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6.49 pm

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for International Development (Mr. Gareth Thomas): It is a pleasure and a privilege to reply to this debate, and I

25 Jun 2003 : Column 1160

congratulate the hon. Member for Meriden (Mrs. Spelman) on her choice of subject. I am grateful to the House for its warm welcome. I particularly liked the description used by the hon. Member for Richmond Park (Dr. Tonge) of the bevy of beauty and talent on the Front Bench. I am sure that I fit the first description, and I hope to convince the House that I fit the second.

As the many excellent speeches on both sides of the House have demonstrated, the challenge that we face on this issue is considerable. Almost one in four of the world's population—two thirds of them women—live in abject poverty. They do not have access to adequate food, clean water, essential health care or basic education services. Such poverty and inequality in a world of great wealth should be a powerful imperative for action by Governments, and in particular, by the leadership of the world's most developed countries. That is why a focus to achieve ever-greater progress towards the millennium development goals has been at the heart of this Government's international agenda.

Many other steps need to be taken. In particular, we need to make further progress towards debt relief, as my right hon. Friend the Member for Coatbridge and Chryston (Mr. Clarke) and my hon. Friend the Member for Loughborough (Mr. Reed) pointed out. Removing barriers and creating fairer trade rules is a vital route towards meeting the millennium goals. As my hon. Friend the Member for Glasgow, Maryhill (Ann McKechin) pointed out, we cannot talk about free or fair trade unless more developed countries take the often hard political decision to dismantle trade-distorting subsidies. Indeed, it is vital that European Union Agriculture Ministers take the bold decisions that many Members on both sides of the House have long sought on common agricultural policy reform in the negotiations that have resumed today.

The evidence of the benefits of fairer trade is clear, and reducing global protectionism will increase global incomes. A number of hon. Members mentioned the US Farm Bill, and I share the sense of regret articulated by the hon. Member for North-East Bedfordshire (Alistair Burt) and my hon. Friend the Member for Leeds, West (Mr. Battle) that the US Administration seem likely to increase market subsidies at a time when we are working within the European Union and the WTO significantly to reduce them. It is important, however, that that issue should not be allowed to distract us from achieving the target of concluding the Doha development agreement by the end of 2004. If we are to deliver that ambitious agenda for development, we have to make trade rules work for the poorest. Ministers across Whitehall have been working closely together to tackle the major obstacles, so that we can secure the progress at Cancun that the whole House has today indicated that it wants to see.

I welcome the spotlight that the Trade Justice Movement has brought to the issues of trade and development, to secure a fair deal for the world's poor, but I hope that the movement will now join us in prioritising the real issues that matter most to developing countries. At the top of the list, as the hon. Member for Banbury (Tony Baldry) highlighted—and as the trade Ministers of the 49 least-developed countries made clear in their Dakar declaration at the end of May—is the urgent need to give real priority to

25 Jun 2003 : Column 1161

remedying the negative consequences of agricultural subsidies that affect millions of farmers in those least-developed countries.

The hon. Member for Banbury was a little unfair about our commitment to CAP reform. Indeed, my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs is, as we speak, working extremely hard with our European Union partners to secure a good deal that will allow the flexibility needed for real and serious engagement in the WTO negotiations, and that will genuinely benefit developing countries.

I accept, too, that resolving the TRIPS and public health negotiations is essential to making this a true development round, as was eloquently pointed out by the hon. Member for Richmond Park. We are continuing to try to secure US agreement to the accord that we almost had on 16 December last year, to which all other WTO members could agree.

As the hon. Member for Ceredigion (Mr. Thomas) said, we are working on revisions to the WTO's special and different treatment provisions, in order to secure the progress that developing and—importantly—developed countries want to see. It is certainly true that deadlines have been missed, and the Government remain keen to re-establish the momentum as we approach Cancun.

The hon. Member for Richmond Park touched on the everything-but-arms agreement, which she was right to highlight as an example of successful European Union action in providing a good deal for the world's poorest countries. However, she was wrong to say that sugar, bananas and rice are not excluded from the agreement; transitional periods are in place for those three most sensitive of products. Full duty-free arrangements for them will be phased in between 2006 and 2008.

On the liberalisation of services under the general agreement on trade in services, which the hon. Member for Richmond Park and my hon. Friend the Member for Ayr (Sandra Osborne) mentioned, it is worth pointing out that research undertaken by a variety of organisations has highlighted the benefit that services liberalisation can have for developing countries. It is also worth mentioning that GATS is a bottom-up agreement: in other words, the countries themselves decide whether, and indeed when, to open up services, if they consider it beneficial to do so.

