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Lord Avebury: I often wonder when I look at government websites why there seems to be an

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absolute bar on having links to other organisations. In the case of the DfID website, the objective which the noble Baroness sought in moving the amendment might equally well be achieved if the noble Baroness thought about having hot links to other appropriate websites, such as those in the principle non-governmental aid agencies.

Baroness Amos: I shall certainly take that suggestion away. I can already see a number of potential difficulties with it in terms of which organisations we did or did not choose to have links with and the basis on which we made that decision. But I shall certainly take it away to the department. I shall write to the noble Lord about any subsequent decision that we make.

Amendment No. 32 would require the Government to allocate 0.5 per cent of GNP to development assistance in the financial year 2002-03, and 0.7 per cent in the financial year 2004-05. Noble Lords will know that Parliament has, by tradition, reserved to itself the power to allocate resources annually to departments and to purposes. An amendment such as this would run against this practice and would effectively bind the ability of future administrations to determine, in the context of other priorities, an appropriate allocation of resources for development assistance.

I would, however, take this opportunity to re-state the Government's commitment to the 0.7 per cent target. We are making progress towards that. We have set, and will reach, a target of 0.33 per cent of GNP by 2003-04. That is likely to represent a development budget of some £3.6 billion pounds compared with just under £2.1 billion in 1997-98.

Lord Judd: Can my noble friend say why it is so impossible for us to do this in the United Kingdom when the Netherlands has already done it?

Baroness Amos: I think that I have made it absolutely clear that there is a commitment to working towards that target. My noble friend may recall that the percentage of GNP used for development assistance went down substantially between 1979 and 1997. We have made every effort to increase that proportion. We will continue to do that. There is a commitment to the 0.7 per cent target.

Amendment No. 33 would enable those statutory bodies listed in Schedule 1, which is attached to Clause 9, and any statutory bodies that might subsequently be added to that Schedule, to act for the purpose of the elimination of poverty, in addition to the three purposes already listed in Clause 9.

Clause 9 enhances the powers of the statutory bodies listed in Schedule 1 to enable them to enter into arrangements to provide development assistance with the consent of the Secretary of State. In adding to their powers in this way, we believe that it would be inappropriate to specify what the aim of such assistance should be.

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Amendment No. 35A seeks to ensure that under the Commonwealth scholarship scheme the Secretary of State will be able to continue to support the exchange of personnel and that she will be able to support flexible forms of training. I can reassure my noble friend Lord Brennan on both points. Under the Bill the Secretary of State will be able to continue to support all the forms of assistance available in respect of the scheme under the 1980 Act and new forms such as distance learning.

I have spoken at some length and I hope that the explanations that I have given will mean that noble Lords feel able to withdraw the amendment.

Baroness Rawlings: I thank the Minister for her detailed answer on all the grouped amendments and for her comprehensive reply to all the questions. I cannot say that we have found them wholly satisfactory. No doubt we shall return to many of these issues on Report. In the meantime, I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

[Amendments Nos. 24 to 26A not moved.]

Clause 7 agreed to.

Clause 8 [Arrangements with third parties]:

[Amendments Nos. 27 to 29 not moved.]

Clause 8 agreed to.

[Amendments Nos. 30 to 32 not moved.]

Clause 9 [Powers of statutory bodies]:

[Amendment No. 33 not moved.]

Clause 9 agreed to.

Clauses 10 and 11 agreed to.

Clause 12 [Immunities and privileges of international financial institutions]:

Baroness Amos moved Amendment No. 34:

    Page 6, line 7, leave out from "section" to end of line 9.

The noble Baroness said: In moving Amendment No. 34 I shall speak also to Amendment No. 35. In proposing the amendments the Government have sought to address a concern expressed by the Select Committee on Delegated Powers and Regulatory Reform in its report on the Bill. The committee noted that Clause 12 of the Bill enables diplomatic privileges and immunities to be granted to the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development and to any new international financial institution without the prior approval of Parliament. It further noted that that ran counter to normal practice, which is for Parliament to reserve the right to approve the granting of such immunities and privileges. The committee therefore recommended that the Bill might be amended to bring the IBRD and any new institutions into line with all other international financial institutions.

