International Development Bill

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Mr. Robathan: I shall be brief, because I want to get on to new clause 2. I have an important speech to make on the United Nations and the European Union. Unlike my hon. Friend the Member for Faversham and Mid-Kent, I shall not pray the Prime Minister in aid. It is always rather unwise, as I am never quite sure what he really wants to achieve.

Mr. Rowe: Another term of Government.

Mr. Robathan: That seems to be the Prime Minister's overriding aim, but I shall not go down that road, as I do not think it especially relevant to this important new clause.

As my hon. Friend the Member for Chesham and Amersham suggested, co-ordination has failed badly on several occasions in this Parliament. I want to home in on the Ilisu dam, which is the best illustration of why the new clause is necessary. The International Development Committee held a short inquiry into the Ilisu dam and summoned the Minister for Trade before us. When questioned, he said that he had not asked for or been given any advice by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office on human rights and the Ilisu dam.

The subject is crucial to the Bill. The area is largely populated by Kurds and is in conflict. We know that the Kurdistan area—the Turks do not like to use that term—spreads across Syria, Iran, Iraq and into Turkey. A serious war is taking place there. It makes the small problems in Northern Ireland seem as nothing, as hundreds of people are killed there in a day. We have discussed conflict at length in relation to the Bill.

The Kurds believe that they are not properly represented at a governmental level, which is a fair and reasonable point. No love is lost between the Turkish Government and the Kurds. The issue also touches on poverty. The people who live where the dam is to be built—perhaps 60,000 of them—will be pushed out of their homes without compensation and moved to places where they cannot make a proper living. That problem is fundamentally important to development, yet one Department gave no advice about human rights to another Department.

The issue has been raised more by Labour Members, especially the hon. Member for Cynon Valley (Ann Clwyd), than anyone else. The Select Committee issued a report on it, which I trust that the Minister has read as part of the small amount of reading that he will have had since taking on his ministerial responsibilities.

In our consideration of the lack of co-ordination on the Ilisu dam, especially the lack of ECGD cover, we wrote to the Department of Trade and Industry and the Foreign Office to ask about their positions. We received a letter from the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry saying that he was happy to show us all the correspondence issued between the two Departments. We suspect that there was none. From the Foreign Office, we received a letter from the Minister for Europe, whose brief apparently covers Turkey as well. He has been in the news recently, and I suspect that he will continue to be. He said that we could definitely not see the correspondence because it was confidential. That raises freedom of information issues.

Because of the lack of communication on a development issue, the Committee has complained to the ombudsman, for the first time in the history of the House of Commons, about the Government's failure to provide information to us. We look forward to the ombudsman's report in the near future.

When the Minister responds, I am sure that he will say that our action is unnecessary because we have joined-up government. We used to use the word ``holistic''; I do not like either term. I want proper co-ordination between Departments, but at the moment, we do not have it. As my hon. Friends have pointed out on several occasions, we have not seen proper joined-up government, a holistic approach has not been taken and there has been no co-ordination. The clause is a simple provision. We look forward to it being included in the Bill.

Dr. Tonge: A matter of great importance concerns the co-operation of other Departments with the Department for International Development. I do not know how many times I have said so—

It being Five o'clock, The Chairman put the Question, pursuant to Order [12 March], to complete the proceedings on the Bill.

Question put, That the clause be read a Second time:—

The Committee divided: Ayes 4, Noes 9.

Division No. 7]

Gillan, Mrs. Cheryl
Robathan, Mr. Andrew
Rowe, Mr. Andrew
Simpson, Mr. Keith

Browne, Mr. Desmond
Clarke, Mr. Tom
Davidson, Mr. Ian
Goggins, Mr. Paul
Hall, Mr. Patrick
King, Ms Oona
McNulty, Mr. Tony
Mullin, Mr. Chris
Naysmith, Dr. Doug

Question accordingly negatived.

Mrs. Gillan: On a point of order, Mr. Butterfill. Despite the best endeavours of the Opposition, the new clauses still require substantial deliberation. The Government have chosen to restrict the time available to discuss the Bill, notwithstanding that we said that we were in favour of its provisions and that we seek to improve it. Could you advise us on what to do? How can our right to scrutinise legislation be safeguarded if the Committee has to come to such a premature end?

The Chairman: Any new clauses that have not been considered by the Committee may be tabled on Report.

Bill to be reported, without amendment.

        Committee rose at three minutes past Five o'clock.

The following Members attended the Committee:
Mr. John Butterfill
O'Brien, Mr. Bill

Butterfill, Mr. John

Browne, Mr.

Clarke, Mr. Tom

Davidson, Mr.

Gillan, Mrs.

Goggins, Mr.

Hall, Mr. Patrick

King, Ms Oona

McFall, Mr.

McNulty, Mr.

Mullin, Mr.

Naysmith, Dr.

Robathan, Mr.

Rowe, Mr.

Simpson, Mr. Keith

Tonge, Dr.

Turner, Mr. Dennis

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