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Baroness Rawlings: My Lords, I thank the Minister for his reply and the noble Lord, Lord Thomson, for

25 Oct 2001 : Column 1128

his partial support. Perhaps I was not clear enough for the noble Lord, Lord Redesdale. This convention has been passed and ratified; but it has not been incorporated into UK legislation, and that is what worries us.

On these Benches, we have pressed for this point at all stages of the Bill. We feel that the UK should implement the OECD Convention on Combating the Bribery of Foreign Public Officials, which has been ratified. As the Government feel unable to accept the amendment, or to give us a date for the criminal justice Bill, I shall have to seek the opinion of the House.

5.2 p.m.

On Question, Whether the said amendment (No. 3) shall be agreed to?

Their Lordships divided: Contents, 55; Not-Contents, 107.

Division No. 2

CONTENTS

Alton of Liverpool, L.
Anelay of St Johns, B.
Astor of Hever, L.
Beaumont of Whitley, L.
Biffen, L.
Blatch, B.
Bridgeman, V.
Brougham and Vaux, L.
Buscombe, B.
Byford, B.
Campbell of Alloway, L.
Colwyn, L.
Cope of Berkeley, L. [Teller]
Cox, B.
Denham, L.
Eden of Winton, L.
Elton, L.
Ferrers, E.
Gardner of Parkes, B.
Glentoran, L.
Griffiths of Fforestfach, L.
Hanham, B.
Home, E.
Hooper, B.
Howe of Aberavon, L.
Howell of Guildford, L.
Hylton, L.
Kingsland, L.
Kirkham, L.
Lamont of Lerwick, L.
Lawson of Blaby, L.
Mackay of Clashfern, L.
MacLaurin of Knebworth, L.
Marlesford, L.
Masham of Ilton, B.
Montrose, D.
Murton of Lindisfarne, L.
Naseby, L.
Noakes, B.
Northesk, E.
Norton of Louth, L.
Onslow, E.
Park of Monmouth, B.
Pearson of Rannoch, L.
Rawlings, B.
Rotherwick, L.
St John of Fawsley, L.
Seccombe, B. [Teller]
Skelmersdale, L.
Soulsby of Swaffham Prior, L.
Strathclyde, L.
Swinfen, L.
Trefgarne, L.
Waddington, L.
Wilcox, B.

NOT-CONTENTS

Acton, L.
Ahmed, L.
Andrews, B.
Archer of Sandwell, L.
Ashton of Upholland, B.
Bassam of Brighton, L.
Berkeley, L.
Bernstein of Craigweil, L.
Blackstone, B.
Borrie, L.
Bragg, L.
Brett, L.
Brooke of Alverthorpe, L.
Brookman, L.
Bruce of Donington, L.
Campbell-Savours, L.
Carter, L. [Teller]
Chandos, V.
Christopher, L.
Clark of Windermere, L.
Clinton-Davis, L.
Cohen of Pimlico, B.
Corbett of Castle Vale, L.
Craigavon, V.
Crawley, B.
Davies of Coity, L.
Davies of Oldham, L.
Dean of Thornton-le-Fylde, B.
Dearing, L.
Desai, L.
Dormand of Easington, L.
Dubs, L.
Elder, L.
Falconer of Thoroton, L.
Farrington of Ribbleton, B.
Faulkner of Worcester, L.
Filkin, L.
Finlay of Llandaff, B.
Fyfe of Fairfield, L.
Gale, B.
Gilbert, L.
Golding, B.
Goldsmith, L.
Goudie, B.
Graham of Edmonton, L.
Grenfell, L.
Grocott, L.
Harrison, L.
Haskel, L.
Hayman, B.
Hilton of Eggardon, B.
Hogg of Cumbernauld, L.
Howells of St. Davids, B.
Howie of Troon, L.
Hoyle, L.
Hughes of Woodside, L.
Hunt of Chesterton, L.
Irvine of Lairg, L. (Lord Chancellor)
Jeger, B.
Jenkins of Putney, L.
Joffe, L.
Jones, L.
Judd, L.
King of West Bromwich, L.
Lea of Crondall, L.
Levy, L.
Macdonald of Tradeston, L.
McIntosh of Haringey, L. [Teller]
MacKenzie of Culkein, L.
Mackenzie of Framwellgate, L.
Massey of Darwen, B.
Milner of Leeds, L.
Mishcon, L.
Mitchell, L.
Monson, L.
Morgan, L.
Morris of Aberavon, L.
Morris of Manchester, L.
Murray of Epping Forest, L.
Pendry, L.
Plant of Highfield, L.
Ramsay of Cartvale, B.
Randall of St. Budeaux, L.
Rea, L.
Rendell of Babergh, B.
Richard, L.
Rogers of Riverside, L.
Rooker, L.
Sainsbury of Turville, L.
Sawyer, L.
Scotland of Asthal, B.
Serota, B.
Sewel, L.
Simon, V.
Stone of Blackheath, L.
Temple-Morris, L.
Tomlinson, L.
Turnberg, L.
Turner of Camden, B.
Uddin, B.
Warwick of Undercliffe, B.
Whitaker, B.
Whitty, L.
Wilkins, B.
Williams of Elvel, L.
Williams of Mostyn, L. (Lord Privy Seal)
Woolmer of Leeds, L.

