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The summit communique , which was agreed at the social summit, says:

"Programmes drawn up by institutions like the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund, designed to restructure the economies of developing countries, should take social factors more into account to avoid disruption".

I hope that the CDC realises that it is not accurate to say that World bank and IMF programmes are widely accepted. Even the World bank and the IMF admit that they have made major errors in their structural adjustment programmes. I hope that that matter will be brought to the CDC's attention.

That apart, we agree that the CDC is well thought of in the House. It has achieved a great deal and is living proof that good-quality industrial and commercial development can be carried out in the most unpromising circumstances. It is extremely good that the CDC should be attempting initiatives in some countries in Africa where it is currently operating-- like Sierra Leone and Sudan. I doubt whether it is operating in some of those countries, as nothing industrial or commercial is likely to be going on in Liberia at present, although the annual report says it is.

The Government do not make enough use of the CDC, and the major question that I wish to raise is whether the Bill goes far enough, in terms not only of its borrowing requirements but of commercial freedom. Will the Minister clear up that matter? Is the CDC allowed to borrow commercially if its wants to? If not, why not?

That is basically the problem with the Post Office. The Labour party believes that some organisations in the public sector could be given more freedom. The CDC is trying to achieve the maximum possible economic and social development, particularly in sub-Saharan Africa, and it would be tragic if such development could not proceed successfully, because the CDC was held up by Treasury rules and Government dogma, which currently prevents the Post Office from being liberated.

Mr. Campbell-Savours: Will my hon. Friend press the Minister to reply to that point during the course of his contribution? I am not being mischievous again, but it would help the debate if the Minister would deal with the specific point that my hon. Friend put, which is extremely important and repeatedly raised with us by development organisations.  

Mr. Worthington: It is the crucial point. Perhaps the Minister will tell us what the CDC says to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. Does it believe that it has enough commercial freedom? I am willing for the Minister to intervene.

Does the CDC believe that the Bill before us is the one that will enable it to do its job to the best of its capabilities? I am keeping going to give the Minister every opportunity to answer. Does the CDC have the freedom to enable it to do valuable work in the

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developing world to the best of its ability, or is it at all hamstrung by Government restrictions? Does the Minister wish to intervene?

Mr. Baldry: I will answer later.

Mr. Campbell-Savours: No. It would help our debate. This is a debate.

Mr. Worthington: My other questions are about zones of operation. Where is the CDC allowed to operate? There is a strange part in the annual report about countries in which the CDC is allowed to operate. That is directly under the Minister's control. What agreements have been reached with the CDC about specific zones of operation? I was unfortunately called out during part of the Minister's speech, and he may have discussed the matter, but we need complete clarity about central and eastern Europe. Will the CDC be allowed to operate in central and eastern Europe, or will it be restricted? Will we be told whether it has been decided that at present the CDC should not be allowed to operate in central and eastern Europe? I do not oppose it operating there, because I believe that the CDC could do a valuable job, but what decision has been taken on that matter? As my hon. Friend the Member for Eccles (Ms Lestor) said, we would not want money that would otherwise contribute to economic development in sub-Saharan Africa to go into central and eastern Europe. That is not to say that the CDC does not have a role in that region--I think it does--but I do not think that the Minister mentioned that crucial subject.

Will the Minister also clarify some matters in relation to South Africa? In the most recent annual report accessible to us, we are told that the CDC is not allowed to operate in South Africa. I am sure that that has changed. South Africa has been a Commonwealth country and, since it is the key country in that part of the world--the Minister mentioned it in his speech- -the CDC will operate there. On what scale will it operate? I referred, perhaps wrongly, to a marginal increase. It is not a marginal increase, but I do not want the CDC to be hamstrung. To what extent will the CDC be fully encouraged to do the work that it would want to do in South Africa? That is another key question.

