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Dr. Jenny Tonge (Richmond Park): Like the rest of the House, I welcome the White Paper, which is being produced after 20 years. I welcome also the emphasis that the White Paper--after much consultation, on which I congratulate the Government--places on my chief concerns: primary education, health and welfare of women, and women's access to health and family planning services. I suspect, however, that the White Paper is strong on words and weak on action. I am very worried by the number of times that the word "encouraged" is used and by how little commitment there is to establishing processes to put proposals into practice.

The White Paper announces that there will be a welcome end to the aid and trade provision, which achieved such notoriety under the previous Government. So far, however, the signs have not been encouraging. The Government's ethical foreign policy sits uncomfortably with arms contracts recently negotiated with Indonesia. [Hon. Members: "Ask a question."] Surely we should be leading the world in reducing tied aid. I was disturbed to note that, in Montserrat, aid was being used to employ a British contractor.

Madam Speaker: Order. I must call the hon. Lady to order. She is not required now to make all the comments that she is making. Back Benchers, too, are not required now to make comments. The exchange between Front Benchers took 30 minutes. As many hon. Members would like to ask a question, I will have to have brisk questions to the Minister if they are to be called. I know that the

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Minister will respond with brisk answers, because she is very articulate. I expect the rest of the House to be likewise.

Dr. Tonge: Thank you very much, Madam Speaker; I misunderstood the purpose of the statement.

I should like to say--[Hon. Members: "Ask a question."] This is a question. I have every confidence in the Secretary of State--if she is able--and in her Department to deliver the aims of the White Paper. I warn her, however, that the road to hell is paved with good questions. Does she carry the rest of the Government--the Department of Trade and Industry, the Treasury and all other Departments--with her, or not?

Clare Short: The hon. Lady is a new hon. Member, and we will therefore have to be a little patient. I know, however, that her intentions are good. I forgot to reply to the right hon. Member for Eddisbury (Sir A. Goodlad) on family planning, but she has also raised the issue. Almost half the people in the world do not have access to family planning, which is a grave breach of their rights and ability to raise healthy and educated children. Our commitment to universal basic health care includes a commitment to reproductive health care and to an expansion in provision for everyone in the world, so that people can make their own decisions about their own family size.

I should explain to the hon. Member for Richmond Park (Dr. Tonge) that a White Paper is an analysis and a statement of permanent Government intent. We are currently engaged in the process of adjusting all our staffing and budgeting, and big amounts of money are moving around within my portfolio. A White Paper is meant to be a long-lasting statement of policy purpose. Implementation follows, and she will see it.

I hope that the Select Committee on International Development will examine the tied aid issue. There is so much muddle in the debate; it would be helpful if everyone--including the World Development Movement--learned the meaning and particulars of tied aid and how best to make progress. The hon. Lady was misinformed on that matter, also.

White Papers are Government White Papers. If the hon. Lady thinks that a White Paper can be published without the support of the Treasury and that the aid and trade provision can be got rid of without the support of the Department of Trade and Industry and the Prime Minister, she does not understand how Government works. This White Paper commits every Government Department. We are united in that commitment and we shall ensure that it is implemented across all our policies.

Mr. Stuart Bell (Middlesbrough): The House will welcome the Secretary of State's noble imperative of attacking world trade--[Hon. Members: "World poverty."] I am sorry--I am confusing my concepts. I have not read the White Paper, but will she confirm that on the back of trade we can expect a rise in living and labour standards in third-world countries? While the International Labour Organisation is an appropriate forum

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for that, will she confirm that there is a role for the World Trade Organisation to help build labour and social standards in developing countries on the back of trade?

Clare Short: I am grateful to my hon. Friend. He will know that the projections of increased wealth in the world from globalisation are very large indeed, but if the process is not well managed, there is a risk that it will marginalise some countries and cause growing inequality within countries. That is why we need support for core labour standards and a strengthening of the ILO.

There are interesting arguments about whether there should be some minimum human rights conditions in the WTO. That argument will continue, but most developing countries are opposed to the idea. Therefore, the way to make progress is through the ILO. We are strengthening our commitment to its work, to core labour standards for everyone and, especially, to the eradication of hazardous child labour.

