16 Jun 2006 : Column 975

House of Commons

Friday 16 June 2006

The House met at half-past Nine o’clock

Prayers

The Chairman of Ways and Means took the Chair as Deputy Speaker, pursuant to the Standing Order.

Mr. Andrew Dismore (Hendon) (Lab): I beg to move, That the House do sit in private.

Question put forthwith, pursuant to Standing Order No. 163 (Motion to sit in private):—


The House divided: Ayes 0, Noes 85.
Division No. 261]
[9.34 am



AYES


Tellers for the Ayes:

Mr. Andrew Dismore and
Dan Norris
NOES


Austin, John
Bailey, Mr. Adrian
Baldry, Tony
Balls, Ed
Barrett, John
Battle, rh John
Benn, rh Hilary
Bercow, John
Berry, Roger
Blunt, Mr. Crispin
Bottomley, Peter
Brown, Lyn
Brown, rh Mr. Nicholas
Campbell, Mr. Alan
Cash, Mr. William
Caton, Mr. Martin
Challen, Colin
Chope, Mr. Christopher
Clarke, rh Mr. Tom
Crabb, Mr. Stephen
Cunningham, Mr. Jim
Cunningham, Tony
Davies, Philip
Dean, Mrs. Janet
Donohoe, Mr. Brian H.
Eagle, Angela
Ellwood, Mr. Tobias
Evennett, Mr. David
Fitzpatrick, Jim
Flint, Caroline
Gardiner, Barry
Goldsworthy, Julia
Greenway, Mr. John
Hamilton, Mr. David
Henderson, Mr. Doug
Hollobone, Mr. Philip
Hopkins, Kelvin
Hurd, Mr. Nick
Jenkin, Mr. Bernard
Jones, Mr. Kevan
Joyce, Mr. Eric
Keen, Alan
Keen, Ann
Kramer, Susan
Kumar, Dr. Ashok
Ladyman, Dr. Stephen
Lazarowicz, Mark
Levitt, Tom
Love, Mr. Andrew
Mackay, rh Mr. Andrew
Mackinlay, Andrew
Mallaber, Judy
McAvoy, rh Mr. Thomas
McCabe, Steve
McCarthy-Fry, Sarah
McFadden, Mr. Pat
McGovern, Mr. Jim
McGuire, Mrs. Anne
McIsaac, Shona
McKechin, Ann
Miliband, Edward
Miller, Andrew
Moffat, Anne
Mudie, Mr. George
Murphy, rh Mr. Paul
Olner, Mr. Bill
Prentice, Mr. Gordon
Primarolo, rh Dawn
Prosser, Gwyn
Randall, Mr. John
Robathan, Mr. Andrew
Robertson, John
Roy, Mr. Frank
Ruddock, Joan
Sarwar, Mr. Mohammad
Sheridan, Jim
Simmonds, Mark
Smith, rh Mr. Andrew
Smith, Angela E. (Basildon)
Snelgrove, Anne
Strang, rh Dr. Gavin
Swinson, Jo
Thomas, Mr. Gareth

Thornberry, Emily
Waltho, Lynda
Tellers for the Noes:

Mr. Jim Devine and
Sir Peter Soulsby
Question accordingly negatived.
16 Jun 2006 : Column 976

Petitions

Immigration Rules

9.44 am

Mr. Andrew Dismore (Hendon) (Lab): I am grateful for the opportunity to present the petition of the British Chinese community, signed by more than 2,200 people.

The petitioners declare their opposition to the new immigration rules on indefinite leave to remain for work-related category visa holders, which increase the length of time required to obtain leave from four to five years, with retrospective effect.

The petition states:

To lie upon the Table.

Knife Crime

9.44 am

John Austin (Erith and Thamesmead) (Lab): I present a petition organised by the Terry Booker Foundation, founded by Lynne Booker in memory of her son who was fatally stabbed by a 16-year-old in Plumstead in 2000. The petition expresses grave concern about the growing incidence of the carrying of knives by young people and the increase in knife crime.

The petition states:

To lie upon the Table.


16 Jun 2006 : Column 977

Orders of the Day

International Development (Reporting and Transparency) Bill

As amended in the Standing Committee, considered.

New Clause 5


Suitability of millennium development goals

‘Each annual report must include the Secretary of State's assessment of the suitability of the Millennium Development Goals and the indicators in respect of each in achieving an improvement in the quality of life of citizens of the recipient countries and whether goals, targets or indicators need to be amended.'. — [Mr. Chope.]