Will the Minister specifically say whether the CDC will be allowed to operate in the middle east? The Prime Minister has just returned from Gaza. The greatest need in Gaza and on the west bank is for economic development, so that the people rapidly realise that change is occurring. The skill of the CDC is that it reaches an area before the private sector is fully committed, and Gaza and the west bank are such areas. Once again, I ask the Minister: what is the ruling of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office about whether the CDC will be able to operate in that region?

There are several important questions, one of which was asked by my hon. Friend the Member for Workington. The Minister has not answered it. My hon. Friend mentioned structure and commercial freedom, and asked whether the rules that are laid down now are the right ones for the CDC.

I want assurances from the Minister that the CDC and the Government are aware of the widespread questions about World bank and International Monetary

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Fund policies that are regarded as having been deeply flawed. I should not like the CDC to be in a time warp in which it would say that they were fully acceptable.

I should like the Minister to answer the geographical questions but, as he will gather, there is general Opposition support for the CDC.

4.54 pm

Mr. Menzies Campbell (Fife, North-East): As everyone knows, the Bill will receive a Second Reading, and I hope that it will pass all its remaining stages this evening. The Second Reading debate gives us the opportunity to mention several general matters concerning the CDC, as well as certain matters with which the Bill is not expressly concerned but which are none the less relevant.

As was said at the outset, it is interesting that the CDC has retained its place in the public sector, on the ground, as I understand it, that to be there is more consistent with its development role. That shows, to the satisfaction of some of us in the House, that at least there are some bounds to the Government's doctrinaire approach to privatisation. In many respects, I have always thought that that was a pretty arid argument, because the issue must surely be the effectiveness of an organisation rather than its place in one sector or the other.

It is important to realise that a large contribution to the new investments made by the CDC arises from surpluses and recycled funds. That puts a large premium on good management and sound

decision-making. We can have some confidence in that regard. The Minister has referred to the 1992 Monopolies and Mergers Commission report, to point to its conclusion--that the help provided by the CDC is especially valuable to the economies of developing countries. In another important element, the report recognised the competence and dedication of the staff of the corporation. It is also worth noticing that the operating costs of the CDC are very low, and bear favourable comparison with other similar organisations.

Like the hon. Member for Clydebank and Milngavie (Mr. Worthington), I am worried about the issue of areas of operation. Indeed, during the period of the hon. Gentleman's enforced absence during the Minister's speech, I drew the Minister's attention to the issue of Gaza and the west bank. It seems to me--I think there is some recognition of that in the policy that attaches to the CDC--that it is thought to be legitimate that the CDC should operate in a region where some element of the interest of the United Kingdom arises. Having visited Israel shortly before Christmas last year, and having continued since then to try to keep a monitoring eye on events in the middle east, and especially that part of the middle east, I am convinced that the success of the peace process established in the middle east, and especially involving the Palestine Liberation Organisation and the Israeli Government, will largely depend on the extent to which the economic aspirations of many people in Gaza and the west bank can be recognised and fulfilled.

The Prime Minister's visit this week is timely and appropriate. I understand from some of the reports that he took with him many people with commercial interests, one of whom at least, I understand, said on

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the aeroplane on the way back that he would find it perfectly possible to work with any sensible Government, including, apparently, a Labour Government. Whether the Prime Minister thinks that the fare of that member of the party was justified is another matter entirely.

As I said, the success of the peace process will depend on the extent to which there is economic development. I cannot conceive of a region in which we have greater political interest at the moment than the middle east.

Having raised that case and indulged in what one might fairly call special pleading in relation to it, I am immediately conscious of the argument by the hon. Member for Clydebank and Milngavie that those with interests in the third world, and especially non-governmental organisations there, have a legitimate anxiety that expansion or possible expansion into eastern Europe will be at the expense of Africa.

Do the additional borrowing powers that the Bill now affords to the CDC suggest an intention that profits from impoverished parts of Africa will be used to finance new investments in eastern and central Europe? If that were to be the case, many hon. Members on both sides of the House would consider that an inappropriate way for the CDC to proceed.

