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Mr. Derek Wyatt (Sittingbourne and Sheppey) (Lab): The Prime Minister will know that I wrote to him last week as chairman of the all-party group on Zimbabwe asking whether the Commonwealth secretariat would consider arranging an eminent persons visit. I noticed that in his statement today he said that a representative group of six Commonwealth members would go. Is that the same thing; if so, has a date yet been fixed for the start of the visit?
The Prime Minister: I do not think that the idea was ever that the six who formed the committee would go to Zimbabwe, but that President Obasanjo should go, and he will go, although Mr. Mugabe will claim that he goes merely as the President of Nigeria and not as the Chairman-in-Office of the Commonwealth. However, there is at the very least a feeling, even among African countries that strongly support our position on Zimbabwe, that it is important that people such as President Obasanjo go to Zimbabwe, in part to make it clear to the Zimbabwean people that initiatives are directed not against them but against the regime. I do not know whether an eminent persons group would
Mr. Henry Bellingham (North-West Norfolk) (Con): There is certainly widespread support in the House for the stance that the Prime Minister took on Zimbabwe during the conference, not least because the appalling regime of Mugabe is hitting the poorest in that community. However, I think that there is disappointment on the Opposition Benches at the Prime Minister's reply to my hon. Friend the Member for New Forest, East (Dr. Lewis), as surely the one person who could really bring pressure to bear is Thabo Mbeki. The Prime Minister mentioned the MDC; it, too, wants Thabo Mbeki to take a much more leading role in getting a grip on things. Why does the Prime Minister feel that Thabo Mbeki is being so weak, so half-hearted and so negative?
The Prime Minister: If we want the President of South Africa to play a role, we do best to deal with the situation in a way that helps him to do so. If I can put things diplomatically, where there is disagreementas there is over this matterrather than engaging in an attack on the South African position, it is best simply to indicate why we feel so strongly that the right way to deal with the situation is to change the regime in Zimbabwe and to work with other countries to ensure that. I can tell the hon. Gentleman that we make those points very strongly indeed, but there is a way to do it and we must be careful about that.
Hugh Bayley (City of York) (Lab): Given that two-thirds of all the people in the world who are infected with the HIV virus live in Commonwealth countries, does the Prime Minister believe that the Commonwealth as a whole, not just Britain, has a unique role in providing leadership in the fight against HIV and AIDS? What are African member countries doing to argue that the fight against AIDS should take greater priority in the work of the NEPAD secretariat, and what are the Government doing in preparation for our presidency of the G8 and the EU to ensure that it forms an important part of our agenda?
The Prime Minister: The African countries are taking measures to ensure that they have capacity in their own countries to deal with HIV/AIDS, and a few weeks ago, President Bush and I met several health Ministers from African countries to discuss that. For us, issues relating to climate change and to Africaincluding, of course, the problem of HIV/AIDSwill be a main part of our G8 presidency in 2005. That will send out a strong signal of the priority that we attach to those issues.
Mr. Andrew Robathan (Blaby) (Con): I am sure that we all agree entirely with what the Prime Minister has said about Zimbabwe, but may I take him back to the maximum pressure to which he referred earlier? How about adopting the suggestion made by the Select Committee on Foreign Affairs and withdrawing the honorary knighthood that Mugabe was given in 1994? How about raising the matter at the Security Council of the United Nations where it can be debated in world forums and the world can seeas can Zimbabweans
The Prime Minister: As I said earlier, when the sanctions come up, we should certainly consider how they could be extended without giving people false solace about how effective they might be in sinking the regime. I will certainly consider the honorary knighthood, although I somewhat question how great the impact of the hon. Gentleman's suggestion would be on President Mugabe.
In respect of the UN, as I said before, we raise this issue regularly at the UN. It is important, however, that we do not put a resolution before the UN Security Council, in particular, unless we are sure that it would succeed because, if we put one and it failed, the impact would be adverse.
