Previous SectionIndexHome Page

Linda Gilroy: In common with many other Members, I have received a lot of letters from people at

24 Jan 2002 : Column 1097

non-governmental organisations who suggest that the world trade round should not go ahead until the rules are changed. Will my hon. Friend say more about that? The proposal is misguided and mistaken in terms of helping people such as those we are discussing.

Hilary Benn: That is an important point. The proof of the World Trade Organisation's success will be in creating terms of trade that are fair and equal and allow economic development across the globe. Members will be only too conscious of the obstacles that are placed in the way of developing countries in trying to achieve that objective, and agricultural protection is the biggest obstacle of all. The single most significant step that we could take through the WTO talks to help developing countries would be to reduce the agricultural protectionism to which I referred. The simple truth is that, if there is no new trade round, there will be no possibility of negotiating that improvement.

The test will be the extent to which those talks produce the development round and the liberalisation in agriculture to which all hon. Members present are committed. I hope that that will allow us to make progress on tariffs on sugar and chocolate.

Last night, the House gave a Third Reading to the International Development Bill, which puts poverty reduction at the heart of what we are trying to achieve. In

24 Jan 2002 : Column 1098

truth, we can do no other if we are to have a chance of reaching the millennium development goal of halving the proportion of people living in extreme poverty by 2015. Creating a fairer international trading system that helps to make global markets work better for the poor, so that developing countries can maximise the opportunities and minimise the threats that arise from that global market, is of the greatest importance. In doing that, supporting small and medium-sized producers to compete effectively in international markets, including the fairly traded market, will matter a great deal.

I am genuinely grateful to my hon. Friend the Member for Plymouth, Sutton, because she has done the House a service in raising this matter. She went to Ghana to find out about this problem for herself, and took the trouble to report to the House and secure this debate. In so doing, she has given us the chance to discuss an important subject.

Finally, I can honestly say that I have never participated in a debate in the House that has aroused such anticipation of gastronomic delight. It is to the eternal credit of my hon. Friend the Member for Wolverhampton, South-East (Mr. Turner) that any Members present in the Chamber who find it difficult to resist such temptation will now be able to repair to a Room close by and enjoy the delights of the product that we have just debated.

Question put and agreed to.

 IndexHome Page