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5.23 pm

Tony Worthington (Clydebank and Milngavie): I am relieved that another annual report has not come out while I have been waiting to speak; however, it is a joy to have an opportunity to contribute to our debate.

I want to talk about a crucial issue that many people have mentioned—trade. The theme of my contribution to the globalisation and anti-globalisation debate is the issue of when we need more freedom and when we need more regulation. The territory is incredibly complicated: some people say they are for globalisation without qualification and others say they are against it without qualification, but both groups are wrong. I praise the Secretary of State and the Department for the report; the complexities of the issues that it tackles make them the most intellectually taxing that anyone has to deal with.

I raise the issue of trade because I fear that we are simply not doing enough on many aspects of trade and are not reducing poverty as much as we could because we are not sufficiently focused on trade. I use the word "trade" in a very broad sense, to cover any exchange relationships between the developed and developing worlds. I shall speak mainly about Africa, because I am afraid that it has become my obsession, as it has for many others.

Sub-Saharan Africa now accounts for only 1.3 per cent. of world trade—one third of its share at the beginning of the 1980s. It is falling behind, and the faults lie in the countries themselves and in our part of the world. While they are falling behind, we and they are stimulating terrorism, poverty, the collapse of the rule of law and so on. In the words of Mike Moore, director general of the World Trade Organisation,

In passing, I should like to praise Mike Moore. If ever a person received a hospital pass, he did so by taking over the WTO just before Seattle. If there was ever an inheritance that one would not have wanted, that was it. However, we passed through the years and arrived at Doha. Everyone will find limitations to Doha, but the organisation was a stable one and progress could be made. If the WTO had been destroyed, it would have been a major setback for development in the world. Even now, trade in developing countries generates more than

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30 times as much revenue per capita through exports as those countries receive in aid. In the words of the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry after Doha,

As I said, I am interpreting the concept of trade very broadly to include all the economic interchanges between rich and poor nations. For example, it includes the trade in people. I do not have the slightest doubt that we exploit the developing world in terms of its people. We may put in some funds for primary education, but we then rake off enormous benefits from those countries' talented people. As my hon. Friend the Member for City of York (Hugh Bayley) will recall, we were told in Ghana and Nigeria that there were more Ghanaian doctors around New York than in Ghana. The number of Indian scientists in the United States is colossal. Many developing countries hate to see their brightest and best go to American universities because they do not come home. The United States is not only the least generous of the G7 countries in terms of its aid assistance, which is often tied and provided on political rather than humanitarian grounds, but is the most extractive from the developing world in people terms.

We are rightly putting a lot of emphasis on universal basic education, but that will not pay off as much as we would want if we, the Americans and other developed countries pick off the brightest and best in what resembles a modern version of the 11-plus, whereby we put in the primary education but many of the brightest and best do not serve their country. They must have individual liberty, but it is worrying that one of the consequences of providing what we call aid is that we then help ourselves. In people terms, that happens a lot.

We know that that is the case because we are concerned in this country about how we are seeking to make good our shortage of teachers, nurses and scientists by taking a disproportionate number from the developing world. I think that we should have an analysis of the balance of trade in people. DFID was working on such a project some time ago, but I wonder whether there has been any real analysis of the account with regard to what we put in to help people and what we take out in terms of people.

Another aspect of trade is the trade in money. A great deal is said about the need to have foreign direct investment going into developing countries, but how can that work if the locals, and others, ship it out to money markets around the world in greater quantities than are coming in? I welcome the fact that some of the Nigerian Abacha money is to go back to Nigeria. Let us take that case as the most glaring, foul example. The Nigerian Government were seeking to reclaim £4 billion that had been taken out of Nigeria by one family. DFID's worldwide budget is £3.5 billion. One Nigerian family took £500 million more out of Nigeria than this country put into the developing world. Money is being extracted on that scale.

