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House of Lords

Wednesday, 26th July 2000.

The House met at half-past two of the clock: The LORD CHANCELLOR on the Woolsack.

Prayers--Read by the Lord Bishop of Manchester.


The Earl of Sandwich asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What will be the purpose of the White Paper on globalisation.

Baroness Amos: My Lords, the White Paper will build on the existing White Paper on International Development and will set out how the increased capital flows, trade and the effects of information technology and the other forces of change commonly referred to as globalisation can be managed in a way which encourages the systematic reduction of poverty world-wide.

The Earl of Sandwich: My Lords, I thank the noble Baroness for that very skilful reply. Does she agree that by definition the very poorest people are beyond the reach of globalisation and are left out of national statistics? How can the Government meet the 2015 development targets if through a process of globalisation they are unable to reach the very poorest people?

Baroness Amos: My Lords, as I said in my opening remarks, trade investment and new technology are creating huge wealth. The challenge is to ensure that developing countries, and in particular the poor people in developing countries, benefit from those changes. We believe our responsibility is to improve the climate for domestic investment and to provide an environment which ensures that trade and investment in developing countries contributes to poverty reduction. In that way we anticipate that we will meet our targets for 2015.

Lord Redesdale: My Lords, will the White Paper include a short explanation of the term "globalisation"?

Baroness Amos: My Lords, it will certainly include an explanation. Whether it is short or not will depend on the editing we do over the next few months.

Lord Tomlinson: My Lords, is my noble friend aware of the report produced by the European Communities Select Committee on the future role of the World Trade Organisation? Its view, generally speaking, is that globalisation and increased world trade are good. However, in terms of their impact on the third world--on the poorest countries--there need to be certain changes on our side. I refer in particular

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to the opening of our markets, so that free trade is turned into fair trade, and to the need for fundamental reform of the common agricultural policy.

Baroness Amos: My Lords, I can say to my noble friend that I am aware of that Select Committee report. In fact I read that report. It made very interesting reading indeed. The recent Lome Convention, agreed in February this year, included a new trade deal which will gradually integrate the African Caribbean and Pacific countries into the global economy. We recognise that that will take time. Therefore, we will maintain the current preferential arrangements for those countries until 2008. But we also recognise that we need to look at developed countries and the kind of access that developing countries have to their markets.

Lord Howell of Guildford: My Lords, will the noble Baroness ensure that in her input to the White Paper, which sounds as if it will be quite a long one, the point is made that the best engines of development in the modern world now are globalised free trade and global free movements of capital? Those, if handled properly, are the best means of bringing development not only to the more prosperous regions but also to the poorer countries of the world. That should be the centrepiece of the policy in the White Paper.

Baroness Amos: My Lords, I agree with much of what the noble Lord said. However, it is important that we recognise that the responsibility is two-way. It is about investment and market, but it is also about responsibility of governments to create the kind of conditions which will encourage investments. Issues like good governance, putting in place good social policies, ensuring that developing countries and assisting developing countries to put in place pro-poor growth strategies will also be important.

Lord Rea: My Lords, in view of the failure of the G8 summit at Okinawa to make any progress on debt cancellation of the poorest countries, will the Government make every effort before the next summit next year to persuade the more reluctant members of the G8 group that it is actually in their own best interests to cancel debt, so that the poorest countries can actually spend on goods and services the money they receive from foreign trade rather than contribute to the already full coffers of the banks and financial institutions?

Baroness Amos: My Lords, I have to say that I do not agree with my noble friend that there was a failure at Okinawa. Clearly, the issue of debt relief was a key part of the meetings in Cologne last year which put in place the reviewed HIPC framework. We were somewhat disappointed that the number of countries we had hoped would reach decision point had not yet

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done so. However, there was a renewed effort to implement the Cologne agreement on debt relief. My noble friend may recall that at the spring meetings of the IMF and the World Bank it was agreed that an implementation committee would be established to speed up the process of countries reaching decision point. I do not think that Okinawa was a failure. The countries put in place mechanisms to speed up that process.

Baroness Williams of Crosby: My Lords, I am sure that the noble Baroness will agree that education and health are absolutely crucial to the success of developing countries in a globalising world. In the White Paper on globalisation will she therefore address the issue of the cuts which have been made in the past two years in both education and public health, especially in East Asia, as a result of pressures for structural adjustment and budget correction. Can she say whether the Government will continue to try to ringfence education and health in any structural adjustment programmes that are advanced?

Baroness Amos: My Lords, the noble Baroness, Lady Williams, makes some very important points about social policies, in particular education and health. I am sure that the noble Baroness is aware that the poverty reduction strategies which are being put in place in developing countries through their co-operation with the World Bank lay great stress on the importance of education and health. We very much welcome that move and will continue to push for the inclusion of such strategies in developing countries.

With respect to the specific question about East Asia and the cuts in public health, we will continue to push developing countries that we work with to try and improve the resources that they put into education and health because we see those as the cornerstone of our poverty reduction strategy.

Lord Judd: My Lords, does my noble friend agree that one gigantic distortion in the global market is that the free movement of capital is not balanced by the free movement of labour? Will the White Paper address the issue of the compensating arrangements that have to be made strategically by the international community to balance the absence of the free movement of labour in the market?

Baroness Amos: My Lords, my noble friend will be aware that discussions are going on in government about the benefits of migration. We are particularly concerned that much of the flight of skilled labour from developing countries results in problems in developing countries themselves in terms of capacity and human resources. I am not sure to what extent the detail of this argument and analysis will be in the White Paper but we are considering it in the run-up to the production of the White Paper.

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House of Lords: Application for Membership

2.44 p.m.

Earl Ferrers asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether the proposal to advertise for applicants for membership of the House of Lords meets with their approval.

The Lord Privy Seal (Baroness Jay of Paddington): My Lords, the Government welcome the establishment of the Independent Appointments Commission chaired by the noble Lord, Lord Stevenson of Coddenham. The particular working methods adopted by the noble Lord and his commissioners are for them to decide. However, we recognise that advertising is consistent with the aim we set out in our White Paper on reforming the House of Lords that the commission should operate an open and transparent nominations system. If advertising widens the trawl for potential Members of this House so that the commission's nominations improve the gender, ethnic and age balance here, the Government will certainly approve.

Earl Ferrers: My Lords, I am grateful to the Leader of the House for that reply. I am even more grateful to her for replying to my Question herself and not asking the noble and learned Lord the Attorney-General to answer. Does the noble Baroness agree that we really have plumbed the very depths of insult and vulgarity when we have to advertise in a newspaper and ask people to send in a mission statement for them to be considered for membership of the House of Lords? Does the noble Baroness realise that the commission intends to advertise on the Internet and have its own website? I suppose that would be called wannabeapeer.com. Do the Government intend to follow their new-found tradition and invite people to apply for the position of, for instance, Lord Privy Seal and Leader of the House of Lords? Does the noble Baroness think that that is a good idea, or a bad idea, or does she have no view?

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