Session 2010-11
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General Committee Debates
Delegated Legislation Committee Debates

Draft European Union (Definition of Treaties) (Partnership and Cooperation Agreement) (Republic of Indonesia) Order 2010

The Committee consisted of the following Members:

Chair: Andrew Rosindell 

Browne, Mr Jeremy (Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office)  

Crouch, Tracey (Chatham and Aylesford) (Con) 

Davies, Geraint (Swansea West) (Lab/Co-op) 

Dorries, Nadine (Mid Bedfordshire) (Con) 

Dowd, Jim (Lewisham West and Penge) (Lab) 

Duddridge, James (Lord Commissioner of Her Majesty's Treasury)  

Evans, Chris (Islwyn) (Lab/Co-op) 

Fovargue, Yvonne (Makerfield) (Lab) 

Halfon, Robert (Harlow) (Con) 

Hamilton, Mr David (Midlothian) (Lab) 

Heyes, David (Ashton-under-Lyne) (Lab) 

Hopkins, Kris (Keighley) (Con) 

Johnson, Joseph (Orpington) (Con) 

Lumley, Karen (Redditch) (Con) 

Shannon, Jim (Strangford) (DUP) 

Spellar, Mr John (Warley) (Lab) 

White, Chris (Warwick and Leamington) (Con) 

Williams, Roger (Brecon and Radnorshire) (LD) 

Mark Oxborough, Committee Clerk

† attended the Committee

The following also attended ( Standing Order No. 118(2):

†Hemming, John (Birmingham, Yardley) (LD) 

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Second Delegated Legislation Committee 

Thursday 3 February 2011  

[Andrew Rosindell in the Chair] 

Draft European Union (Definition of Treaties) (Partnership and Cooperation Agreement) (Republic of Indonesia) Order 2010 

8.55 am 

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Mr Jeremy Browne):  I beg to move, 

That the Committee has considered the draft European Union (Definition of Treaties) (Partnership and Cooperation Agreement) (Republic of Indonesia) Order 2010. 

The order deals with the framework agreement on comprehensive partnership and co-operation between the European Community and its member states and the Republic of Indonesia. It was laid before the House in November 2010, together with an explanatory memorandum as required for all affirmative statutory instruments. The partnership and co-operation agreement is an international agreement between the Republic of Indonesia and the European Community, now the European Union, and its member states. It was signed in Jakarta on 9 November 2009. The treaty has not yet entered into force, but will do so once all 27 member states of the EU and the Republic of Indonesia have ratified it. The order is a necessary step towards the United Kingdom’s ratification. 

The principal effect of the order is to ensure that the powers under section 2 of the European Communities Act 1972 will be available to give effect to any provisions of the partnership and co-operation agreement, and to permit any expenditure arising from the agreement to be met from the Consolidated Fund. Both the Foreign Secretary and the National Security Council have endorsed the concept of Indonesia as an important emerging power for enhanced UK engagement. It is therefore in our interest to develop the EU’s relationship with Indonesia. As south-east Asia’s largest economy and leading regional democracy, its international influence is growing. It is a constructive member of the G20, a key player on climate change—it is the world’s third biggest carbon emitter—and it is projected to become one of the world’s largest economies by 2030. 

The PCA will further enable us to strengthen ties with Indonesia in areas that will impact positively on the UK’s prosperity and security. Four key areas of activity are trade and investment, the environment, education and human rights. The PCA will allow us to expand trade and investment links and achieve greater prosperity for the UK by extracting real benefit from the significant commercial opportunities that exist in Indonesia. It is also a necessary precursor to an EU-Indonesia free trade agreement. Under the PCA, the EU and Indonesia will seek to boost co-operation

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on the environment—a shared political priority—and education through existing programmes and new initiatives yet to be agreed. 

Indonesia has made much progress in the past 13 years. It has the world’s largest Muslim majority population. Various non-governmental organisations rate it as the most liberal country in south-east Asia, with considerable progress as an advocate for democracy and human rights in the region, yet it is clear that progress in some areas is slow and challenges remain. 