This is where the issue of regulation comes in. That we have allowed successive Nigerian Presidents, as well as Mobutu, Mugabe, Milosevic and Saddam Hussein, to get richer while we criticise them is simply scandalous. Similarly, huge amounts of Russian money have left the country and been recycled while Russia gets poorer. I am told that about 9,000 Russian firms are registered on the island of Cyprus. Movement of money is happening on

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that scale. Until 11 September, we were incredibly dilatory about all this. Afterwards—I remember the announcement—it was suddenly discovered that a large number of bureaux de change in this country were involved in money laundering. I just wonder how long that had really been known, without being acted on.

I hope that the return of the Abacha money is a sign of better things to come, but I am not sure. On our visit to Nigeria—we were the first Select Committee to go there following the return of democracy—I could find no one who knew what was happening to the oil revenues. In theory, it had been the military who had been stealing them. As I went around I asked people, "Can we see the accounts?" This ought to be a simple process: Shell extracts oil; it has a value; some of the revenue will go to Shell and some to Nigeria. Yet it is impossible to get the answer to the question of where those oil revenues are going. In theory, if democracy and transparency have taken over, we should be able to see lots of schools and clinics opening, and lots of benefit to the Nigerian people. I can only conclude, because no one could point any of those things out to us, that the "food chain" remains pretty well undisturbed. Abacha and Abubakar may have gone, but the corruption carries on. That is simply not good enough.

The issue of oil revenues takes me on to other areas in which the rules of the WTO are simply irrelevant. These include diamond smuggling and timber harvesting. We have been extremely slow to realise the importance of setting up proper regulation and policing systems, and poorer countries have been plundered of their natural resources. Sierra Leone and Angola, for example, became totally ungovernable. Countries that were literally sitting on diamond mines or oil fields were plunged into poverty.

A small London-based NGO, Global Witness, found out more about the diamond issue in Sierra Leone and Liberia, and about how the forests of Cambodia were being plundered until they were virtually extinct, than all the intelligence resources of the world's Governments could find out. We must act on that information. I praise Global Witness for its achievements; I believe that it now has some ideas about how we could tackle corruption more effectively from the British company end than we have done so far. I look forward to hearing them.

I used to think of corruption as pilfering or slippage—not very serious—but I now think that corruption in many so-called developing countries will prevent any growth at all. Its eradication is crucial to any progress and there must be more regulation. That requirement is reflected in part by the fact that the number of tax havens has grown astronomically in recent years.

We used to be able to reel off the tax havens—the Cayman Islands, Jersey, Guernsey and so on—but now the books show that there are tax havens everywhere. That, in part, is also down to the Americans, as they have stimulated free trade and there is a lack of regulation. However, following 11 September, we must come together and get the Americans on our side over development. As the hon. Member for Banbury (Tony Baldry) and my hon. Friend the Member for Leeds, West (Mr. Battle) said, a lot of us are being invited to America to talk to Congressmen and Senators. The whole business of tax havens must be tackled.

To me, trade also involves firms' trading practices and their impact on the welfare of citizens. That is another aspect that we do not consider enough. How much

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avoidable death, sickness and poverty does the developed world thrust on the developing world through its trade practices? Let me give an example that is close to my heart and that of my hon. Friend the Member for Leeds, West. My constituency has a major problem with the legacy of asbestos. Only a couple of years ago, all forms of it were banned in Europe, although it has been known for decades that asbestos kills. The same firms that we have banned from selling in Europe are operating and killing in the developing world by forcing people to work without protection.

If there was ever a case of corporate manslaughter, that must be it, so I was delighted recently when former Cape Asbestos workers in South Africa received compensation in our courts. However, we still allow that form of free trade to persist. That is not acceptable, and we need more regulation. As my hon. Friend the Member for Ealing, Southall (Mr. Khabra) said, we must also tackle the practice of dumping out-of-date drugs and giving them to people who do not know how to use them, which causes more harm than good.

A number of Members have referred to AIDS, which is dramatically reducing life expectancy in Africa. We must face up to what the free market is doing: large, unrestricted sums of private money go into research on keeping prosperous Americans and Europeans alive, because that is profitable for the pharmaceutical companies, but hardly any private money and only limited sums of public money go on research into a vaccine that would prevent poor Africans from getting the disease in the first place.

It is obvious that there ought to be better protection for women, who must gamble on men being responsible, which has always been a pretty dodgy thing to do.

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