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30 Jan 2007 : Column 195

Mark Simmonds: If the right hon. Gentleman had been in the Chamber for the whole debate rather than popping in after dinner, he would have heard that detail being discussed.

If what I have outlined was not bad enough, the amount of the commission should have set alarm bells ringing in Downing street. The Export Credits Guarantee Department is supposedly suspicious of any deal in which the commission is more than 5 or 10 per cent. In the case we are discussing, it was 29 per cent.—a $12 million commission, which could have been used in Tanzania to buy health care for 1 million people.

Conservative Members recognise that the deal—

Mr. Spellar rose—

Mark Simmonds: No, I will not give way— [Interruption.]

Mr. Speaker: Order.

Mark Simmonds: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I shall not give way again to the right hon. Gentleman. If he had been here throughout the debate, I should have been happy to do so, but he was not.

The Serious Fraud Office and the Ministry of Defence are currently investigating the matter. They have confirmed that there may have been corruption and criminal activity. Will the Minister confirm that the Government will be fully co-operative and provide adequate resources?

All the senior figures in the affair are complicit. The Prime Minister and the former Foreign Secretary argued that Tanzanian sovereignty must be an overriding consideration in the deal. Is Zimbabwean, North Korean or Iranian sovereignty an overriding consideration for arms export licences from the United Kingdom? Of course not.

In 1997, the Chancellor of the Exchequer said that

According to the International Monetary Fund, the Tanzanian deal constitutes unproductive expenditure. That directly contradicts the Chancellor’s assurance of almost a decade ago.

In the context of the White Paper, such deals make the UK Government the target of criticism and allegations of hypocrisy, especially when we lecture others on the importance of good governance, accountability and transparency while appearing not only to be complicit but to facilitate a distinctly dubious arms transaction.

We are considering a sad episode for British governmental processes that has damaged our reputation for probity and propriety. It has exacerbated poverty when it need not have done so. It threatens to undermine the support for the international development agenda from British taxpayers and raises questions about the strength of the Department for International Development in relation to other Departments. The blame for that must lie with the Prime Minister.

30 Jan 2007 : Column 196
9.47 pm

The Minister for Science and Innovation (Malcolm Wicks): The debate has been useful at times and interesting throughout. The hon. Member for Boston and Skegness (Mark Simmonds) said that the contribution from his Front-Bench spokesman was intelligent. Obviously, the contribution from ours was very intelligent. Several hon. Members made interesting contributions, including my hon. Friend the Member for Kingswood (Roger Berry), the right hon. Member for Hitchin and Harpenden (Mr. Lilley), my hon. Friend the Member for Tamworth (Mr. Jenkins), the right hon. Member for Birmingham, Ladywood (Clare Short), and the hon. Members for Shrewsbury and Atcham (Daniel Kawczynski) and for North Norfolk (Norman Lamb). I shall not detail their contributions, but I hope to pick up many of the points that were made.

The subject of the debate was the Government’s decision on the export of a radar system to Tanzania. I welcome the opportunity to close the debate for the Government by focusing on the decision, the context, subsequent developments and looking ahead.

The episode started in 1992, when our high commissioner in Tanzania alerted the then Government to the requirement for a new air traffic control system, and the Defence Export Services Organisation notified BAE Systems of the prospect. The Government’s decision to issue export licences in December 2001 for an air traffic control system for Tanzania was taken after careful and lengthy consideration of the application—and clearly some controversy—against the Government’s consolidated EU and national arms export licensing criteria. As my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for International Development explained, the Government take their responsibility on arms export licensing, including in relation to sustainable development, most seriously. In assessing all applications, we draw on the expertise of several Departments to ensure stringent assessment against the licensing criteria. They ensure that the risks that concern us all, including internal repression, internal or regional conflict, the need to support sustainable development and the risk of diversion to undesirable end users, are rigorously assessed on every occasion.

The Government carried out just such an analysis when they considered the licences for the air traffic control system for Tanzania. We also discussed the issue thoroughly among Departments, and concluded that the licence should be approved. Although there were some concerns about the system and its suitability, ultimately they were matters for the Government of Tanzania to resolve. It was not our place to dictate to the Government of Tanzania which system they thought that they needed. Equally, if the export was not clearly in breach of any of the EU criteria, it would not have been right for us to withhold a licence with a view to blocking the proposed export.

