Ms Gisela Stuart (Birmingham, Edgbaston) (Lab):
Following the Irish no, there have been suggestions that work is going on that tries to disaggregate the Lisbon treaty into those things that could be brought in without treaty amendment and those that are institutional changes that could be piggy-backed on to a Croatian accession
treaty. Will the Prime Minister give an undertaking to the House that if any British official is involved in any such negotiations, he will inform the House either in writing if the House is in recess or in a statement, or via the Select Committees?
Sir Patrick Cormack (South Staffordshire) (Con): While I welcome what the Prime Minister has said about Zimbabwe, may I ask him to take up the opportunity presented by Nelson Mandelas visit to this country? Although Mr. Mandela, who has unrivalled moral authority in southern Africa, has retired from international politics, will the Prime Minister seek to persuade him to appeal to President Mbeki and say to him that the image of southern Africa is tarnished further by every minute that this evil man remains in power in Zimbabwe? He should be given the opportunity to go quietly, but if he does not do so, he should be put in the proper place, which is in the dock at The Hague.
The Prime Minister: I will raise those matters with President Mandela when I meet him later this week. The whole world is appalled at the violence and everybody who has a love of Africa is appalled at what is happening. Now that the hon. Gentleman has mentioned it, the whole House will want to send its best wishes to President Mandela on the occasion of his 90th birthday. He has been a true servant of Africa and of the world, and his courage is unsurpassed in modern times.
Mr. Ken Purchase (Wolverhampton, North-East) (Lab/Co-op): I thank the Prime Minister for a generally very helpful and welcome statement. May I ask him for assurances with regard to his view that there should be external investment in Britains nuclear industry, which is already causing some concern in the country? It strikes me, and perhaps others, that should investment come from certain Saudi quarters and nuclear stations be built with Saudi money, that would offer a tremendous security risk to the country.
The Prime Minister: Any nuclear work in this country, including nuclear stations, happens under the strictest of conditions attaching to both security and safety. Those conditions will be rigorously and strenuously upheld at all times. I must tell my hon. Friend that some of our nuclear industry already has external investment.
Mr. David Heathcoat-Amory (Wells) (Con): The European Council received a report on the extensive preparatory work already done on aspects of the Lisbon treaty, including the External Action Service or European foreign ministry. Given that the treaty can no longer come into effect, certainly not on 1 January, did the Prime Minister take a lead and demand that all that anticipatory work stop immediately, or is he, on that as on everything else, continuing to defy the verdict of the Irish people?
The Prime Minister: That work is not going ahead in the Foreign Office, and nor was it discussed at the European Council. We are very clear that there must be unanimity on the foreign policy issues raised by the treatythat is the condition on which we signed it.
Mr. Mark Hendrick (Preston) (Lab/Co-op): My right hon. Friend will recall the December 2001 Laeken declaration triggering a process to bring about the objectives of making the EU more transparent, democratic and efficient, and fit for a Europe of more than 27. Given the deliberations of the Irish and the difficulties that they face, will he do everything in his power to see that those original objectives are achieved at the October Council?
The Prime Minister: My hon. Friend is right that there are many questions that the Irish Government will want to consider as a result of the defeat in the referendum on supporting the European treaty. Those are the kind of issues that they will consider as they prepare the report for the October meeting of the European Council. It is not for me to say exactly what they will come forward with; that is a matter for them. But I am absolutely sure that they will want an open, transparent and democratic European Union.
Mark Pritchard (The Wrekin) (Con): The Prime Minister mentioned the increase in Saudi oil production. Does he believe that that is a result of his visit to the region and his personal intervention, or that it was a decision made prior to his arrival?
The Prime Minister: It was a decision made by the Saudi Government as the right decision to increase oil production around the world. All oil producers are sensitive to the fact that demand for oil is rising very quickly, as a result not just of what is happening in China, India and Asia, but of the growth in the oil-producing countries themselves. Supply will have to adjust to meet that demand. There are many ways of doing that: to find alternative sources of supply than oil, such as nuclear and renewables; and to make the use of oil more efficient, through improved technology for running vehicles and other means of conserving energy. One way forward will be that those oil suppliers who have the capacity to do so should use that capacity to increase their production of oil. The Saudi Government are aware that many people have argued that it is important that they increase their production where they can, and that is what they announced yesterday.
Mr. David Hamilton (Midlothian) (Lab): I congratulate my right hon. Friend on bringing the pilot scheme for carbon capture and storage to the United Kingdom; only through that means will we deal with the Chinese and Indian problem. If we can develop carbon capture and storage in a way that can be sold, it will be a big step forward. If he wants to do that, the billions of tonnes of coal in the United Kingdom should be used for that purpose, and I suggest that the plant should be in Scotland.
Mr. Andrew Mackay (Bracknell) (Con): Does the Prime Minister share my view that Croatia should accede to European Union membership on schedule, or does he believe that it should be used as a pawn in a vain and doomed attempt to save the Lisbon treaty?
