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Mr. Drew: As one of the famous four who went to Sudan, I am keen to hear what the hon. Gentleman has to say and entirely concur. Does he agree that part of the complexity of the problem is that as many peace formulas are being suggested as there are nations in Africa and, indeed, nations outside Africa, all of which have their own opinions? We need a co-ordinated effort between the north and the south to ensure that peace is secured at the earliest opportunity.

Mr. Robathan: I do not want to be drawn too far down that road, because my views on how serious both parties are about achieving peace in Sudan may not assist in doing so.

As we all know, the world has enough problems at the moment. In Sudan there is talk in the press of setting up camps to train mujaheddin to fight in Palestine and/or Afghanistan. That should bring home to us that this is not an isolated issue. The Sudanese Government under President al-Bashir came to power in 1989 with the National Islamic Front, and I believe that we had sanctions against Sudan from 1991 to 1996. Since then, the National Islamic Front has been transformed from a military dictatorship into a civilian Government, still under President al-Bashir and with almost exactly the same members, apart from Turabi. They have no more legitimacy now than they did when they seized power in 1989, neither do they have any more of a democratic mandate or any more justice on their side.

International pressure could bring about a greater chance of peace and greater agreement. The people of the south are determined to have self-determination—that may be another word for independence; who can tell?—and want a referendum. The Sudanese Government agreed to that at Asmara in 1998, and it should be held. The south is set on self-determination, but the northern Government are less than keen on granting it.

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I turn again to Nigeria, where I fear that a time bomb is waiting to explode. There is galloping population growth, AIDS, an amazing juxtaposition of poverty and riches, governors not in the least interested in the governed, pressure on land, reports of 4,000 people killed in riots over Sharia law, and violence. It was apparent to me that on the streets there was violence of a kind that is not normally seen elsewhere. In one little street one afternoon I saw people attacking one another. Nigeria is so important, and the people of that enormous country must take responsibility themselves. President Obasanjo speaks the right language, but he is not taking the necessary action.

I remind the Minister of a letter that he sent me this week about a company that I have mentioned before—Julius Berger, a German construction company that has cornered the market in construction sites around Nigeria, not least an enormous modern stadium that is being built in Abuja, and makes the dome look cheap and well organised. It is a byword for corruption on the streets of Abuja. I shall not go into everything that I said in my letter to the Minister, but in his reply he says that he is not aware of any allegations concerning the company. I point him in the direction of the Nigerian press, which contains clear allegations, if not proof, about the matter. It took my researcher, who is rather good at such things, about five minutes to run them off the internet. People on the streets of Abuja and in our high commission are aware of those allegations.

In his letter, the Minister says that if I have specific allegations I can contact the anti-corruption commission in Abuja. While we were there, we talked to a delightful and well-meaning retired judge. I mentioned General Babangida and asked how a man who had looted his country could live in such luxury, holding court, in Nigeria. He said that nobody had come forward with allegations about that. I said that I could show him a book by Karl Meier called "This House has Fallen", which contains a long list of allegations. Up spoke a rather grave person from civil society who said, "The point is, Your Honour, if you make an allegation about this, you are likely to disappear the next day." So not many people are willing to put themselves forwards as witnesses in court. I think that we all understand that. I say to the Government that if we, as a friend of, and donor to, Nigeria do not pursue these allegations with our European partners such as Germany, we will not be doing Nigeria any good.

I have spoken for long enough, and although I wanted to concentrate on Africa, I have not discussed in any depth AIDS, the ghastly black death that is stalking the whole of sub-Saharan Africa, and I have hardly dwelt on poverty. I am an optimist by nature, but it is difficult to be optimistic when one has seen some of the things that we on the Select Committee have seen. Certainly there is cause for optimism in some countries, which the Secretary of State mentioned. In many ways, Rwanda and Uganda are beacons of hope, but it is a pity that they are both involved in the war in the Congo. There is peace between Eritrea and Ethiopia, although as the Secretary of State so rightly said, what on earth were they fighting about in the first place?

