|Previous Section||Index||Home Page|
9. Colin Burgon (Elmet): What recent discussions he has had with the Governments of (a) Canada and (b) the USA about the effect on the Arctic environment of oil and gas exploration and development. 
Colin Burgon: I thank my hon. Friend for that constructive reply. I had hoped that he might be able to give a lead on a problem that concerns hundreds of thousands of people around the globethe future of the Arctic wildlife refuge in Alaska. It appears that the hard-nosed men of the big oil companies want to get in there to exploit and start drilling in that pristine wilderness, but I understand that they need the support of Congress to do so. What can we in Britain do to help defeat their disastrous plans?
Mr. MacShane: I meant no discourtesy to my hon. Friend; I simply want to move Question Time forward as fast as possible. He is right to reflect the deep concern, but he must address the fact that the Energy Bill to allow drilling in the Arctic was passed by the House of Representatives by 240 votes to 189. It is going through Congress and is supported by a number of US trade unions.
The House must understand that we need to engage with the American democratic process rather than name-call the White House. America is a great, vibrant republic and a great federal democracy. As parliamentarians, we need to talk to our colleagues over there to raise those issues, which I fully accept are of
Mr. Edward Garnier (Harborough): Does it follow from the answer to the hon. Member for Elmet (Colin Burgon) that the Minister will have a word with the Foreign Secretary about his offensive remarks about the speech made the other day by the President of the United States?
Mr. MacShane: I do not think that the United States has a better friend in the House than my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary. The Conservative party, which last week reconfirmed its commitment to the most foolish isolationism that harks back to Neville Chamberlain, has no lessons to offer anywhere in the world.
Mr. Lazarowicz: I thank my right hon. Friend for his answer. In those discussions, will he tell his European colleagues that it is entirely unacceptable for accession country farmers to be expected to compete with highly subsidised farmers from existing EU countries? Will he call for a level playing field for accession country farmers, which could be achieved by drastic cuts to the obscenely large CAP subsidies paid to big farmers?
Peter Hain: We agree that there must be a level playing field once the applicant countries have come fully into the EU, but transitional arrangements are inevitable in an enlargement of such dimensions, and the proposals published recently by the European Commission provide for that. There will be a transition process.
I do not think that my hon. Friend is asking for, nor will the Government support, any additional funding for the CAP, which desperately needs reform along precisely the lines that he suggests. Farmers from Britain and other members states should be able to benefit from that reform, as should applicant states when a level playing field is created following the necessary reforms.
Tony Baldry (Banbury): Is the Minister not concerned about the fact that one accession country, Poland, receives more development aid from the European Union than the whole of Asia? Farmers will not stand a chance of
Peter Hain: I agree. I just wonder why the Conservative Government of whom the hon. Gentleman was, I think, a membercertainly a supporterdid not achieve the CAP reforms which we began in 1999, and which we will carry through. They will be necessary once enlargement has taken place.
The hon. Gentleman spoke of the very highsome would say obscenelevel of agricultural subsidies in the rich world, Europe included. The total is equivalent to the entire gross domestic product of sub-Saharan Africa. There is no way in which we can conquer poverty, in Africa or elsewhere, unless we get rid of those bloated subsidies and create a level playing field for the agricultural markets of the developing world as well as those in Europe.
Joyce Quin (Gateshead, East and Washington, West): Does my right hon. Friend agree that the progressive replacement of the CAP with a policy of agricultural and rural development would be much better for the different nations and regions of the European Union, and indeed the enlargement countries, than the present over- centralised, over-regulated policy? Will he press for such a change in both the enlargement negotiations andthis is very importantthe "future of Europe" negotiations?
Peter Hain: Yes indeed; I agree wholeheartedly with my right hon. Friend. Let me return to the original question, and say that I think many applicant countries would benefit from considering the opportunities for agricultural rural development funding, rather than agricultural funding in the traditional CAP sense, that are available in the European Union. I think that that would help them enormously, if it took place in parallel with efforts to reform the CAP.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs (Mr. Ben Bradshaw): In the United Nations Security Council, we regularly review the prospects for a resumption of UN weapons inspections in Iraq. My right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary led intensive discussions on that in the margins of the United Nations General Assembly ministerial week in November. The UN expects Iraq to comply fully with its disarmament and monitoring obligations, and to permit the immediate return of UN weapons inspectors.
Mr. Bradshaw: Yes. I think Iraq knows exactly what it must do to comply with UN resolutions. It is very simple. There have been vague signs recently that some elements of the regime may be having a change of heart, but I should warn the House that we have seen this before. What we want is action, not just words.
Mr. Bradshaw: As I just said, Saddam Hussein has done this before when he has felt under pressure, and he rightly feels under pressure now, post-11 September. He has put out feelers; he has spoken to a number of people, including those in the United Nations. These, however, are simply diplomatic ploys. We should wait and see whether any of his moves are followed by actions rather than words.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs (Mr. Denis MacShane): The Government of Zimbabwe have stated that Commonwealth election observers will be invited to the presidential elections on 9 and 10 March, but no invitations have yet been issued. On 30 January the Commonwealth ministerial action group called for the immediate deployment of Commonwealth election observers.
Mr. Viggers: With the Foreign Secretary's failure to carry our Commonwealth partners with us, I suppose we must take comfort where we can and reflect on the fact that there will be observers, notably from the Commonwealth, and that if the elections are not seen to be fair and free, further action can be taken; and the Commonwealth would be the ideal body to take that action. Does the Minister agree?
Donald Anderson (Swansea, East): Has there been any indication from the Government of Zimbabwe that they would seek to exclude British observers from any teams, and if so, what would be the response of both the Commonwealth and the European Union?
Mr. MacShane: The simple answer is that that is a matter for the Commonwealth and the European Union, but it is important to stress that there are two institutions seeking to "bilateralise" this matterto make it a UK-Zimbabwe affair. One is the Government of Zimbabwe; the other is the Opposition Front-Bench team. This Government have sought to get support from the EU, from the Commonwealth, from the Southern African
Mr. Nicholas Winterton (Macclesfield): Exactly how many election monitors and observers will be in Zimbabwe by the time the elections take place? I have taken a deep interest in Zimbabwe over many years and raised the genocide in Matabeleland in 1983 with questions in the House. I am ashamed that this country and the civilised world did absolutely nothing about that genocide; I was angry and disgusted. We set a shocking example. Unless there are 500 or 600 monitors and observers in Zimbabwe, I do not believe that the elections can be free, transparent or fair.
Mr. MacShane: The hon. Gentleman has a distinguished record in this matter, but when the massacres in Matabeleland were raised in another place in 1984they were not debated in this Housethe then Minister said:
Mr. Derek Wyatt (Sittingbourne and Sheppey): Between now and the presidential elections in Zimbabwe, more money from Zimbabwe will be trying to find its way to the City of London. What extra steps are we taking to talk to the City of London to ensure that money is not laundered here?
Mr. MacShane: My hon. Friend raises a serious point. Discussions are currently taking place with the City and with other appropriate departmental ministries to ensure that any improper money, as it were, that arrives in the City of London is notified. If, after the elections are over, the international institutions, of which we are partner members, express dissatisfaction with the election result, consequences in that area will surely follow.