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Order. I want to try to help the hon. Gentleman as best I can, but he is using the term "mendacity", which in my book means lying. I would hope that he is not linking that with any right hon. or hon. Member of this House.
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It is impossible to recognise the Government's story in the story being told by the campaigning organisations on the ground and by most of those concerned. For me, they are not the Lennon and McCartney of world development issues; they are the Status Quo. And it is a mangy status quo, which will do nothing to resolve the ocean of misery and poverty that exists in the world. They are the Motley Cruefor the younger Members of the Housenot the Lennon and McCartney, and the people are beginning to see through them.
The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Dr. Kim Howells): I congratulate the hon. Member for Bethnal Green and Bow (Mr. Galloway) on securing this debate. As he has told us, the G8 summit will begin at Gleneagles tomorrow, and it would be wrong of me to pre-empt what decisions will be reached there. They will be reached as a consequence of discussion and, I hope, very civilised debate, rather than on the basis of name calling or of the kind of paranoia that we have just heard.
I shall try to explain to the hon. Gentleman why the Government have decided on the agenda for the summit. That is all that I can doI cannot possibly match that degree of paranoia. I have not heard a speech like that for about 30 years, although I did read quite a chunk of it the other day in a Trotskyist journal for which the hon. Gentleman wrote. I was particularly taken by the line:
"You can't get slim by eating low-fat chocolate. It has to be part of a calorie-controlled diet. You can't make poverty history by writing off some of the debt of some of the countries in Africa and pretending you've made up for centuries of exploitation and injustice."
All of us in the House agree that we must work with the material that we have. I know that the hon. Gentleman understood that at one time, but I am not sure that he understands it now. We must try to make progress. He has not mentioned one of the other great themes of the conference, climate change, as though that will not affect poor Africans or south Americans or poor people in Europe or Asia in the same way that it will affect the wealthybut it will. He has picked his subject and it is his Adjournment debate, so I do not blame him for that. However, it has cast a shadow over the self-righteous paranoia that I have just heard.
Our G8 agenda is deliberately ambitious. The Government believe that future generations would not understand if we failed to take this opportunity for progress. That is what we intend to do at Gleneagles and beyond. No one in the G8 disputes that Africa and climate change should be priorities; everyone believes
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that they are and should be. The G8 is involved in real, detailed negotiations, which are not a sham. We are making some progress. There is real support for action, but negotiations are tough and they will go to the wire. We hope that we will fulfil our ambitions. We still have some way to go and I would not expect us to achieve our whole agenda at this stage of the negotiations. There are likely to be more intense discussions ahead. The Government are determined, however, and we will not give up.
Africa is the only continent where poverty is increasingthat is not to deny what the hon. Gentleman said accurately about south America and other countries where there is great poverty, which must also be tackled. It is also true, however, that we have seen progress in Africa. Despite some appalling exceptions, there is more democracy and peace in Africa than ever before. Some of Africa's new leaders are determined to change the way in which their countries operate and they have grasped the fact that 2005 offers fresh opportunities for Africa to create for itself sustainable economic growth that has the potential to benefit the population in general and not just the powerful few.
I appreciate very much the hon. Gentleman's condemnation of the gangsters who have run many African stateshe knows that I, too, regard them as gangsters, but many of them are still there. They have come not only from the right but from the leftthey were not just American puppets but Soviet puppets.
Dr. Howells: The hon. Gentleman speaks from a sedentary position. For a start, I would name Robert Mugabe, but there have been others. I remember the Angolan and the Mozambique civil wars. There were young men who started out in Geneva being nurtured by the UN who were picked and taken up by the Americans and the Soviets, and who ended up inspiring whole nations to fight each other in pointless warsthe cold war fought by proxy. I will not hear that it has come from just one political direction
Dr. Howells: I have a few minutes to go. The great problem with the hon. Gentleman[Interruption.] The hon. Member for Banff and Buchan (Mr. Salmond), who is commenting from a sedentary position, is sitting next to the hon. Member for Bethnal Green and Bow because he uses every opportunity to get his mug on television. He will not divert me this evening from justifying something that is very important.
Africa is the only continent where poverty is increasing, but we can make progress. We should not be diverted by attempts to create a spurious history that excuses what has gone on in Africa and what goes on in Africa now. We must make progress. The hon. Member for Bethnal Green and Bow wants, I assume, to see some kind of world revolution that will sweep away the dictators of Africa as it sweeps away capitalism in general. I heard that message as I sat listening to him. That is fair enough. If it is what the hon. Gentleman believes, he is entitled to believe it. However, we are arguing for the comprehensive package of achievable
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targets outlined in the Commission for Africa report, which means significant additional resources through an agreement on multilateral debt, aid, trade and investment. No doubt that is prosaic stuff to the hon. Gentleman. It is not a glamorous soundbite, but it might just help people in Africaordinary people in Africato create a better society, a better economy and a better future for themselves. That is not what the hon. Gentleman wants to hear, of course, but it might just be what people in Africa want to hear, rather than great calls for world revolution.
