4.21 pm

Hugh Bayley: I thank everybody who played a part in the debate. One or two Members have thanked me for securing it, but it was not by any means my initiative. It was a conspiracy—a joint effort—behind closed doors from, I think, 17 all-party groups to approach the Backbench Business Committee jointly. Such was our strength in numbers and unity of purpose that the first time we approached the Committee and explained that this week was a particularly appropriate week to hold a debate of this nature, it gave us the debate.

I particularly thank my hon. Friend the Member for Hackney South and Shoreditch (Meg Hillier), who turned up with me to make the case to the Committee, and the right hon. Member for Hitchin and Harpenden (Mr Lilley), who played as big a part as any of us in securing the debate. He made my point that politics does not just happen; it is organised, so I thank him for getting on the phone to colleagues to ensure that they turned up and made speeches. A former Cabinet Minister playing such a prominent role in debates and policy in the House, and of course in his party, is a tremendous boost to this area of policy. I very much welcome what he has done with his all-party group on trade out of poverty and his more general writing, thinking and leadership on international development.

It would be presumptuous of me to respond to the debate on behalf of a disparate group of Back Benchers, but I shall tell the Minister that I agree strongly—I think all those I spoke to when trying to initiate the debate agree strongly—that, first, the Government and Prime Minister are right to seek to integrate goals that unite social, economic and environmental actions and progress. Secondly, our Prime Minister is right to stress the “golden thread” and say that we can do development without democracy, the rule of law, accountable institutions and transparency, but we are likely to do it better and involve all people, including the poorest of the poor, if we subscribe to those principles. Above all, Government and government institutions, such as courts, need to be accountable to the people, not a weight bearing down upon them. In relation to the Minister’s point about whether we should seek universal progress, it is important that when we measure progress, we disaggregate the data, so that we can spot whether particular communities are being left out—if women are falling behind or if particular tribes or ethnic or racial groups in a country are being left out.

It is also important that we learn one lesson from the millennium development goals, which have been a great success in mobilising world opinion and action by

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Governments in developing countries: it was too much of a top-down process. They were agreed at the UN General Assembly and then rolled out as if through a mangle. That is why we get the oddity of universal targets—what is appropriate in relation to clean water or school enrolment in east Africa, might not be appropriate in East Anglia. I hope that the new approach will set a global framework that will leave individual countries—and in more populous countries, individual states—the task of setting the development strategy and determining how to measure progress.

We have had very good comments. As somebody who we all know of, although we may not all have been in the House with—a former Member for a Durham mining constituency—would have said, “Well guys, this has been a really rich and valuable discussion and it will take the debate forward,” and I agree. Every Member made comments that I scribbled down and have learnt from, which will help me to work out what we need to do to create conditions that will relieve the burden of poverty from some of the poorest people in the world. The private sector certainly has to be a driver and our development strategy must enable that. The hon. Member for Stafford (Jeremy Lefroy) made an important comment about how difficult it is for micro and small businesses to raise capital when they have no collateral.

The hon. Member for East Hampshire (Damian Hinds) started by saying that he did not know much about this field, but he made a really powerful point that in order to keep the House behind the Government and the public behind our parties, which espouse the cause of global development, we must address the question of why we do it at all and why Government have to play a part. We received answers to those questions in a number of the comments, and, indeed, some are not entirely new answers. It was back in the late ‘70s, as the right hon. Member for Hitchin and Harpenden reminds me, that a former Conservative Prime Minister, Edward Heath, served on the Brandt commission, which made the then revolutionary proposition that we get involved in international development because it is mutually beneficial. One thing that the Brandt commission said was that it promotes trade.

We live in an increasingly globalised world and if we simply close our eyes to the plight of poor and dispossessed people, we get more illegal immigration, more drugs, more organised crime and more public health problems, as my hon. Friends the Members for Hackney South and Shoreditch and for Bethnal Green and Bow (Rushanara Ali) said. Infectious diseases do not stop at the border when the customs officer says, “Can I search you?” When we provide security for our citizens, we need to provide security globally in many fields, which is why it is particularly important that our Government can play a leading role.

Finally, I say to the Minister, please knock on the door of No. 10 tomorrow morning, sit down and have breakfast with the Prime Minister, and tell him to put down The Times, pick up Hansard and read the debate to learn from the good advice he has received from many people sitting on the side of the House from which he would expect to get support and good advice and, interestingly, from those sitting on the side of the House from which he would not naturally expect to get support. We are behind the Prime Minister and his initiative. We want him to be a big player and drive forward a global agenda, so that the next decade of

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development addresses the fact that, as the Minister said, the world has changed since 2000 and we need to do more than just tweak the millennium development goals. We need a new, strong strategy.

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4.30 pm

Sitting adjourned without Question put (Standing Order No. 10(13)).