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9.51 pm

Mr. Wilson: With the leave of the House, Mr. Speaker, I shall wind up the debate.

I agree with the right hon. and learned Member for North-East Fife (Mr. Campbell) that the debate has been good and thoughtful. It has proved one thing beyond doubt: a Tory boycott greatly enhances the quality of debate in the Chamber. I can say with absolute confidence that less nonsense has been spoken from the Tory Back Benches tonight than on any occasion since 1997--long may that continue.

On a much more serious note, I have been asked by several Members whether there is any further news from Zimbabwe this evening. We contacted the high commission in Harare at 9.15 and there is nothing further to report. However, as I told the House earlier, we shall take stock in the morning and we shall of course keep hon. Members informed.

I shall try to cover some of the issues raised during the debate. Obviously, I shall write to hon. Members on other matters. We discussed Indonesia, the western Sahara and many other topics of real and detailed concern to hon. Members. I undertake to write to hon. Members on those subjects that I cannot cover.

25 Apr 2001 : Column 408

I have some good news for my hon. Friend the Member for Islington, North (Mr. Corbyn), who referred to the importance of the meetings in Geneva this week of the United Nations Commission on Human Rights. I fully agree with my hon. Friend's comments on the significance of those meetings. I am delighted to inform the House that earlier today, in Geneva, we and our EU partners secured the adoption by consensus of a draft resolution on torture. As a result the mandate of the UN special rapporteur on torture, Sir Nigel Rodley, has been renewed for a further three years. In achieving that, we had to fight off repeated attempts from some countries to weaken that mandate and, indeed, to criticise the UN special rapporteur for his work. The steps that are being taken are incremental, but I contend that they are taking us in the right direction, with Britain in the vanguard.

My hon. Friend the Member for Bury, North (Mr. Chaytor) and other hon. Members asked about our position on Kyoto. The UK's position on climate change is to be publicly committed to achieving our Kyoto targets. We do not think that there is a need for a specific climate change Bill, because the programme announced in November 2000 will reduce greenhouse emissions far beyond the Kyoto targets of 12.5 per cent. According to those criteria, they will be 23 per cent. below 1990 levels by 2010. We shall continue to hold a dialogue with the United States on its position, but there is no doubt about our position; it is support for achieving the Kyoto targets.

I shall use the few minutes left for my speech mainly to discuss ethical foreign policy--three words that should certainly cross the lips of anyone who speaks on behalf of the United Kingdom on foreign affairs. We should proceed with some humility; there are few absolutes in these matters and we should all recognise that, whatever we do, sometimes we make errors and misjudgments. However, the two criteria that matter are, first, motives and, secondly, the knowledge that progress is being made. On both those counts, I believe that the Government, especially the Foreign Secretary, have been true to the ethical objectives that we set ourselves in 1997. Frankly, I am not greatly interested in the views of the Tory party, in relation to which a decent period of silence on those matters should be measured in decades rather than mere years.

I welcome the judgment of Amnesty International, which said:

--of the Labour Government in office--

It is a long time since Amnesty said that about a British Government. I value Lord Scott's view, as quoted by my hon. Friend the Member for Harlow (Mr. Rammell), who made an observation about the remarkable change that he can see, compared with the grubby and reckless scandals on which he reported just a few years ago under another Administration.

The hon. Member for Winchester (Mr. Oaten) asked me to comment on the arms export Bill. The export control Bill will be a major measure. It is not as though nothing has happened in the past four years, but if we introduce something as major as an export control Bill, there must be consultation. If we aim to streamline existing procedures, some of which date back to the second world war and, in addition, introduce new provisions in complex matters, such as trafficking and

25 Apr 2001 : Column 409

brokering, it is important to allow adequate time for consultation. It is equally important that the past four years should not have been a hiatus during which nothing happened.

From my own relatively recent experience in dealing with such applications, I can assure the hon. Gentleman and the House about the thoroughness, care and depth with which each application in researched and about the way in which we who ultimately have to make the decisions treat them and try to get the balance right in each case. The Government remain committed to introducing such a Bill as soon as possible.