The PCA sets out a framework in which we, through the EU, can co-operate more closely with the Republic of Indonesia and deal with concerns in a constructive and structured way. It contains a legally binding commitment by Indonesia on respect for human rights, as well as obligations in the areas of counter-terrorism and weapons of mass destruction. 

The EU human rights dialogue, launched on 29 June, was established to facilitate greater discussion of substantive issues of concern and mutual interest. That is a positive step forward. We welcome the dialogue as an opportunity to increase space for discussion on human rights issues that remain of great interest and importance to this Parliament and the people of the UK. 

The agreement has already been ratified by four EU member states. Others expect their domestic processes to be completed by early 2011. I am satisfied that the order is compatible with the European convention on human rights. The order is important and, I trust, non-controversial. I commend it to the Committee and hope that it will receive the Committee’s full support. 

9 am 

Mr John Spellar (Warley) (Lab):  It is a pleasure, Mr Rosindell, to serve under your chairmanship. It is particularly apposite that you are chairing this Committee, given your officership of the all-party group on Australia and New Zealand. You will be aware that the development of Indonesia is enormously important not only for the European Union; it is also the northern neighbour of Australia. Therefore, I am sure that chairing this Committee will be of greater interest to you than chairing Committees can sometimes be. 

I pay tribute to the Minister for recognising the importance of Indonesia, but we should stress that progress has been made with the country across a range of fronts. He said that not only is it right in itself to consider the development of Indonesia, but that it is very much in our interests. However, I had hoped that in his introductory remarks he would have given a more proactive view of actions being taken by Departments to develop a bilateral relationship with Indonesia, recognising its importance, within the framework agreement. We should therefore consider one or two aspects of the order and the development taking place in Indonesia. 

The Minister rightly said that Indonesia, which has 240 million people, is a G20 country and is the largest Muslim-majority nation. It has a significant and rising growth rate—it was some 6% last year—and foreign investment rocketed last year. I give another interesting statistic: it now produces more shoes than Vietnam and more cars than Thailand. I hope that, under article 2, entitled “Aims of Cooperation”, of the framework agreement on co-operation, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, and also the Department for

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Business, Innovation and Skills, will show a bit more energy than they have with regard to Pfizer, and will actively promote British trade, British interests, and particularly British exports. 

We also need to consider the geography. One can see from any map that Indonesia lies astride one of the world’s major trade routes. That route runs though the straits of Malacca, and it has had significant piracy problems. We are aware from exchanges at FCO questions on Wednesday that piracy is rising off the horn of Africa, and that large sums of money are involved. We need to co-operate with Indonesia and other regional countries, particularly Malaysia and Singapore, to ensure that piracy does not escalate in the straits of Malacca and the South China sea. 

I am pleased that article 2 also refers to co-operation in combating terrorism. We are aware of the Bali bombings, and the significance of Jamal Islamia in Indonesia. The encouraging part is the work being undertaken by the Indonesian authorities at a range of levels, not only in policing but in successfully undermining support for extremist organisations. That is important not only for Indonesia. I turn again to the geography. Indonesia is close to the southern islands of the Philippines, which also has a substantial Muslim population. Success against Islamist extremism with links to terrorism in Indonesia is important for the stability of the Philippines. The economic and social development of Indonesia also provides a good showcase for other Muslim countries on routes to development; it encourages pluralist development within their societies. 

Article 8 of the framework agreement deals with animal health, and article 31 specifically refers to avian flu. We have been talking about swine flu this winter, but I shall not intrude on Government grief on that subject or stray into Department of Health matters. When I was a Minister, the real concern was not swine flu, which came primarily out of Mexico, but the prospect of avian flu developing into a pandemic, particularly in Indonesia, and then spreading around the world as a result of aviation. A proactive step by the EU, working with the Indonesian authorities, can therefore be important in preventing such a pandemic spreading from Indonesia, although we obviously also need to look at countries such as Thailand and, potentially, China. However, Indonesia was the No. 1 concern because of its large population, its small farms and people living close to their animals. That is an important issue. 

