|Previous Section||Index||Home Page|
Although some of those problems have disappeared, for various reasons, ineffectiveness is still built into the governance of aid. Much attention is paid to the issue of governance within recipient countries but not enough to the issue of governance by donor countries. Tanzania has to give 2,400 reports in a single year to donors. It has to meet 1,000 or more delegations from donors. The pressure, weight and burden that is put on such countries
by well meaning donors throughout the world is undoing the work that they are trying to achieve. That is why we put forward the proposal for partnership trusts to try to persuade as many donors as possible to give their money through a single channel, and to do so more effectively, efficiently and conveniently for the countries that we are helping through aid.
Another reason is that a lot of aid is top-down. We in this country recognise that the man in Whitehall does not know best how money should be spent in Swindon. Why do we think that he knows best how money should be spent in parts of Africa or Asia? Therefore, we propose that we should try to move to demand-led funding, and to harness the experience, expertise and knowledge of people in the countries that we want to help by saying, Bring projects or programmes to us, be you Governments, local governments, companies, non-governmental organisations, or groups in the country. The demand-led fund will provide aid, subject to those projects being the best ways to achieve the ends that the groups put forward, and there being measures of performance and appropriate arrangements for auditing. We want that method to be tried. We hope and believe that it would work, expand and form a more significant part of the funding, or be used by partnership trusts themselves in handling funding for projects that they were carrying out in country.
A third response can be made to the statement that poverty is not history: for many people it is history. Millions of people do not experience poverty, disease or hunger because they and the countries in which they live have risen out of poverty as aid has worked. Aid has been successful in eradicating diseasesor at least eliminating them from large areas. Among such diseases are smallpox, polio, guinea worm disease and African river blindness.
One of the great successes in terms of hunger has been the green revolution in Asia. That is why we want there to be an extension of agricultural aid to produce a green revolution in the rain-fed and arid areas of Africa and Asia that were not touched by that first green revolution. We ought to make more of the successes in aid, and build on them. That is another of the reports themes.
The greatest successes have come about as a result of countries growing economically, and the great motor of such growth is trade. There have been great changes in opinion and a great mobilisation of support for increasing the aid effort and eliminating the burden of debt through campaigns such as Make Poverty History, Live 8 and drop the debt. We want a similar mobilisation of opinion through a campaign by all parties in this country and by all the countries of Europe and the developed world to create real trade opportunities for developing countries.
Susan Kramer (Richmond Park) (LD): The right hon. Gentleman and I went on the same trip to India, where we saw the slums of the textile manufacturers. What does his report say on corporate social responsibility, as we were often told on that trip that western buyers demanding the lowest price was the driver of the worst conditions?
Actually, I recollect agreeing with the hon. Lady on those visits in that we were both struck by the fact that people who worked in what we might
describe as sweatshops said how delighted they were to have those jobs and how that had meant that their incomes had increased and their prospects had improved so that they could now send their children to school. Then, if not now, she and I agreed that we wanted more industrial development and growth and more companies competing for markets. We did not see that situation as simply showing that foreign companies needed to adopt different standards. Most of the companies concerned were domestic companies who were doing the best by their people and who would be unable to compete if unduly onerous obligations were put on them.
We want there to be a campaign for real trade. The Secretary of State did not engage with the main arguments, but instead made some rather strange points on Europe. He does not seem to realise that the person who chaired the campaign for real trade steering committee is Syed Kamall, a member of the International Trade Committee of the European Parliament. He will seek support across parties and across countries in an attempt to mobilise opinion.
I hope that everyone will respond in a manner in keeping with the spirit of the proposal, so that we generate passionate commitment to plans and calls to create opportunities for developing countries to participate and share in our markets, such as by unilaterally opening ours to them, by removing unnecessary and unintended restrictions such as those on rules of origin, by abolishing export subsidies, by helping to open up trade between neighbouring countries, and by putting greater emphasis on aid for trade to increase their export capacity. All those steps might receive cross-party support. I hope that they do so, and that they get support across the country, across Europe and across the world, and that we put a genuine pro-poor package at the heart of a revived Dohaor, if it does not revive, in its place.
Dr. Roberta Blackman-Woods (City of Durham) (Lab): It is always very interesting to follow the right hon. Member for Hitchin and Harpenden (Mr. Lilley). The Government have a good story to tell about their approach to tackling global poverty, and I wish to examine how that approach is being developed in Afghanistan, because that has some interesting lessons for us. I remind the House of the atrocious poverty in Afghanistan. More than half the population live on less than $1 a day, one in four Afghan children die before their fifth birthday and 30 per cent. of rural Afghans are partly malnourished. Of course, the situation has been exacerbated by 27 years of war.
