The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for International Development (Mr. Gareth Thomas):
In 2005-06 the Department for International Development provided more than £23 million to UK-based faith
groups, including Christian Aid, the Catholic Fund for Overseas Development and Islamic Relief. That sum represents about 10 per cent. of funding to UK civil society. It does not include DFID funds that are passed to faith groups through multilateral donors, or through developing country Governments, so the total sum will be much higher.
Mark Pritchard: I thank the Minister for that response, and I congratulate him, the Secretary of State and all officials in his Department on rightly recognising the important work that faith-based organisations such as Tearfund, CAFOD, World Vision and Christian Aid do in delivering aid and development all over the world. Would the Minister like to put on record today a reaffirmation of the importance of faith-based groups delivering such aid?
Mr. Thomas: I am grateful for the opportunity that the hon. Gentleman has provided, because I share his view that faith-based groups do a huge amount of good in the direct provision of services in many developing countries. I had the opportunity to see a superb Christian Aid-funded project in South Africa that is doing a huge amount of good in the Germiston township just outside Johannesburg, helping that community to deal with the impact of HIV and AIDS. Faith-based groups do a lot more than that, too: they advocate efforts to tackle poverty, and they play a huge role in the campaigns that are inevitably mounted in the run-up to G8 conferences to encourage international leaders to do more. We welcome them.
Keith Vaz (Leicester, East) (Lab): Would the Minister join me in congratulating Hindu Aid and its chairman, Arjan Vekaria, on the excellent work that they do in building up relations between our country and India in particular? The Secretary of State will address Hindu Aid shortly. Surely, that is the best way of trying to get those networks working so that aid is properly spent.
Mr. Thomas: I join my right hon. Friend in paying tribute to Arjan Vekaria, the chair of Hindu Aid, and the many other members who support Hindu Aids work. My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State looks forward to the forthcoming conference with Hindu Aidindeed, I do too. My right hon. Friend the Member for Leicester, East (Keith Vaz) is right that the development work that we are doing in India is extremely important. Given the huge number of people in India who still live on less than a dollar a day, there is much more to do. Hindu Aids work both in drawing attention to that and in campaigning for more resources and more progress on poverty in India is hugely important.
Mark Simmonds (Boston and Skegness) (Con):
My hon. Friend the Member for The Wrekin (Mark Pritchard) rightly highlighted the important role that UK faith-based organisations and their dedicated volunteers play in alleviating poverty across the developing world, particularly in conflict zones and with vulnerable groups. A recent report by the World Health Organisation identifies the fact that up to 70 per cent. of the health infrastructure in Africa is owned by faith-based organisations, yet it concludes that there is minimal co-operation between them and mainstream
public health programmes. Perhaps the Minister will say what specific proposals DFID has introduced to enhance collaboration with and between faith-based organisations, particularly to ensure that the goal of universal access to HIV prevention and treatment is achieved by the target date of 2010.
Mr. Thomas: The hon. Gentleman is right to draw attention to the need for considerably more effort across the international community by faith-based groups and international donors such as ourselves and other countries attending the forthcoming G8 summit to make progress towards the goal of universal access to HIV prevention, care and treatment. We work closely with a range of faith-based organisations in a number of developing countries, particularly in sub-Saharan Africa. He rightly drew attention to the report that said that more effort is needed to bring those groups together and to link them to mainstream health care services. We are seeking to do more through our investment in health care in Malawi and Sierra Leone to link those faith-based organisations together. We have come a long way but, as he said, we have an awfully long way to go, too.
The Secretary of State for International Development (Hilary Benn): I discussed the issue with my fellow governors of the World Bank at the spring meetings on 15 April. We agreed that we have to ensure that the bank can effectively carry out its mandate and maintain its credibility and reputation, as well as the motivation of its staff, and that the current situation is of great concern. We endorsed the banks actions in looking into this matter, and we asked it to complete its investigation, which is continuing.