We need to look at the state of that poor benighted continent. I have picked two items from today's media. The first says that Zimbabwe is threatening its 12,000 Asian traders. Is not this where we were in 1971 or 1972

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with President Amin? Have we learned nothing in 30 years? The second is a report on the BBC this morning about the state of starvation in Malawi. I do not know a great deal about Malawi, but I do know that there are serious allegations of corruption there. It is desperately sad when a country that is fertile ends up with starvation.

I commend DFID for its strong stand, but I urge it to be a little stronger on the question of good governance and corruption. We do no favours to Africans in Nigeria or anywhere else if we keep quiet, if we are diplomatic and if we pull our punches. We need to tell the truth. The world has problems enough in the middle east and Afghanistan. The global village is a dreadful cliché, but it is true that there is a link between Osama bin Laden, the mujaheddin and whatever else one wants to mention. Let us support NEPAD and wish Africa well, but let us not use wishy-washy words and pretend that things are going well when they ain't. The scale of the problem of governance needs to be understood. The kleptocrats who run much of Africa need to know, as they drive in their Mercedes cars past the peasants who have no shoes, that the world will not support such behaviour.

More than anything, Africans and African Governments must take responsibility for themselves. "The Case for Aid for the Poorest Countries" says:

The Department's annual report, published yesterday, says:

The Government are absolutely right, and I wish them well. We need to show ourselves to be serious, as the African Governments must show themselves to be serious, about working towards just peace, conflict prevention, good governance and reforms, and then our development aid can be so much more effective in meeting the huge challenges in Africa.

4.43 pm

Hugh Bayley (City of York): The frighteningly high vote won by Jean-Marie Le Pen in the first round of the French presidential election has sent shockwaves across Europe, and it should concern particularly those of us who are interested in international development. We need to ask why so many people in France—it could be as many in this country—rally behind a racist xenophobe who simply does not realise that, in this globalising world, each of us in Europe is, as my hon. Friend the Member for Leeds, West (Mr. Battle) made clear, linked with others in the world, and our livelihoods and prosperity are interdependent.

What happened in France ought to remind us all that both time and distance play terrible tricks on memory. It is 60 years since the first French Jews were deported to Auschwitz on 27 March 1942. Saturday 4 May, the day before the second round of the French presidential election, will be the 60th anniversary of the day when the first Jews were gassed in Auschwitz. Every single voter in France should reflect on that on the day before they cast their vote. Everybody in France should remember that 83,000 French citizens were sent to the death camps—an episode that Jean-Marie Le Pen describes as a footnote to history.

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Here in this country—in Burnley, Bexley, Enfield and everywhere else that the British National party has candidates in elections in the same week—we need to reflect on where fascist ideology leads. We need to address the political issues that lie beneath what is happening in many countries in Europe, such as the social deprivation and the divisions that allow extremism to grow.

It is not only time—the passing of 60 years—that allows a memory to fade; it is also distance, which allows us to forget, or not to notice, human rights abuse, hunger and disease in other parts of the world. If we, the rich world, do not address injustice and the causes of poverty in developing countries, not only do we fail in our moral duty, but we allow conditions in which extremism in those countries will grow. We know from last autumn that that can have appalling consequences, both for people in developing countries and for us in the developed world.

That is why we need to break through the blocks in our collective memory, and why the financing for development conference in Monterrey is so important. The Zedillo report, commissioned by the United Nations, estimated that if we are to achieve the millennium development goals by 2015, we will need collectively to invest in aid some $50 billion more than we do now every year until 2015.

Real progress was made at Monterrey. The EU, under pressure from our Government, including the Chancellor of the Exchequer and the Secretary of State for International Development, agreed to increase its share of GNP devoted to development assistance from 0.32 to 0.39 per cent. by 2006. That will contribute an additional $7 billion a year in aid. In addition, the United States agreed an extra $5 billion a year in aid for each year from 2004 until 2006. That shows the importance—this point might have been better made in this afternoon's debate in Westminster Hall—of engaging with our ally, the United States of America, and of seeking its help in terms of working for important political goals from Europe. I see the fingerprints of our Prime Minister's conversations with President Bush—if I am not mixing the metaphor too much—in that decision by the United States President.

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