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Lynda Waltho: I thank the Chancellor for that answer. Last Friday, I met Dudley borough churches forum to mark the start of One World week. While welcoming the work that the Government have done to tackle the problem and the international leadership of my right hon. Friend, my constituents rightly want further progress in more countries. What is he planning
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to do to accelerate the debt relief process and move us more quickly towards the millennium goals and justice at last for the world’s poor?

Mr. Brown: I thank my hon. Friend for the work that she, like many others, has done with churches in her constituency. We should be clear that, as a result of debt relief, Uganda has increased the number of children in education from 2 million to 6 million. In addition, Zambia has just announced the abolition of health charges, which means that health is available to all members of the population, however poor they are. As a result of aid and debt relief taken together, in one week 1 million children turned up for school and were given education free of charge in Kenya. Countries all round the world are able to spend on education, infrastructure and health as a result of what has been achieved by the write-off of debt. However, my hon. Friend is absolutely right that many poor countries are not heavily indebted poor countries. That is why we have made the unilateral gesture of saying to 30 or 40 more countries that we will be prepared to pay our share of 100 per cent. debt relief. We urge other countries to follow so that a higher share of debt relief can be paid as a result of international effort. I hope that we can persuade other countries to do exactly that as part of the international campaign that is being mounted.

Mr. James Clappison (Hertsmere) (Con): May I ask the Chancellor about debt relief and personal indebtedness at home? Is he worried that both secured and unsecured borrowing stand at record levels? At the end of August, a total of £1.247 trillion was owed.

Mr. Brown: I am happy to answer a question about domestic debt relief, if that is the reading of the question. The biggest guarantee that people will not find it impossible to pay their debts will be maintaining the economic stability on which the British economy has grown over recent years. It is only when interest rates get out of hand—they rose to 15 per cent. under the previous Government—that people are unable to pay their bills. The debt advisory services for people who have personal problems are greater than ever before. When people are up against loan sharks and those who exploit their indebtedness, they need the protection of Government measures to regulate the pensions, mortgage, insurance and loans industries, so the hon. Gentleman had better look at his party’s proposals to abolish that protection.

Ms Sally Keeble (Northampton, North) (Lab): Debt relief is of course extremely important to developing countries, but it must be accompanied by growth. What does the Chancellor expect must happen to get the Doha round of trade talks back on track?

Mr. Brown: My hon. Friend takes a big interest in this matter. As she knows, Africa has grown faster in recent years than it did previously, but there are still many people in poverty. One reason for that is that developing countries are unable to trade their products with the richest countries, which is why it is really important that the Doha trade round is resumed. I believe that it will be possible in the next few months to bring together the parties that have been unable to agree so that we can reach an agreement. Europe and America could make
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concessions on agricultural protectionism—I believe that it is the will of the House that that should happen—and the other major countries, which are Brazil and India, and the developing country bloc could also make the concessions necessary for agreement. We will do whatever we can in the next few weeks to get the trade round going again.

Mr. Edward Leigh (Gainsborough) (Con): Critical elections are taking place this month in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. As the hon. Member for Dumfries and Galloway (Mr. Brown) and I saw on a recent visit, it is the poorest country in the world and its civic society has all but collapsed. Will the Chancellor outline his plans—I am sure that he will have the support of the whole House—for helping the Democratic Republic of the Congo with debt relief and generally increasing aid and help?

Mr. Brown: Debt relief is possible when a country has a working Government who are capable of managing its affairs. One reason we have had problems with debt relief has been that even when the will has been there on the part of the richest countries in the world, some countries had such a broken-down system of government and history of conflict that they were unable to manage the transition, so we need to give them extra special help to do so. I can tell the hon. Gentleman that we are prepared to give extra help. We are prepared to put in place measures that will make it possible for the republic to benefit from debt relief. Of course, our other measures to enhance educational and health expenditure in Africa will also be put in place, but that depends on the country having a stable Government who are able to manage their affairs.

Helen Jones (Warrington, North) (Lab): As the Chancellor has said, debt relief is not an end in itself, but merely a way of improving the position of the poorest people in the poorest countries. Will he therefore join me in congratulating the children of Burtonwood primary school in my constituency, who recently did a project on the exploitation of child labour and discussed it with me, showing a great deal of knowledge and fluency? Will he explain to those young people what is being done to ensure that we improve the incomes of the poorest families, so that their children are able to take advantage of the education that we hope to offer them?

Mr. Brown: I am grateful to my hon. Friend. Once again, links are being developed between schools in Britain and schools in Africa, India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and many other of the poorest countries. I know that the Department for International Development is very willing to help expedite those links, whether they are teacher exchanges or schools just maintaining contact with schools in Africa and the rest of the world.