One of the interesting features to come out of this debate is the balance that we need to strike between the criteria that should determine the Government’s action and the independence of a sovereign nation. I should like to cite the remarks of Tanzania’s Foreign Minister Kikwete—now its President—in 2002:

Norman Lamb: The Minister mentioned earlier the question of the suitability of the system. Reference has also been made to the final report of the International Civil Aviation Organisation, and I am sure that he is about to get to that subject. Will he, however, make a commitment in the public interest to ensure that that report is published?

Malcolm Wicks: I was about to get to it, actually. I thank the hon. Gentleman for helping me; he obviously understands my notes very well.

The issue of whether the Government of Tanzania needed a military air traffic control system—and whether it was, to coin a phrase, fit for purpose—has been a big feature of this debate. The criteria required us to assess whether the export was compatible with the technical and economic capacity of the recipient country. Beyond that, I repeat that it was for the Government of Tanzania to assess whether the system was appropriate for their needs, and whether to purchase it. The fact that the UK Government issued the licences did not oblige the Government of Tanzania to proceed with the purchase.

On the hon. Gentleman’s question about the publication of the report, the two parties involved in this matter are the Government of Tanzania, whose sovereign status we should respect, and the World Bank. His question should be directed to them, not to the UK Government.

Norman Lamb: But the Government have influence.

Malcolm Wicks: We have influence, and I hope that the hon. Gentleman will listen to it.

Why did we authorise this export to Tanzania, one of the world’s poorest countries? Was the system too expensive? We have discussed these questions during the debate, and they were specifically considered in the assessment against the consolidated criteria, particularly criterion 8. In assessing the application, the Government were required to consider whether the export would

Our judgment was that it would not, even in the worst case scenario. If we had assessed that the export was not consistent with any of the criteria, licences would not have been issued.

Mr. Lilley: Will the Minister tell us whether any level of excess pricing for this deal would have led to its falling foul of criterion 8? Or could any multiple of the alternative available system have been proposed and, in the view of the British Government, still not have undermined the economy of Tanzania?

Malcolm Wicks: I do not think that it is a question of the price as such; that is a commercial judgment. It is a question whether the arrangement would seriously undermine. In that sense, of course, price is important, and there would be prices that seriously undermine.

Norman Lamb: Will the Minister give way?

30 Jan 2007 : Column 198

Malcolm Wicks: In a moment. The hon. Gentleman has had a bit of a go today, but I might let him intervene in a moment.

I hope that colleagues will understand that it would not be right for me to comment on any ongoing Serious Fraud Office examination of this matter.

Norman Lamb: I want to ask the Minister a question, just before he leaves the subject of the consolidated criteria. If the criteria effectively allow the granting of an export licence in circumstances in which a deal is clearly shrouded in impropriety—or alleged impropriety—and in which the system involved is declared by the International Civil Aviation Organisation to be effectively not fit for purpose, does the Minister agree that the consolidated criteria must, therefore, be reformed?

Malcolm Wicks: I was coming to that point, but let me say, not least in answer to the question from my hon. Friend the Chairman of the Quadripartite Committee about methodology, that we have a clear methodology for applying criterion 8. It is EU-based and is summarised, I am advised, in the Export Control Organisation’s 2005 annual report, commencing on page 83, and accessible via the DTI website. That is EU guidance based on UK guidance developed in the light of the Tanzanian case.

Obviously, there were some points arising from the Tanzanian case, which we have subsequently addressed. The need was highlighted for clearer procedures within Whitehall for assessing applications when criterion 8 came into play. We have therefore agreed guidance for officials when they consider the impact of a proposed arms export on the recipient country. That guidance has been incorporated into the EU criteria. Moreover, the principle that sustainable development must be taken into account in licensing decisions was enshrined in the Export Control Act 2002. DFID continues to play an active part in the licensing process, and in all discussions on the arms trade.

I want to remind Members that UK export controls are among the most robust in the world, and to underline the Government's record on transparency in export licensing. In 1997, we announced, for the first time, detailed criteria for assessing applications, which reflected our commitment to managing arms transfers responsibly, especially so as to avoid their use for internal repression and international aggression. Prior to that, there were no published criteria. Those criteria have been incorporated into the EU code of conduct, which now applies to all member states. Therefore, we have led on the issue.

