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Session 1999-2000
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Delegated Legislation Committee Debates

Draft African Development Fund (Eighth Replenishment) Order 1999

Third Standing Committee on Delegated Legislation

Thursday 17 February 2000

[Mr. Mike Hancock in the Chair]

Draft African Development Fund (Eighth Replenishment) Order 1999

9.55 am

The Chairman: This morning we are on slightly familiar territory, as the order has already been discussed once--on 25 January--and was voted on. It was subsequently found that the word "Bank" in the original order should have been replaced by the word "Fund". Therefore, we are back today with an order that has already been discussed.

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for International Development (Mr. George Foulkes): I beg to move,

    That the Committee has considered the draft African Development Fund (Eighth Replenishment) Order 1999.

I thank you most sincerely, Mr. Hancock, for explaining why we are here today. I also make an abject apology to all members of the Committee, particularly those who were also members of the previous Committee, for having to revisit the draft order because of one small drafting error. It was not picked up by anybody until it reached the eagle eye of the Counsel to the Speaker, who saw that in one place the order said "Bank" instead of "Fund". At that time we were dealing with four orders: two were completely different, one dealt with the African Development Bank and one with the African Development Fund, which was discussed at some length. The rules of the House require that we are here again.

I could tell you, Mr. Hancock, about the African Development Fund, as I told the previous Committee, but it may be for the convenience of this Committee and particularly of the hon. Members for Chesham and Amersham (Mrs. Gillan) and for Somerton and Frome (Mr. Heath), if I take that as read.

9.57 am

Mrs. Cheryl Gillan (Chesham and Amersham): I hardly think that this will go down in the political annals as an act of gross incompetence. I am certainly willing--I am sure on behalf of the whole Committee--to accept such a gracious apology from the Under-Secretary. While I am in such a good mood, let me say that my hon. Friend the Member for South-West Devon (Mr. Streeter), who sat on the previous Committee considering the order, was extremely grateful to the Under-Secretary for following up those proceedings by sending him a letter on 16 February, for which I pass on his thanks.

For the sake of taking the argument a little further, on the subject of Zimbabwe, the Under-Secretary said that the paper is at present being considered by his officials in advance of discussion by the bank's executive board later. Will he confirm when he sums up that he will let the House know the outcome of those discussions? On the matter of loans, the Under-Secretary said in the last paragraph of his letter to my hon. Friend the Member for South-West Devon:

    "The Bank will need to remain vigilant to ensure that other borrowers do not slip back into long-term arrears."

Will he tell us what steps he is taking to keep us informed of any cases where long-term arrears become unacceptable?

With that, I shall not detain the Committee any longer. I have no hesitation in supporting the order and I thank the Under-Secretary for making such a full apology.

9.59 am

Mr. David Heath (Somerton and Frome): It is a pleasure to serve under your chairmanship, Mr. Hancock. It is my first opportunity to do so. I fear that this may not be the longest sitting ever, so we may have to look forward to another occasion.

I also thank the Under-Secretary, whom I forgive a great deal on many occasions. He has used his customary charm to explain why we are back in Committee on an order that we had assumed we had dealt with. I do not think that anyone will hold it against him that we find ourselves in this position.

We have had the debate already and the Under-Secretary has explained the position. He referred last time to the institutional strategy paper and the way in which he saw the Government working with the African Development Bank and the African Development Fund to ensure that they meet the objectives that we commonly share for those institutions. I do not think that he needs to expand greatly on that today. We shall certainly support the order.

Mr. Foulkes: I thank the hon. Members for Chesham and Amersham and for Somerset and Frome for their kind remarks. It certainly was not gross incompetence, and I am grateful to the hon. Lady for saying that. Although it was a slight error, we are looking at why it occurred and will try to ensure that it does not recur.

I said in the letter that the meeting would take place in Zimbabwe later this month, but it has been postponed because of the situation there. I shall certainly keep the hon. Lady in touch with progress. She also asked us to remain vigilant in relation to the African Development Bank. As I said when the Committee last met, I hope to attend the bank's annual meeting. I undertake to write to the hon. Lady, and, indeed, to the hon. Gentleman, who represent two separate parties--

Mr. Heath: Very.

Mr. Foulkes: --very different parties--about the outcome of the meeting, so that any queries can be dealt with.

In conclusion, I thank you, Mr. Hancock, for your exemplary, balanced, wise and distinguished chairmanship. Perhaps I should quit while I am ahead.

The Chairman: I thought for one moment that the hon. Member for Greenock and Inverclyde (Dr. Goodman) was hovering with intent, but I see that he remains seated.

Question put and agreed to.

Resolved,

    That the Committee has considered the draft African Development Fund (Eighth Replenishment) Order 1999.

The Committee rose at two minutes past Ten o'clock. The following Members attended the Committee:
Hancock, Mr. Mike (Chairman)
Donohoe, Mr.
Etherington, Mr.
Foulkes, Mr.
Gibson, Dr.
Gillan, Mrs.
Godman, Dr.
Heath, Mr. David
McGuire, Mrs.
Prosser, Mr.
Ruffley, Mr.
Turner, Mr. Dennis

 
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