Many hon. Members recognise the CDC's potential role in central and eastern Europe, but as has already been said, surely that should be done through the provision of additional funds--new money. It should not be done at the expense of other areas, particularly Africa, where the CDC has been traditionally active. The Minister properly referred to that when he listed a number of admirable CDC projects. I have no criticism of clauses 1 and 2, which are perfectly sensible. Clause 3 relates to remuneration, pensions and allowances. I am pleased to note that they are to be determined by the Secretary of State and not by a committee of the Confederation of British Industry.

We will want to know from the Minister what Secretary of State expects to be the outcome of the new flexibility. Does he expect the total cost to go up or down? The word "flexibility" is often used to justify some change in policy. Those of us who have regard to public transport know that "flexibility" almost always means a reduction in service. When one talks about wages or the income of manual workers, "flexibility" almost always means a reduction in those wages or income. When used in the context of executives and board members, "flexibility" almost always means an increase.

Somewhere within the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, someone must have done a calculation of the financial consequences of passing clause 3 into law. I should like to know precisely what estimate the Secretary of State has made of the consequences of doing that. It is worth reminding ourselves that, by the end of 1993, the corporation was involved in more than 340 businesses, which provided, on a calculation, several hundred thousand jobs. The nature of those projects means that they often extend over 10 or even 20 years. They are therefore long-term investments in the economies in which they are placed.

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We must ask ourselves whether some constraints have been placed on the activities of that success story to which it would have perhaps been preferable that the Bill had turned its attention. In particular, can the Minister tell me why the CDC continues to be liable to United Kingdom corporation tax, when the Select Committee on Foreign Affairs endorsed the recommendation of the Monopolies and Mergers Commission that it should no longer be subject to that tax? The Committee pointed out that, were it not subject to that tax, two things would flow from that. First, additional funds would be available by virtue of the remission of corporation tax. Secondly, and perhaps more significantly, the CDC's ability to negotiate favourable tax status in host countries would be enhanced. That would have a multiplier effect on the investments by the CDC.

The other element of finance that certainly requires consideration and explanation is the application of nil net funding and the least-cost rule. What consequences will they have on the CDC's ability to fulfil its responsibilities? To turn the matter round and put it in a more practical way, what additional amounts could be raised for the activities of that success story if neither nil net funding nor the least-cost rule were to be applied to the corporation?

The Bill is narrow in scope, but it leaves a number of important questions unanswered. I hope that we will have an early chance to return to them, because one thing is certain: as the debate has demonstrated so far, the corporation commands the attention and support of the House. If its success is such as has been justified in the debate, surely it is entitled to a greater freedom and an enhanced role.

5.4 pm

Ms Glenda Jackson (Hampstead and Highgate): I should like to concentrate on one specific matter, which I hope that the Minister will be able to address.

The hon. Member for Stamford and Spalding (Mr. Davies)--regretfully, he is not in his place now--intervened on the Minister and asked for categorical assurances that any investment entered into by the CDC would be subject to the most rigorous financial safeguards. In essence, he believed that, when considering an investment, the CDC should act like a private company, which has responsibilities to its shareholders. The Minister gave that categorical assurance. We all agree that the resources given to the CDC are less than those that, ideally, we would like to give it. The only strictures governing the CDC that seem to matter relate to finance. Why do we not also issue strictures about the gross abuse of human rights that takes place around the world, and particularly in countries that are in desperate need of development and inward investment?

There is something illogical in judging the value of the individual nation state exclusively on the lowest possible wages that it is prepared to accept and the longest possible hours that it will demand its workers

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to work. That may balance the books according to accountants, but it neglects the greatest resource of any nation state--its people. Developing nations are increasingly guilty of abusing human rights associated with work and the development of industry. Any kind of democratically based argument against impositions from central Government may preclude the introduction of human rights, but brings in its train human rights abuses. The nation state Government argue that such criticism of their action goes to the basis of the economic development of their country.

