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Mr. Charles Kennedy (Ross, Skye and Lochaber) (LD):
The Prime Minister is undoubtedly to be congratulated on what was, for the best and happiest of reasons as well as for the most dreadful, an extraordinary week. It was a considerable achievement
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to produce a coherent communiqué from the G8 members, given everything else that properly demanded his attention and presence.
It has been said by many, but cannot be said often enough, that the approach of those making perfectly legitimate points about the G8the Make Poverty History campaigners and those involved in Live 8 as well as the leaders themselveswas in such moral contrast to the scenes that we witnessed in London that it will stand the test of history. It will be seen as the way in which to go about things, both by decision-makers and by citizens around the globe seeking, properly and legitimately, to influence those decision-makers.
Does the Prime Minister accept that the agreements reached by the G8 countries at Gleneagles will be judged not on the basis of promises made, but on the basis of the promises that are fulfilled in the months and years to come? The Prime Minister is absolutely right to say in the context of Africaand we have supported him throughoutthat many of the initiatives rely heavily on the willingness of African leaders to root out corruption and improve governance on their own continent and in their own countries. That is, of course, vital. As the G8 rolls on year after year, however, it is also important for us to have mechanisms ensuring that all its members fulfil the pledges into which they so willingly enter in a rather public way, as they did at the end of the Gleneagles summit by putting their signatures on the documents in front of the cameras.
The Prime Minister said a few moments ago that, so far as EU finances were concerned, British contributions definitely constituted new additional money, but perhaps he could be a bit more specific about the UK context. Will any new funds for the commitments given be drawn from the Department for International Development's existing budget, or will all such funds be supplementary to it? As the Prime Minister knows, this remains an abiding source of interest and legitimate concern to many of those who follow DFID's work in detail.
I also welcome the $3 billion-worth of aid pledged to the Palestinian Authority. That far-sighted move is good news that surely must command not only cross-party support in our country, but broad international support. Were any conditions placed on this aid package so far as the Palestinian Authority are concerned, and was it possibleeither formally or in the margins of the G8to discuss advancing the road map and the way forward?
On trade and the elimination of subsidies, how does the Prime Minister intend to progress that part of the agenda? Can he explain the disjunction between the agreemententered into in principle at Gleneaglesto attack agricultural subsidies in the west, and the parallel universe of the simultaneous lack of progress in the WTO trade talks, which are under way in Geneva? The Prime Minister will accept that that disjunction presents a real difficulty.
Finally, it is significantindeed, it reflects the balance of the package that emerged from Gleneaglesthat the section of the Prime Minister's statement devoted to the all-important issue of climate change was significantly shorter than the sections devoted to other headline matters discussed at the G8. Does he agreehe has more than alluded to this point this afternoonthat the
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Gleneagles agreements on climate change, in so far as they exist, constitute little more than treading water, and that we will not achieve real success until we have a concrete, target-based, country-based successor to the Kyoto process? He spoke of a pathway and the leader of the Conservatives spoke of impetus and dialoguethe other buzzwords of communiqués and statements during, and concerning, the summit. Were any specific steps actually agreed at Gleneagles to reduce emissions, because that is the bottom line?
Earlier in the year, the Prime Minister set out three tests for the success of his G8 presidencyand fairly soin addressing climate change: agreement on the basic science; agreement on the process to speed up provision of the technology necessary to meet the threat; and engagement with other countries with growing energy needs, China and India being the most obvious and notable examples. He has mentioned this issue already, but now that he has got through this amazing week, culminating in the summit's conclusion, it would be interesting to hear the answer to the following question, which I ask in no sense pejoratively. Following Gleneagles and thus far into his presidency, to what extent has he been able to meet the objective tests that he set himself, and does he agree that there is much further to go on climate change? As long as he keeps pressing that case, he deserves practical and political support.
The Prime Minister: First, the right hon. Gentleman is right: the promises have got to be fulfilled. On the other hand, there is evidence that such measures are already working. For example, several hundred thousand people are getting relief from HIV/AIDS through the drugs currently going in. Such things can be done, that is for sure. There are countries that, as a result of debt relief, have been able to put their children into primary school education for the first time. Also represented at Gleneagles were the United Nations, the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund and the African Union, so there will be a lot of follow through. September's UN millennium summit will also focus greatly on these issues.
On the new money, so far as we are concerned, the budget for the Department for International Development is rising. We are putting it up every yearit has risen dramaticallyand there is the international finance facility as well. For obvious reasons, because of what happened on Thursday, the announcement by Japan's Prime Minister Koizumi of $10 billion extra over the next five years is significant and would not have happened but for the focus of the G8 at that moment. I am not saying that it would not have been done later, but it was significant that it came then.
I agree with the right hon. Gentleman on the Palestinian Authority. Disengagement will be very difficult for Israel, but it is important that there is support for the Palestinian Authority so that it can begin the basic structures of statehood after disengagement. We can then take that further, something I am sure President Bush is determined to do. We discussed the issue at length at Gleneagles.
On trade, I have given the date of 2010. The right hon. Gentleman said that there was a difference between what happened at Gleneagles and what is happening
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with the WTO, but that is not entirely fair. It is important to realise that what is holding up the WTO is not simply agricultural subsidieson the contrary, we think that we can get agreement on thoseand not simply G8 countries. It is important that we make sure that other countries recognise that they have a responsibility for this, not simply the G8. The head of the WTO was at Gleneagles and briefed us on the obstacles, which were not primarily G8 countries. It is important, of course, that we make a difference.
On climate change, the right hon. Gentleman was wrong to say that we were simply treading water. I am not overselling this, but the position of the international community was that there was no agreement on the science, no agreement on the need to take action to cut greenhouse gas emissions, no agreement that we needed to act with urgency and no agreement on a process for going forward. The international community was, I am afraid, sundered on this issue.
It is true that we have not made a new agreementthe G8 was never going to be able to do thatbut we should refer to the three things to which the right hon. Gentleman alluded. We have no agreement on the basic science, but there is agreement for the first time that climate change is a reason for tackling the issue, as well as energy security and supply. There has been some coming together on that.
The right hon. Gentleman asked about action, and there is a plan of action, with measures concerning industry and energy efficiency. That is precisely the action to speed up the technology. Most important, there is an agreement on process. Let us be clear; there is a weakness with Kyoto. We support Kyoto and will meet our Kyoto targets; I am not sure how many other countries will. But the basic issue is the concern that as China, in particular, and India emerge strongly as economies, they will be competing with us economically. We must make sure that we bind them into the process, and they have agreed to be bound in.
Part of America's concernwe accept that there have been disagreements over Kyoto and over the scienceis that other countries who have been happy to hide behind America in these matters should now share in the process. As those economies emerge and become immensely strong and powerful, there must be some common sharing of the problem. We are prepared to share the technology, which was one of the important things to come out of Gleneagles. But a situation in which there were tough targets for the developed world and no obligations on the developing world would be difficult to sell to our own people here. That is why I say that this is a pathway to a fresh agreement after Kyoto that will take us further than the right hon. Gentleman thought.
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