At one stage, the right hon. Member for Birmingham, Ladywood said that the DTI always fights for arms deals, or words to that effect. If that is true, my Department is failing. In 2005, 129 licence applications were refused and many others were withdrawn when the stringency of the criteria were understood. I am advised that we actually have the highest refusal rate of any EU country. It is easy to throw around insults, but I am here to defend my Department’s stewardship of this important policy.

We also publish comprehensive details of our policy and decision making in our quarterly and annual reports, and we are of course scrutinised carefully by
30 Jan 2007 : Column 199
the Quadripartite Committee. Not least because of the issues raised, we will initiate a review later this year of the controls introduced, in 2004, under the Export Control Act 2002. That is timed to commence three years after the new export control legislation was implemented, in accordance with Cabinet Office better regulation guidelines. There will be full public consultation, and the review is timely.

The Government also have a proud record on attacking corruption. We have ratified the UN convention against corruption, and put new legislation in place to allow us to do so. We have also established a new internal corruption group staffed by City of London and Metropolitan police officers. Our commitment to a new international arms trade treaty, as highlighted by my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State, is also relevant.

We will learn lessons from any situation of this kind, and the review will be the right time to consider those. We have had a lively debate, but I recognise that differences remain between the Government and the Opposition on this matter. The main differences are obvious. A Labour Government introduced a clear export control regime; the Conservative Government had no such clarity. A Labour Government have taken a series of decisive steps to combat corruption; the Conservatives let corruption fester during their Administration.

Mr. Patrick McLoughlin (West Derbyshire) (Con) rose in his place and claimed to move, That the Question be now put.

Question, That the Question be now put, put and agreed to.

Question put accordingly, That the original words stand part of the Question:—

The House divided: Ayes 217, Noes 293.
Division No. 040]
[9.59 pm


Afriyie, Adam
Ainsworth, Mr. Peter
Alexander, Danny
Amess, Mr. David
Ancram, rh Mr. Michael
Arbuthnot, rh Mr. James
Atkinson, Mr. Peter
Bacon, Mr. Richard
Baker, Norman
Baldry, Tony
Baron, Mr. John
Barrett, John
Beith, rh Mr. Alan
Bellingham, Mr. Henry
Bercow, John
Beresford, Sir Paul
Binley, Mr. Brian
Blunt, Mr. Crispin
Bone, Mr. Peter
Boswell, Mr. Tim
Brady, Mr. Graham
Brake, Tom
Brazier, Mr. Julian
Brokenshire, James
Brooke, Annette
Browning, Angela
Bruce, rh Malcolm
Burns, Mr. Simon
Burt, Alistair
Burt, Lorely
Butterfill, Sir John
Cable, Dr. Vincent
Campbell, rh Sir Menzies
Carswell, Mr. Douglas
Cash, Mr. William
Chope, Mr. Christopher
Clark, Greg
Clegg, Mr. Nick
Conway, Derek
Cox, Mr. Geoffrey
Crabb, Mr. Stephen
Davies, David T.C. (Monmouth)
Davies, Philip
Davies, Mr. Quentin
Davis, rh David (Haltemprice and Howden)
Djanogly, Mr. Jonathan
Dorrell, rh Mr. Stephen
Dorries, Mrs. Nadine
Duddridge, James
Duncan, Alan