On the specific point about prior scrutiny by the Committee, I can assure the hon. Gentleman that it remains under consideration, subject to those complex issues, including those that he mentioned, such as commercial confidentiality and the timely processing of export licence applications. The motive comes from the two criteria that I mentioned earlier. First, the motivation must be right. Secondly, progress is being made in that direction. Again, to compare the position now with that four years ago is to compare day with night. Perhaps that is the reason why the Conservative Back Benches are silent and empty. People's memories go back more than four years.

On the ethical foreign policy, we have a good story to tell, and across the world since 1997, the United Kingdom has set the agenda as a force for good. If we consider issues that were stale and hopeless and about which people despaired of progress being made, such as the Lockerbie trial, the Salman Rushdie fatwa, the Balkans and the role of Milosevic, East Timor, Sierra Leone and so on, the United Kingdom has been in the vanguard of ethical policies. Perhaps things are imperfect. We make no claims of perfection, but the policy is certainly ethical and progressive. We have taken a stand in defence of the United Nations Security Council resolutions on Iraq and on conflict diamonds.

Mr. Spring: What about Zimbabwe?

Mr. Wilson: The hon. Gentleman shouts that from a sedentary position, but he has nothing much to say about anything. What about the Tory party's record in southern Africa over a very long time? Again, the Conservative party's record calls for a long silence.

Our efforts to establish the International Criminal Court and our anti-torture campaign; our leadership against the death penalty, which I referred to earlier; our action against landmines; and the different regime on arms sales and the consultation on the Bill that I have mentioned should all be considered. Not everything has been done, but there have been debt initiatives and changes have taken place in the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, where there are more women and more people from ethnic minorities and more exchanges with non-governmental organisations and businesses. All that is covered by the term "ethical foreign policy". When we eventually ask the country to give us a mandate, it will be on the basis that we have demonstrated that this Government have acted honourably and ethically.

Question put, That the original words stand part of the Question:--

25 Apr 2001 : Column 410

The House divided: Ayes 40, Noes 291.

Division No. 196
[10 pm


Allan, Richard
Ashdown, Rt Hon Paddy
Baker, Norman
Beggs, Roy
Beith, Rt Hon A J
Brake, Tom
Brand, Dr Peter
Breed, Colin
Burnett, John
Burstow, Paul
Campbell, Rt Hon Menzies
(NE Fife)
Chidgey, David
Cotter, Brian
Davey, Edward (Kingston)
Fearn, Ronnie
George, Andrew (St Ives)
Gidley, Sandra
Harris, Dr Evan
Harvey, Nick
Heath, David (Somerton & Frome)
Hughes, Simon (Southwark N)
Keetch, Paul
Kirkwood, Archy
Livsey, Richard
Llwyd, Elfyn
Michie, Mrs Ray (Argyll & Bute)
Moore, Michael
Oaten, Mark
Öpik, Lembit
Rendel, David
Russell, Bob (Colchester)
Sanders, Adrian
Smyth, Rev Martin (Belfast S)
Taylor, Matthew (Truro)
Thomas, Simon (Ceredigion)
Tonge, Dr Jenny
Tyler, Paul
Wallace, Rt Hon James
Webb, Steve
Willis, Phil

Tellers for the Ayes:

Mr. Andrew Stunell and
Sir Robert Smith.


