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The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for International Development (Mr. Shahid Malik): The Department for International Development supports initiatives that enable poor people to benefit from markets and improve how Government systems respond to the needs of poor people. We do that through three routes: first, through the World Bank and the Inter-American Development Bank, whose projects include improving social services and helping municipalities to be more responsive to their constituents; secondly, through the European Union, whose projects include supporting indigenous farmers; and thirdly, through UK non-governmental organisations which support grass-roots groups.
I welcome my hon. Friend to his new post. Can he assure me that rumours of the planned closure of the UKs only remaining presence in Boliviaa regional officeare unfounded? Will he also consider having a direct bilateral programme with
Bolivia, free of the shackles that are often imposed by the Inter-American Development Bank?
Mr. Malik: Let me first acknowledge my hon. Friends efforts in building mutually beneficial and strong relationships between the UK and much of Latin America. As a fellow socialist, I am sure that he will be pleased to learn that DFID allocates 90 per cent. of the bilateral programme to low-income countries. As Bolivia is a middle-income country, our bilateral programme with it is relatively small. We believe that we can better support the Government of Bolivias development efforts by using the expertise of our advisers in the office in Bolivia to influence the World Bank and the Inter-American Development Bank, which together lend about £75 million a year to Bolivia. In respect of the office in Bolivia, I will review our Latin America policy in the autumn in the light of consultations on a new DFID strategy for Latin America, and I will, of course, take my hon. Friends views into account.
The Secretary of State for International Development (Mr. Douglas Alexander): The Departments overall aim is to reduce poverty, and we have made a commitment to channel aid to the poorest countries. [Interruption.]
Aid is distributed on the basis of need and the likelihood of its effectiveness in reducing poverty. Many of the countries to which the Government return failed asylum seekers receive considerable amounts of aid, including programmes to improve the lives and opportunities of children and young people.
Mr. Steen: Is the Minister aware that increased numbers of Vietnamese boys and girls are being trafficked into Britain and are illegally working in cannabis factories in our home towns in England, Wales and Scotland? Is he also aware that when they are returned to their country of origin they will be retrafficked to Britain unless the Government do more in those countries to stop that happening? Will the Secretary of State do that?
Mr. Alexander: First, let me pay tribute to the hon. Gentlemans work as chairman of the all-party group on trafficking of women and children. The House is united on this matter, and we are determined to do all we can to stop this abhorrent practice. DFID has spent £14 million specifically on addressing trafficking, but we are also determined through our poverty reduction work to attempt to address the push factors that lead to people being trafficked from countries such as the one mentioned by the hon. Gentleman.
Ms Dawn Butler (Brent, South) (Lab): I welcome my right hon. Friend to his new position. Will he make it clear that we will work with non-governmental organisations in those countries to ensure that the push factors that lead to such children being trafficked into our country are addressed and that trafficking is not repeated or continued?
Mr. Alexander: I am happy to give the House the assurance that my hon. Friend seeks. We will continue to work with NGOs, and to target the specific problem of trafficking of women and children. That is why, for example, in China, we are working with the International Labour Organisation to support projects addressing directly the challenge of trafficking from that region.
The Prime Minister (Mr. Gordon Brown): Before listing my engagements, I am sure that the whole House will wish to join me in sending our profound condolences to the families and friends of the three servicemen killed in Iraq at the weekend. They were Private Edward Vakabua of 4th Battalion the Rifles, Lance-Corporal Ryan Francis of 2nd Battalion the Royal Welsh, and Corporal Christopher Read of 3rd Regiment Royal Military Police. They died doing vital work for our country. We owe them a deep debt of gratitude.
Mr. Bellingham: Is the Prime Minister aware that the ringleader of the 21 July terrorist attacks, Mukhtar Ibrahim, was allowed to travel backwards and forwards to Pakistan to a terror camp, despite the fact that he was wanted on extremism charges in the UK? Throughout this time, he was given succour and encouragement by Hizb ut-Tahrir. Does this case not illustrate the overwhelming argument for banning this evil organisation, and for bringing in a dedicated UK border police?
The Prime Minister: I have looked at the argument put to me last week about the banning of the organisation. This will be kept under continuous review. Equally, I have looked at, and continue to look at, the argument for a national border police force, but it is the combination of an e-border system that operates in airports and ports way outside our country that prevents people from coming in in the first place, and the introduction of identity cards that would do the best to deal with the problem.
On the particular person who has been found guilty and sentenced to life imprisonment, there are three instances that we have got to deal with, and I have
looked at all of them. First, when he was guilty of crimes in Britain in the early and later 1990s, under the new laws he would have been deported from this country. Secondly, he applied for citizenship of this country and received citizenship because all his offences as a juvenile had been wiped off. That would not happen now, and he would not get citizenship of this country. I am also looking very carefully at the circumstances that surround his visit to Pakistan.