The Government do not share the view that the so-called new issues should be left off the Cancun agenda. For example, getting more investment into developing countries must be fundamental to achieving the millennium development goals and genuine poverty reduction. Of course, promoting domestic investment is the priority, but foreign direct investment also has a key role to play. It not only provides additional capital, it helps to transfer new technology and skills and to generate new jobs. It is important to remember that developing countries will not be forced to open up all sectors; nor will they lose their right to regulate under any new investment agreement. Indeed, I can offer some assurance to the Trade Justice Movement campaign: we are interested only in developing an investment agreement that will help developing countries; we will not sign up to anything else.

25 Jun 2003 : Column 1162

Business, which was mentioned by several Members, clearly has an important role to play in helping us to meet the millennium development goals. It is of course important in creating jobs, providing investment and fuelling the economic growth that we all want to see. May I suggest gently to the hon. Member for Romford (Mr. Rosindell) that we want responsible business activity? Indeed, the right hon. Member for Suffolk, Coastal (Mr. Gummer) made that point particularly tellingly in his intervention. We are pursuing a mixture of voluntary and mandatory approaches to promoting a true sense of corporate social responsibility.

The one new idea in the motion moved by the hon. Member for Meriden—a fund to offer short-term legal aid to developing countries—is of course a good one. That is why this Government are already doing exactly that by providing direct support to the Advisory Centre on WTO Law, as my hon. Friend the Minister of State pointed out in an intervention. But as my hon. Friend the Member for Ayr said, what is essential is long-term assistance—which the Conservative motion does not mention—to build the capacity of developing countries, so that they can engage with the WTO on equal terms.

Mrs. Spelman: On a point of clarification, the motion does not call for a short-term advocacy fund.

Mr. Thomas: With respect to the hon. Lady, I think that she needs to look at the press release on this issue. We are determined to be in there for the long term. We have allocated some £45 million to build developing countries' capacity to engage properly with the WTO. I hope that that gives some reassurance to my hon. Friend the Member for Ayr.

As my hon. Friend the Member for Leeds, West and the hon. Member for Richmond Park pointed out, the Conservatives' motion would be a little more credible if their record on these issues was not so poor. An aid budget that was 0.5 per cent. of gross national product in 1979 had been cut by half by the end of their Administration.

David Maclean (Penrith and The Border) rose in his place and claimed to move, That the Question be now put.

Question, That the Question be now put, put and agreed to.

Question put accordingly, That the original words stand part of the Question:—

The House divided: Ayes 177, Noes 295.