The abuse of human rights has meant that trade union leaders have been murdered and abused, many of them women. Newspapers have been closed down, and journalists have disappeared. Writers who speak out against the governing regime are forced into hiding in their own countries, or even flee their own countries to find sanctuary abroad.

One of my constituents has been the victim of the current gross abuse of human rights in a Commonwealth country, Nigeria. I refer to the daughter of Chief Abiola, who, as we know--

Mr. Deputy Speaker (Mr. Michael Morris): Order. I hope that the hon. Lady will relate that example to something to do with the CDC. If not, she is not in order.

Ms Jackson: I began my argument by saying that the Government have issued certain strictures which relate exclusively to the funding and financial structure of the CDC.

Mr. Deputy Speaker: Order. I have listened most attentively to the hon. Lady, and she was about to refer to an individual case. That case must relate to something to do with the CDC; otherwise, those comments are not in order.

Ms Jackson: I am grateful to you, Mr. Deputy Speaker. If I might continue my argument a little further, I believe that it is equally important that implementation of the necessary CDC projects are governed just as much by respect for human rights in the third world as they are by financial considerations. I must admit that I had intended to cite another individual's case--that of Ken Saro Wiwa, another Nigerian who has suffered gross human rights abuses from his Government.

Mr. Deputy Speaker: Order. This is not a debate between the Chair and the hon. Lady. There are two Commonwealth debates today, and it would be entirely appropriate for the hon. Lady to raise individual cases affecting the Commonwealth in the second debate. We are on the Second Reading of the Commonwealth Development Corporation Bill. I hope that she will bear that in mind.

Ms Jackson: I am grateful, Mr. Deputy Speaker, but rather disappointed that it is impossible for you and me to have a debate on this matter. I shall certainly consider what you have said, and perhaps redraft my arguments.

Mr. Campbell-Savours: One of the principal arguments in the development movement over the years is that, before British support is provided, whether

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through the CDC or via the Overseas Development Administration directly to overseas countries or corporations, there should be greater consideration of human rights. There is an argument that one should not allocate money to countries in which there are abuses of human rights. In the context of the individual cases about which my hon. Friend obviously wishes to speak, she might care to reflect on whether there should be CDC support for the countries in which those cases have occurred.

Ms Jackson: That was to be the main thrust of the argument that I was beginning to develop. We have established that there is limited funding for the CDC and for other development agencies. I do not think that any country can claim to have an absolutely clean slate on abuses of human rights, but it should be a prerequisite that no sizeable funding, and certainly no pump priming, should be provided to countries in which there are such abuses.

In Nigeria, pump priming has led to increased development of the oil industry.

Mr. Worthington: My hon. Friend's example of Nigeria is particularly appropriate. I understand that the CDC is no longer putting new investment into Nigeria, because of the human rights abuses of people such as Ken Saro Wiwa and Chief Abiola. Such abuses have convinced the CDC that Nigeria is not an appropriate place in which to invest money. That is to the enormous detriment of the largest black African country, which is being denied CDC resources because of its Government.

Ms Jackson: That is the essential point: it is the people in such countries who are suffering most grievously. As my hon. Friend has said, the Nigerian Government have been found repugnant by the CDC and by others, because of the way that they have totally ignored every kind of democratic principle, and have overthrown a duly elected President.

They have imposed a military regime which has been responsible for murder and rape and the illegal imprisonment of intellectuals such as Ken Saro Wiwa, who was held without trial from May 1994 until February of this year. He was subjected to torture in prison, and he was manacled and kept in the dark and without food for more than 60 days. The Government of Chief Abiola, who was the democratically elected President of that country, were totally overturned by a general, who was himself overthrown by a military coup.

Before my hon. Friend intervened, I was discussing pump priming. There should be a proviso that pump priming does not lead to the destruction of land, as is happening in Nigeria as a result of oil development. The land of the Ovoni people, whose leader is Ken Saro Wiwa, has been destroyed by what they claim are the grossly anti-environmental practices of Shell Oil in that region. It is alleged that that is being done at the behest of the central Government, who are desperate for as much foreign revenue as they can suck in. It is also alleged that the money is not being spent in the best interests of that developing nation, but is being used for corrupt practices by an illegal regime.