The Prime Minister: When I met the Croatian Prime Minister last week, I told him that it is this Governments view that Croatia should not be held back from its membership of the European Union, that the negotiations should proceed as planned, and that we hoped that the timetable for membership could be met. Of course, Croatia must meet the conditions for membership, but I have every reason to believe that it is working to meet those conditions, that it will meet them, and that it is in the interests of Europe for it to meet them.
Andrew Miller (Ellesmere Port and Neston) (Lab): I congratulate my right hon. Friend on the leadership that he has shown on the issue of future vehicles, which is enormously important to the British economy. We have a very complex transition to undergo, and if Britain is to play a leading role, we must also manage the manufacture of internal combustion engines and secure the maximum efficiency from them. May I urge him to bring together representatives of power generation, oil refining and the vehicle industry, and to create a high-level summit to work out the best way forward for the strategy?
The Prime Minister: I shall be happy to do that. My hon. Friend has fought hard for the car industry in this country, as well as fighting for the best environmental standards. The United Kingdom will continue to lead the battle in Europe to secure a lower car emissions target. We are aware of the sensitivities relating to particular models in the United Kingdom and will bear them in mind, but it is important to recognise that the prize ahead of us is a 40 per cent. reduction in emissions as a result of what we do. That is why I think that my hon. Friends proposal should commend itself to Members in all parts of the House.
The instruments of ratification shall be deposited with the Government of the Italian Republic
The Prime Minister: Yes, we would hope to move forward, but we are confident that we will win the case in the courts. We believe that we have the right case and a good case. Let me clear up matters for the House. We wrote to the judge saying that we knew he was considering these matters and we wanted to proceed to ratification. He asked us if we would wait until he had given his judgment. We were happy to do so, and we now know that his judgment will come this week. What that judgment will be is of course a matter for the judge, but we believe that we have a good case, and after that we will proceed to ratification.
Derek Wyatt (Sittingbourne and Sheppey) (Lab): May I draw the Prime Minister further on China? Can he tell me how we are to stop Chinese inward investment in Zimbabwe, and also reassure me that the money-laundering that is going on pertains to Chinese banks in Hong Kong and Beijing?
The Prime Minister: We will examine the matters that my hon. Friend has raised. Clearly, the sanctions that we are considering are sanctions on individual members of the regime, but I will look at what he has said. I believe that China will support the presidential statement from the United Nations today, and will support both an end to violence and the restoration of conditions in which democracy can happen and flourish in Zimbabwe.
Mr. Douglas Hogg (Sleaford and North Hykeham) (Con): The Prime Minister has said nothing about Afghanistan. Will he tell us whether he raised with the Governments of Germany and France the possibility of German and French troops being deployed in Helmand province in an operational role? Does he agree that the Governments decision to deploy British forces in the province without assurances from the Governments of France and Germany that they would reinforce on request was an act of the grossest incompetence?
The Prime Minister: I have talked to the Chancellor of Germany and the President of France on a number of occasions about the challenges in Afghanistan. We must remember that more than 40 countries are involved in supporting efforts in Afghanistan both to secure law and order and to bring democracy and prosperity to the country.
Germany is active in pushing forward with the programme that all of us want to support, and is leading in respect of the training of police forces for the future in Afghanistan. It has just doubled the number of police forces there, and I applaud the Chancellor for taking that step. The French are to move troops to the east of Afghanistan, which will allow American marines to move to Helmand, thus strengthening the position there in the months to come.
As the right hon. and learned Gentleman knows, last week the Secretary of State for Defence announced that we would reconfigure our troops in Afghanistan and ensure that there were additional troops there for the work that needs to be done. We all know of the sacrifices that British servicemen and women have made in Afghanistan. We are determined that those sacrifices will lead to the democracy that we want to see there and to greater prosperity for the Afghan people.
Mary Creagh (Wakefield) (Lab): The Prime Minister will be aware that the first millennium development goal is the eradication of hunger, and while a 40 per cent. rise in global food prices over a year is painful for European consumers, it is catastrophic for the poorest living in developing countries. What impact does my right hon. Friend think the rise in food prices will have on the achievement of that millennium development goal, in particular with reference to Zimbabwe, 45 per cent. of whose population is currently dependent on food aid?
The Prime Minister:
I am grateful to my hon. Friend for that question. The first thing that should happen in Zimbabwe is that the non-governmental organisations providing food aid should be allowed to do so; at present, hundreds of thousands of people are being denied food aid because the NGOs are not allowed to operate. My hon. Friend is also right that 100 million people face famine as a result of the increased food
prices and the inability of many countries to deal with the food shortages in their midst. We are determined to work with the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund to do more about that. At the conference in Jeddah yesterday, the Saudi Arabians offered $1 billion extra for relief from the high oil and food prices and the problems facing the poorest countries, and we are talking to the World Bank about what more we can do together to meet the need for food around the world.