The reason for the anomaly is purely historical. Clause 12 re-enacts the provisions of Section 9 of the Overseas Development and Co-operation Act 1980, which in turn draws its provisions relating to the IBRD from the Bretton Woods Agreement Act 1945. That Act does not reserve to Parliament the right to approve the

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granting of immunities and privileges in draft. Since then the practice has changed and, in the case of all other institutions of which we are aware, Parliament has reserved the right to approve the granting of immunities and privileges. In drafting the Bill the Government did not recognise that anomaly and we are grateful to the Select Committee for its advice on this issue. The Government are pleased to accept the committee's recommendation. I beg to move.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

8 p.m.

Baroness Amos moved Amendment No. 35:

    Page 6, line 15, leave out paragraph (b).

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Clause 12, as amended, agreed to.

Clause 13 agreed to.

Clause 14 [Functions of the Commission etc]:

[Amendment No. 35A not moved.]

Clause 14 agreed to.

Clauses 15 to 19 agreed to.

Clause 20 [Short title, commencement and extent]:

Baroness Rawlings moved Amendment No. 36:

    Page 9, line 10, at end insert--

"( ) The Secretary of State may not appoint a date under subsection (2) until Parliament has enacted legislation to give effect to the Convention on Combating the Bribery of Foreign Public Officials in International Business Transactions."

The noble Baroness said: The purpose of this amendment is to ensure that the International Development Bill does not become law before the Government have taken appropriate action to enforce the OECD convention on bribery.

Corruption hurts the poor most and is a serious barrier to economic development in developing countries. In Helping Countries Reduce Corruption, the World Bank said:

    "Evidence that corruption is a cancer on development is accumulating".

The OECD convention on bribery came into effect on 15th February 1999. It commits the 34 signatories--29 OECD member countries and five non-member countries; Argentina, Brazil, Bulgaria, Chile and the Slovak Republic--to make it a criminal offence for any person intentionally to offer, promise or pay a bribe to a foreign public official in order to obtain or retain business or other improper advantage in the conduct of international business. The signing of the convention took place in Paris on 17th December 1997.

In the 1997 White Paper Eliminating World Poverty, the Government said that,

    "as part of our commitment to combat corruption, we support OECD initiatives to criminalise the bribery of foreign public officials in international business transactions".

However, although the UK Government have ratified the OECD convention on bribery, a new extraterritorial offence needed to be created as current British laws are inadequate to enforce the convention.

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To date there is no legislation in force--although Home Office legislation is now being introduced--and no successful prosecution has ever been brought under laws on bribing foreign officials.

The Government promised in another place, at col. 33W of the Official Report of 10th April 2000, to pass legislation "as soon as possible" but failed to include it in the Queen's Speech in December 2000. However, it was introduced in June 2001. While Labour has failed to introduce effective legislation on bribery and corruption, it has damaged the good name of Britain abroad. George Moody-Stuart, chairman of the UK chapter of the anti-corruption NGO Transparency International, said in Sunday Business on 2nd January 2000:

    "Tony Blair and Robin Cook are said to have an ethical foreign policy. It is difficult to claim this if you don't have support for the OECD convention".

The United Kingdom review of implementation of the convention and the 1997 recommendation of June 2000--a peer group review by other OECD member countries--concluded that British law cannot enforce the OECD convention on paying bribes to foreign officials. Transparency International has said that slow progress on passing reform could cause concern among the other OECD members that have already updated their domestic legislation. In the Financial Times on 24th May 2000, George Moody-Stuart said:

    "There is a danger that if it happens slowly we still look shabby".

Further delay could seriously harm the effectiveness of the convention and the Government should ensure that bribery legislation is firmly in place before the Bill is passed.

One of the major barriers to development is corruption. High level fraud and corruption distort economies and prevent aid money reaching those who need it most. Conservatives believe that the Government should have a twin-track approach to fighting corruption in developing countries. If there is significant evidence that a recipient government are abusing British aid money, aid should be stopped. In the event of a suspension of aid we will seek to route a similar amount of support into that country through non-governmental organisations so that the needs of the poor are still met. The Government should also ensure that bribe paying is no longer tolerated by passing legislation as soon as possible to enforce the OECD convention. I beg to move.

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