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Human rights should be central to the CDC's considerations when apportioning money to schemes. Such apportionment may begin with the best of intentions, but it gives little or no satisfaction to hon. Members or to the country to see desperately needed funds for developing countries being given to regimes which may occasionally provide bread and clean water and the beginnings of a health service and education, but which are mainly concerned with abusing human rights and human dignity.

I end where I began. Any consideration by the CDC of investment in schemes should not relate exclusively to economic realities and balances.

Mr. Hugh Bayley (York): My hon. Friend makes an important point-- that, in deciding investment priorities, the CDC should look not only at whether a sound commercial case has been made for an investment which will work and contribute to a country's development, but also at the wider social circumstances in that country. Although there has been no investment in Nigeria for the past year, for the reasons which my hon. Friend the Member for Clydebank and Milngavie (Mr. Worthington) spelled out, some countries with human rights records which give rise to concern have had investments in recent years. One of those is Indonesia, which has occupied, against our Government's wishes, East Timor. I accept that Nigeria is extremely important, but would my hon. Friend like to press the Minister on the wider question of human rights abuses in some of the countries in which the CDC is currently investing?

Ms Jackson: I shall certainly put that to the Minister again. I would not expect a categorical assurance at the end of the debate, but in winding up perhaps the Minister will say whether the Government are thinking of taking on board the concerns that are being expressed not only by hon. Members and by non-governmental agencies and organisations but by people all over the world. We wish to assist in the development of third- world countries and to ensure sustainable development for the world as an entity, and the issue of human rights should be central to funding and even to selecting projects. By pump-priming major schemes, we want to develop individual abilities and enhance human dignity. We do not want simply to make a few people very rich and a very large number even more abjectly poor.

5.17 pm

Mr. D. N. Campbell-Savours (Workington): My hon. Friend the Member for Hampstead and Highgate (Ms Jackson) has raised an interesting aspect of the debate. In an intervention, my hon. Friend the Member for York (Mr. Bayley) spoke about Indonesia. Perhaps he is not aware that, according to the annual report of the Commonwealth Development Corporation, the CDC has an office in Indonesia--the country that stands charged before the United Nations with abusing civil rights in many ways.

I am sure that the CDC will want to pursue that issue and perhaps write to those of us who are present for the debate. Perhaps it will explain why it feels that,

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in the context of current abuses, which are the subject of repeated representations in the House, it is in order for it to invest some of its money in that country.

Mr. Bayley: I should like to make a brief intervention about Indonesia. According to the latest annual report by the CDC, in the most recent year an additional £13 million was invested in three new projects in Indonesia. A further two are due to come on stream in the next financial year. It is not just a question of continued investment in Indonesia: by comparison with many other CDC eligible countries, it is a high level of investment.

Mr. Campbell-Savours: The mind boggles as we getfurther into this discussion. One wonders what more would come out if we had time to consider the documents that some of us have received only in the past few moments.

The debate on the Commonwealth Development Corporation (Raising of Limits on Borrowing and Advances) Order 1992 took place on 4 March in the 1st Standing Committee on Statutory Instruments. Baroness Chalker, the then Minister, is now in the other place. I argued that the name of the Commonwealth Development Corporation needed to be changed. One recommendation in the quinquennial review states:

"Further consideration should be given in the context of a possible CDC Bill to the case for and against changing CDC's name". I presume that much discussion had taken place in the Department. I argued that the name should be changed to either the British Development Corporation or to the International Development Corporation.

To some extent, my case is supported by recommendation 11 in the review, which states:

"There should not in future be a target for the proportion of investments in the commonwealth".

That suggests--I am not arguing against this; there might be sensible reasons for it--that the Government and the Commonwealth Development Corporation foresee playing a lesser role in Commonwealth countries as against other countries that might have equally important calls on resources.