Division No. 257
[7:00 pm


Allan, Richard
Amess, David
Ancram, rh Michael
Atkinson, Peter (Hexham)
Baker, Norman
Baldry, Tony
Barker, Gregory
Baron, John (Billericay)
Barrett, John
Beggs, Roy (E Antrim)
Bellingham, Henry
Blunt, Crispin
Boswell, Tim
Bottomley, Peter (Worthing W)
Bottomley, rh Virginia (SW Surrey)
Brady, Graham
Brake, Tom (Carshalton)
Brazier, Julian
Breed, Colin
Brooke, Mrs Annette L.
Browning, Mrs Angela
Burnett, John
Burns, Simon
Burnside, David
Burstow, Paul
Burt, Alistair
Butterfill, John
Cameron, David
Cash, William
Chope, Christopher
Clappison, James
Clarke, rh Kenneth (Rushcliffe)
Clifton-Brown, Geoffrey
Collins, Tim
Conway, Derek
Cotter, Brian
Cran, James (Beverley)
Davey, Edward (Kingston)
Davis, rh David (Haltemprice & Howden)
Djanogly, Jonathan
Dorrell, rh Stephen
Doughty, Sue
Duncan, Peter (Galloway)
Duncan Smith, rh Iain
Evans, Nigel
Ewing, Annabelle
Fabricant, Michael
Fallon, Michael
Flight, Howard
Flook, Adrian
Forth, rh Eric
Foster, Don (Bath)
Fox, Dr. Liam
Gale, Roger (N Thanet)
Garnier, Edward
Gidley, Sandra
Gillan, Mrs Cheryl
Goodman, Paul
Gray, James (N Wilts)
Grayling, Chris
Green, Damian (Ashford)
Green, Matthew (Ludlow)
Grieve, Dominic
Gummer, rh John
Hague, rh William
Hammond, Philip
Harvey, Nick
Hawkins, Nick
Hayes, John (S Holland)
Heald, Oliver
Heath, David
Heathcoat-Amory, rh David
Hendry, Charles
Hoban, Mark (Fareham)
Hogg, rh Douglas
Holmes, Paul
Horam, John (Orpington)
Howard, rh Michael
Howarth, Gerald (Aldershot)
Hughes, Simon (Southwark N)
Jack, rh Michael
Johnson, Boris (Henley)
Keetch, Paul
Kennedy, rh Charles (Ross Skye & Inverness)
Key, Robert (Salisbury)
Kirkbride, Miss Julie
Kirkwood, Sir Archy
Knight, rh Greg (E Yorkshire)
Laing, Mrs Eleanor
Lait, Mrs Jacqui
Laws, David (Yeovil)
Letwin, rh Oliver
Lewis, Dr. Julian (New Forest E)
Liddell-Grainger, Ian
Lidington, David
Loughton, Tim
Luff, Peter (M-Worcs)
McIntosh, Miss Anne
Mackay, rh Andrew
Maclean, rh David
McLoughlin, Patrick
Maples, John
Maude, rh Francis
Mawhinney, rh Sir Brian
Mercer, Patrick
Mitchell, Andrew (Sutton Coldfield)
Moore, Michael
Moss, Malcolm
Murrison, Dr. Andrew
Norman, Archie
O'Brien, Stephen (Eddisbury)
Öpik, Lembit
Osborne, George (Tatton)
Ottaway, Richard
Page, Richard
Paice, James
Paterson, Owen
Pickles, Eric
Portillo, rh Michael
Price, Adam (E Carmarthen & Dinefwr)
Prisk, Mark (Hertford)
Randall, John
Redwood, rh John
Rendel, David
Robathan, Andrew
Robertson, Angus (Moray)
Robertson, Hugh (Faversham & M-Kent)
Robertson, Laurence (Tewk'b'ry)
Roe, Mrs Marion
Rosindell, Andrew
Ruffley, David
Russell, Bob (Colchester)
Sanders, Adrian
Sayeed, Jonathan
Selous, Andrew
Shepherd, Richard
Simmonds, Mark
Smyth, Rev. Martin (Belfast S)
Spelman, Mrs Caroline
Spicer, Sir Michael
Spink, Bob (Castle Point)
Spring, Richard
Stanley, rh Sir John
Steen, Anthony
Streeter, Gary
Stunell, Andrew
Swire, Hugo (E Devon)
Syms, Robert
Tapsell, Sir Peter
Taylor, Ian (Esher)
Taylor, John (Solihull)
Taylor, Matthew (Truro)
Taylor, Dr. Richard (Wyre F)
Thomas, Simon (Ceredigion)
Thurso, John
Tonge, Dr. Jenny
Tredinnick, David
Trend, Michael
Turner, Andrew (Isle of Wight)
Tyler, Paul (N Cornwall)
Tyrie, Andrew
Waterson, Nigel
Watkinson, Angela
Webb, Steve (Northavon)
Weir, Michael
Whittingdale, John
Wiggin, Bill
Willetts, David
Williams, Hywel (Caernarfon)
Williams, Roger (Brecon)
Willis, Phil
Winterton, Ann (Congleton)
Winterton, Sir Nicholas (Macclesfield)
Wishart, Pete
Yeo, Tim (S Suffolk)
Young, rh Sir George
Younger-Ross, Richard

Tellers for the Ayes:

