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Mr. Michael Howard (Folkestone and Hythe) (Con): This is an afternoon for consensus; we might be in danger of setting an entirely new trend. I congratulate the Prime Minister on what he achieved at the G8 summit. Although it was overshadowed by the atrocity in London, substantial progress was made there. That was in large measure due to the work done by the Prime Minister and others, not only at Gleneagles but in the run-up to the conference.
At Gleneagles, the Prime Minister was fighting for policies and principles that are widely shared across the country. The success of Live 8 and the work of the Make Poverty History campaign have played their part in focusing world attention on these issues, and the Prime Minister's response was entirely appropriate and welcome. Of course international summits, by their very nature, cannot live up to all the hopes invested in them. The Prime Minister has accepted that he did not achieve everything that he wanted to achieve, but the agreements on world poverty and on climate change hold out the prospect of further advances later this year.
We all know what is at stake. In Africa, 8,000 people die every day from HIV/AIDS, while 7,000 die from hunger and 6,000 die from waterborne diseases. These are people who share this planet with us, and we have a moral, as well as a practical, imperative to help them. That is why we welcome the agreements that were reached on aid and on debt relief. We wholeheartedly support the Government's position on both those issues. Will the Prime Minister tell us, however, what proportion of the aid is new money? Will he also say more about the timing of the aid? How much will be delivered immediately and how much in the latter half of the decade? There is also cross-party support for the international finance facility, including the IFF for
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immunisation. The communiqué is very non-committal on that issue, however. Will the Prime Minister tell us what prospects there are for further agreement on that proposal?
I am sure that the Prime Minister would agree that aid and debt relief are only part of the package that will help Africa to secure a permanent escape from poverty. We all recognise the need to make progress in securing free and fair trade. Protectionism by developed countries at the expense of the developing world is immoral and hypocritical, and it must come to an end. The key meeting on that issue will be the World Trade Organisation ministerial meeting in Hong Kong later this year, and one of the key issues at that meeting will be the removal of export subsidies by the developed countries. Progress was made on that issue at Gleneagles, but no date was set. The Prime Minister has set out his objective for Hong Kong. Will he give us a fuller assessment of the likelihood of progress in that regard?
The communiqué made clear the G8's commitment to strengthening the multilateral trading system and improving the participation of developing countries. The Prime Minister will be aware of our proposals for an advocacy fund, which would help developing countries to make the most of the opportunities that will be made available to them in Hong Kong. Even if the Prime Minister does not accept that specific proposal, will he assure me that he will examine additional alternative means of achieving that goal?
We welcome the fact that the G8 deplores recent developments in Zimbabwe. Will the Prime Minister tell the House what discussions he had with President Mbeki, who is in a better position than anyone to take action to bring to an end the suffering in that troubled land?
On climate change, as on world poverty, we support the Government's overall approach. I recognise that it took political courage to put climate change on the agenda at a G8 summit, given the lack of consensus on how to proceed. The Prime Minister has made progress, but not as much as we all would have liked. The challenge at Gleneagles was not necessarily to agree on a series of new targets there and then, but to provide the impetus for an agreement of that kind that would bind in the United States, China and India as well as the Kyoto signatories. How do the Government intend to achieve that through the dialogue that will now take such matters forward? Will the Prime Minister tell us which other interested countries will be invited to join that dialogue, and when in the second half of the year he proposes to hold meetings to make progress on that agenda? Can he also clarify the purpose of the United Kingdom's international conference in November? Does he envisage that that meeting will lead to binding commitments on the participants, particularly with regard to the plan of action?
We welcome the communiqué's emphasis on the need to invest in and share clean energy technologies. Does the plan of action guarantee new funding for the development of such technologies? If not, can the Prime Minister give us his assessment of the prospects for securing such funding during the remainder of Britain's G8 presidency?
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Climate change is undoubtedly one of the most important challenges facing the world today, and it is essential that it does not drop down the agenda for the remainder of this year and beyond. With Britain having secured a lasting legacy from its G8 presidency on aid and debt, is not it essential that we work to secure a lasting legacy on trade and climate change, too?
The test of the G8 was to provide an impetus that would increase the prospects of a successful outcome in both Montreal and Hong Kong. Last week's summit has certainly moved us in the right direction, but does the Prime Minister agree that the real test of success will come in Hong Kong and Montreal?
