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Lord Judd: My Lords, I am grateful to the noble Baroness for giving way. We will all have found what she has just said immensely reassuring for the immediate future. However, I hope that she will have time to say a few words about the implications of the fundamental expenditure review for the longer term future.
Baroness Chalker of Wallasey: My Lords, the noble Lord, Lord Judd, seems to believe there is some ghost around called the fundamental expenditure review. I can assure him that the plans I have just spoken about with regard to the next two or three years have been drawn up in the light of the FER. I do not think that tonight is the time to go into that in greater detail. However, I am absolutely sure that we have to be careful and specific as regards targeting; and that we are already doing with the Caribbean. That is why I can talk about aid flows with considerable confidence.
Other speakers in the debate have been rightly concerned about the depth of the problems which drugs trafficking, money laundering and related crime pose for the Caribbean. We attach great importance to the fight against drugs because unless we do more to help the Caribbean islands fight that plague, the situation will
We are doing probably as much as any single country to help the fight against drugs in the islands and around the islands. We are considering new opportunities to help but the initiative I have mentioned will be a valuable and fruitful one. In addition we are providing bilateral and multilateral assistance for the anti-narcotics efforts of the Caribbean countries. We provided almost £2 million for 1995-96. We have a memorandum of understanding between the British Government and the seven member countries of the regional security system. This MOU will provide for a 10-man British military advisory training team to give advice, training and assistance to regional security forces, particularly in the fight against drugs. We also provide assistance through the West Indies guardship which works closely to combat drug trafficking.
I have concentrated on the Commonwealth Caribbean but I must comment on the all-important situation in Cuba and say, rather in passing but nonetheless sincerely, to my noble friend Lord Montgomery how much we welcome the proposal to establish the new Central American Chamber of Commerce in London, and how important we believe this will be for our Central American friends and for British trade with Central America.
I should like to move to the vexed question of the Helms-Burton legislation. Perhaps I may assure my noble friend Lady Young that many of the Government's Ministers, including DTI Ministers, have raised the UK's concern about Helms-Burton when they have met their US counterparts. I did so myself. We shall continue to press the US Administration to mitigate the effects of the legislation on UK companies and on UK trading interests.
I can certainly tell my noble friend that at the CARITAG seminar at the DTI on 2nd May, my friend from another place, Mr. Ian Taylor, will be speaking and will make a very firm commitment as regards how we are taking forward the work against the Helms-Burton legislation. I am delighted that my noble friend will be chairing that meeting.
The extra-territorial provisions of Helms-Burton could give rise to conflict with international law. We have lobbied hard over several months against this legislation prior to its enactment. We have delivered notes of Britain's own views. We have worked with our partners in the European Union. Last Monday at the Foreign Affairs Council of the European Union we expressed our deep concern at the legislation and invited experts to draw up all WTO and other options regarding our action in defence of European Union rights and interests, and as regards the way in which the Lome countries, the Caribbean countries, are affected. We are considering the possibility of countermeasures as well, which I hope will help.
A number of other issues were raised in some detail. It is not possible to discuss them all tonight. However, I should like to say how strongly we believe it is right to try to build up trade with countries with whom we have not always had the closest of relations. I refer in particular to Cuba. We want to develop the relationship with Cuba on a political and an economic level both on our own account and on the part of our partners in the European Union. The reason I say that firmly, whatever the behaviour of Cuba, is that I believe that active involvement with a country like Cuba, rather than isolation, is the best way to encourage and achieve reform. When the Madrid European Council concluded that dialogue and co-operation should be continued with Cuba, that attitude was criticised in some quarters. However, we believe it to be absolutely right.
We have had a very interesting, although rather short, debate tonight. I hope that it will serve to say to all our friends in the Caribbean that we care about their development; we care about helping them to develop their trade; and we certainly care very much about the interventions of other countries which seem to impede their progress. That is why we are working, not on our own but with many other countries, to try to protect them and to give them the chance to develop so that they can stand as countries proud of their own inheritance and of their own abilities.
I am very pleased that our dependent territories in the Caribbean, as well as our friends on the mainland of central America, can be absolutely confident in Britain's support for them. I thank my noble friend very much for launching this debate tonight.
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