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6.28 pm

Mr. Paul Goggins (Wythenshawe and Sale, East): It is a privilege to contribute to this interesting debate. I have been an hon. Member for four years and I think that it has been one of the best debates that I have heard on an important issue. The quality of the speeches has been superb. The issue on which we all seem to agree is that self-interest and the common good are two sides of the same coin, and that to survive as a sustainable planet we must not only create wealth, develop skill and talent, but ensure that no one is left behind.

I should say that I am a member of the board of CAFOD--the Catholic Agency for Overseas Development--the development agency of the Catholic Church in England and Wales. I am delighted that, this week, my hon. Friend the Member for Heywood and Middleton (Mr. Dobbin) has sponsored a display of CAFOD's work in the Upper Waiting Hall. I am also delighted that my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State is to visit CAFOD next Tuesday to sign the programme partnership agreement between her Department and the organisation.

The display upstairs carries a short extract from a speech by a woman from Zambia, Mulima Kufekisa Akapelway, in St. Chad's cathedral, Birmingham during the G8 summit in May 1998. My right hon. Friend may remember that--not only is the cathedral in her constituency, but she was in it when the speech was made. It is worth recalling Mulima's words:

I think that that statement encapsulates not only the work of non-governmental organisations such as CAFOD, but what we as politicians, and everyone else who is concerned about the issue, are trying to do--forge a new solidarity between rich and poor and powerful and powerless people, to work together for a more just world order.

I think that the Secretary of State is right to say that, of itself, globalisation is neither good nor bad, but that it is how we shape it and what we make of it that really matters. What is clearly undeniable is the fact that globalisation is here, changing our world profoundly and rapidly. Every day there are 3 million international travellers and $1.5 trillion travels round world markets. I was astounded to learn that, in 2000, there were more than 100 billion minutes of international telephone calls. That is a staggering statistic.

Whether we like it or not, we are all caught up in globalisation. Food and clothes, telecommunications and manufacturing industries are all part of the global market. For me, one of the great ironies of Tuesday's demonstrations was the fact that, in Wednesday morning's newspapers, every photograph of the events showed people who wanted an end to global capitalism wearing Levi jeans, Adidas track suits and Nike trainers--

Mr. Wells: And using mobile telephones.

Mr. Goggins: Yes.

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One of the problems that we face in trying to gain a better understanding of globalisation is the fact that globalisation is very hard to measure. I was interested recently to read about the work of A. T. Kearney and Foreign Policy magazine, who tried to draw up a globalisation index in which they analysed 50 developing countries and some key emerging markets around the world. Although I would not say that their findings are the gospel, they are certainly worth some consideration.

One of the findings was that globalisation is not uniform and that some of its aspects work faster than others. In the late 1990s, for example, when there were some trade difficulties in other sectors, the telecommunications industry grew apace. Moreover, some of the global gaps are not only between rich and poor. The digital divide, for example, distinguishes the United States, Canada and Scandinavian countries, where almost half the people have access to the internet. There is therefore a gap not only between those countries and developing countries, but between them and other developed countries.

Perhaps the most interesting claim made in the study was that there is a link between globalisation and income equality, which is quite the reverse of the usual arguments with which we are familiar. The study said that the link was particularly distinct in some of the emerging-market countries. Using the index, the study highlighted Poland, the Czech Republic and Hungary as countries that are both more globalised and more equal than other countries, such as Russia, China and Argentina, which tended to be less globalised and more unequal. As I said, although I am sure that the study is far from perfect, it gives us at least a start or handle to measure the impacts of globalisation.

The international development targets are clearly crucial in attempting to ensure that globalisation makes the world a fairer place. They include halving world poverty, providing universal primary education and reducing mortality rates for under fives by two thirds, all by 2015. In trying to achieve those goals, it has been absolutely essential to get the support of the IMF and the World Bank. I certainly applaud the Secretary of State's efforts in striving also to obtain the commitment of the World Trade Organisation to those international development targets. Targets are often dull and meaningless things, but I think that those targets can inspire and energise us. As many hon. Members have said today, it is also possible to achieve them.

Many hon. Members have also already made the point that growth alone is not sufficient. The World Bank has estimated that, if we keep growth at current levels and remain as unequal as we are now, the proportion of the world's population living in poverty would decrease from 24 per cent. to 22 per cent. by 2015. Clearly, therefore, growth is essential--but so is redistribution. I am talking not about old-fashioned redistribution in which money is taken from one group and given to another, but about a much more dynamic process in which we have real investment, real opportunity and skills and real development that really connect those who live in the poorest parts of the world with the rest of us.

I should conclude my remarks now. However, as I said, this has been a tremendous debate on a very important topic.

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6.35 pm

Mrs. Cheryl Gillan (Chesham and Amersham): I echo the closing words of the hon. Member for Wythenshawe and Sale, East (Mr. Goggins). I, too, think that this has been an extremely valuable debate. I am very pleased and privileged to be here to wind it up. This is a rare opportunity for a decent debate on international development. I do not want to labour the point, because the Secretary of State and the Minister know that, however often we clash across the Chamber, we have a commonality of purpose. Conservative Members have been genuinely distressed that she has not had as many opportunities as we would wish to come to the Dispatch Box to discuss what is an extremely important topic.

In the spirit of the debate, I, too, congratulate the Secretary of State, as we approach what may be a general election--this may be one of the last occasions on which I stand at the Dispatch Box on this side of the Chamber--on her tenure in the Department. The final White Paper that she has produced covers a large number of topics under the umbrella of globalisation and represents a significant contribution to the debate both at home and abroad, which is much to be praised. To have carved out the new Department, and to have had the complementary Select Committee chaired by my hon. Friend the Member for Hertford and Stortford (Mr. Wells), has been another noteworthy achievement.

The Secretary of State has made great personal efforts, and I hope that, by paying her this handsome tribute, I make up for the witchy comments that I sometimes make from this side of the Chamber, which needs must be made, because we cannot always agree and it is only right that we should challenge the Government, as she did so ably when she was in this position.

The Secretary of State made an excellent speech in which she condemned the violence of the demonstrators at Seattle and elsewhere. She and many other speakers showed up the double standards often displayed by such people. She did not even mention what she was up to in Seattle, but I happen to know, because I took part in a Standing Committee debate on a statutory instrument earlier this week, connected with the fact that she signed up, in the margins of Seattle, to the WTO advisory centre on law, which will give the poorest countries access to legal advice in trade disputes. As I said in that Committee, I thoroughly commend that. I supported the approval of the statutory instrument and asked some questions that the Minister answered satisfactorily.

I was very interested to hear what the Secretary of State said about the downloading of the White Paper. I wonder whether the systems can identify the people who access the information, because it is all very well knowing the number of people who clock in to receive the words of wisdom but we would also like to know the qualitative element, and whether technology will be developed quickly enough to enable us to identify those people with whom we are communicating.

The Secretary of State outlined a vision that is not dissimilar to our own and made some valid points on the international situation. We all agree that we are at a crossroads in relation to international organisations and we all hope to see the reform of the relevant institutions, not least the United Nations and the European Union. For once, the EU did not come in for much criticism in this debate. I suppose we take it as read now. We certainly

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hope that the path to reform will be trodden at a much quicker pace than heretofore. That is common ground between us. It should not be impossible in this new millennium to ensure that people throughout the world achieve basic standards. With correctly targeted programmes and the identification of the key elements for each area--because they all have different requirements--it should not be outwith the wit of man to make progress.

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