Hugh Bayley: The banks credibility in fighting corruption was severely undermined by the presidents decision to increase his partners salary. The corrupt leaders of many countries now say, If its okay for the bank, its okay for me to channel public funds to my own family. The bank would start to repair its reputation if the president admitted that he had made a mistake and changed the banks policies so that no bank employee in future will ever again reward a member of his family or a close friend. Will my right hon. Friend tell the president that if he showed a bit of humility and changed the banks policy there would be fewer people arguing for a change in the banks leadership?
I made a mistake, for which I am sorry...I take full responsibility for the details.
John Barrett (Edinburgh, West) (LD): How can the World Bank demand an end to corruption in developing countries when many staff in the World Bank feel that there is corruption at the very top of their own organisation?
Hilary Benn: It is very important that all institutions maintain the highest standards. It is for that reason that, as governors, we expressed concern about what has gone on. It must be brought to an end, and to a satisfactory conclusion that maintains the credibility and the reputation of the bank.
The Prime Minister (Mr. Tony Blair): Before listing my engagements, there are a number of things that I should say. First, I pay tribute to Lord Weatherill, the former Speaker of the House, who died at the weekend. As I said then, he was a real gentleman. He was an outstanding Speaker, someone of impartiality and decency, and he will be missed by Members in all parts of the House.
I am sure the whole House will once again wish to join me in sending our profound condolences to the families and friends of Guardsman Simon Davison from the 1st Battalion Grenadier Guards, who was killed in Afghanistan last Thursday, and Private Kevin Thompson from 19 Combat Service Support Battalion, who died at the weekend from injuries sustained in Iraq. Once again, we salute their courage and their sacrifice.
Finally, I am sure the House would also wish to send our condolences and sympathy to the family and friends of PC Richard Gray, who was tragically shot on Sunday. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family.
In this historic week, I thank the Prime Minister and his Government sincerely for all the work that they, with so many others, have done to bring peace and hope to the 6 million people of Ulster and of Ireland. Before he retires, will the Prime Minister offer some hope also to the hundreds of thousands of people affected by mental illness in our capital city, who fear that if the Government do not change their decision to close the 24-hour emergency clinic at the Maudsley hospital next week, they will be severely affected and the Government will have made a terrible mistake?
We have significantly increased mental health funding. It has gone up by a very large amounthundreds of millions of poundsover the past few years, but the way in which mental health services are delivered must always be a matter for local decision making. As the hon. Gentleman knows, although I understand the controversy about the Maudsley, there will be a new, designated space at Kings hospital, which will provide a safe environment for mental health service users. A massive amount of additional health care investment, including for mental health, is going into not just his constituency but neighbouring constituencies. What we cannot guarantee, at the same time as we are making this investment, is that health services will always be delivered in exactly the same way.
Ian Lucas (Wrexham) (Lab): On Tuesday last week the French pharmaceutical company Ipsen Biopharm announced a £37.5 million investment in Wrexham. Does my right hon. Friend consider that that had anything to do with the fact that, two days later, Wrexham was a Labour gain in the National Assembly elections?
The Prime Minister: I am certainly happy to celebrate Labour gains last Thursday. I congratulate the new Assembly Member. The fact that major investment is still being made in our economy is one reason the British economy is doing so well, why we are still leading the world in foreign and direct investment, and why many of the leading pharmaceutical companies find Britain the place to come and invest.
Mr. David Cameron (Witney) (Con): I join the Prime Minister in paying tribute to Guardsman Simon Davison and Private Kevin Thompson, who died serving their country. Conservative Members also strongly agree with what he said about the serving police officer, Richard Gray in Shrewsbury. We join the Prime Minister in paying tribute to Jack Weatherill. He was a kind man, a dedicated public servant and a great Speaker of this House.
Tomorrow, the Prime Minister will announce his departure. Today, he is announcing the splitting up of the Home Office. The former Home Secretary, the right hon. Member for Norwich, South (Mr. Clarke), says that the splitting of the Home Office is a completely batty idea that will damage our national security. Why is he wrong?