Duncan Smith, rh Mr. Iain
Evans, Mr. Nigel
Fabricant, Michael
Fallon, Mr. Michael
Farron, Tim
Featherstone, Lynne
Field, Mr. Mark
Foster, Mr. Don
Francois, Mr. Mark
Fraser, Mr. Christopher
Gale, Mr. Roger
Gauke, Mr. David
George, Andrew
Gibb, Mr. Nick
Gidley, Sandra
Gillan, Mrs. Cheryl
Goodman, Mr. Paul
Goodwill, Mr. Robert
Gray, Mr. James
Grayling, Chris
Green, Damian
Greening, Justine
Greenway, Mr. John
Grieve, Mr. Dominic
Gummer, rh Mr. John
Hague, rh Mr. William
Hammond, Mr. Philip
Hammond, Stephen
Hancock, Mr. Mike
Hands, Mr. Greg
Harper, Mr. Mark
Hayes, Mr. John
Heath, Mr. David
Heathcoat-Amory, rh Mr. David
Hemming, John
Herbert, Nick
Hoban, Mr. Mark
Hollobone, Mr. Philip
Holloway, Mr. Adam
Holmes, Paul
Horam, Mr. John
Horwood, Martin
Hosie, Stewart
Howarth, David
Hughes, Simon
Huhne, Chris
Hunt, Mr. Jeremy
Hunter, Mark
Hurd, Mr. Nick
Jack, rh Mr. Michael
Jackson, Mr. Stewart
Jenkin, Mr. Bernard
Johnson, Mr. Boris
Jones, Mr. David
Kawczynski, Daniel
Key, Robert
Kirkbride, Miss Julie
Knight, rh Mr. Greg
Kramer, Susan
Lait, Mrs. Jacqui
Lamb, Norman
Lancaster, Mr. Mark
Lansley, Mr. Andrew
Laws, Mr. David
Leech, Mr. John
Leigh, Mr. Edward
Lewis, Dr. Julian
Liddell-Grainger, Mr. Ian
Lidington, Mr. David
Lilley, rh Mr. Peter
Llwyd, Mr. Elfyn
Loughton, Tim
Luff, Peter
Mackay, rh Mr. Andrew
MacNeil, Mr. Angus
Main, Anne
Malins, Mr. Humfrey
Mates, rh Mr. Michael
Maude, rh Mr. Francis
May, rh Mrs. Theresa
McCrea, Dr. William
McIntosh, Miss Anne
McLoughlin, rh Mr. Patrick
Miller, Mrs. Maria
Mitchell, Mr. Andrew
Moore, Mr. Michael
Moss, Mr. Malcolm
Mulholland, Greg
Mundell, David
Murrison, Dr. Andrew
Neill, Robert
Newmark, Mr. Brooks
Öpik, Lembit
Ottaway, Richard
Paterson, Mr. Owen
Pelling, Mr. Andrew
Penning, Mike
Penrose, John
Pickles, Mr. Eric
Price, Adam
Prisk, Mr. Mark
Randall, Mr. John
Redwood, rh Mr. John
Reid, Mr. Alan
Rennie, Willie
Rifkind, rh Sir Malcolm
Robathan, Mr. Andrew
Robertson, Angus
Robertson, Mr. Laurence
Robinson, Mrs. Iris
Robinson, Mr. Peter
Rogerson, Mr. Dan
Rosindell, Andrew
Rowen, Paul
Ruffley, Mr. David
Sanders, Mr. Adrian
Scott, Mr. Lee
Selous, Andrew
Shapps, Grant
Shepherd, Mr. Richard
Simmonds, Mark
Simpson, David
Simpson, Mr. Keith
Smith, Sir Robert
Soames, Mr. Nicholas
Spelman, Mrs. Caroline
Spicer, Sir Michael
Spink, Bob
Spring, Mr. Richard
Stanley, rh Sir John
Steen, Mr. Anthony
Streeter, Mr. Gary
Stuart, Mr. Graham
Stunell, Andrew
Swayne, Mr. Desmond
Swinson, Jo
Swire, Mr. Hugo
Syms, Mr. Robert
Tapsell, Sir Peter
Taylor, Mr. Ian
Taylor, Matthew
Taylor, Dr. Richard
Teather, Sarah

Thurso, John
Tredinnick, David
Tyrie, Mr. Andrew
Vaizey, Mr. Edward
Vara, Mr. Shailesh
Viggers, Peter
Villiers, Mrs. Theresa
Walker, Mr. Charles
Wallace, Mr. Ben
Walter, Mr. Robert
Webb, Steve
Weir, Mr. Mike
Whittingdale, Mr. John
Wiggin, Bill
Willetts, Mr. David
Williams, Hywel
Williams, Mark
Williams, Mr. Roger
Williams, Stephen
Willott, Jenny
Wilshire, Mr. David
Wilson, Sammy
Wishart, Pete
Young, rh Sir George
Tellers for the Ayes:

