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The Minister of State, Home Office (Mr. Charles Clarke): A number of research studies show that closed circuit television can have considerable success in reducing crime and anti-social behaviour in town centres and elsewhere. We have the largest scheme in the history of this country, and it is delivering substantial reductions in crime in many different ways.
Mr. Clarke: I am grateful to my hon. Friend for that information. I am glad to say that it is typical of what has been happening. The guidelines that we published last February gave priority, in the CCTV bidding process, to three areas: first, rural areas, which my hon. Friend specifically mentioned; secondly, transport to help promote our integrated transport strategy; and, thirdly, out-of-town estates and business parks of the type that he mentioned. If he can get his local council and police to look at the Home Office website, they will find detail that will provide further opportunity for reducing crime in Corby.
The Prime Minister (Mr. Tony Blair): With permission, Madam Speaker, I should like to make a statement about the G8 summit that I have just attended in Okinawa, Japan. Copies of the communiques that we issued, and the accompanying Okinawa charter on the global information society, have been placed in the House Library. I give thanks to Prime Minister Mori, who hosted the occasion with great skill.
We discussed, first, the state of the world economy, which is now recovering well from the financial crises of 1997 and 1998. The reform of the international financial architecture that we set in hand when the UK chaired the G8 is firmly on track. Thirty countries have now signed up to International Monetary Fund assessment of their compliance with the new international codes and standards. The IMF's new contingent credit facility for countries in crisis is in place. We have established a financial stability forum to look at weaknesses in the global financial system, and taken action to involve the private sector more effectively in resolving crises.
We agreed at Okinawa that the next priority is to improve the existing mechanisms for crisis prevention by strengthening IMF surveillance, to reform the multilateral development banks to strengthen their focus on poverty, and to promote improved co-operation and co-ordination between the IMF and the World Bank. Although the worst of the financial crises is behind us, there is no room for complacency. Above all, there was clear recognition at the summit that we must try to launch a new World Trade Organisation trade round this year. Nothing is more important for the world economy than the early and successful conclusion of a new comprehensive trade round.
Secondly, prior to the summit, Prime Minister Mori of Japan chaired a discussion with representatives from the G7, the Organisation of African Unity, the Non-Aligned Movement and the Association of South-East Asian Nations, which underlined once again the immense problems faced by many of the world's least developed countries, particularly Africa--a debilitating, self- reinforcing cycle of conflict, poverty and weak governance.
The G8 agreed to make a renewed effort to implement the Cologne agreement on debt relief. Already, nine countries receive additional relief under the heavily indebted poor countries scheme, worth more than $15 billion. We agreed to quicken the process to get another 11 countries through to decision point by the end of this year--a further $20 billion of debt relief--and to reach out to the countries currently in conflict to see how they can be brought into the process.
We agreed to go further and faster on trade. The European Union is committed to giving the least developed countries duty-free, quota-free access to our markets for almost all products by 2005. We agreed to strengthen the effectiveness of our development assistance and, after years of wrangling, we finally secured a firm timetable for untying aid from January 2002 based on recent progress in the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development.
The G8 also agreed to take forward the UK initiative on conflict diamonds. Britain and Russia will now chair an international conference to consider an international agreement on a certification scheme for rough diamonds and to tackle the link between the trade in illicit diamonds and the conflicts in Sierra Leone and other diamond- producing countries in Africa.
At present, it costs far more to access the internet in Uganda or Kenya than it does here or in the United States. We therefore agreed a series of measures set out in the charter to close the digital divide between the developed and the developing world, with huge potential for delivering educational and medical services cheaply or free across the internet.
That comprehensive programme of action reflects the real sense at the summit that, with our own economies in good shape, the time has come to devote more attention and give a higher priority to the plight of the world's poorest countries. That is not only a matter of solidarity and justice, but a hard-headed economic investment in the markets of the future.
Third on the agenda was the enormous problem of drugs and organised crime. With the global market for drugs now estimated at up to $500 billion a year, we need to see the international cartels for what they are: major international businesses with the same need for banking facilities, working capital and investment funds as any other business. The G8 therefore agreed to a further clampdown on money laundering, tax evasion and banking secrecy. That will be underpinned by the eight standards developed by G7 Finance Ministers in a new report that we published, setting out the measures that financial centres will need to comply with to avoid sanctions in the future.