What is crucial is that the people of Afghanistan want their country to improve. It is also important that we do not see the situation as overwhelming. That is why the approach that has been adopted by the Government is so helpful, and they are leading the way for other countries. The Government have signed a 10-year development partnership with the Government of Afghanistan and that has brought together their shared commitments to reduce poverty and meet the millennium development goals; to respect human rights and other international obligations; and to strengthen the financial management and accountability of money that is donated, which is directly relevant to the Oppositions motion.
Specifically, DFID has given itself the challenge of supporting the delivery of the Afghan national development strategy, which seeks not only to tackle poverty, but to develop the economy of the country. DFID is also providing development assistance by working with other partners to alleviate poverty and promote development.
DFID has made a three-year rolling commitment, from 2006 to 2009, delivering £330 million of development aid. It has said that that assistance will continue until 2015-16. That is really important, because we need to make a long-term commitment to those countries with huge problems. Tackling poverty and putting systems for development in place do not happen overnight, especially when one starts from the low base in Afghanistan.
At the moment, some 80 per cent. of aid from Britain is being directed through the Government of Afghanistan. That causes some issues for NGOs, who would prefer more of the money to go to them. Work to address that issue is being undertaken through DFID and its partner agencies in Afghanistan, to involve NGOs in the delivery of services, so that they are able to receive money indirectly through the Government of Afghanistan. That approach is still in the early stages of formulation and we may need to consider how effective it is in the future. DFID has said that it is keeping the 80 per cent. figure under review, and that is important.
The level of aid provided is of course critical, and we should note that the UK is the largest donor to the Government of Afghanistans recurrent budget, but it is very importantas expressed in the Governments amendmentthat we consider the outcomes. It is important to work with other countries and to ensure that delivery is achieved on the ground. Indeed, there is evidence of that in Afghanistan, in the development not only of new towns but also of basic infrastructure.
DFID is making progress. Due to DFIDs work with the Afghan Government and other partners, more than 5 million children are in schoolup from 45,000 in 1993. A large number of refugees have returned to Afghanistan. Forty thousand fewer babies die, mostly because of vaccination programmes supported in part by DFID. The number of functioning health clinics has increased by 60 per cent. The proportion of women receiving antenatal care has also increased, from 5 per cent. in 2003 to 30 per cent. in 2006.
The economy has grown by 8 per cent. and it is certainly hoped that growth will continue this year. An important aspect of support is that given to microfinance, which supports small farmers and women in cottage industries and helps to build up the economic base. Microfinance is being adopted by the Government and others to support development through the economy.
Since 2001, DFID has spent more than £490 million on reconstruction and development, and a large proportion of that money is now going through the Afghan Government. With reference to the point made by the hon. Member for Hornsey and Wood Green (Lynne Featherstone), it is important that some of the money is being devolved to the municipalities, such as Kandahar. We are used to thinking of Afghanistan in terms of security, which is obviously important; our armed forces are in the country and we must never forget the security concerns, but development is taking
place, too. In Kandahar, people have been able to build roads; there are housing projects, six parks and a new industrial park, which supports 70 factories where the number of work opportunities is growing.
The evaluation carried out by the Afghan Government found that such projects were exactly what they should be doing. Supporting such factories in the municipalities makes it possible to reduce poverty and increase security; if people have jobs they will have less interest in participating in illegal activities that are harmful and detrimental to the communitys security and progress. We can see a direct link: aid goes to the Afghan Government and then to the municipality where it creates jobs for people on the ground, which is obviously what we want.
There are of course still incredible challenges and it would be wrong to suggest that we have got there with Afghanistan. That is clearly not the case. However, the way in which the Government have put the money inworking through the Afghan Government, trying to give them advice and support to make their systems more accountable, as well as working with other aid agenciesprovides a useful model. There are still issues with regard to co-ordination and there is clearly a role for the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan. The security situation needs to be stabilised so that more development can take place.
The institutions of civil society need to be developed, and the Afghan Government are interested in working with us to deliver a stronger civil society. Obviously, the aid process needs to be inclusive so that local people feel that they have some say over how the money is spent in their local communities. That is happening increasingly in Afghanistan, and it is an example of Britain leading the way in tackling global poverty through economic development andcruciallysustainable development.
Tony Baldry (Banbury) (Con): I congratulate my right hon. Friend the Member for Hitchin and Harpenden (Mr. Lilley) and his colleagues on an excellent report. I think we have all come to international development wanting to see the eradication of poverty, and to that extent the starting point for us all has been the millennium development goals, but even since the Commission for Africa three new matters have emerged. The first has been the rise of China. I entirely agree with the hon. Member for City of York (Hugh Bayley) and I would not wish to add anything to what he said. He described that position extremely well. We must all take note of the rise of China, both as a country that is going to take its people out of poverty and which we should therefore help to meet the millennium goals, and for the contributions that it is making to Africa.