Mr. David Wilshire and
Mr. Mark Francois


Abbott, Ms Diane
Adams, Irene (Paisley N)
Ainger, Nick
Ainsworth, Bob (Cov'try NE)
Allen, Graham
Anderson, Janet (Rossendale & Darwen)
Armstrong, rh Ms Hilary
Atherton, Ms Candy
Austin, John
Bailey, Adrian
Barnes, Harry
Battle, John
Beard, Nigel
Benn, Hilary
Bennett, Andrew
Benton, Joe (Bootle)
Betts, Clive
Blackman, Liz
Blizzard, Bob
Borrow, David
Bradley, rh Keith (Withington)
Bradley, Peter (The Wrekin)
Bradshaw, Ben
Brennan, Kevin
Brown, rh Nicholas (Newcastle E Wallsend)
Browne, Desmond
Buck, Ms Karen
Burgon, Colin
Burnham, Andy
Byers, rh Stephen
Cairns, David
Campbell, Alan (Tynemouth)
Campbell, Mrs Anne (C'bridge)
Campbell, Ronnie (Blyth V)
Caplin, Ivor
Casale, Roger
Caton, Martin
Cawsey, Ian (Brigg)
Challen, Colin
Chapman, Ben (Wirral S)
Chaytor, David
Clapham, Michael
Clark, Paul (Gillingham)
Clarke, rh Charles (Norwich S)
Clarke, rh Tom (Coatbridge & Chryston)
Clarke, Tony (Northampton S)
Clelland, David
Clwyd, Ann (Cynon V)
Coaker, Vernon
Coffey, Ms Ann
Cohen, Harry
Connarty, Michael
Cook, Frank (Stockton N)
Cooper, Yvette
Corbyn, Jeremy
Corston, Jean
Cousins, Jim
Cranston, Ross
Cruddas, Jon
Cryer, Ann (Keighley)
Cryer, John (Hornchurch)
Cummings, John
Cunningham, Tony (Workington)
Curtis-Thomas, Mrs Claire
Darling, rh Alistair
Davey, Valerie (Bristol W)
David, Wayne
Davidson, Ian
Davies, rh Denzil (Llanelli)
Dawson, Hilton
Dean, Mrs Janet
Denham, rh John
Dhanda, Parmjit
Dobbin, Jim (Heywood)
Dobson, rh Frank
Donohoe, Brian H.
Dowd, Jim (Lewisham W)
Dunwoody, Mrs Gwyneth
Eagle, Angela (Wallasey)
Eagle, Maria (L'pool Garston)
Edwards, Huw
Efford, Clive
Ellman, Mrs Louise
Ennis, Jeff (Barnsley E)
Farrelly, Paul
Field, rh Frank (Birkenhead)
Fisher, Mark
Fitzpatrick, Jim
Fitzsimons, Mrs Lorna
Flint, Caroline
Follett, Barbara
Foster, rh Derek
Foster, Michael (Worcester)
Francis, Dr. Hywel
Gardiner, Barry
George, rh Bruce (Walsall S)
Gerrard, Neil
Gibson, Dr. Ian
Gilroy, Linda
Godsiff, Roger
Griffiths, Win (Bridgend)
Grogan, John
Hall, Mike (Weaver Vale)
Hall, Patrick (Bedford)
Hamilton, David (Midlothian)
Hamilton, Fabian (Leeds NE)
Hanson, David
Harman, rh Ms Harriet
Harris, Tom (Glasgow Cathcart)
Havard, Dai (Merthyr Tydfil & Rhymney)
Healey, John
Henderson, Doug (Newcastle N)
Henderson, Ivan (Harwich)
Hendrick, Mark
Hepburn, Stephen
Heppell, John
Hesford, Stephen
Heyes, David
Hill, Keith (Streatham)
Hinchliffe, David
Hodge, Margaret
Hoey, Kate (Vauxhall)
Hope, Phil (Corby)
Hopkins, Kelvin
Howarth, George (Knowsley N & Sefton E)
Howells, Dr. Kim
Hughes, Beverley (Stretford & Urmston)
Hughes, Kevin (Doncaster N)
Humble, Mrs Joan
Iddon, Dr. Brian
Illsley, Eric
Ingram, rh Adam
Irranca-Davies, Huw
Jackson, Helen (Hillsborough)
Jamieson, David
Jenkins, Brian
Johnson, Alan (Hull W)
Johnson, Miss Melanie (Welwyn Hatfield)
Jones, Helen (Warrington N)
Jones, Jon Owen (Cardiff C)
Jones, Kevan (N Durham)
Jones, Lynne (Selly Oak)
Jones, Martyn (Clwyd S)
Joyce, Eric (Falkirk W)
Kaufman, rh Gerald
Keeble, Ms Sally
Keen, Alan (Feltham)
Kemp, Fraser
Khabra, Piara S.
Kidney, David
Kilfoyle, Peter
King, Andy (Rugby)
King, Ms Oona (Bethnal Green & Bow)
Knight, Jim (S Dorset)
Kumar, Dr. Ashok
Ladyman, Dr. Stephen
