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Clive Efford (Eltham) (Lab):
Does my right hon. Friend agree that, in terms of the agenda for the G8, the genie is out of the bottle in a way that it has never been before? Over the past few weeks, I have visited
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Willowdene and St. Thomas More primary schools, where the children have demanded education for children in the developing world, and St. Thomas More secondary school, which is setting up its own fair trade canteen that will sell only fair trade goods. That is a sustainable development that will help future generations to understand the agenda of the G8 and what needs to be done. Does my right hon. Friend agree that such initiatives place an obligation on the people who are charged with delivering the communiqués from the G8 and future summits to make the difference that people want?
The Prime Minister: My hon. Friend is right. It is inspiring to see how many schools have taken the issues up. Obviously people were watching Live 8 in large numbers because of the strength of the show, but it was clearly also a demonstration of support for certain ideals. I know, from the massive correspondence with schools up and down the country and in different parts of the world, that something has been generated that is very positive for the future.
Mr. David Curry (Skipton and Ripon) (Con): The Prime Minister wanted to get an end date for agricultural subsidies into the communiqué, but he was not able to do so. Does he now accept that the best way forward for agricultural change is through the WTO, or does he still intend to press for reform of the CAP during the British presidency? Is he aware that the New Zealand rapporteur of the agricultural text for the WTO has reported in the past few days how difficult it is to make progress? What can be done to keep people to that task and that deadline?
The Prime Minister: I would have preferred the date to be in the communiqué, althoughto be fairI understand why other countries said that that was not appropriate, that the WTO was the right place for that and that it should happen in Hong Kong. Well, let us ensure that it does happen there. As for the CAP, over the longer term, it is important that we move the European budget away from the irrational amount of support for agriculture. It is important also to realise that the difficulties that have been mentioned over the past few days are not simply in respect of Europe, nor in respect of Europe and America.
Mr. Michael Clapham (Barnsley, West and Penistone) (Lab): May I congratulate my right hon. Friends the Prime Minister and the Chancellor on the work that they have done, especially on Africa and trade? Will my right hon. Friend say more about the international financing arrangement? Is it intended that the promises that have been given for the future will be achieved more quickly through that arrangement? The international financing arrangement should mean that a uniformity of resource is available to bring about the changes my right hon. Friend intends much more quickly. Finally, can my right hon. Friend say whether the issue of the UN environmental programme was discussed, or is that an issue for the WTO agenda?
My hon. Friend is right about the international finance facility. The purpose is to try to get aid moving more quickly. We will soon be able to finance the immunisation programme in that way, and that will be a huge advantage for many people in Africa.
Mr. Peter Ainsworth (East Surrey) (Con): The Prime Minister is to be warmly congratulated on having the courage to put climate change among his key issues. Nobody ever said that tackling climate change internationally would be an easy job, and I also understand that the key final negotiations took place on a particularly difficult day. However, it is impossible to escape the conclusion that the result of the climate change negotiations is a bitter disappointment. Does the Prime Minister accept that, if we are to tackle climate change, we need an international coalition of the willing, and that, if the United States is not prepared to be willing, he may need to take a lead by building a consensus with other countries that are prepared to get on board? I am thinking in particular of India, China, Brazil and other emerging economies. Are there any circumstances in which he would envisage taking matters forward, perhaps on a temporary basis, without the United States?
The Prime Minister: It is a bitter disappointment only if people had an unreasonable expectation of what we could do at Gleneagles. The problem that I am focusing on is this: it is all very well for people to say, "What if America is not prepared to be part of the agreement?", but if America is not prepared to be part of an agreement post-Kyoto, China and India will be reluctant to enter consensus with others, except the type of consensus reached at Kyoto, which does not put strong obligations on powerful emerging economies. I regret to say that in my view there is no alternative to America and the major emerging economies being part of the consensus.
What America is prepared to do is to act with others on the issue and it is prepared to recognise that such action needs to be urgent. As was said a moment or two ago, there is also gathering support in America for such an idea, which will impose its own pressures on the political system. Whether America is prepared to go further and agree a framework of targets for reducing greenhouse gas emissions is something we need to work on through the dialogue that we have set up. To do it in the way that I described is the right way. Although Kyoto was a remarkable achievement, part of the problem is that it is difficult for more than 100 countries to try to negotiate an international agreement. The truth is that 70 per cent. of the emissions come from the eight plus five countries. The sensible thing is to find a pathway to a new agreement and that is the biggest ambition that we could have at this stage. We have come from a situation where people did not even talk about the issue, never mind about resolving it, to an occasion where they are doing that, with at least some common principles of understanding about its urgency and importance.
Mark Durkan (Foyle) (SDLP):
The Prime Minister indicated that he sometimes wonders where questions about whether figures are being recycled and whether debt relief comes out of aid budgets come from. I
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reassure him that, although such questions may be asked often, they are not being asked against him. They arise not from unworthy cynicism but from a healthy scepticism that has, unfortunately, been born of much past experience of targets set and of commitments and promises made but not fulfilled. That is why people want to know what is happening, not just for themselves as interested citizens, but because they want to stand by our pledge to fellow world citizens in Africa.
I join other Members in applauding all the efforts of the Prime Minister, the Chancellor and the Secretary of State for International Development in taking the issue forward. Will the Prime Minister assure us that his statement and the communiqué on Friday are merely punctuation marks in a story that will continue? Indeed, he has indicated that he will be taking the cause further during the EU presidency and in the trade round.
In the context of the request of the Leader of the Opposition that the Prime Minister examine alternatives to the advocacy fund, will the Prime Minister consider whether, in the build-up to the trade round, we could try to engineer an Africa impact assessment mechanism? That would mean that none of the developed nations in the world trade negotiations could ask for or agree to anything unless it was Africa-proofed.
The Prime Minister: I am sure that that will be part of the discussions in the WTO round. I thank my hon. Friend for his kind remarks in respect of myself and the Chancellor and the International Development Secretary who, as I said in my statement, have done an immense amount to bring the situation about.
I do not take the healthy scepticism personally in any way. It is sensible for people to be sceptical, but it is also sensible that they recognise that, with the support they have mobilised, we now have the opportunity truly to make a difference, and I think it is possible to do so.
Mr. Michael Jack (Fylde) (Con): The Prime Minister attached importance to the climate change action programme. May I ask him whether there was any agreement that those participating in that programme would in due course report back by objective means the progress that they make towards reducing their respective country's emissions of greenhouse gases? May I ask him to consider the possibility of creating some forum where parliamentarians from the eight plus five and other interested countries could meet together to take forward dialogue at that level, so that we may gain greater international understanding of some of these issues?
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