As I have said, the package outlined in the report means significant additional resources through an agreement on multilateral debt, aid, trade and investment. All that, however, is predicated on our belief that the new resources must be linked to African Governments securing improvements in governance and capacity, resolving conflict and overcoming corruption. Although the package requires a big increase in resources, it is not just about funds. It is about achieving significant gains in health, education, governance, capacity to trade in global marketsbecause that is the world in which we liveprogrammes to deal with killer diseases and, of course, peacekeeping capacity. In other words, it is about having strong partnerships with African Governments and securing commitment and support for capacity-building programmes. In the context of trade, it is not just about reducing tariffs. As the Commission for Africa recommended, we need to look at constraints on the supply side, such as the problems of poor governance and the lack of infrastructure that make it so difficult for African goods to reach world markets. More resources are needed to help African countries to develop that infrastructure and to develop higher education and science and technology capacity.
Our focus on Africa is already having an impact. We have secured agreement from G7 Finance Ministers on 100 per cent. multilateral debt relief, specific agreements to increase aid levelsincluding the doubling of aid from the European Unionand agreement on the need to set a timetable for elimination of trade-distorting export support in agriculture. That, I think, is real progress, but we need to push the agenda harder, and that is why the Prime Minister, the Chancellor, the Foreign Secretary and the Secretary of State for International Development, along with other Ministers, have been working so energetically to ensure that progress is made.
We identified 2005 as a key year for Africa with our two presidencies, the United Nations millennium summit and the World Trade Organisation ministerial meeting in Hong Kong. We shall look very carefully at how we have done at the end of the year. However, a comprehensive agreement at Gleneagles is critical to progress in New York and Hong Kong and it can send a strong signal to the rest of the international community. That is absolutely vital.
As I said, the hon. Gentleman failed to mention the other great theme that the Government are pushing both in the G8 and in our presidency of the EU. Harmful change to our climate is a real threat and there
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seems little doubt that reducing that effect is one of the most important issues that we face in the long term. We need the growth in greenhouse gas emissions to slow, decline and stop if we are to achieve a secure and sustainable future. The hon. Gentleman and I probably do not agree about a great deal these days, but I will say this to him. Every dream that he has about improving the lot of poor people, wherever they are in the world, will come to nothing if our economies become disastrous failures as a consequence of our inability to tackle this issue. To try to pretend otherwise is foolish in the extreme.
We know that tackling the issue will not be easy because we know that the world's energy requirements will increase by 60 per cent. over the next 25 years. That largely reflects development needs in the poorest countries. The hon. Gentleman spoke of the scandal that South America is not involved. He might have talked about China or India, whose economies are expanding at a huge ratebut as they expand, there is a great hunger for energy and for electricity. Lenin, one of the hon. Gentleman's great heroes, knew that that is a prime need of people. How can they have a modern society without such things? But of course, we somehow have to generate that electricity. We have to offer people the same wealth, riches and aspirations that we have enjoyed for so long. What will happen if we do not find other ways of ensuring that such activities do not pollute our world even more? Well, the hon. Gentleman does not seem to be at all concerned about thatand if he is, he might have mentioned it.
We have no choice but to satisfy the demand for progress in the developing world, but we must do so at a lower environmental cost. The decisions that consumers and businesses are taking today, right across the world, have significant implications for greenhouse gas emissions for years and decades to come. I hope that the hon. Gentleman understands that point and that he will join me and the great majority in this House in wanting to do something about it.
There is no question that we have yet to reach agreement on how to meet that challenge. There are many opinions on this issue throughout the world. I have always been very sceptical about just how big a part human beings play, but Gleneagles provides an opportunity to debate the issue thoroughly. We will not do that by sloganising or by using the easy political soundbites that we just heard as a substitute for a proper argument. No, we will not do that because it does not involve thought or debate. What it signifies is a life built on slogans.
It is a great shame that the hon. Gentleman has stopped thinking about these issues in anything other than soundbites and clichés. It is a shame that he regards those who are gathered at Gleneagles in an attempt to find a way out of this situationas evidenced in his article in the Trot journal, to which I referred earlieras the most dangerous men in the world. Of course, he does not mention the despots and tyrants with whom he has long had a very dubious relationship, and I do not blame him for that. Right from the beginning, he has loved a little besmirching of character. Of course, the last thing that he wants is for that to happen to him.
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I hope that the hon. Gentleman will have a little think about this issue and ask, "Can we move forward from here? Can we make a difference to the lives of people in Africa and the rest of the world by using the existing machinery?" We could use the WTO, for example, and in that regard he could argue for whichever element he wants. We need to consider how we can allow farmers in Africa to sell their goods more easily in the wealthy westin the northern hemisphere. There are ways of doing that, but of course he does not want that. The great old Trotskyist argument is, "Let's have another capitalist crisis. That way, people will see the error of their ways and they will rise up and sweep away these
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pernicious capitalist Governments." I have heard that argument so very often, and what has it brought the people of the world? It has brought them war and poverty, not wealth or the security of knowing that their kids will be able to drink the clean water about which the hon. Gentleman spoke.
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