept that the job losses at Chatham are a direct result of some suggestion that the Government's aid programme is not substantially increasing. It has increased by 10 per cent. in real terms in the past six years. Of course, there will be redeployment within the aid budget and I suspect that that is what is happening at Chatham. I or my right hon. and noble Friend will write to the hon. Gentleman to give him further briefing on that.
Mr. Brandreth : Has my hon. Friend had the opportunity to read UNICEF's latest report on the state of the world's children? It reminds us that, while much progress has been made, disease still claims some 8 million children's lives each year. That is far more than famine or warfare. Will his priorities include the UNICEF priority of the elimination of disease, especially diarrhoea and pneumonia in children?
40. Ms Quin : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what assessment he has made of the implications of the current position with the general agreement on tariffs and trade for the United Kingdom programme of development assistance.
Ms Quin : What plans does the Minister or his Department have to examine the position of countries which it is forecast will not do well out of the GATT agreement? I am thinking in particular of African countries south of the Sahara. Is not that something which his Department should examine urgently in conjunction with the Minister's European counterparts? What will he do to make sure that our aid and trade policies complement and do not contradict each other?
Mr. Lennox-Boyd : The conclusion of the Uruguay round is of benefit to the world as a whole. It is not a zero sum gain. Everyone could benefit from it, including developing countries. However, the hon. Lady has touched on a point that was anticipated. In the short term, some developing countries that are net food importers will have difficulties. The Uruguay round anticipated that difficulty and the agreement includes provisions to assist those countries. The important thing for the developing world is
Column 528that it will have better market access to the prosperous countries of the world and will face lower protection in those countries in domestic agricultural products, which is what the poor world wants to export to us.
Mr. Jacques Arnold : Is not it the case that, as a result of GATT, developing countries will be able to increase their exports to the extent that the revenue that they will receive therefrom is greater than the aid programmes of the entire western world and Japan put together? Is not that important, because it will allow those countries to get away from the begging-bowl mentality so favoured by Opposition Members?
Mr. Lennox-Boyd : I agree with my hon. Friend. Various studies have concluded that the developing world earns three times as much from trade as it does from aid and that third-world countries will benefit to the tune of some $78 billion per annum once the effects of the agreement have worked through.
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