Ainger, Nick
Ainsworth, Robert (Cov'try NE)
Alexander, Douglas
Anderson, Rt Hon Donald
(Swansea E)
Anderson, Janet (Rossendale)
Armstrong, Rt Hon Ms Hilary
Atherton, Ms Candy
Atkins, Charlotte
Austin, John
Bailey, Adrian
Barnes, Harry
Barron, Kevin
Battle, John
Bayley, Hugh
Beard, Nigel
Beckett, Rt Hon Mrs Margaret
Begg, Miss Anne
Benn, Hilary (Leeds C)
Benn, Rt Hon Tony (Chesterfield)
Bennett, Andrew F
Benton, Joe
Bermingham, Gerald
Berry, Roger
Best, Harold
Betts, Clive
Blears, Ms Hazel
Blizzard, Bob
Boateng, Rt Hon Paul
Borrow, David
Bradley, Rt Hon Keith (Withington)
Bradley, Peter (The Wrekin)
Bradshaw, Ben
Brinton, Mrs Helen
Browne, Desmond
Buck, Ms Karen
Burden, Richard
Burgon, Colin
Byers, Rt Hon Stephen
Caborn, Rt Hon Richard
Campbell-Savours, Dale
Casale, Roger
Caton, Martin
Cawsey, Ian
Chaytor, David
Clapham, Michael
Clark, Rt Hon Dr David (S Shields)
Clark, Dr Lynda
(Edinburgh Pentlands)
Clark, Paul (Gillingham)
Clarke, Charles (Norwich S)
Clarke, Eric (Midlothian)
Clarke, Rt Hon Tom (Coatbridge)
Clarke, Tony (Northampton S)
Clelland, David
Clwyd, Ann
Coaker, Vernon
Coffey, Ms Ann
Cohen, Harry
Coleman, Iain
Colman, Tony
Connarty, Michael
Cook, Frank (Stockton N)
Corston, Jean
Cousins, Jim
Crausby, David
Cummings, John
Cunningham, Jim (Cov'try S)
Curtis-Thomas, Mrs Claire
Darling, Rt Hon Alistair
Darvill, Keith
Davey, Valerie (Bristol W)
Davidson, Ian
Davies, Rt Hon Denzil (Llanelli)
Dawson, Hilton
Denham, Rt Hon John
Dismore, Andrew
Dobbin, Jim
Dobson, Rt Hon Frank
Donohoe, Brian H
Doran, Frank
Dowd, Jim
Dunwoody, Mrs Gwyneth
Eagle, Angela (Wallasey)
Eagle, Maria (L'pool Garston)
Edwards, Huw
Efford, Clive
Ennis, Jeff
Field, Rt Hon Frank
Fisher, Mark
Fitzpatrick, Jim
Flynn, Paul
Follett, Barbara
Foster, Rt Hon Derek
Foster, Michael Jabez (Hastings)
George, Rt Hon Bruce (Walsall S)
Gerrard, Neil
Gibson, Dr Ian
Gilroy, Mrs Linda
Godman, Dr Norman A
Godsiff, Roger
Goggins, Paul
Golding, Mrs Llin
Gordon, Mrs Eileen
Griffiths, Jane (Reading E)
Griffiths, Nigel (Edinburgh S)
Griffiths, Win (Bridgend)
Grogan, John
Gunnell, John
Hain, Peter
Hall, Mike (Weaver Vale)
Hall, Patrick (Bedford)
Hamilton, Fabian (Leeds NE)
Hanson, David
Harman, Rt Hon Ms Harriet
Healey, John
Henderson, Doug (Newcastle N)
Henderson, Ivan (Harwich)
Hendrick, Mark
Hepburn, Stephen
Heppell, John
Hesford, Stephen
Hewitt, Ms Patricia
Hill, Keith
Hinchliffe, David
Hodge, Ms Margaret
Hood, Jimmy
Hoon, Rt Hon Geoffrey
Hope, Phil
Howarth, Rt Hon Alan (Newport E)
Howarth, George (Knowsley N)
Howells, Dr Kim
Hoyle, Lindsay
Hughes, Ms Beverley (Stretford)
Hughes, Kevin (Doncaster N)
Humble, Mrs Joan
Hutton, John
Iddon, Dr Brian
Illsley, Eric
Jackson, Helen (Hillsborough)
Jamieson, David
Jenkins, Brian
Johnson, Alan (Hull W & Hessle)
Johnson, Miss Melanie
(Welwyn Hatfield)
Jones, Rt Hon Barry (Alyn)
Jones, Helen (Warrington N)
Jones, Dr Lynne (Selly Oak)
Jowell, Rt Hon Ms Tessa
Joyce, Eric
Kaufman, Rt Hon Gerald
Keen, Alan (Feltham & Heston)
Keen, Ann (Brentford & Isleworth)
Kennedy, Jane (Wavertree)
Khabra, Piara S
Kidney, David
Kilfoyle, Peter
King, Ms Oona (Bethnal Green)
Ladyman, Dr Stephen
