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John Mann: Will my right hon. Friend listen in particular to the demands of those of us who say that we should go further and give parish councils an even greater say, not least in some of the planning processes, in terms of controlling their own community?

Alun Michael: I am delighted at the way in which the Local Government Association is engaging with us and with the National Association of Local Councils, particularly in rural areas where we would otherwise be reinventing the wheel by creating additional local partnerships. NALC is represented on the central local partnership to which I referred earlier, and we are making real progress in this area, as is being recognised throughout the country. I encourage my right hon. and hon. Friends, and members of other parties too, to recognise and support the work that is being done at the most local level of our democracy.

The speech of the hon. Member for South Suffolk (Mr. Yeo) was characterised by low-key absurdity. His policy on transport appeared to be to demand actions that have already been taken by the Government, and otherwise to list problems to which he failed to offer constructive solutions. On farming, he seemed to have read the Secretary of State's speech at the Labour party conference, but somehow missed the fact that the Labour party is the first political party in Britain to have a national conference devoted entirely to rural issues.
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This is the first Government to treat farming as a strategically important industry since the days of my predecessor, Lord Callaghan.

The hon. Gentleman referred to the article in The Daily Telegraph today, which was quite misleading. On the refunding of compensation by the European Commission, the most that the UK could have expected back was about £0.96 million under EU rules, which allow a 60 per cent. maximum reimbursement of any claims. It would have been best, before making his criticisms, if he had discovered the facts. The settlement is much higher than the 23 per cent. originally proposed by the European Commission, and that is a result of successful representations by DEFRA. The settlement is almost three times as much as other countries have received in the past.

The hon. Gentleman asked about the over-30-month scheme. The Government are considering the Food Standards Agency's advice on replacing the OTMS rule with BSE testing for cattle born after August 1996. We all want to see the rule ended, but we would not be thankful if that consideration were rushed, given the imperative or protecting public health.

Our policy towards farming is both positive and   vigorous, removing production-related subsidy, reforming the common agricultural policy—actions not words, and a great success for the Secretary of State—and helping the industry to be modern, competitive and diversified, not least through the strategy for sustainable farming and food.

But the greatest absurdity was to say nothing of substance about the wider concerns of rural people. The Government are modernising rural delivery, focusing the work of regional development agencies, building on the strengths of modern quality parish and town councils, and supporting the voluntary and community sector.

On education, we have halted the slide of rural schools under the Conservatives and the rural services review, which I commend to members, cites a school in Cornwall that demonstrates the future—the extended school in a rural setting. I pay tribute to my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Education and Skills, who is an exemplar in building rural delivery into the policies and delivery of his Department and its agencies. Rural transport is now receiving not only increased investment but flexibility. Affordable housing is a difficult and challenging issue that we are tackling with a sense of importance reflected in the recent remarks of my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister. The Government have put climate change and Africa at the top of the agenda for their presidency of the G8 next year. That reflects our priorities, on which this Government are delivering.

Debate adjourned.—[Mr. Heppell.]

Debate to be resumed on Monday next.



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United Nations Industrial Development Organisation

Motion made, and Question proposed, That this House do now adjourn.—[Mr. Heppell.]

6 pm

Mr. Tony Colman (Putney) (Lab): May I thank Mr. Speaker for allowing this Adjournment debate on the work of the UN Industrial Development Organisation? It seems to me that that organisation is key to world development, which we all want, and yet it has languished in the shadows of media and parliamentary coverage. It rated a mere 18 lines on page 54 of the recent Foreign and Commonwealth Office Command Paper 6325 on "The UK in the United Nations".

I have recently returned from a brief visit to India with the International Development Committee, and it was heartwarming to see the rapid changes deliver on jobs and prosperity for the Indian people, not only in the usual areas of rural livelihoods, which we discuss so often, but in urban livelihoods with industrial development, which is strongly supported by UNIDO-Indian Government partnerships.

My background before coming into the House was in private and public sector business. I believe strongly that private enterprise, with the private finance initiative and public-private partnership, can deliver prosperity across the world. The private sector and development report to the Secretary-General of the UN, titled "Unleashing entrepreneurship—making business work for the poor"—it is otherwise known as the Zedill-Martin Report—was published earlier this year and makes that point. It particularly emphasises the need not only for transnational corporations to invest in developing countries, but to support the development of small and medium-sized enterprises.

The vast majority of jobs in the UK, and everywhere else, are generated within the small and medium-sized sector, which often provides outsourced services to larger companies or serves the public directly. UNIDO serves SMEs' huge need for help. The global compact reports directly to the Secretary-General of the UN, and it concentrates on the obligations and needs of transnational corporations. UNIDO meanwhile serves developing countries and their needs.

UNIDO was set up in 1966 as:

UNIDO's overarching development objective is to eradicate poverty by contributing to the promotion of environmentally sustainable economic growth and productive employment, which are known as the "UNIDO three Es". As we can see from the answering Secretary of State, the sponsoring UK Department is the Department for International Development and not the Department of Trade and Industry. I thank the Secretary of State for International Development for coming to answer an Adjournment debate this evening—which is how it should be. I pay tribute to the DFID desk team, led by Brian McLeish, who work with UNIDO; no doubt, they have helped the Secretary of State with his speech.
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I asked to become a parliamentary addition to the UK delegation attending the 29th meeting of the industrial development board, which overviews UNIDO, in Vienna earlier this month. I thank Ambassador Jenkins, who allowed the cuckoo—me—in the nest and particularly Graham Clough, his No. 2, who guided me through the UNIDO agenda.