Brought up, and read the First time.

9.46 am

Mr. Christopher Chope (Christchurch) (Con): I beg to move, That the clause be read a Second time.

Mr. Deputy Speaker (Sir Alan Haselhurst): With this it will be convenient to discuss the following:

New clause 7— Alternative measures—

‘(1) The Secretary of State shall include in each annual report observations on the overall appropriateness and value of aid to developing countries, and set out such barriers to development as appear to him to be relevant in the countries to which bilateral aid is provided, for which action might be taken or recommended.

(2) Such observations shall include the effects of third party regulations and controls, including those promulgated by the European Community, the World Trade Organisation and the United Nations, which have the effect, whether unintentionally or not, of distorting or hampering development, or of slowing it down.

(3) They shall also include observations on the civil and judicial structures in each country provided with bilateral aid, which either assist or hamper the development and enforcement of property rights and the resolution of disputes.'.

Amendment No. 2, in clause 1, page 1, line 13, leave out subsection (4).

Amendment No. 3, in page 2, line 1, leave out subsection (5).

Amendment No. 4, in clause 2, page 2, line 5, leave out ‘must' and insert

‘shall so far as reasonably practicable'.

Amendment No. 8, in clause 4, page 2, leave out line 18 and insert—

‘(i) European Community aid to which the UK contributes, and

(ii) other multilateral aid to which the UK contributes,'.

Amendment No. 11, in page 2, line 19, leave out from ‘effectiveness' to end of line 22 and insert

‘of bilateral aid in respect of each country where such aid provided by the UK was in excess of £10 million during the period covered by the report,'.

Amendment No. 16, in page 2, line 20, leave out from ‘than' to end of line 22 and insert

‘those 20 countries which are the recipients of the greatest amount of United Kingdom bilateral aid'.

Amendment No. 9, in page 2, line 20, leave out ‘20' and insert ‘30'.


16 Jun 2006 : Column 978

Amendment No. 10, in page 2, line 21, leave out from ‘20' to end of line 22 and insert

‘of the largest recipients of the said bilateral aid'.

Amendment No. 13, in clause 5, page 3, line 2, leave out from ‘report' to ‘on' in line 3 and insert ‘general or specific observations'.

Amendment No. 17, in page 3, line 4, after ‘departments', insert

‘, Government agencies and non departmental public bodies.'.

Amendment No. 19, in clause 6, page 3, line 21, after ‘departments', insert

Amendment No. 15, in page 3, line 32, at end insert—

‘(e) promoting the establishment of a link between the commitment of aid and the reduction of corruption in recipient countries.'.

Amendment No. 22, in clause 7, page 3, line 36, after ‘departments', insert

‘Government agencies and non departmental public bodies'.

Amendment No. 23, in page 3, line 41, at end insert ‘corruption,'.

Amendment No. 24, in page 4, line 3, at end insert ‘poverty'.

Amendment No. 25, in page 4, line 4, at end insert ‘sustainable development'.

Amendment No. 5, in the schedule, page 5, line 3, leave out ‘must' and insert

‘shall so far as reasonably practicable'.

Amendment No. 29, in page 5, line 24, at end insert—

‘(j) the best estimate of the amount of bilateral aid which has been misused, stolen or otherwise been diverted into fraudulent schemes,'.

Amendment No. 30, in page 5, line 24, at end insert—

‘(k) the amount of bilateral aid which has been paid, directly or indirectly to nationals of any country, either directly or indirectly through their employment, who are not citizens of the countries to which the aid is nominally addressed,'.

Amendment No. 31, in page 5, line 24, at end insert—

‘(l) the amount of bilateral aid which has been paid to companies, organisations or other enterprises which are not registered in the countries to which the aid is nominally addressed,'.

Amendment No. 26, in page 6, line 14, leave out paragraph 7.

Amendment No. 27, in page 6, line 20, at end insert—

‘(9) If any of the information required to be included in the annual report is not available at the time the report is prepared, an explanation as to the reason for such information not being available shall be included in the report.'.