Secondly, I agree with the hon. Member for City of Durham (Dr. Blackman-Woods) that, sadly, the relationship between security and development, which we are witnessing in Afghanistan, will be one of the increasing complexities for DFID and conflict resolution as we move through the 21st century.
Thirdly, as the hon. Member for Hornsey and Wood Green (Lynne Featherstone) said, so many policies will now need to be regional strategic policies, on such issues as climate change. Those of us who have visited Darfur and Chad have had cause to wonder how much of that situation has been an ethnic problem and how much has been a climate problem in terms of the loss of pastoral land. These new issues are emerging and making life more complicated, but poverty has focused the minds of both donors and recipients.
There are things that we need to do to move on. First, we need to ensure that countries keep up to the mark on the amount of aid giving and the 0.7 commitment. In the report, the idea of a global donor index is very impressive because actually many of the commitments that were made at Gleneagles have not been met, as the sums of the German presidency demonstrated. We also need to ensure that there is greater aid effectiveness. This evening we have heard of a number of instances of developing countries having to cope with a huge number of donors, and therefore the idea of partnership trusts makes a lot of sense. I think that hon. Members from all parts of the House will realise that when they look at this proposal.
But one of the most important points in the report is this. Wherever the International Development Committee goes in aspiration, one question that it asks itself is, Where will the jobs come from? It is for that reason that trade, and ensuring the success of the Doha round or a replacement for it, are crucial. I hope that hon. Friends will have the opportunity to look at the detail of the proposals for a real trade campaign, because ensuring that there is momentum on trade will be really crucial for developing countries in the coming years. We are all anxious to allow every colleague a chance to speak, so time does not enable me to develop that theme, but before anyone seeks to knock the report, I simply ask them to read the proposals on trade; they are compelling.
Lastly, I am at a loss to see the difference between the motion on the Order Paper tabled by my right hon. Friend the Member for Witney (Mr. Cameron) and the Government's amendment. There seems to be no difference at all. This is an issue where Members on all sides of the House should be trying to reach the greatest agreement. I agree with the Secretary of State; I was campaigning for Europe quite a long time ago, and we need to have a united voice as a House and as a country if we are to have real influence in the European Union and elsewhere in the world.
Mark Durkan (Foyle) (SDLP):
As the right hon. Member for Hitchin and Harpenden (Mr. Lilley) said, this debate reflects the fact that when we contrast our expectations for progress on world poverty and experience, it becomes clear that progress does not roll along on the wheels of inevitability. We need concerted efforts; we need to make real commitments and follow through on those real commitments; and we need to recognise that setting targets is very good but delivering targets is even better. We also need to recognise that partnership must be the ethic that runs through all our aid efforts. The Government have established a firm credential for partnership, unlike other countries that
still have a strong element of patronage permeating their aid policies and programmes, but none of us can be smug about such things.
I will not rehearse the points that other hon. Members have made about the challenges that we face, but one of the issues that we perhaps need to consider as we tackle poverty and the different challenges is, of course, the complexity that arises in the context of conflict. In particular, we need to ensure that our approaches to aid and trade and our work in and with developing countries take account of the difficulties, tensions and pressures that can arise.
I suggest that, just as in many ways the EU as a model of conflict resolution has found itself with a strong capacity to engage in certain theatres in the world, there is another dimension that we need to think about: the historic conflict resolution that we have achieved on these islands between a large country and a small country. We have a history of colonisation within these islands. We have a history of famine in Ireland, and so on. In the current context, Britain and Ireland working together in some areas would bring an added benefit and purpose.
I hope that Ministers here and Ministers elsewhere will perhaps consider that one of the things that we might spin off in the context of the British-Irish Council is a framework whereby our development co-operation effort can properly include and involve the various devolved Administrations in these regions, who are seeking to have an input into development policy. The Scottish Executive have developed a programme in relation to Malawi. There are efforts in Wales, and many of us in Northern Ireland are part of an all-party group that is looking at something similar. But rather than us all engaging in karaoke versions of our own DFID, I believe that between the Department of Foreign Affairs in Dublin and the excellent work of Co-operation Ireland and the very good work of DFID, those Administrations and, indeed, local government more widely might be better engaged in more fruitful development co-operation in terms of partnerships.
With the emphasis that so many hon. Members have put on governance, administration, transparency and programme delivery, much can be given in that regard. I am certainly reinforced in that view by my experience in a devolved Administration of some of the challenges that we faced as we dealt with the models of governance that worked for us. Indeed, people elsewhere in the EU accession countries came to Ireland, north and south, to learn how we handled EU programmes, the transparency and governance issues and the various partnership questions with stakeholders. Many lessons can be applied in that respect. That is not to set aside any of the other very important points, but I wanted to confine myself to adding an additional aspect that might be missing from some other contributions.
|Next Section||Index||Home Page|