Lammy, David
Lazarowicz, Mark
Lepper, David
Leslie, Christopher
Levitt, Tom (High Peak)
Lewis, Ivan (Bury S)
Linton, Martin
Love, Andrew
Lucas, Ian (Wrexham)
Luke, Iain (Dundee E)
Lyons, John (Strathkelvin)
McAvoy, Thomas
McCabe, Stephen
McDonagh, Siobhain
MacDonald, Calum
McDonnell, John
McFall, John
McIsaac, Shona
McKechin, Ann
McKenna, Rosemary
Mackinlay, Andrew
McNulty, Tony
MacShane, Denis
Mactaggart, Fiona
McWalter, Tony
McWilliam, John
Mahon, Mrs Alice
Mallaber, Judy
Mann, John (Bassetlaw)
Marris, Rob (Wolverh'ton SW)
Marsden, Gordon (Blackpool S)
Marshall, Jim (Leicester S)
Marshall-Andrews, Robert
Martlew, Eric
Meacher, rh Michael
Merron, Gillian
Miliband, David
Miller, Andrew
Mitchell, Austin (Gt Grimsby)
Moffatt, Laura
Mole, Chris
Moran, Margaret
Morgan, Julie
Morris, rh Estelle
Mountford, Kali
Mudie, George
Mullin, Chris
Munn, Ms Meg
Murphy, Denis (Wansbeck)
Murphy, rh Paul (Torfaen)
Naysmith, Dr. Doug
Norris, Dan (Wansdyke)
O'Brien, Bill (Normanton)
O'Brien, Mike (N Warks)
Organ, Diana
Osborne, Sandra (Ayr)
Owen, Albert
Palmer, Dr. Nick
Picking, Anne
Pickthall, Colin
Pike, Peter (Burnley)
Plaskitt, James
Pollard, Kerry
Pond, Chris (Gravesham)
Pope, Greg (Hyndburn)
Pound, Stephen
Prentice, Ms Bridget (Lewisham E)
Prentice, Gordon (Pendle)
Primarolo, rh Dawn
Prosser, Gwyn
Purchase, Ken
Purnell, James
Quinn, Lawrie
Rapson, Syd (Portsmouth N)
Raynsford, rh Nick
Reed, Andy (Loughborough)
Reid, rh Dr. John (Hamilton N & Bellshill)
Rooney, Terry
Ross, Ernie (Dundee W)
Roy, Frank (Motherwell)
Ruane, Chris
Ruddock, Joan
Russell, Ms Christine (City of Chester)
Ryan, Joan (Enfield N)
Salter, Martin
Sarwar, Mohammad
Savidge, Malcolm
Sawford, Phil
Sedgemore, Brian
Sheridan, Jim
Simpson, Alan (Nottingham S)
Singh, Marsha
Smith, rh Andrew (Oxford E)
Smith, Angela (Basildon)
Smith, rh Chris (Islington S & Finsbury)
Smith, Jacqui (Redditch)
Smith, John (Glamorgan)
Soley, Clive
Southworth, Helen
Spellar, rh John
Squire, Rachel
Starkey, Dr. Phyllis
Steinberg, Gerry
Stevenson, George
Stewart, David (Inverness E & Lochaber)
Straw, rh Jack
Stringer, Graham
Sutcliffe, Gerry
Tami, Mark (Alyn)
Taylor, Dari (Stockton S)
Taylor, David (NW Leics)
Thomas, Gareth (Clwyd W)
Thomas, Gareth (Harrow W)
Tipping, Paddy
Todd, Mark (S Derbyshire)
Touhig, Don (Islwyn)
Turner, Dennis (Wolverh'ton SE)
Turner, Dr. Desmond (Brighton Kemptown)
Turner, Neil (Wigan)
Twigg, Derek (Halton)
Vaz, Keith (Leicester E)
Walley, Ms Joan
Ward, Claire
Watson, Tom (W Bromwich E)
Whitehead, Dr. Alan
Wicks, Malcolm
Williams, rh Alan (Swansea W)
Williams, Betty (Conwy)
Wills, Michael
Winnick, David
Winterton, Ms Rosie (Doncaster C)
Wood, Mike (Batley)
Woodward, Shaun
Woolas, Phil
Worthington, Tony
Wright, Anthony D. (Gt Yarmouth)
Wright, David (Telford)
Wright, Tony (Cannock)
Wyatt, Derek

Tellers for the Noes:

Mr. Jim Murphy and
Charlotte Atkins

Question accordingly negatived.

25 Jun 2003 : Column 1166

Question, That the proposed words be there added, put forthwith, pursuant to Standing Order No. 31 (Questions on amendments), and agreed to.

Mr. Deputy Speaker forthwith declared the main Question, as amended, to be agreed to.


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