Dr. Vincent Cable (Twickenham) (LD): After the Jeddah meeting, can the Prime Minister answer some of the myths about the oil market, notably the myth that oil producers are deliberately withholding supply when spare capacity is only 2 per cent., and the myth perpetuated by the Conservative leader today that prices are where they are because of financial speculators rather than the underlying reality of rapidly rising demand and fixed supply?
The Prime Minister: On speculation, I have said in answer to another question that the Treasury is looking into that matter. An inquiry is going on within the IMF and the US authorities are conducting an examination. If there has been market manipulation, that will be exposed by the work being done. On supply, I am satisfied that many of the largest oil producers are trying to supply the market. The problem is that there has been insufficient investment in capacity and refining in previous years, and another problem is that some oil-producing countries get their oil to the marketplace in inefficient ways. These forces should be examined. That is why British oil companies, and oil companies from outside the region, should be allowed to invest, so that we have higher production and better refining in these areas. It is also why, reciprocally, we should agree that the oil producers should be able to diversify their portfolio and invest in other aspects of energy so that they have an interest in the stability of the whole energy market.
The Prime Minister: The last time the British people voted on the European Union they voted yes, and the Conservative party has never come to terms with the fact that Britain is part of the European Union and that it should remain at the centre of the European Union. Instead of using every excuse to oppose the European Union, it should start to recognise that if it has truly changed as a party, it would have changed its visceral opposition to the European Union.
Mr. Philip Hollobone (Kettering) (Con): Ahead of the start of the French presidency of the Council, what discussions did the Prime Minister have with President Sarkozy about French plans for greater defence co-operation in general, and the creation of EU-controlled defence forces?
The Prime Minister:
I answered that question last Wednesday. We issued a statement after the meeting with President Sarkozy when he came to Britain only a few months ago. We outlined those areas where defence co-operation was not only taking place, but was good
for Britain, Europe and the world. I said last Wednesday that those people who were trying to suggest that there would be a merger between the British and French navies were totally wrong, because when one examines the detail even of the French statement, one sees that it is made absolutely clear that there is to be co-operation and working together, not merger and amalgamation.
I am sure that the whole House will unite in its condemnation of the depravity of the Mugabe regime; in grieving at the needless loss of life in Zimbabwe; in wanting to send a clear message of support and solidarity to the people of Zimbabwe at this time; and in supporting new African efforts to find a resolution to the crisis. We share both their demand for a democratic future and their belief that they should not be denied by this violence or intimidation.
Since 29 March and the extraordinary scenes of courage shown by ordinary people who put their faith in democracy and the ballot box, we have seen a regime that has reverted to type. President Mugabe and his key generals used changes to the law as a means of identifying those people who chose to vote for change. From then onwards, a campaign of violence was inflicted on those people, intended to punish them for having had the temerity to say no to Robert Mugabe and no to ZANU-PF. We know that 34,000 people have been displaced, 2,700 injured and 84 murdered since that day.
This is not British propaganda. Non-governmental organisations have documented the existence of torture camps. Independent media have published the names of those who have directed and orchestrated the violence. African election observers have seen the violence with their own eyes. Thousands of teachers and public servants who had volunteered as presiding officers in the first round withdrew their names for fear of violence and intimidation in the second round. By Sunday, only 84 election observers had been accredited, when more than 10,000 had applied. It is also a matter of public record that Morgan Tsvangirai has been detained five times in the last 10 days, and that the secretary-general of the Movement for Democratic Change, Tendai Biti, has been in prison and charged with a trumped-up treason offence since arriving back in Harare. The stage was set for the most rigged election in African history.
The failure is not of the opposition but of the Government. Robert Mugabe and his thugs made an election impossible, and certainly made the notion of a free and fair election farcical. It is clear that the only people with democratic legitimacy are those who won the parliamentary majority on 29 March, and who took most votes in the first round of the presidential election, and that was of course the opposition.
If I may, I will pick up on one point that came up in the exchange between the Prime Minister and the Leader of the Opposition. We do notrepeat notrecognise the Mugabe Government as the legitimate representative of the Zimbabwean people. We will not de-recognise the state of Zimbabwe, because that would mean the withdrawal of diplomatic representation and all that goes with it, but the Prime Minister could not have been clearer that we do not believe that a Government who have clubbed their way to victory and defied the constitution, which requires a second round within 30 days of the first round of the election, can claim to be the legitimate representative of the Zimbabwean
people. Zimbabwe does, however, need a broad-based Government who command the confidence of the majority of Zimbabweans and, in addition to stopping the violence, that must be the focus of regional and international efforts.
Since the announcement yesterday, the Prime Minister, Lord Malloch-Brown and I have spoken to Foreign Ministers and key figures in southern Africa and around the world. This is a crucial moment for democracy and prosperity right across Africa and the whole region. Ahead of the election, 40 senior Africans underlined their concern at the conditions in Zimbabwe. The African Union Commission has called for violence to end. The head of the pan-African parliamentary observer mission has said that violence was now at the top of the agenda of this electoral process. Zambias President Mwanawasa, who is currently chair of the Southern African Development Community, has said that