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Norman Lamb: Has the hon. Gentleman been successful in achieving agreement within his own party about the essential importance of achieving the 0.7 per cent. target within a specified time scale?

Tony Baldry: My hon. Friends on the Front Bench can speak for themselves, but I do not think that any division, dissent or lack of commitment exists among Conservative Members in respect of meeting the 0.7 per cent. target. However, my hon. Friend the Member for New Forest, East (Dr. Lewis), who is winding up for the Opposition, will have heard the comments that were made, and he will doubtless respond. I would hope that many of my right hon. and hon. Friends have signed the early-day motion to which I referred.

Mr. Simon Thomas: Will the hon. Gentleman bear in mind the latest recommendation of the Environmental

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Audit Committee, which has been examining preparations for the world summit on sustainable development? The Committee also called for a timetable for reaching the 0.7 per cent. GDP target, so across the parties, the evidence, and the pressure on the Government, is increasing.

Tony Baldry: That is a timely intervention. As I was about to say, Monterrey will be followed in September by the world summit on sustainable development—the last in the trilogy of summits, at Doha, Monterrey and Johannesburg. The Environmental Audit Committee has published an excellent report on the UK's preparations for the summit, and I hope that, through the Liaison Committee, time can be found to debate it extensively, whether here or in Westminster Hall. Perhaps it could be debated together with the report that the International Development Committee will shortly be publishing on the impact of climate change on development. I should point out to those hon. Members who have not read the Environmental Audit Committee's report on preparations for Johannesburg that it is well worth reading.

Everyone will support the Government's approach at Johannesburg, which will be to push issues such as poverty eradication and access to clean water, rather than climate change and biodiversity, for which frameworks of action have largely been agreed. Poverty remains the central threat to achieving sustainable development. A commitment to working for a sustainable planet is in no way inconsistent with a commitment to ensuring that the world's poor can access development, or to a commitment that, wherever possible, all will be done to help lift them out of poverty. Work by the Environmental Audit Committee and some evidence taken by the International Development Committee have suggested that tension exists between environmental NGOs and developmental NGOs, but I hope that there is no conflict. If poor countries are to prosper, they need sustainable development, and we must find ways to take forward that process.

Doha, Monterrey and Johannesburg are part of a continuing process and will be important in ensuring—through debates such as these, which I hope will be annual—that the international community is delivering year on year on the promises made at these conferences. We could spend a whole day debating EC development assistance. After all, a quarter of DFlD's budget is channelled through the EC. The good news is that the European Community is the fourth largest donor of development aid; the bad news is that precious little of that money goes towards helping poor countries. Indeed, a shrinking share of Europe's development assistance goes to the poor.

In 2000, the proportion of EU development assistance spent in low-income countries reached a new low. None of the top 10 recipients of EU aid is a poor country. Poland receives more development from Europe than the whole of Asia and Latin America combined. At the moment, far too little of Europe's development budget is being used to tackle poverty, and far too much of it is being used in pursuing the wider foreign policy objectives of other European member states. The Select Committee came to the straightforward conclusion that money earmarked for development aid should be targeted on the poorest, and that EU development aid could be deployed more effectively.

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There is much more for us to debate. With regard to conflict and defence sales, we will shortly have the opportunity to debate the Export Control Bill when it returns to this House. I hope that the Government will accept the amendments on sustainable development that were passed in the other place. It would be a pity if the Government used their majority in this House to remove from the Bill the commitment to sustainable development. If they do, it is difficult to see what the Bill is about.

We have heard that India is the recipient of the largest amount of UK bilateral aid, and the country strategy paper on India shows that that is because a third of the world's poor live there. However, I hope that I am not alone in being at a loss to explain why we give substantial development aid to India—it has within its borders one third of all the world's poor, and yet we are about to grant export licences to the same country for defence equipment worth £1 billion. That £1 billion is equivalent to 10 years' worth of UK bilateral aid to India at the same level. In effect, we are removing from the Government of India the obligation to pay for the defence equipment themselves, as they are able to use the bilateral aid money for that purpose.

Of course, I realise that other factors, such as jobs and employment, must be taken into consideration. However, the provisions on sustainable development in the Export Control Bill need to be firm commitments. Otherwise, many people will feel that it is a rather weasel-worded Bill.

Mr. Robathan: On that issue, does my hon. Friend agree that the enormously expensive development of nuclear weapons by India—God knows how much it has cost—sits rather ill with the fact that that country receives aid from us, and from other countries?

Tony Baldry: My hon. Friend makes a good point. I wrote a letter to the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry this week in which I raised very similar matters, but I shall not try the patience of the House by repeating my comments today.

On debt relief, Select Committee members saw for ourselves in Ghana—which has now achieved HIPC status—the enormous benefit that can be achieved by reducing debt and thus helping to reduce poverty. The sums involved are not insignificant: so far 26 countries receive debt relief worth $62 billion under the HIPC initiative, but debt relief must lead to a sustainable exit from indebtedness.

I am sure that the Secretary of State for International Development and the Minister have seen early-day motion 736, which was initiated by the hon. Member for South Swindon (Ms Drown). It has been signed by 321 hon. Members, and I doubt whether any such motion has attracted so many signatures. It calls for the acceleration of debt cancellation under the HIPC process, and I hope very much that the Government will bear it in mind.

I shall conclude with two brief points, the first of which has to do with Africa. At one end of the scale, a number of large multinational organisations such as Ashanti Goldfields or Shell are doing very well in Africa, and, at the other end of the scale, huge numbers of traders continue the entrepreneurial trading that they have conducted for centuries. Between those two groups, however, there is a huge "missing middle" of small and medium-sized businesses.

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It was depressing to be told by the representatives of the World Bank in Ghana—which is a good example of an African economy—that the quickest way to make money was to import goods and shift them as speedily as possible. That is how entrepreneurial people make money in Ghana. When DFID next reviews its country strategy plans, I hope that, where appropriate, it might consider what further support and help can be given to the private sector, to the encouragement of enterprise and, in particular, to the development of medium-sized businesses in developing nations.

My final point has been firmly underlined by the NEPAD initiative, and concerns a matter raised already by the hon. Member for City of York (Hugh Bayley) and by my hon. Friend the Member for Blaby. It is that, if development is to work, it has to be a partnership. The NEPAD conclusions refer to mutual interests, shared commitments and binding agreements. The phrase "good governance" is not simply some slogan: there has to be proper democratic accountability for countries to succeed. We need to move on beyond the systems that exist in too many developing countries where, it strikes me, governance is still a matter of patronage from the top and petitioning from the bottom, rather than of democratic accountability, of Governments accounting to elected politicians, and of those politicians in turn accounting to their constituents.

As the Secretary of State noted, if Africa is to move forward, Nigeria has to move forward. Those of us who went to Nigeria saw only too clearly that that country has to convince the rest of the world that it is bearing down on corruption and that it is determined to take forward good governance.

In conclusion, I find the statistics on development almost overwhelming sometimes. The hon. Member for Richmond Park (Dr. Tonge) said that something like 120 million children still lack primary education. I find it difficult to visualise 120 million children, so when I go overseas now I take photographs—of children, elderly people, and women at work—and put them on the kitchen wall at home. The photographs remind me that the people in them are individuals who deserve our support.

The photograph on the front cover of the Department's annual report is very telling. It shows a woman working with others to hew out a future for herself. What we are involved in is not a matter of millions or billions of people, but comes down to showing solidarity with and support for every single woman who wants a better life for herself, her family and her children.

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