93. The Committee has travelled overseas on a number
of occasions during the last three sessions. These visits have
varied in their length and purpose. They have included three visits
to Brussels in connection with our inquiries into EC development
policy, a visit to New York and Washington to meet UN, World Bank
and IMF representatives, and one to Geneva and Paris to meet further
UN bodies, the WTO and OECD. On two occasions the crises
in Montserrat and Kosovo we have travelled to the area
to examine the response to the humanitarian crisis. In addition,
each year we have undertaken a two-week visit to developing countries
where DFID is significantly engaged Kenya, Uganda and
Rwanda in 1998; India, Pakistan and Bangladesh in 1999; and South
Africa, Swaziland, Mozambique, Malawi and Zambia in 2000.
94. The two-week visits of the Committee have involved
both meetings in capitals with Government representatives and
FCO/DFID officials, and journeys to often remote areas to see
DFID-supported work amongst the very poor. The Committee has on
every such visit been concerned to meet representatives of multilateral
bodies such as the EC, World Bank, IMF and UN. We have been as
concerned to hold meetings and canvass the views of poor people
themselves. Numerous scenes and events stand out in the memory
we would mention only two to give a flavour. One was a
lively, and often very moving, public meeting for Monsterratian
refugees in Antigua where they put their views to the Committee
on the crisis and the UK Government's response. The other was
the then Attorney General of Pakistan storming out of a meeting
when questioned on the human rights of women in that country.
95. The Committee, and the Committee Chairman in
particular, also receive a large number of visitors in Westminster.
These are useful occasions in which the Committee can learn informally
about organisations and development initiatives. They will often
be from countries or projects which the Committee has previously
visited and thus be an important opportunity to be updated on
matters considered in past Reports.
96. In recognition of the fact that international
development issues cross departmental barriers, the Committee
has been keen to cooperate with other select committees. We have
already mentioned our joint work on Strategic Export Controls
with the Defence, Foreign Affairs and Trade and Industry Committees.
The International Development Committee has also enjoyed excellent
relations with the European Scrutiny Committee and has cooperated
closely with it, especially in considering a number of key documents
such as the Commission's development policy statement, proposals
for the reform of the management of external assistance, and funding
proposals for the Balkans and the Mediterranean regions. In its
Fourth Report, Session 1999-2000, the European Scrutiny Committee
referred to us a Commission Communication
which contained details of the Commission's proposals for its
contribution of resources to the HIPC Initiative. The Committee
considered the document in the course of its inquiry into Debt
Relief Further Developments,
and welcomed the proposal to allocate _954 million of unspent
European Development Fund resources to the contribution of the
European Community to the HIPC Initiative. More recently, the
Committee participated in a joint evidence session with the European
Scrutiny Committee and the Agriculture Committee on the Commission's
"Everything But Arms" proposals for tariff-free access
for least developed countries.
97. In the course of the Committee's inquiry into
the Departmental Report of the Department for International Development,
the Committee was one of two Committees to be assisted by the
National Audit Office in examining the financial aspects of the
98. In the course of its various inquiries, the Committee
has frequently been accompanied on visits by the BBC "Scrutiny"
programme. In view of the sensitive nature of the Committee's
work and in response to potential concerns about disruption caused
by filming or about the potential use of the footage, the Committee
agreed a set of guidelines governing the coverage of Committee
visits. Other select committees have since adopted the same guidelines
to govern similar visits.
99. From its inception, the Committee has recognised
the importance of the European Community in international development.
The EC is the fifth largest donor of Official Development Assistance
(ODA) and the second largest multilateral donor. When the ODA
of the EC and its Member States' bilateral programmes are taken
together, they account for more than 40 per cent of world ODA.
Furthermore, between 25 and 30 per cent of the budget of the Department
for International Development is spent by the European Community.
In an effort to improve coordination of donor programmes and scrutiny
of the EC's development policy and activities, the International
Development Committee organised a meeting of the various chairs
of EU parliamentary committees concerned with development. The
meeting took place in June 1997 and was attended by representatives
from 11 national committees as well as the Development and Cooperation
Committee of the European Parliament, NGOs, academics and journalists.
The meeting was addressed by George Foulkes MP, Parliamentary
Under-Secretary of State for International Development, Commissioner
Pinheiro, Philip Lowe, Director General for Development, and Gilles
Fontaine from DG VIII. In the course of the meeting, it was agreed
that similar meetings should take place under each presidency
of the EU and, since 1997, similar meetings have taken place in
Bonn, Helsinki and Paris. A further meeting is currently being
planned to take place under the Swedish presidency.
100. Following the success of the European initiative,
the Chairman of the International Development Committee, Bowen
Wells MP, was approached by the World Bank to be involved in a
similar initiative a Conference between World Bank representatives
and Parliamentarians. The meeting took place in May 2000 in The
Hague. The World Bank plans to hold similar meetings each year.
The next meeting is planned to take place in London, in Portcullis
House in January 2001. Bowen Wells MP is a member of the steering
group working on the initiative.
101. The International Development Committee hosted
a seminar and informal lunch on "private investment flows
to the developing world" in July 1999. The aim of the meeting
was to examine the importance of, and issues surrounding, private
investment in developing countries in advance of a possible Committee
inquiry into the issue. Participants included government officials,
private sector and trade union representatives, NGOs and academics.
The Committee also hosted a lunch for 12 journalists and media
representatives in May 2000 with a view to raising awareness of
the Committee's work.
102. The Committee has, on a number of occasions,
successfully requested debates in Westminster Hall on particular
These have been important opportunities to raise the profile of
development issues and to question Ministers further on Government
responses to these Reports. We deprecate the fact that the Government
never found time for a debate on the Development White Paper.
Both International Development and Trade and Industry Committees
have recommended a debate on the Ilisu Dam in advance of any Ministerial
decision on the provision of export credit.
72 European Commission
Communication on Community Participation in the Initiative for
Highly Indebted Poor Countries 26.10.00 (COM(1999)518 Final) Back
Fourth Report from the International Development Committee, Session
1999-2000, Debt Relief - Further Developments, HC 251, para. 34 Back
To date, the following Reports of the International Development
Committee have been debated in Westminster Hall: Sixth Report
from the Committee, Session 1998-99, Conflict Prevention and Post-Conflict
Reconstruction (15.3.00); Seventh Report from the Committee,
Session 1998-99, Women and Development (30.3.00); Second Report
from the Committee, Session 1999-2000, The Future of Sanctions
(29.6.00); Ninth Report from the Committee, Session 1999-2000,
The Effectiveness of EC Development Assistance (23.11.00); Seventh
Report from the Committee, Session 1999-2000, Strategic Export
Controls: Further Report and Parliamentary Prior Scrutiny, HC
467 (14.12.00) Back