Fourthly, we discussed the issues raised by genetically modified foods and crops. Obviously, there are still differences of view within the G8 on the risks associated with the new GM technologies, but we all agreed on the need to work harder to establish a clearer scientific consensus and to base policy and trade decisions on science.
Fifthly, on the environment, we agreed to tackle illegal logging and to encourage renewable energy in developing countries, where 2 billion people still have no electricity, and we pledged to work harder on the early entry into force of the Kyoto protocol on climate change.
In addition to the formal business of the summit, I had bilateral meetings with the other G8 leaders. My meeting with President Putin was especially valuable. I also had useful discussions with President Clinton on the middle east, the Balkans and Africa.
People will, of course, always find plenty to criticise when international leaders gather, but it is worth remembering a few points. It was the decisions made following the Birmingham summit two years ago that led to a new global financial architecture that has brought greater stability to the world economy. That is good for jobs and good for living standards. It was at Cologne last year that we made a substantial breakthrough on debt and contributed substantially to ending the conflict in Kosovo.
As a result of the decisions made this year at the G8 summit, over time fewer children will die of killer diseases such as AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria; more children will be lifted out of poverty; more children will get access to basic education; more people in the developing world will get access to computers and electricity; and the measures agreed on crime and drugs will make a real difference in a fight that can be won only at the international level.
Britain played a leading role both in shaping the agenda and in the main outcomes of the summit. Both on the world stage and in Europe, the Government are standing up for Britain and standing up for what is right.
Mr. William Hague (Richmond, Yorks): We welcome much of the summit communique, including the commitment to maximise the benefits of information technology in developing countries; the recognition of the importance of universal primary education; the plan to combat disease such as AIDS, malaria and TB; the renewed effort to combat international crime and drug trafficking; and the measures to prevent conflict, including those to stop the illicit trade in diamonds. We especially welcome the recognition by the G8 of the need to provide improved access for developing countries to the markets of the developed world, and the firm commitment to a new round of World Trade Organisation trade negotiations, if possible this year.
Free trade is the greatest engine of prosperity and progress that there has ever been in developing and developed countries alike. The vacuum left by the failure of Seattle will be filled one way or another. Is it not vital that it be filled by renewed momentum towards free trade? Is there not an overwhelming necessity for the UK Government to renew the commitment of the previous Government to the completion of tariff-free global free trade by 2020 to help to provide that momentum?
I agree with the Prime Minister that it is right for the richer countries to focus on what can be done to help the poorer countries, and, in particular, to free them from crippling debt repayments. The House will welcome the progress made by the United Kingdom in writing off bilateral debt. As has been made clear, some of the delays in debt relief result from developing countries being involved in military conflict, but the many campaigners who have worked tirelessly on the issue have found the lack of progress at the summit deeply disappointing.
The firm commitment to debt relief, which both sides of the House welcomed after the Cologne summit last year, has not yet been matched by firm action. Is the Prime Minister concerned that Jubilee 2000 labelled Okinawa "the squandered summit" and said that
Are the reports correct in suggesting that the Prime Minister hinted at unease over the project in discussions with President Putin? Should not the Government be making the case in Europe for working closely with the United States on that issue? Is it not time to make it clear to the United States that Britain would respond positively to any proposal for the upgrade by the United States of Menwith Hill and Fylingdales as part of a United States-NATO ballistic missile defence, should that be necessary?
Will the Prime Minister confirm reports this morning that he took a relaxed stance on the issue of genetically modified foods, this time siding with the United States? How does he square that with his much-vaunted article in The Independent four months ago, in which he emphasised his cautious approach? He said:
Bearing in mind the failure to agree concrete progress on debt relief, will the Prime Minister comment on reports that the cost of the summit was half a billion pounds, a figure that for everyone is hard to believe? Did the items of expenditure include the construction of a replica of President Clinton's Arkansas home? While recognising that such decisions are for the Japanese Government to make and to defend--[Interruption.] Yes, of course they are. Does the Prime Minister acknowledge the widespread unease that such a sum, or anything like such a sum, should have been spent, when it could have been used to fund the combined debt repayment of up to 17 developing countries for a year--or even another millennium dome?