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Cyprus

4. Mr. Nigel Evans (Ribble Valley): If she will make a statement on the level of assistance her Department gives to Cyprus. [51323]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for International Development (Mr. George Foulkes): Cyprus is a high-income country with gross domestic product per head of $13,000. Under our small grants scheme, we are completing some education projects valued at about £75,000 in the current financial year. We have no plans for future assistance of this kind. The European Union has allocated £51 million to Cyprus, of which the share attributed to our Department is £8.16 million.

Mr. Evans: The European Union is putting a great deal of money into Cyprus. In the context of those funds, could the Minister ensure that people in the north of the island are recognised? I fully understand why the money has to go through the official Government of Cyprus. Does the Minister agree that if aid is spread throughout the island, people on both sides of it and the two Administrations will have to work and talk together about projects?

Mr. Foulkes: Much of the European Union assistance relates to the accession process. The British preference is for a bi-zonal, bi-communal Cyprus joining the European Union. That process can bring a new impetus to efforts to reach a settlement in Cyprus.

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Mr. Robin Corbett (Birmingham, Erdington): Can my hon. Friend assure me that he will do his best to see that the money is used to facilitate contacts and meetings between members of both Cypriot communities? Will he join me in appealing to Mr. Rauf Denktash, the leader of the Turkish Cypriot community, to lift his ban on contacts between those living in the north and those in the south of the island?

Mr. Foulkes: I am wary of entering into issues that are more correctly matters for the Foreign Secretary and the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. Our aim is to ensure that money is spent effectively. As I said earlier, accession to the European Union is used as part of a process for getting better agreement between the two parts of Cyprus.

European Markets (Access)

5. Dr. Vincent Cable (Twickenham): What action her Department is taking (a) with other Government Departments and (b) with its EU counterparts to improve freedom of access to European markets for exports from low-income countries. [51324]

The Secretary of State for International Development (Clare Short): During the United Kingdom presidency we worked with other Departments to reach agreement on the European Union mandate for the negotiations for a successor to the current Lome convention. The UK objective was to ensure that the mandate reflected our commitment, as set out in the development White Paper, to improve freedom of access to European markets for exports from the least developed countries, as well as protecting the current access arrangements for the non-least developed countries. Those objectives were secured in the mandate, and the negotiations themselves will open at the end of September.

Dr. Cable: I thank the Minister for that reply. Does she agree that the considerable value of her aid programme is somewhat undermined by the persistence of trade barriers, notably on agriculture, and also by such measures as were introduced today--the big increase in textile tariffs at the behest of France with the acquiescence of the British Government? Does she further agree that she should take a lead in Whitehall in arguing for a liberal trade regime in Britain's interests and in the interests of low-income developing countries?

Clare Short: I agree with the hon. Gentleman that we must give good trade access to the poorest countries. The least developed countries' share of world trade is less than 0.5 per cent., so we can afford to be generous and build up the frailest economies. It has been agreed that the least developed countries should have zero tariff access to European Union markets, and we hope to entrench that agreement in the World Trade Organisation. I agree with the principle that the hon. Gentleman has expressed. The Lome record shows that the ability of the African, Caribbean and Pacific countries to take up trade access has been disappointing. Their share of EU markets has fallen during the existence of the Lome trade concession. Therefore, we need to help countries to build up their capacity to take up trade preferences and use them. We should work on both fronts.

Mr. Tom Clarke (Coatbridge and Chryston): May I warmly congratulate my right hon. Friend on arresting the

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decline, year by year, in achieving the United Nations target of 0.7 per cent? On Europe, may I ask her to support sustainable tourism, including the protection of rain forests and greater monitoring of the transportation of dangerous materials?

Clare Short: I am grateful to my right hon. Friend. I pay tribute to him for his work in this area, which I am sure helped to bring about that outcome. On sustainable tourism, I agree that many of the poorest countries are tourist destinations. If we can get high-quality tourism, with good training and good rates of pay for local people, it could be an important asset. Similarly, he will know of the Commonwealth-backed Iwokrama rain forest project in Guyana, which is meant to be an exemplar of good tropical forest management. One of the ideas to make that sustainable is to have high-quality ecological tourism. If we arrange that properly, it could be beneficial to all parties.

Mr. John Bercow (Buckingham): Freedom of access to European markets for exports from low-income countries is obviously of the greatest importance, but will the right hon. Lady, in the name of international development, press for global free trade by 2020?

Clare Short: As the hon. Gentleman will probably know, Mr. Ruggiero has called for universal zero tariff access for the least developed countries through the World Trade Organisation and we strongly support that. The hon. Gentleman will also know that another GATT round is coming up in 2000. My Department is doing all that it can to provide access to expertise for developing countries, which make up the majority of WTO members. If they together can decide what they want out of the next round, we could get a beneficial settlement, increase world trade, and ensure that it is equitably distributed and that the poorest countries benefit from globalisation.