Lawrence, Mrs Jackie
Laxton, Bob
Lepper, David
Leslie, Christopher
Levitt, Tom
Lewis, Ivan (Bury S)
Lewis, Terry (Worsley)
Liddell, Rt Hon Mrs Helen
Linton, Martin
Lloyd, Tony (Manchester C)
Lock, David
McAvoy, Thomas
McCabe, Steve
McCrea, Dr William
McDonagh, Siobhain
McFall, John
McGuire, Mrs Anne
McKenna, Mrs Rosemary
Mackinlay, Andrew
MacShane, Denis
Mactaggart, Fiona
McWalter, Tony
McWilliam, John
Mahon, Mrs Alice
Mallaber, Judy
Mandelson, Rt Hon Peter
Marsden, Paul (Shrewsbury)
Marshall, David (Shettleston)
Marshall, Jim (Leicester S)
Martlew, Eric
Maxton, John
Meacher, Rt Hon Michael
Michael, Rt Hon Alun
Michie, Bill (Shef'ld Heeley)
Milburn, Rt Hon Alan
Miller, Andrew
Mitchell, Austin
Moffatt, Laura
Morgan, Ms Julie (Cardiff N)
Morris, Rt Hon Ms Estelle
(B'ham Yardley)
Mudie, George
Mullin, Chris
Murphy, Denis (Wansbeck)
Murphy, Rt Hon Paul (Torfaen)
Naysmith, Dr Doug
O'Brien, Bill (Normanton)
O'Brien, Mike (N Warks)
O'Hara, Eddie
Olner, Bill
O'Neill, Martin
Organ, Mrs Diana
Pickthall, Colin
Pike, Peter L
Plaskitt, James
Pond, Chris
Pope, Greg
Pound, Stephen
Powell, Sir Raymond
Prentice, Ms Bridget (Lewisham E)
Prentice, Gordon (Pendle)
Prescott, Rt Hon John
Prosser, Gwyn
Quinn, Lawrie
Rammell, Bill
Rapson, Syd
Raynsford, Rt Hon Nick
Reed, Andrew (Loughborough)
Reid, Rt Hon Dr John (Hamilton N)
Robertson, John
(Glasgow Anniesland)
Robinson, Peter (Belfast E)
Roche, Mrs Barbara
Rooker, Rt Hon Jeff
Ross, Ernie (Dundee W)
Rowlands, Ted
Roy, Frank
Ruane, Chris
Ruddock, Joan
Russell, Ms Christine (Chester)
Ryan, Ms Joan
Salter, Martin
Savidge, Malcolm
Sawford, Phil
Shaw, Jonathan
Shipley, Ms Debra
Simpson, Alan (Nottingham S)
Skinner, Dennis
Smith, Rt Hon Andrew (Oxford E)
Smith, Angela (Basildon)
Smith, Miss Geraldine
(Morecambe & Lunesdale)
Smith, Jacqui (Redditch)
Smith, John (Glamorgan)
Smith, Llew (Blaenau Gwent)
Soley, Clive
Southworth, Ms Helen
Spellar, John
Squire, Ms Rachel
Starkey, Dr Phyllis
Steinberg, Gerry
Stevenson, George
Stewart, David (Inverness E)
Stewart, Ian (Eccles)
Strang, Rt Hon Dr Gavin
Stringer, Graham
Stuart, Ms Gisela
Taylor, Rt Hon Mrs Ann
Taylor, Ms Dari (Stockton S)
Taylor, David (NW Leics)
Temple-Morris, Peter
Thomas, Gareth (Clwyd W)
Timms, Stephen
Tipping, Paddy
Todd, Mark
Touhig, Don
Trickett, Jon
Truswell, Paul
Turner, Dennis (Wolverh'ton SE)
Turner, Dr George (NW Norfolk)
Turner, Neil (Wigan)
Twigg, Derek (Halton)
Tynan, Bill
Ward, Ms Claire
Wareing, Robert N
Watts, David
Wicks, Malcolm
Williams, Rt Hon Alan
(Swansea W)
Williams, Alan W (E Carmarthen)
Wilson, Brian
Winnick, David
Winterton, Ms Rosie (Doncaster C)
Wood, Mike
Woodward, Shaun
Woolas, Phil
Worthington, Tony
Wright, Anthony D (Gt Yarmouth)
Wright, Tony (Cannock)

Tellers for the Noes:

Mr. Ian Pearson and
Mr. Graham Allen.

Question accordingly negatived.

25 Apr 2001 : Column 412

Question, That the proposed words be there added, put forthwith, pursuant to Standing Order No. 31 (Questions on amendments), and agreed to.

Mr. Speaker forthwith declared the main Question, as amended, to be agreed to.


25 Apr 2001 : Column 413

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