Resolved in the negative, and amendment disagreed to accordingly.

25 Oct 2001 : Column 1129

5.11 p.m.

An amendment (privilege) made.

Lord Grocott: My Lords, I beg to move that the Bill do now pass.

Moved, That the Bill do now pass.--(Lord Grocott)

Lord Howe of Aberavon: My Lords, I begin by saying, for the reassurance of the noble Lord, Lord Desai, as much as for the reassurance of the noble Lord, Lord Grocott, that my unaccustomed appearance at this unusual point in the proceedings is not intended to pose any serious threat to the Bill's passage.

I want to add my expressions of sympathy and encouragement to my noble friend Lady Young, whose birthday it was yesterday and to whom we all wish a swift recovery hereafter.

I intervene because this is an opportunity to re-express, and indeed to reaffirm, an anxiety that I share with others about what may be one of the unintended consequences of the shift in posture, implied in the Bill's passage, towards the priorities for the Department for International Development and the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. I say "reaffirm" because our anxieties have already been expressed in representations to Ministers, by myself in writing on

25 Oct 2001 : Column 1130

more than one occasion, and by my noble friend Lord Campbell of Croy, who is unable to be here now, and the noble Lord, Lord Thomson of Monifieth.

If I may be allowed to do so, on behalf of all three of us, I declare a common interest because we are all trustees of the Thomson Foundation, which exists to promote instruction and understanding of the principles of journalism and the free press around the world. The noble Lord, Lord Thomson, is the acting chairman of that trust. I declare an additional interest as president of the Great Britain China Centre.

The point arises from the continuance or non-continuance of a programme of instruction in the principles of journalism which the Thomson Foundation has been running, in concert with some help from Her Majesty's Government, for a number of years. Indeed, it started during my time as Secretary of State in the Foreign Office. I was encouraged then to give it help by my noble friend Lord Campbell, who came with the noble Lord, Lord Thomson, to make representations to me. It is a programme whose very existence at one time would have seemed very remarkable--that, over the years, we should be giving help, in concert with Xinhua, the Chinese news agency, in instruction in the principles of objective journalism. The programme looked in danger of foundering, as colleagues will understand, at the time of Tiananmen square. None the less, it has continued.

The anxieties arose at the beginning of this year when, in a letter written on 26th January from DfID to the Thomson Foundation, it was said, by way of warning about the prospect of continuing the programme:


    "It is not clear that further support to this programme will have the desired poverty focus".

My anxiety is that undue concentration on that particular focus could lead to the reduction or elimination of programmes that are otherwise extremely desirable. The very same letter said that DfID was expressing that view,


    "although we are pleased with the project's outcomes to date".