Sudan

6. Mr. Bill O'Brien (Normanton): What representations she has made to the international community on hardship in the Sudan; and if she will make a statement. [51325]

The Secretary of State for International Development (Clare Short): On 18 May, I chaired a discussion held by EU Development Ministers on Sudan. Since then, I have discussed Sudan with the executive director of the UN World Food Programme, the United Nations Children's Fund and others. I am particularly concerned that the international community should take full advantage of the recently announced temporary ceasefire in the Bahr el Ghazal region of southern Sudan, and that we should seek to build on that to reach a negotiated settlement in Sudan, which is the real answer; otherwise, the war will cause a continuing threat of humanitarian crisis.

I wrote to my EU Development Minister colleagues on 14 July, urging them to make additional resources available, but the situation remains very worrying and it looks as though the famine will continue through this year into next.

Mr. O'Brien: I thank my right hon. Friend for her reply. Like her, I, other hon. Members and people throughout the UK share the concern over the suffering

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of women and children in Sudan, particularly southern Sudan. What response has she received from other EU Governments to her appeal for more resources for Sudan and what advantage are EU Governments taking of the ceasefire in Sudan to help those people who are suffering, through no fault of their own? Will she give us some indication of what the future is for the people of Sudan?

Clare Short: I am grateful to my hon. Friend. The World Food Programme has said that, for the next couple of months, it has enough resources to deliver the food that is needed in southern Sudan, but let me repeat that 90 per cent. of the spend is going on air drops. That is terrible. People are hungry, and the international community is spending masses of money on aeroplanes. That is why the ceasefire, for which Britain has worked so hard, is so important. It means that we can move in trainloads of food. We are anxious to take advantage of the ceasefire. I have not yet received responses from my EU colleagues, but I stress again that food that is getting in for hungry people is being diverted by fighters. We have to extend the ceasefire. There needs to be a negotiated settlement in Sudan, or we will go from crisis to crisis.

Mr. Andrew Robathan (Blaby): The Secretary of State and I agree that peace is the key to solving the famine in Sudan and I pay tribute to her Foreign Office colleague who I believe was instrumental in achieving the ceasefire recently. Does she agree that famine is being used as a weapon of war in Sudan by both sides, particularly by the Government of Sudan? Their ambassador stated at the International Development Committee recently that Sudan had sufficient food and was even exporting it, but was unwilling to provide food to its own people in the south of the country.

Clare Short: I agree very much with the hon. Gentleman that peace is the answer. The real problem is that the international community has almost given up on Sudan and that humanitarian aid just props up the terrible war economy in which the conditions of the people get ever worse. I also agree that the Government of Sudan and the leadership of factions in the south care little for the welfare of the people and continue prosecuting this endless war. Both should be criticised, but we should all use our influence to extend the ceasefire and achieve a negotiated settlement, as that is the only way forward.

Dr. Jenny Tonge (Richmond Park): Does the Secretary of State accept that her opposition to humanitarian emergency appeals to help the starving people of southern Sudan may--and I emphasise that word--have led some people to think that the British Government are allowing the Government of Sudan to get away with using starvation as a weapon of war? Does she accept that the USA is reported by some sources to be backing the rebels in southern Sudan, where there are oil deposits? In view of that perception, what discussions have taken place with the USA about its potential role in the peace process? [Interruption.]

Madam Speaker: Order. Before the Secretary of State replies, the House must come to order as one can very seldom hear the Members who are speaking. I want to

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hear the response of the Secretary of State. [Interruption.] Order. The House must come to order. Conversations are much too noisy.

Clare Short: Thank you, Madam Speaker.

No. I do not accept that my suggesting that there needs to be international pressure on both sides to gain access rather than telling the public that the problem was lack of resources was in any way an error. The pressure of international public opinion made the Government of Sudan change their mind on flights and access and led the Sudan People's Liberation Army to agree to the ceasefire which, as the hon. Lady knows, it was unwilling to do at first.

It is true that the USA is providing support for capacity building to the factions in the south. I have spoken to Brian Attwood, the head of USAID, about the need to back the ceasefire. Others worry that some elements in the Administration take the position that the hon. Lady put forward. It is absolutely crucial that countries do not line up on the war because of their criticism of the Government of Sudan and allow the people of Sudan to continue to suffer. We must do better to get everyone to work seriously for a negotiated settlement in Sudan.

Mr. Gary Streeter (South-West Devon): While I understand entirely what the Secretary of State is saying about the need for peace, and wish her well in her pursuit of a long-term political settlement, will she take the opportunity this afternoon to give a clear and unequivocal message to the British people that she now accepts that in the south of Sudan at least, more money, food and medical supplies are urgently needed to keep people alive? Will she whole-heartedly endorse the public appeals now being made by UK aid agencies?

Clare Short: No. As I said to the hon. Gentleman, no one should play games with the crisis in Sudan. Millions of people are in danger of dying while 90 per cent. of the money that is provided goes on air drops. We are spending money on aeroplanes while people starve. Much of the food that is getting in is being diverted by fighters from the people in need. We need international concern about Sudan to keep pressure on both sides, first to get in massively more food--and we need the ceasefire for that--and secondly, to press for a negotiated settlement. That is what is needed and that is what I ask British public opinion to seek.


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