Mr. Harry Barnes (North-East Derbyshire) (Lab): On Zimbabwe, does not Nigeria itself show what Commonwealth pressure can bring about in advancing democratic provisions? For instance, the African meeting of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association was recently held in Abujaperhaps, in time, another such meeting will be held in Harareand a spin-off is that the Nigerian arrangements to deal with HIV/AIDS have developed into a progressive programme, considerably assisted by our own Department for International Development.
The Prime Minister: My hon. Friend is absolutely right. Indeed, Nigeria represents a model example of a country returning to democracy, and Commonwealth pressure assisted in that, which is why the Commonwealth continuing to suspend Zimbabwe will, of course, have its own impact.
I agree with everything that the Prime Minister says about HIV/AIDS. Of course he is right to work with the drug companies to try to reduce the cost of the drugs, but does he agree that pharmaceutical research is phenomenally expensiveAstraZeneca employs 5,000 on research in my constituency aloneand that it would be a tragedy if the campaign against HIV/AIDS turned into a campaign against international drug companies? We need their help and research, and we must not demonise them.
Mr. Stephen McCabe (Birmingham, Hall Green) (Lab): May I return to the world trade talks? Does the Prime Minister agree that the Commonwealth is an ideally placed organisation and perhaps should do more to campaign on the principles of movements such as the Traidcraft movement, which suggest that investment in trade for developing countries is a good thing, but that it must be done in a manner that supports and reinforces sustainable progress? It should be made absolutely clear to the businesses involved that we will not tolerate exploitative or corrupt practices of the kind that would be intolerable in this country.
The Prime Minister: I am sure that it is right that, when we open up world trade, we do so responsibly. The important thing is to ensure that we break down the open tariffs and barriers as well as the hidden barriers; but the point that my hon. Friend makes about Traidcraft is welcome.
'(1) The local planning authority must prepare and maintain a plan to be known as their local development plan ("the plan") which will contain a number of Local Development Documents, each of which will cover a different subject matter as specified in the plan.
(2) The plan must specify
(a) the documents which are to be local development documents ("the documents");
(b) the subject matter and geographical area to which each document is to relate;
(c) which documents (if any) are to be prepared jointly with one or more other local planning authorities which will be treated the same as if one single authority had prepared it;
(d) any matter or area in respect of which the authority have agreed to (or propose to agree) to the constitution of a joint committee under section 28;
(e) the timetable for the preparation and revision of the documents;
(f) such other matters as are prescribed.
(3) Different plan documents must, amongst other matters, include:
(a) those matters in which the County Council or Unitary Authority has a role;
(b) a plan for each of the larger settlements as detailed in the plan;
(c) a plan for any other settlement which may be designated in the plan;
(d) a plan detailing all section 106 matters including the formula or tariff including the provision of social housing;
(e) a plan detailing how specific planning designations, such as Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty will be operated;
(f) a plan detailing how land use, sustainability and economic regeneration are to be managed;
(g) such other matters as the Secretary of State prescribes.
(4) The local planning authority may withdraw their plan or documents at any time before they are formally adopted.
(5) The local planning authority must
(a) prepare the plan and documents in accordance with such other requirements as are prescribed;
(b) submit the plan and documents to the Secretary of State at such time as is prescribed or as the Secretary of State (in a particular case) directs;
(c) at that time send a copy of the plan and documents to the RPB or (if the authority are a London borough) to the Mayor of London;
(d) prepare, publish and have regard to a Statement of Community Involvement as negotiated by section 4 of the Local Government Act 2000 (c. 22).
(6) The Secretary of State may direct the local planning authority to make such amendments to the plan or documents as he thinks appropriate, but only when the Secretary of State and Authority can not agree on any matter.
9 Dec 2003 : Column 934 defined in subsection 16), who may decline the evidence if he has reason to believe that it is a repetition of evidence which he has already received from another person.