The Minister rightly drew attention to some of the issues about diversity. He also mentioned that Indonesia was something like the third largest producer of carbon dioxide. Again, progress has been made, but more needs to follow. International support and co-operation are needed not only to preserve Indonesia’s forests, but to protect biodiversity and the way of life of those who live in the forests. We need to work with the Indonesians on that. 

We also need to look at some of our purchasing policies. One issue that has concerned me for some time—I tabled parliamentary questions on it some time back—is the increasing use of palm oil in a number of areas, and particularly the ludicrous idea of using it as a basis for alternative fuels, or biofuels. It is utterly absurd to strip the forests in Indonesia to create biofuels; there is clearly no logic to that. As the end users of such products, we need to play our part. 

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Let me move to a conclusion to relieve the Whip—he is looking anxious about keeping his flock here a bit longer. Article 34 of the framework agreement mentions migration. In terms of migration, Indonesia is not such a problem for the UK, but it is a significant problem for Australia, because it is the transit for illegal migrants into Australia. We are aware of much of the political controversy and real concern about that. That shows that dealing with many problems at source, rather than at the end point, has a role to play in a diverse but interconnected world. 

I hope that the Committee will welcome this measure. I also hope that Ministers will engage with, and indeed visit, Indonesia. Perhaps the Minister can let us know now or in writing whether Ministers have visited Indonesia yet and what plans there are in that regard. However, the proposals are a major development, which the Opposition welcome. 

9.8 am 

Mr Jeremy Browne:  Thank you, Mr Rosindell, for giving me the opportunity to conclude our debate. I thank the right hon. Gentleman for his constructive remarks, all of which I agreed with. I take on board his points about migration and piracy. 

On the central point, quite a few members of the Committee might be surprised to learn, if they did not know already, that Indonesia is the fourth most populous country in the world after China, India and the United States; it is a significant growing world power. It is the only member of the G20 in south-east Asia, so it has a regional leadership role. This year, it is the chair of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations. As it happens, I am meeting ASEAN ambassadors later today. We very much hope that ASEAN will have added momentum under Indonesia’s chairmanship in 2011 and achieve more on behalf of the states of south-east Asia collectively. It has a clear agenda to work on, whether that is improving human rights and democracy in Burma or trade issues. South-east Asia’s population is roughly the same size as the EU’s, so it is a significant player on the world stage when seen in its entirety. 

As the right hon. Gentleman said, there are other issues, such as climate change. Deforestation in Indonesia in particular but also in other countries in south-east Asia is of concern to us and, to be fair, to the Indonesians as well. We are keen to work closely with them on that issue to improve the situation in the years ahead. 

The right hon. Gentleman was right to mention combating terrorism. Indonesia was one of the countries that I visited on my first overseas visit as a Minister. I was in Jakarta and had the opportunity to learn more not only about what the Indonesian authorities are doing to tackle the threat of radical Islamic terrorism, but about what we are doing to assist them in that process. Further co-operation between the EU and the Indonesian Government will be entirely beneficial in that regard. 

I intend to visit Indonesia again this year, so there will be a continued engagement. As I said, we see Indonesia as one of the emerging world powers that we are keenest to engage with. One need only think of the G20 countries. There are the leading members of the EU—us, the French, the Germans and the Italians—and of course the United States and Canada. Then there are

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the very big powers that people perhaps talk about more —China, India and Brazil. However, there is also a very significant tier of countries that are growing, in many cases, by 7% or 8% a year, that have large populations—countries such as Mexico, Turkey and Indonesia—and that are growing in significance. They may not be on the scale of China. Nevertheless, they are important and becoming more important. 

It is in the interests of the UK and the EU more generally to have constructive engagement with those

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countries, so that we can work together on areas of common interest and, where there are differences between us—for example, on some aspects of human rights policy—we have a framework for trying to resolve or at least address those differences. That is the motivation behind the order. I hope that hon. Members from all parties will feel able to give it their approval. 

Question put and agreed to.  

9.12 am 

Committee rose.