The Prime Minister:
He is wrong for this reason: if we want the Home Secretary to focus on terrorism, it is important that we make sure that the Home Office is better able to do so by moving prison and probation services to where the courts are. That makes sense, it is what is done in many other countries, and it is a far better idea, if I may say so, than retaining all those functions in the Home Office and doing what the right hon. Gentleman wants, which is to appoint a special Cabinet Minister under the Home Secretary to take responsibility for terrorism. That would simply confuse the lines of accountability. It is far better, given that this terrorist threat is a new and very dangerous threat
that we face, to have the Home Secretary focused on the issue of terrorism to a greater degree. That is the reason for the change.
Mr. Cameron: The last thing a Department in crisis needs is the huge distraction of a big reorganisation. Let us try another former Home Secretaryafter all, there are plenty of them about; in fact, some of them might be coming back. The right hon. Member for Sheffield, Brightside (Mr. Blunkett) said that this
is the wrong move. The last thing this department needs right now is fiddling about with structural changes.
Its like re-arranging deckchairs on the Titanic
The Prime Minister: I have already explained why I believe it is right to take the prisons and probation out of the Home Office and into a new Ministry of Justice. The right hon. Gentleman says that the Home Office has failed across the board, but whereas crime doubled under the previous Government it has reduced under this Government. When we took office, there was a backlog of about 60,000 asylum claims, whereas the figure is now down to 6,000. Whereas trials frequently used to collapse, the figure has been reduced by 20 per cent; the collection of fines is up; and there are extra numbers of police and community support officers, and antisocial behaviour laws. If we want the Home Office to focus on terrorismI think everyone agrees that we face a different and new threat todayit is sensible to move part of its functions to a Ministry of Justice. That is why it is the right thing to do.
Mr. Cameron: Of course we want the Home Office to focus on terrorism, but let us take just one example of a Home Office fiascothe failure to deport foreign criminals; we all remember that one. Under the Prime Ministers plans, one Department will be responsible for putting them in prison and another Department will be responsible for deporting them. How is that going to help co-ordination?
The Prime Minister: As a matter of fact, as a result of the changes that are already being made, the number of foreign prisoners being deported is about 50 per cent. up from last year. [ Interruption . ] The criticism was that we were not deporting them; we now are. Having the prisons and probation with the courts will make a lot more sense, because such cases can be managed from the courts system through to prisons and probation. That is why many other countries have the Ministry of Justice system.
we are announcing plans for the development of a dedicated border police.
study...we couldnt be sure it would be a serious proposal we could put in our manifesto.
I see the absolute benefits of an ID card system.
In my view, the fit between immigration... crime and prisons... is a proper fit.[ Official Report, 3 May 2006; Vol. 445, c. 964.]
The Prime Minister: The reason is the one I have given. The result of looking at how we best focus the Home Office on fighting terrorism was not to do what the right hon. Gentleman proposeshis foolish idea of having two Cabinet Ministers with the same responsibilitybut to move some of the functions out of the Home Office into the Ministry of Justice. If the right hon. Gentleman would move them back, let him say so, but I think it would be a foolish thing to do.
Mr. Cameron: If the Prime Minister wants to stop that happening, he could call an election and we could stop it right away. I asked him about the Home Secretary and he failed to answer. Is not the problem the fact that the Government are now paralysed? The Home Secretary is splitting his Department, but he has already resigned. We have a Foreign Secretary who is negotiating a European treaty that she will not be around to ratify. We have a Prime Minister, who, even after last weeks drubbing, simply does not understand that it is over. Everybody knows who the next Labour leader isthank God he has got out of his blacked-out limo and come to the House of Commons. Why does the country have to put up with another seven weeks of paralysis?
The Prime Minister: I will tell the right hon. Gentleman on what I shall concentrate in the next seven weeks: policyon the economy, health, education and law and order. Let me give him some advice: if I were him, I would concentrate on policy, too. I have something else of which to inform the House. Yesterday, there was a leading policy speech by the right hon. Member for West Dorset (Mr. Letwin), who is in charge of the Conservatives policy commission. The speech was entitled:
Is Cameron Conservatism just a set of attitudes, or is it a political theory? asks Oliver Letwin.
Cameron Conservatism is... an attempt to shift the theory of the State from a provision-based paradigm to a framework-based paradigm. The provision-theory of the modern State is the successor to socialism in the post-Marxist era.