Mr. David Evennett and
Angela Watkinson

Ainger, Nick
Ainsworth, rh Mr. Bob
Alexander, rh Mr. Douglas
Allen, Mr. Graham
Anderson, Mr. David
Anderson, Janet
Atkins, Charlotte
Austin, Mr. Ian
Austin, John
Bailey, Mr. Adrian
Baird, Vera
Balls, Ed
Banks, Gordon
Barlow, Ms Celia
Barron, rh Mr. Kevin
Battle, rh John
Bayley, Hugh
Bell, Sir Stuart
Benn, rh Hilary
Benton, Mr. Joe
Berry, Roger
Betts, Mr. Clive
Blackman, Liz
Blackman-Woods, Dr. Roberta
Blizzard, Mr. Bob
Blunkett, rh Mr. David
Borrow, Mr. David S.
Bradshaw, Mr. Ben
Brennan, Kevin
Brown, Lyn
Brown, Mr. Russell
Buck, Ms Karen
Burden, Richard
Burgon, Colin
Burnham, Andy
Butler, Ms Dawn
Byers, rh Mr. Stephen
Byrne, Mr. Liam
Caborn, rh Mr. Richard
Cairns, David
Campbell, Mr. Alan
Caton, Mr. Martin
Cawsey, Mr. Ian
Challen, Colin
Chapman, Ben
Chaytor, Mr. David
Clark, Ms Katy
Clark, Paul
Clarke, rh Mr. Charles
Clarke, rh Mr. Tom
Clelland, Mr. David
Clwyd, rh Ann
Coaker, Mr. Vernon
Coffey, Ann
Cohen, Harry
Connarty, Michael
Cook, Frank
Cooper, Rosie
Cousins, Jim
Crausby, Mr. David
Creagh, Mary
Cruddas, Jon
Cummings, John
Cunningham, Mr. Jim
Cunningham, Tony
Curtis-Thomas, Mrs. Claire
Darling, rh Mr. Alistair
David, Mr. Wayne
Davidson, Mr. Ian
Devine, Mr. Jim
Dhanda, Mr. Parmjit
Dismore, Mr. Andrew
Dobson, rh Frank
Donohoe, Mr. Brian H.
Doran, Mr. Frank
Dowd, Jim
Drew, Mr. David
Dunwoody, Mrs. Gwyneth
Eagle, Angela
Eagle, Maria
Efford, Clive
Ellman, Mrs. Louise
Engel, Natascha
Etherington, Bill
Farrelly, Paul
Field, rh Mr. Frank
Fisher, Mark
Flint, Caroline
Flynn, Paul
Foster, Mr. Michael (Worcester)
Francis, Dr. Hywel
Gapes, Mike
Gardiner, Barry
Gerrard, Mr. Neil
Gibson, Dr. Ian
Gilroy, Linda
Godsiff, Mr. Roger
Goggins, Paul
Goodman, Helen
Griffith, Nia
Grogan, Mr. John
Gwynne, Andrew
Hain, rh Mr. Peter
Hall, Mr. Mike
Hall, Patrick
Hamilton, Mr. David
Hamilton, Mr. Fabian
Hanson, Mr. David
Harman, rh Ms Harriet