Here we have a good project of long standing, which nevertheless has not yet secured assurance of continuing support after many years of pursuing it.

Since then, my noble friend Lord Campbell and, indeed, the noble Lord, Lord Thomson, who is here to speak for himself, have made representations about this point. I received a long letter from the Secretary of State for International Development, Clare Short, reaffirming the Department's negative posture. We have continued to pursue the point basically because it seems to us that although the relief of poverty must, of course, be an aspect of the policy of Her Majesty's Government towards a country such as China, as are the matters that we were discussing in relation to the previous amendment to the Bill, so also is what we can do to help to promote good governance. Colleagues will know that we have been running a number of programmes, in which the Prime Minister himself has taken part, promoting an understanding of the rule of law in China. Those are being financed by another part of the Government's programme.

25 Oct 2001 : Column 1131

Our anxiety is that the unduly strict application by DfID of the poverty focus, which is understandable, is jeopardising programmes that have other justifications in the promotion of good governance, which is equally important for the promotion of sustainable development in these countries. That anxiety spills over into other areas, because there seems to be a lack of consistency in what is happening on this front. Some cases of exactly this kind have received help in a new form from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office human rights fund; for example, in Namibia and Belarus, Thomson Foundation programmes are still running, with money coming from a different pocket. In another case, programmes have been run in Georgia for some time, but diminuendo, largely because our ambassador in Georgia was himself in charge of the Know-How Fund, and knew how to have access to those funds to sustain the programmes.

Finally, the Department itself is financing programmes of that kind in some places. In Sierra Leone, for understandable reasons, the Thomson Foundation has its largest DfID contract. It is required to carry out the promotion of media integrity in that country, as part of what is known as the reconstruction of civil society. For another example of the links between press freedom and good governance, one has only to look at Zimbabwe, where it is so manifest that economic stability is linked to good governance and that one aspect of good, or bad, governance is the intolerance of press freedom.

There is no argument in principle between any of us. In principle, we all want those programmes to be maintained. My anxiety, and this is not a political point, is the division between the Overseas Development Administration, as it used to be, and the FCO. In my days in that office, the two were part of one all-embracing organisation, and joined-up government was quite easy. I had only to chat to my noble friend Lady Chalker, my last colleague in that post, to resolve a problem under one umbrella, as it were. The departments have since been divided and there may be a lack of integration between the two.

None of this angst is intended and I should like to refer to an observation made by the noble Baroness, Lady Amos, in the Second Reading debate in this House. She said:


    "[The Bill] does not place any constraint on the types of activities or on the particular organisations or funds that a Secretary of State can support ... Nor does the Bill constrain the Secretary of State to support only activities and organisations that tackle poverty directly".--[Official Report, 2/7/01; col. 703.]

Most recently when I raised the issue with the Foreign Secretary in a letter of 10th July, I secured the following response in a letter from him of 24th July:


    "Encouraging the process of positive change in China, including better human rights, is a central element in the Government's overall strategy towards China. I regret, however, that I cannot yet give you a specific answer on the future funding of the Thompson Foundation programme. My officials are meeting with their DfID counterparts shortly to discuss this".

25 Oct 2001 : Column 1132

That is the unresolved question about which we have anxieties not just in this case but because it may reveal an inadvertent shortcoming in the way in which things are being managed.

Perhaps I may sum up my concern in a couple of sentences. A programme for the funding of journalism training in China, which has been running for many years, may now be discontinued. I believe that such an outcome would send a profoundly wrong signal to the Chinese at a time when signs of increasing liberalisation, of course within relatively narrow limits, of their press and media are moving forward hopefully, albeit slowly.

The link between that kind of progress and other economic and social changes which are calculated not only to alleviate poverty but to promote an improvement in human rights is surely hard to dispute. And both those propositions are important aspects of British foreign policy towards China. One would like to be reassured that discontinuity will not arise because of some interdepartmental glitch, or whatever. All the objectives are good and we want to see them being maintained.


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