The Prime Minister: Again, let me thank the right hon. and learned Gentleman for his broad agreement with what we have tried to achieve and what we did achieve at the G8. This has been a day for consensus, but I am sure that we can find many areas on which to disagree if we think hard enough in the time to come.
On aid and debt relief, in respect of the new money aspect, I am somewhat puzzled by some of the people who have been claiming that it is all recycled money. It is absolutely clear to me that the EU commitment is additional, the Japanese commitment is definitely additional, and as far as I am aware, Canada and the US are agreeing to double their aid from their present position. Although people keep saying that there is an issue about whether it is new money, it seems to me certainly true that it is, at least the vast bulk of it.
In respect of timing, the aid and debt relief can start to flow straightawayand should do so. Some aspects, such as the international finance facility, will take some time to establish, although in respect of the immunisation programme, for example, people are making a start now on financing in an innovative way. We can therefore start to see the benefits soon, and as the right hon. and learned Gentleman rightly says, it is absolutely urgent.
In respect of trade, I would like the 2010 date to be reached in Hong Kong in December. Whether we can do so, I do not know. President Bush indicated that he would support 2010. I understand and accept that some people felt it was important that whatever dates were given were given in the context of the trade round and that we should not try to overlay a G8 process on a WTO process. I understand that, but it should not prevent us from having a forward position, which is absolutely necessary for the poorest countries. In the communiqué, we specifically indicated the importance of building the trade capacity of those countries, which in a sense is the same idea as is behind the advocacy fund.
I totally agree with what the right hon. and learned Gentleman says about Zimbabwe. Obviously, I discussed the matter with President Mbeki and Kofi Annan. There will be an opportunity when the report from the United Nations envoy is received by the UN Security Council.
Let me be clear about what the problem always is in dealing with Zimbabwe. Although there is no dispute, in any quarter of the House, about the abhorrence that we feel for what is happening in Zimbabwe, once one gets past the expression of abhorrence, the question is: what do we do? The truth is that it is clear that the matter is
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best dealt with through the United Nations and through putting pressure on those countries in the immediate vicinity. We will continue to do that in any way that we can, and to get anything else that we can in terms of EU or UN measures or sanctions. The only way that the situation in Zimbabwe will come to an end, however, is through concerted international action, particularly from those countries neighbouring Zimbabwe. I confess that, although I suppose I understand what causes the reluctance, I cannot really excuse it, and I cannot understand why it should continue, given the evidence of what has happened to what is, after all, potentially a wealthy country. That is the terrible tragedy. I think that we are agreed on that.
I thank the right hon. and learned Gentleman for what he said about climate change. He is absolutely right. Part of the trouble is that people will say we have not achieved what we never set out to achieve. There was no way in which we could negotiate new climate change agreements or targets here. We need to peel away some of the rhetoric on climate change. Let us be clear: there is no way in which climate change will ever be dealt with without agreement between the United States, China and Indiaand the European Union, obviously. Without those three countries it will not happen. In the years ahead, the huge consumers of energy will be China and India, and they are willing to join a dialogue, and so is America.
People claim that it is wrong to say that technology is the answer. It is wrong to say that technology can do what is necessary by itself, but it is not wrong to say that technology is the essential part of the process. We need to develop a framework of incentives that allows the technologies to be developed. I hope that, through the dialogue, we will secure a report on the action plan from Gleneaglesthat is obviously importantas well as exchanges of information leading eventually, I hope, to an agreement on technology transfer between the United States, the other wealthy countries, and China and India. China is building power stations at the rate ofI do not know[Hon. Members: "One a week."] One a week. People can say what they like about the United States of America, but unless we can achieve a clean development of that technology it will not really make a difference.
Russia has agreed to put the issue on the agenda for next year, but Japan has agreed to make it one of the centrepieces of its G8 summit in 2008. We need to develop the dialogue so thatthis is crucialwhen the Kyoto target period ends in 2012, the world is in agreement again, with radical measures that can be implemented to reduce greenhouse gas emissions significantly.
As for the funding of technologies, again I agree, but it is worth pointing out that the United States of America invests more in clean technology research and development than all the other countries in the world put together. We need to do more, but it is worth pointing that out.
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