With reference to child labour, next year is the 200th anniversary of the abolition of the slave trade. One of the ways in which we could commemorate that is by making people aware of the extent of child labour around the world and the use of children as slaves. Over the next few months we should attempt to educate the public about the problem and do more to ensure that, instead of being in work during their early
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years, every child is given the proper chance of education. I want to see the 110 million children who are not in school given that chance of education over the next few years.

Money Laundering

8. Mr. Greg Hands (Hammersmith and Fulham) (Con): When he expects to announce the results of the consultation for new proposals to tackle money laundering carried out to fund terrorist activities. [97063]

12. Mr. David Amess (Southend, West) (Con): When he expects to announce the results of the consultation process on new proposals to tackle money laundering for funding terrorism. [97067]

The Economic Secretary to the Treasury (Ed Balls): The Government are consulting on how best to safeguard the money services business sector from criminal and terrorist finance, and will publish the results of their consultation on implementing the third money laundering directive when they publish draft regulations for consultation at the turn of the year.

Mr. Hands: Last year the Chancellor lectured fellow EU Finance Ministers on terrorist financing after the 7/7 bombing. He said that

Will the Minister ask the Chancellor to apologise to those EU Finance Ministers for failing to freeze the assets of former Hammersmith and Fulham resident Abu Hamza, and will he join the new Conservative council in Hammersmith and Fulham in seeking to evict the Hamza family from their council house?

Ed Balls: The hon. Gentleman is quite wrong in his assertions. We have applied our terrorist order in exactly the right way over the past few years in this— [Interruption.]

Mr. Speaker: Order. Once again, let the Minister answer. That is the best thing to do. [Interruption.] Order. I tell the hon. Gentleman that he should not interrupt the Minister, and he should not interrupt me, which is worse.

Ed Balls: As I said, we have applied the order in exactly the right way. The assets of that individual have been frozen from the beginning. There has been no transfer of resources to him. The transfer of property, which was discussed between ourselves and the police, was not an illegal act. That transfer has now been frozen in order that we can recover legal costs. We strengthened our position in the case a few weeks ago. I ask the hon. Gentleman to look at the facts in more detail before he makes such accusations. I can tell him that he is quite wrong in all the things that he said.

Mr. Amess: The whole House appreciates that the Chancellor has much on his mind at present, not least his relationship with his at times tiresome neighbour. However, he said in October 2001 that finance was

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That being the case, can the Minister tell the House why we are still waiting for the report that the Chancellor promised us as long ago as December last year?

Ed Balls: We have made repeated reports over the past year. I made a ministerial statement to the House just a few weeks ago. We have acted regularly in recent months to strengthen our terrorism order, to use closed source evidence and to strengthen our benefits regime. As I just said, we are also acting on money laundering and money services business. Across the piece we have been acting, and at the same time we have been freezing assets of individuals regularly and substantially. I say to the hon. Gentleman and to his colleagues on the Front Bench that I accept that we will not have a consensus on the new deal, public spending cuts, tax cuts or the priority that we attach to tackling child poverty, but I would have thought that we could have a consensus on the importance of our acting together on these issues. Frankly, we do not have that consensus because of the absurd claims that have been made by Opposition Members, which only undermine our efforts to take the terrorists to task.

David Taylor (North-West Leicestershire) (Lab/Co-op): Systems to disrupt money laundering and terrorist financing are most effective when necessary information for the authorities and private sector institutions is shared and acted on. What is being done to encourage the supervisory authorities and the financial intelligence units to develop international information-sharing systems?

Ed Balls: On those very issues, we are acting all the time. I have met the US Treasury Under Secretary, Stuart Levey, three times in the past four months to discuss them. Across the piece, we are working very closely with our police and our security services to ensure that we use all the available information. I will publish a report at the end of the year that will set out all the measures that we are taking in order to make sure that we have the best and most comprehensive approach to those issues.

Let me give some more facts. Since 2001, a total of 85 individuals and 58 entities have had their assets frozen in the UK. Of those 85 individuals, 68 were designated by the Treasury and only 17 by the European Union. Of the 58 entities, 51 were designated by the Treasury and seven by the EU. We have been on the front foot on these issues. We have been acting decisively with our international partners. I believe that we are putting in place the best regime that we could have. Instead of undermining Britain’s efforts to tackle the terrorist threat around the world, I wish that the Opposition parties would start to support our efforts.

Mrs. Theresa Villiers (Chipping Barnet) (Con): In 2001, the Chancellor promised that there would be


Despite all the Economic Secretary’s bluster, can he explain in what possible universe that statement by the Chancellor can be consistent with letting Abu Hamza sit in his prison cell in Belmarsh and splash out £220,000
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on a four-bedroom semi in Greenford, two years after the Chancellor proudly claimed to have frozen the man’s assets?