I and many of my hon. Friends have visited countries where the CDC has done excellent work--I think, in particular, of Malaysia. I have visited projects there on two occasions, and I have seen the formidable work that has taken place, and the major contribution that has been made to the local economy. When I visit some countries, however, I sense a slight uneasiness when I mention matters to do with the British Commonwealth, especially in the context of the debate that is taking place on the World Service about the CDC's activities, which seem to promote principles of privatisation. I am not expressing a reservation about the need to promote arguments about privatisation in certain parts of the world--they might be sensible arguments. The question is whether those arguments should be advanced in the context of an organisation that is referred to as the Commonwealth Development Corporation. It is as if we were exporting our culture through an organisation

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that, historically, has bound people in a family of nations. There is almost a patronising intonation when one is promoting such principles of privatisation.

If there is to be a reduced role in the Commonwealth, why do not we change the name? Why does it not become the British or International Development Corporation? Why do we have to hang on to a name that, in some people's minds, relates beyond the Commonwealth to the colonial past? To some extent, we should perhaps withdraw from using terminology that some people might interpret as neo-colonial. I am not suggesting that the Commonwealth is a colonial organisation today, but some people in underdeveloped countries might view it as such. I understand that some work has been done in Vietnam. Why should the organisation be known as the Commonwealth Development Corporation in Vietnam? The Vietnamese may not want to be reminded of their experience under colonialism by an organisation that was previously named the Colonial Development Corporation. This is only a fine point, and perhaps I am labouring it, but it was sufficiently important for the quinquennial review to suggest that the matter should be discussed in the context of legislation to be brought before the House of Commons.

The review states:

"Over the next Quinquennium, at least 70 per cent. of board approvals each financial year should be for poor (IDA eligible) countries".

But in the debate, Baroness Chalker said:

"In 1987, we further agreed with CDC that at least 60 per cent. of new investment should be made in low-income countries".--[ Official Report, First Standing Committee on Statutory Instruments , 4 March 1992; c. 3.]

I presume that a commitment was made in the review to increase the proportion of money that is spent in International Development Association, low-income countries. Was that recommendation accepted? Reading the Library brief, one is led to believe that it was. I should like it placed on the record that that principle has been accepted by Ministers.

I understand my hon. Friends' concerns about how precious moneys could be diverted from underdeveloped countries to the former Soviet Union and to eastern and central Europe. However, the CDC has a critically important role to play in that part of world. Not many organisations have the international expertise that it has. Some years ago, when I had responsibility for these matters on the Labour Front Bench, my hon. Friend the Member for Cynon Valley (Mrs. Clwyd) and I had lunch with the CDC, when the issue was raised of the extent to which we should be involved in eastern and central Europe and the former Soviet Union.

I understand that Ministers have conceded that some developments may occur in that regard. I argue that we should substantially uplift our commitment- -through organisations such as the CDC--to invest in eastern and central Europe by taking the route endorsed by my hon. Friend the Member for Eccles (Miss Lestor). She said that we should allow the CDC to borrow more freely from commercial markets, and to be free from constraints. The Minister may correct me, but it may be that Treasury rules are restricting the CDC from deploying its experince.

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5.28 pm

Mr. Jim Lester (Broxtowe): I apologise to the two Front-Bench spokesmen for not being here earlier. I was with the Foreign Minister from Cambodia. One reason why the Bill is going through is that it will enable the Commonwealth Development Corporation to borrow more money so that it can do its valuable work in Cambodia as well as Vietnam. It seems apposite to welcome the Bill and to say how much one supports it and, in particular, how much one supports the CDC. Some years ago, the Select Committee on Foreign Affairs carefully considered the CDC. All of us who have travelled and seen the CDC's work in so many countries, especially the most difficult countries, where inward and private investment is hard to attract, know that its achievements are remarkable.