I also praise the work of Dr Marianne Moscoso-Osterkorn, the international director of the renewable energy and energy efficiency partnership, which was launched by the UK at the Rio plus 10 UN Johannesburg conference in 2002 and now co-located with UNIDO in Vienna. That UNIDO partnership should lead to the considerable expansion of REEEP, and I was particularly interested that Carlos MagarinŻos, secretary-general of UNIDO, wished to take that partnership further forward.

The industrial development board consists of 53 of the 171 member states, but of those 53, 33 are from developing countries. Sadly, the United States withdrew a few years ago and, as with other UN institutions, it beggars belief that it does not support institutions such as UNIDO, which accelerates industrial development. Clearly, the US subscription would be welcome, but its expertise is used through numerous consultancy contracts.

UNIDO does not work alone. The board has agreed proposals for joint working in several countries out of United Nations Development Programme offices, where, for example, UNDP has facilities that could house other members of the United Nations family. The UNDP-UNIDO agreement signed on 23 September 2004 thus extends the UNIDO presence to some 80 countries from the current number of 30. The Secretary-General, in his report to the industrial development board, proposed four key areas of specialisation for UNIDO in which it could offer help that is not available from other UN agencies: private sector development; trade capacity building; energy and environment; and post-crisis industrial rehabilitation and reconstruction. I remain to be convinced of a lead role for UNIDO on the last point, but fully accept it on the first three.

While I was in Vienna, a pilot project was launched jointly by UNIDO and UNDP to promote corporate social responsibility in Croatia through public education and technical assistance to Croatian businesses and other stakeholders. That project will be based at the UNIDO Croatian centre for cleaner production, with the pilot starting in Croatia but quickly covering the Balkans and eastern Europe. Further CSR pilots are being set up to reflect local needs in other UNIDO centres across the world.

I said that UNIDO is the unknown UN agency—until now, that is. Even more of a secret to us in London—but not, of course, to the local MP—is the location and work of UNIDO-ITPO. ITPO—the investment and technology promotion office for UNIDO in the UK—is based in Warrington, core funded by the Northwest Development Agency on behalf of other RDAs in the UK, and headed by the charismatic John McFadzean. In December, it will have a meeting of its advisory group, chaired by the noble Lord Wade in the other place. UNIDO-ITPO acts as a marriage-broking exercise bringing together UK companies—often small and medium-sized enterprises—that wish to joint-
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venture or to develop with developing countries. Some 247 companies have taken that up, and the work is expanding rapidly.

An example of the consultation work has been a UNIDO-funded Ethiopian textile project, which has a tie-in back to the north-west and the west midlands, where I understand that some eight companies are interested in buying excellent-quality textiles from Ethiopia. As I know from my experience on supply chain development, the most successful industrial development in developing countries comes from such joined-up working. The flower and vegetable industry of Kenya is a further example.

I should also mention the Warrington office's work with Manchester business school, where comparative analysis between 19 selected developing countries and eight sectors, involving 90 MBA students, is being carried out and is due to be completed in March 2005. That work should be invaluable to UNIDO's work worldwide, as well as to UK companies that will be able to utilise a clear planning tool for developing-country investment. Other areas—I pick at random because there are so many—are in China, where there are some 30 live projects; in biotechnology, where a lot of work has been done with Cuba; and in energy and environment in Russia and eastern Europe, where UNIDO-ITPO is working out of St Petersburg.

Before anyone thinks that UNIDO support is north-south, I must correct that impression. South-south cooperation was laid down at the Tokyo international conference on African development—TICAD—and was followed up at the Marrakesh conference of December 2003. That is the key to UNIDO activities, and it is backed by the group of 77. The emphasis is on triangular co-operation, with use of the expertise and institutions of emerging economies paid for by developed countries in favour of developing countries. In that way, the Asia-Africa investment and technology promotion centre, which is largely financed by Japan, has been successfully launched. China and India have been working with UNIDO in delivering technology transfer to the group of 77 countries in areas such as renewable energy, biomass and low-cost housing. UNIDO also works in the important area of the delivery of the Montreal protocol and other world environmental agreements. Clearly, it would be involved in how we work through the important elements of the Kyoto protocol.

Secret no more, UNIDO backed by DFID is outed this evening. Its work is essential and does not duplicate that done elsewhere in the UN system. The United Nations Conference on Trade and Development, the International Trade Centre and UNDP were not set up to support industrial development in developing countries. Nor can they help provide in the same way the well paid jobs by the million that could help to stem the hunger of millions in developing countries. UNIDO is set up to do this and

If the Doha round of the World Trade Organisation is successfully completed in Hong Kong next December—I sincerely hope that it will be, which I am sure is the view
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of all hon. Members—the obligation of UNIDO to deliver on behalf of the world's poor will become even more imperative.

I look forward to the Secretary of State's commitment to continue to fund UNIDO's core work and to expand to meet Carlos MagarinŻos' vision. Long may the DTI encourage RDAs that UNIDO ITPO UK is a resource that can bring prosperity not just to the UK, but also to developing countries across the world.

There is a new early-day motion, No. 9, which already has 140 signatures. It is titled, "Make Poverty History in 2005 Campaign". The work of UNIDO across the globe is essential to that achievement and from this evening will not be forgotten.

6.11 pm

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