Harris, Mr. Tom
Havard, Mr. Dai
Healey, John
Henderson, Mr. Doug
Hendrick, Mr. Mark
Hepburn, Mr. Stephen
Heppell, Mr. John
Hesford, Stephen
Hewitt, rh Ms Patricia
Heyes, David
Hill, rh Keith
Hillier, Meg
Hodge, rh Margaret
Hodgson, Mrs. Sharon
Hoey, Kate
Hood, Mr. Jimmy
Hoon, rh Mr. Geoffrey
Hopkins, Kelvin
Howarth, rh Mr. George
Hoyle, Mr. Lindsay
Hughes, rh Beverley
Humble, Mrs. Joan
Hutton, rh Mr. John
Iddon, Dr. Brian
Illsley, Mr. Eric
Ingram, rh Mr. Adam
Irranca-Davies, Huw
James, Mrs. Siân C.
Jenkins, Mr. Brian
Johnson, Ms Diana R.
Jones, Helen
Jones, Mr. Kevan
Jones, Lynne
Jones, Mr. Martyn
Jowell, rh Tessa
Joyce, Mr. Eric
Kaufman, rh Sir Gerald
Keeble, Ms Sally
Keeley, Barbara
Keen, Alan
Keen, Ann
Kemp, Mr. Fraser
Khabra, Mr. Piara S.
Kidney, Mr. David
Kilfoyle, Mr. Peter
Knight, Jim
Ladyman, Dr. Stephen
Lammy, Mr. David
Laxton, Mr. Bob
Lazarowicz, Mark
Lepper, David
Levitt, Tom
Lewis, Mr. Ivan
Linton, Martin
Lloyd, Tony
Love, Mr. Andrew
Lucas, Ian
Mackinlay, Andrew
MacShane, rh Mr. Denis
Mactaggart, Fiona
Malik, Mr. Shahid
Mallaber, Judy
Mann, John
Marris, Rob
Marsden, Mr. Gordon
Marshall, Mr. David
Marshall-Andrews, Mr. Robert
Martlew, Mr. Eric
McAvoy, rh Mr. Thomas
McCabe, Steve
McCafferty, Chris
McCarthy, Kerry
McCarthy-Fry, Sarah
McCartney, rh Mr. Ian
McDonagh, Siobhain
McFadden, Mr. Pat
McFall, rh John
McGovern, Mr. Jim
McGrady, Mr. Eddie
McGuire, Mrs. Anne
McIsaac, Shona
McKechin, Ann
McKenna, Rosemary
Meacher, rh Mr. Michael
Meale, Mr. Alan
Merron, Gillian
Milburn, rh Mr. Alan
Miller, Andrew
Mitchell, Mr. Austin
Moffat, Anne
Moffatt, Laura
Mole, Chris
Moon, Mrs. Madeleine
Morgan, Julie
Morley, Mr. Elliot
Mountford, Kali
Mullin, Mr. Chris
Munn, Meg
Murphy, Mr. Denis
Murphy, Mr. Jim
Naysmith, Dr. Doug
O'Brien, Mr. Mike
O'Hara, Mr. Edward
Olner, Mr. Bill
Osborne, Sandra
Owen, Albert
Palmer, Dr. Nick
Pearson, Ian
Plaskitt, Mr. James
Pope, Mr. Greg
Pound, Stephen
Prentice, Bridget
Prentice, Mr. Gordon
Prescott, rh Mr. John
Purchase, Mr. Ken
Purnell, James
Rammell, Bill
Raynsford, rh Mr. Nick
Reed, Mr. Andy
Reed, Mr. Jamie
Reid, rh John
Riordan, Mrs. Linda
Robertson, John
Rooney, Mr. Terry
Ruane, Chris
Ruddock, Joan
Russell, Christine
Ryan, Joan
Salter, Martin
Sarwar, Mr. Mohammad
Seabeck, Alison
Sheerman, Mr. Barry
Sheridan, Jim
Simon, Mr. Siôn
Simpson, Alan
Skinner, Mr. Dennis
Slaughter, Mr. Andrew
Smith, rh Mr. Andrew
Smith, Ms Angela C. (Sheffield, Hillsborough)
Smith, Angela E. (Basildon)
Smith, Geraldine
Smith, rh Jacqui
Smith, John

Snelgrove, Anne
Soulsby, Sir Peter
Southworth, Helen
Spellar, rh Mr. John
Starkey, Dr. Phyllis
Stewart, Ian
Strang, rh Dr. Gavin
Straw, rh Mr. Jack
Stringer, Graham
Stuart, Ms Gisela
Tami, Mark
Taylor, Ms Dari
Taylor, David
Thomas, Mr. Gareth
Tipping, Paddy
Todd, Mr. Mark
Touhig, rh Mr. Don
Trickett, Jon
Truswell, Mr. Paul
Turner, Dr. Desmond
Turner, Mr. Neil
Vaz, rh Keith
Vis, Dr. Rudi
Walley, Joan
Waltho, Lynda
Ward, Claire
Wareing, Mr. Robert N.
Watson, Mr. Tom
Watts, Mr. Dave
Whitehead, Dr. Alan
Wicks, Malcolm
Williams, rh Mr. Alan
Williams, Mrs. Betty
Wills, Mr. Michael
Winterton, rh Ms Rosie
Woodward, Mr. Shaun
Woolas, Mr. Phil
Wright, Mr. Anthony
Wright, David
Wright, Mr. Iain
Wyatt, Derek
Tellers for the Noes:

Mr. Frank Roy and
Jonathan Shaw
Question accordingly negatived.
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