One wants to support everything that anyone has said that is helpful to the CDC. I commend the Bill to the House, and I hope that it will be passed as quickly as possible. With its long experience in so many countries, the CDC brings tremendous benefit back to this country in terms of what we are able to achieve, but more particularly, it benefits the countries in which it operates. 5.30 pm

Mr. Hugh Bayley (York): I welcome the Bill. Will the Minister give the House a definition of what the Government mean by "poor"? He said that a proportion of the funding--70 per cent. I believe--will go to "poor" countries. After the Pergau fiasco, the Government decided that aid and trade provision would no longer be given to countries with a per capita GNP of more than $700. Will the same level apply to the CDC loans in future?

Given that the Government will not in future be making contributions to the CDC's loan stock, and that moneys it lends will in future be coming from repayments from developing countries, I would be extremely uneasy if poor developing countries were paying back their loans to create a loan stock for relatively richer countries in eastern Europe.

What assurance can the Minister give the House that, if there is a policy change which allows an expansion of the CDC's operations in eastern Europe- -which I broadly welcome--the loans made there will not be financed from repayments made by poorer countries?

5.31 pm

Mr. Baldry: I shall try to respond to the various points that have been made.

Sometimes, there seemed to be an internal debate about whether people want the CDC to invest in eastern Europe. What has come out of the debate is broad agreement and support for the work that the CDC does. I am proud to trumpet its success, and I am sure that colleagues from both sides of the House will trumpet its successes around the world and in the United Kingdom.

The Government's responsibility under the CDC Acts is to set out a strategic policy framework in which the CDC operates: it is not to second- guess it. Decisions on individual investments are the responsibility of the CDC board. There may well be occasions on which we would request the CDC to delay investments in

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countries where aid programme activities have been suspended on human rights grounds. The hon. Member for Clydebank and Milngavie (Mr. Worthington) raised some tension about the fact that one can sometimes withdraw support from a country and make things more difficult.

The hon. Member for Hampstead and Highgate (Ms Jackson) mentioned Nigeria. The hon. Lady may wish to stay for the next debate and make a further contribution. We would all support the comments made today by the Commonwealth Secretary-General. He said that developments in Nigeria

"underscore the point that, unless and until the military Government speedily returns the country to democratic rule, Nigeria's current ills, including instability and potential for disastrous conflict, will continue to worsen."

I am sure that we all agree with that.

Many hon. Members asked about the coverage of the CDC. It is pretty comprehensive. It is now doing significant business in India and Pakistan, and more recent additions include South Africa and Vietnam.

The CDC asks for the Government's permission if it wishes to operate in a new country. Obviously, we look to the CDC to take a view on where it is best placed to deploy its skills. It is important not to spread financial and management resources too thinly. In fact, the CDC has not asked for permission to invest in eastern Europe or the former Soviet Union. If it did so, we would have to consider that request carefully, because a number of other bodies, such as the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, already exist with a remit to promote investment in eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union. We would have to consider carefully whether the CDC had any comparative advantages over other organisations. As I have said, the CDC has not yet made such a request.

The CDC has not made any request about the west bank or Gaza. If it did, again we would give it careful consideration.

Mr. Menzies Campbell: Can the Minister say what criteria the Government would take into account if such an application were made?

Mr. Baldry: Clearly, as has been evidenced by my comments about eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union, it would depend to a certain extent on what other instruments there were to support those countries, whether we thought that the CDC could make a contribution, and the arguments that the CDC put to us.

For example, the CDC has been given permission to extend its work into central America--Nicaragua, the Dominican Republic and Guatemala--and has done so because that complemented the work it was doing with the Commonwealth Caribbean. That made a lot of sense. However, it has not made a request to extend its work into South America or China. We would consider such requests on their merits. Some comments were made about the possibility of any changes in clause 3 leading to an expansion in the pay and remuneration of the board of the CDC. It is fair to put on record the fact that the board is currently made up entirely of non-executives. The annual report for 1993 shows that six of those non-executives drew a remuneration of less than £5,000, and only one drew

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