Mr. Chope: Since Second Reading on 20 January, the Bill has been considered in Committee for less than two hours, during the course of which it was substantially rewritten. Today, the House has its first opportunity to consider the effect of that rewriting and the extent to which it meets concerns expressed on Second Reading
16 Jun 2006 : Column 979
and elsewhere. The late and much lamented Eric Forth, whose death has left such a gap in our lives and in this House, raised such concerns in one of his shortest Friday speeches, which lasted only four minutes. He said that

Tony Baldry (Banbury) (Con): Can my hon. Friend help me with a dilemma? Is it safe for people such as myself, who wish to remember Eric Forth, to go canvassing in Bromley this morning or—if they support the Bill, as I do—will they need to stay here for closure motions? I would be grateful for some advice.

Mr. Chope: My hon. Friend will need to decide that for himself. My own assessment is that the Bill will receive a Third Reading today, but after full consideration. Given that so many hon. Members are in their places, I hope that we will have a cross-party Back Benchers’ rebellion that will strengthen the provisions of the Bill, perhaps against the wishes of the Executive. The Prime Minister’s payroll is in a minority today, with the majority being on the Chancellor of the Exchequer’s payroll. If the latter comes into the Lobby in support of some of the amendments, I hope that my hon. Friend will join them. I cannot predict what will happen. Indeed, it is the whole essence of proceedings on a Friday that there is an element of unpredictability about them.

Mr. William Cash (Stone) (Con): Does my hon. Friend accept that there are those of us who support improvements in transparency on international development issues, but are appalled by the failure to deal with the fundamental question that faces the international development community—that of corruption? I shall listen to him with great interest in the hope that I may get an opportunity to get a word in edgeways at some point. I do not really care which party deals with the matter, because corruption is a serious matter. I look straight at the Secretary of State for International Development, who is in his place. He knows where I am coming from and he also knows what my new clause would have amounted to. I simply say—

Mr. Deputy Speaker: Order. I will say something simply to the hon. Gentleman. First, he must not verge on discussion of an amendment that has not been selected and, secondly, if he hopes to make a contribution to the debate it would be a great pity if the length of his interventions caused that not to happen.

Mr. Chope: I hope that my hon. Friend will have a chance to participate in the debate. As he knows, the word “corruption” is included in at least one of the amendments in the group.

In Committee, the promoter of the Bill, the right hon. Member for Coatbridge, Chryston and Bellshill (Mr. Clarke), was chided for allowing the Bill to become a Government Bill. Of course, until it left Committee, the measure was vulnerable to Government dirty tricks, but now, collectively, we have the opportunity to strengthen it and I hope that
16 Jun 2006 : Column 980
nothing will stand in the way of our achieving that objective today. Why do not we have a collective Back-Bench rebellion against the Government, who have been reluctant to make the Bill as strong as it could and should be?

The promoter of the Bill is to be congratulated on having rescheduled Report from its original date of 12 May so that we have a full day for discussion. The essence of the Bill is to achieve public accountability and to encourage public discussion of important issues. Over the next few hours we have the chance to do just that and to demonstrate how concerned we are and how much importance we attach to greater transparency and accountability in the spending of taxpayers’ money on overseas aid.

This group of amendments is, in effect, a shopping list. We shall not be able to vote on all of them, but I hope that in the course of our discussion we shall be able to agree collectively that some of them are worthy of support and inclusion in the Bill, which can then in that amended form achieve Third Reading. Before I discuss new clauses 5 and 7 in detail it may be more convenient for the House if I go through some of the more technical amendments seriatim, so that Members can begin to assess which ones should have the greatest priority for inclusion.

Amendment No. 2 would leave out subsection (4) of clause 1. Why should an annual report be able to revise

That smacks of rewriting history, and for the Bill to include a provision to facilitate and achieve such an objective demonstrates just how unusual it is in legislative terms. Are we suggesting that companies should be able to rewrite their annual reports, or that all annual reports may be changed willy-nilly? If there is an error in an annual report, especially a report to Parliament, why cannot we have a system whereby it is corrected immediately and brought to the attention of the House rather than being held over until the next annual report? The current provision refers not even to correcting a report but to revising it, which is much wider; it provides for the revision of anything contained in a previous annual report.

Philip Davies (Shipley) (Con): Does my hon. Friend agree that an annual report is just that—annual? If circumstances have changed from the previous year, the facts would inevitably be included in the next annual report so there would be no need for revision of the earlier report.

Mr. Chope: My hon. Friend makes an excellent point. Most Members would assume that an annual report is just that. I certainly cannot understand why subsection (4) is necessary.


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