The hon. Member for Bournemouth East (Mr Ellwood) travelled from Bournemouth for the debate, and I thank him for that. He referred to the complexities in north

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and south Sudan, such as the 200 ethnic groups. I was very pleased that he mentioned, as others did later, the humanitarian crisis and how the United Nations sees it. He also referred to the problems of fundamentalism.

If I have one regret when it comes to disagreement, it has to be with the hon. Member for Shrewsbury and Atcham (Daniel Kawczynski). Until the last five minutes or so of his speech, I thought he was doing remarkably well, and that is still my view. That said, he was a brave man willingly to take on Clare Short and China in one speech. Clare Short and I had our disagreements and, sadly, she is not now even a member of my party, but she re-established international development as a Department. It been on the fringes. I mean no disrespect, but when I came to Parliament it was led by a Minister of State in the House of Lords with 10 minutes’ Question Time at the end of Foreign Affairs questions. Clare Short re-established the role of international development and reminded the people of Britain that there are poor people in a rich world.

In 1982, when I came to Parliament, the Brandt report was published and reminded us that although we have responsibilities to the poor south, there is some interdependence. The point about looking to the future, and to trade, exports and interdependence was made well by the hon. Member for Shrewsbury and Atcham and others. That is something I welcome and for which Clare ought to be remembered.

I am glad that the hon. Gentleman mentioned mineral extraction—that point was taken up by other hon. Members and I will come to it later if time allows. The hon. Member for East Dunbartonshire (Jo Swinson) made a positive speech. She dealt with violence after the referendum and rightly drew our attention again to Darfur, which she thought had been overshadowed. She was not the only hon. Member who mentioned gender, and she was absolutely right to raise that subject and speak about the lack of rights for women in Sudan. Although there may have been a few improvements on the fringes, her comments were a reflection of what is going on in both north and south Sudan, directed from Khartoum.

I regard the hon. Member for The Cotswolds (Geoffrey Clifton-Brown) as a personal friend. He and I visited Australia together as part of a CPA delegation. I was not surprised that his speech was so beautifully well informed and comprehensive or that it contained a great deal of clarity to help our understanding of this complex situation. Without being too hard on the hon. Member for Shrewsbury and Atcham, whom I respect very much, I felt that his description of the poverty, lack of clean water and health care, malnutrition and the poor priority given to education in that part of the world contrasted greatly with his attitude to debt that we heard towards the end of his speech.

Perhaps I should deal with the issue of debt before the clock ticks on much longer. I will set aside the domestic debate about the banks and so on because you would rightly remind me that that is not part of this debate, Mr Walker. I do not believe that in this wealthy, modern world of ours, the most impoverished and destitute people should be those who repay all the debt, base and interest. Every three seconds one of them has died as we have been debating this afternoon. Let me

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draw to the attention of the Chamber to the view of the Jubilee Debt Campaign; I assume from what the Minister has said that the Department for International Development will take these views on board. On Darfur it stated:

“Almost 60 per cent. ($20 billion) of Sudan’s debt is interest.”

That is money added to the sum that was borrowed, but it was not borrowed in the interests of those poor, hapless people who have been described so well by the hon. Member for The Cotswolds and others. I listen to opinions expressed by British taxpayers, and I do not believe that they are so mean-minded as to say that we who benefited from colonialism, not only in Sudan and Africa but elsewhere, and who also benefited from the Marshall plan after the second world war, without which we could never have thrived, would wish to deny the same things to countries as hapless and difficult as both sections of Sudan.

Having—I hope—put the issue of debt to bed, I will mention some of the other speeches. The hon. Member for Hove (Mike Weatherley) mentioned the Sudanese diaspora, which was an important contribution to the debate. I wish him well in the visit he is due to undertake, and I look forward to hearing his views on it afterwards. My hon. Friend the Member for Ealing North (Stephen Pound) made a powerful and well-informed intervention that was witty, classical—

Stephen Pound: And irrelevant.

Mr Clarke: It was wholly relevant and compassionate. I will tell my hon. Friend something that I have always wanted to say, but did not plan on saying so publicly: he should not underestimate his own intellect. I think that he was on to something, and if we were to follow the advice that he gave us in his speech about how to deal with Sudan, and take that in a global context, much progress would be made. I welcomed his speech, and particularly the goals that he set.

My hon. Friend the Member for Edinburgh North and Leith (Mark Lazarowicz) made one of the winding-up speeches, and I pay tribute to the clarity of his speech and to the marvellous work that he did in this field before coming to the House. I am delighted that he speaks on these issues from the Opposition Front Benches. He speaks well and is remarkably well informed. I hope that he will get the opportunity to implement in Government some of the beliefs that he has held for many years, sometimes alone. I remember him speaking at Scottish Labour party conferences, which were perhaps once more concerned with domestic issues. Nevertheless, he got right to the heart of the issues that we have been addressing today.

What are those issues? This is a time of globalisation, and despite the awful poverty, conflict and lack of hope for the future, Sudan has the benefit of mineral resources which, if properly organised, could mean a brilliant future for all people in the country. People rightly talk about corruption, and I accept that is an issue. Perhaps I may say with some modesty that I sponsored the International Development (Reporting and Transparency) Act 2006 which dealt with that very issue. I acknowledge the help that I received in getting that Act through Parliament from a number of Government Members, not least the hon. Members for Bournemouth East and for Banbury.

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Of course we want transparency and to wipe out corruption. I welcome what the Minister had to say on figures, and he should not take this as a rebuke. However, when he gave us those figures, I reflected that until we took the issue of corruption and transparency seriously, the money did not go where British taxpayers wanted it to go. That is why Clare Short was such a successful Minister. In some ways I am slightly surprised that nobody has mentioned the way she took on the European Union and said, “When it comes to multilateral agreements, development and aid we want to know why the EU is acting in that way and what the arguments are. We will support those arguments when we believe them to be right, but we are entitled to know the thinking behind them.” She deserves credit for that, and very much more.

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As we come to the end of the debate, let me say that had it been held at prime time on the Floor of the House, people would have been very proud of our Parliament. They would have been proud because they share the view of Edmund Burke that all that is necessary for evil to triumph is for good people to do nothing. With all its limitations, I believe that we have done something in today’s debate, and offered hope, prosperity and good will to people who have long deserved it.

Question put and agreed to.

5.29 pm

Sitting adjourned.