Q2.  Mr. Andy Reed (Loughborough) (Lab/Co-op): As the Prime Minister knows, many in the faith community and elsewhere, like me, still have concerns about super-casinos, believing that they will add to the current problem of the 400,000 people who suffer from gambling problems. Given that a majority of the public believes that these super-casinos will add to gambling problems and social breakdown, will he use this period of reflection and change in policy to look again at the policy on super-casinos, and to go back to the original purpose of the Gambling Act 2005, which was to regulate gambling and reduce gambling problems?
The Prime Minister: It is true to say that this is an issue on which no consensus is found within the two Houses of Parliament, and it is an issue that is now subject to reflection over the next few months. In September, we will have a report that will look at gambling in our country, and at the incidence and prevalence of it and its social effects. I hope that during these summer months, we can look at whether regeneration in the areas for the super-casinos may be a better way of meeting their economic and social needs than the creation of super-casinos.
Mr. David Cameron (Witney) (Con): I join the Prime Minister in paying tribute to Corporal Christopher Read, to Lance-Corporal Ryan Francis, and to Rifleman Edward Vakabua, who died serving their country.
The Prime Minister: What I can confirm is that the seven proposals before the Secretary of State will be referred to the medical panelan independent medical panelwhich will make recommendations on what is the right way forward. I can also confirm that, as the review is taking place throughout the country, all decisions will be based on medical and clinical need. We will report back to the House on the review at the time of the pre-Budget report in October, and that will be the basis on which we will proceed further.
I should also point out to the right hon. Gentleman that there are 108 new hospital developments in this country as a result of what this Government have done, and that the difference between the two sides of the House is that we are prepared to spend more money on the health service. He has never guaranteed an extra penny on the national health service.
So the answer is no. The cuts go on, the closures go on and the service reductions go on. What is the point of holding a review if one is not
going to stop and wait for its conclusions? Let us take a specific example. Will the Prime Minister confirm that the Healthcare for London report, published today, will lead to the closure of accident and emergency departments and maternity wards all over London? A simple yes or no will do.
The Prime Minister: This is not correct. Lord Darzi has conducted the review, which is for consultation and then local decision making. I shall quote to the leader of the Conservative party what he said. He said:
I dont think there will be any
The days of the district general hospital... are over,
fewer, more advanced hospitals.
The Prime Minister: It means more money for the national health service this year, next year and the year aftermoney that the Opposition will not match. It means a proposal for 150 new polyclinics, which will mean that GPs will be able to undertake operations. It means an improvement in specialist care in London. It means this Government are prepared to finance the NHS.
If we are updating ourselves about Conservative party policy, let me remind the House that not only will the Opposition not match us on health service spending, but they have just issued a report on the future of hospitals in which they say that, because of their funding mechanism, hospitals are at risk
of financial failure
entail risks to the assets necessary for the provision of essential national health services.
Mr. Cameron: I think that people will start to conclude that this Prime Minister just cannot answer a straight question. He says that he wants to listen to people, so will he confirm that the report says specifically that people do not want these changes?
I dont think there will be any
The Opposition want to run a scare campaign about the future of the NHS. In 1997, 300,000 people had to wait six months or more for operations, but that figure is now in the low hundreds. That is thanks to the investment made by a Labour Government; it would not happen under the Conservatives.
58 per cent. of Londoners would choose existing hospitals as opposed to investing in...fewer, larger hospitals.
The Prime Minister: Lord Darzi is not proposing the closure of existing hospitals. It is hardly surprising that if people are asked, Do you want your hospital closed?, they might say no, but Lord Darzi is not proposing that. He is proposing 150 new polyclinics, which will mean that doctors can get consultants into their surgeries to perform much needed operations that can be done there. He is proposing the expansion of specialist care, and that the teaching hospitals be able to do more research. I think that the Leader of the Opposition would do better to look at the report before commenting on it.
the days of the district general hospital...are over
fewer, more advanced hospitals.
Mr. Cameron: The truth is, they know that it means cuts in NHS services. Is not the truth that the Prime Ministers health policy is exactly the same as it ever was: more closures, more removal of services and more job losses? Does not the report, out today, show that all we shall get is more of the same from a Government who have failed?
The Prime Minister: The right hon. Gentleman says more job cuts, but there are 80,000 more nurses in the national health service. There are 30,000 more doctors and 5 million more A and E attendances every year as a result of investment. As for him and his policy on the national health service, he can spout the slogans, he can hold his press conferences and issue his glossy booklets, but we will get on with running the national health service better. He can go for his PRI will go for being PM, and we will get on with the job.
Mr. Don Touhig (Islwyn) (Lab/Co-op): My right hon. Friend will not need reminding of the momentous event that took place two weeks ago today: on 27 June a grateful nation celebratedveterans day. Will the Government undertake to ensure that the 35,000 veterans of the Malaysian campaign are allowed to wear the Pingat Jasa Malaysia medal next veterans day?
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