Mr. Kenneth Clarke (Rushcliffe): Will the Secretary of State accept my congratulations to the Government on their attempts so far to maintain the lead in international forums such as the G7 and others on third-world debt relief, a lead which was first established by Lord Lawson and my right hon. Friend the Member for Huntingdon (Mr. Major), the previous Prime Minister?

The Secretary of State pleased and surprised me by referring with approval to the approach of Michel Camdessus of the International Monetary Fund. Does that mean not only that she is approaching new Labour, but that she is committed to conditionality in debt relief and that debt relief should be tied to compliance with well-judged IMF programmes? Does she accept, as old Labour did not always do, that debt relief with those conditions is the right way forward, because it ties debt relief to good economic policies that deliver sustainable development and does not simply restore credit worthiness to regimes that might squander precious moneys?

Clare Short: I am grateful to the right hon. and learned Gentleman. In fact, Britain's lead on debt relief started under a previous Labour Government, but I have paid full tribute to the right hon. and learned Gentleman's contribution and to that of his Government. However, he will know that some countries say that Britain keeps taking the high ground but not producing too much money. I am sure that he is familiar with the idea that many countries thought that his initiatives were of that kind--good on analysis but short on resources. I pay genuine tribute to the leadership that Britain has given under the previous Government, under the previous Labour Government and now under this Government, with the Chancellor's efforts on debt relief. However, we must do more.

I have enormous regard for Mr. Camdessus. I recommend anyone who worries about the IMF's track record--people were entitled to do so in parts of the 1980s--to read his speech at the last annual meeting, in which he made a commitment to high-quality growth. That is growth which reduces poverty, promotes equality, sustains the environment and respects people's traditions. Earlier, when the IMF imposed conditions that required some of the poorest countries to charge for basic education and health care, it went too far. Mr. Camdessus is much better, and the IMF is healthier in his hands.

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I absolutely agree with the right hon. and learned Gentleman that there has to be conditionality for debt cancellation. If Mr. Mobutu were still in power, I would not be in favour of cancelling his debt. Debt cancellation has to support Governments who want to deliver to the poor. It is because debt hurts the poor that we have to take action. We want to get behind the right kind of conditionality which supports good Governments who encourage human development and the type of economic growth that is sustainable and which helps the poor.

Ann Clwyd (Cynon Valley): I warmly congratulate my right hon. Friend on establishing so quickly the principles according to which she will work in her new Department. I congratulate her especially on the focus on poverty and on women--we all know that investment in women is very good investment.

As the person who brought the scandal surrounding the Pergau dam to the House's attention in the first place, may I ask my right hon. Friend to confirm again that there will be no link between aid and arms in her Department, unlike under the previous Government who linked the two rather too often in the cases of Malaysia and Indonesia?

I am glad that we are aiming to spend 0.7 per cent. of gross national product on aid. Does my right hon. Friend have any idea of the time scale in which that might be achieved? We have had that aim many times in the past, but it is important to establish the time scale.

Clare Short: I am grateful to my hon. Friend, and I pay my respects to her work on exposing the Pergau scandal. Of course there will be no repeat of Pergau, because what happened was illegal. The previous Government were hauled through the courts for breaching their own laws. There will be no link between aid and arms sales under this Administration. It was illegal under the previous Administration.

The aid and trade provision has gone because it distorted the use of aid funds and took them to countries and projects that were not a priority. We are very keen on the availability of credit to attract inward investment that will promote development, but such credit must satisfy proper tests.

Many hon. Members have not thought through the logic of our commitment to reverse the decline in our aid spend. Because the target is a percentage of GNP, considerable year-on-year increases are needed to reverse the decline. How fast we reach 0.7 per cent. depends on economic growth. To keep our promise, we have to make substantial year-on-year increases. That commitment has been upheld by my right hon. Friends the Prime Minister and the Chancellor. The previous Labour Government went steadily up to 0.51 per cent. Labour's record is good.

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