Ed Balls: I am happy to have a meeting with the hon. Lady to explain the facts to her, because the accusations that she makes are both completely wrong—completely factually incorrect—and undermine our efforts as a country to deal with these issues. I have to say to Opposition Members that if they want to get involved in a grown-up debate about how we can tackle the terrorist threat in our country, I am happy to have that debate, but if they want to make party political shots that are based on incorrect facts, all they will do is undermine their own standing and—

Mr. Speaker: Order.

Millennium Development Goals

9. Chris Bryant (Rhondda) (Lab): What progress has been made on achieving the millennium development goal of education for every child; and what financial contribution the UK has made. [97064]

The Chancellor of the Exchequer (Mr. Gordon Brown): At the request of the United Kingdom Government, 19 African countries have submitted plans so that by 2015 every one of their children would be in primary education. The United Kingdom has committed, over 10 years, £8.5 billion to that effort. It is prepared to enter into 10-year agreements with the countries that have produced plans, and we have called a donor conference in early 2007 for all other countries, to invite them to contribute to the goal of achieving primary education for every child.

Chris Bryant: All of that is excellent news, but there are 100 million children in conflict-affected fragile states in the world, 43 million of whom have no opportunity at all to go to school. Those are the countries that receive the least financial support—or support of any kind—from the developed world. Is there nothing that we can do to make sure that those children—the most vulnerable children in the world—get the opportunities that we would expect for any child whom we know in our own country?

Mr. Brown: My hon. Friend makes a good point. Of the 110 million children who are not in education, a very substantial number are in countries where the education system has completely broken down because of conflict. I believe that, as a world, we will have to consider—just as we have done for health care—how we might provide international support in the future in situations where there is conflict and there are difficulties in running a civil education service from within a country. We obviously need to provide more funds for education in the poorest countries: £8.5 billion has been put into that by the British Government over 10 years. That would be enough to get 15 million children educated—and, therefore, a very substantial number of those who are not in school into school—but we need other countries to support us. We need Canada, which has already indicated that it will support, and other countries—Germany, France, Italy, Japan and America, which are all part of the G7—to
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support the effort. That is why we have called the donor conference, which will be held in Brussels at the beginning of next year, and that is why I hope that all the efforts of the international aid organisations will be directed at persuading other countries to contribute to what is the only way in which we can achieve the millennium development goals.

John Bercow (Buckingham) (Con): Given that achieving the millennium development goal of universal access to primary education is vital for individual fulfilment and for a country’s growth, will the right hon. Gentleman, in pursuing his laudable initiative to achieve improvement in this regard, pay particular attention to the problem that I have found in Malawi, Sierra Leone and Sudan—to name but three countries—whereby there is a very powerful cultural and institutional bias against disabled children? They cannot be left till last, because it is just not right.

Mr. Brown: The hon. Gentleman makes a very good point. Sometimes, girls are forgotten in education programmes, and sometimes disabled children are forgotten when we are developing education programmes in the poorest countries. Of the countries that have used debt relief to abolish user fees, Malawi, Uganda, Tanzania and Kenya have made huge progress in getting all children into education, and I hope that that can be a model for the future. As the hon. Gentleman knows, there are difficulties within Sudan that prevent the development of education, but we are ready to give it debt relief and to provide funds for education when it can sort out its internal affairs. However, I agree with him that we should never forget that the people who have the least chance of advocating their own case are those whom we should support most.

Mr. Ian Austin (Dudley, North) (Lab): Since 1997, the UK has given crucial international leadership on tackling international poverty, and it would be wonderful if we could build cross-party consensus in the UK on this crucial work. Has my right hon. Friend considered pursuing policies based on an ideology of a small state and big spending cuts, leaving the most vulnerable with less support and relying on charities to step in, as some have advocated?

Mr. Brown: We could not afford to put £8.5 billion into education if we cut the international development budget. Let us be clear: if the Opposition are serious about supporting the doubling of international development aid and continuing to increase it, they will have to abandon at least some of the policies that they put forward last week.

Mr. Tom Clarke (Coatbridge, Chryston and Bellshill) (Lab): Does the Chancellor welcome the support of the United Nations co-ordinator of the millennium development goals for reports to Parliament such as the one that we have embraced in legislation, not just because it is helpful on matters such as education, but because it represents the transparency that is essential as we challenge global poverty?

Mr. Brown: There was all-party support for my right hon. Friend’s International Development (Reporting and Transparency) Bill, which requires the Government
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to prepare a report annually on the amount of spending and how it is being used. I want to see that happen at an international level, and, as he knows, there is a new Commission for Africa to be chaired by Kofi Annan, which will report back every year on how we are doing in meeting the Gleneagles agreement. That will put pressure on individual countries and international organisations, and again, I hope that there will be all-party support for it.

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