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G8 Summit

4.10 p.m.

The Lord Privy Seal (Lord Williams of Mostyn): My Lords, with the leave of the House, I beg leave to repeat a Statement made in another place by my right honourable friend the Prime Minister. The Statement is as follows:

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    commitment. Recent analysis by the World Bank sets out clearly which policies work. Where countries have those policies in place, we will ensure that they have sufficient external finance to meet the goal of universal primary education by 2015.

    "We will also continue our efforts to tackle HIV/AIDS through the new global health fund. G8 countries committed to provide the resources necessary to eradicate polio from Africa by 2005.

    "Twenty-six countries, including 22 in Africa, have already benefited under the enhanced HIPC—heavily indebted poor countries—initiative, receiving 62 billion dollars in debt relief. Eventually, 37 countries are expected to benefit.

    "At Kananaskis the G8 agreed to provide up to an additional 1 billion dollars for the HIPC trust fund. This will help to ensure that those countries whose debt position has worsened because of the global economic slowdown and falls in commodity prices will get enough debt relief to ensure that they are able to exit HIPC with sustainable levels of debt. On trade, we committed to make the WTO Doha round work for developing countries, particularly in Africa. We reaffirmed our commitment to conclude the negotiations no later than 1st January 2005 and, without prejudicing the outcome of the negotiations, to apply our Doha commitment to comprehensive negotiations on agriculture aimed at substantial improvements in market access and reductions of all forms of export subsidies, with a view to their being phased out.

    "At Monterrey in February, the international community pledged to increase official development assistance by 12 billion dollars a year from 2006. In Kananaskis the G8 agreed that at least half of this new money would go to reforming African countries for investment in line with NePAD's own priorities. This is a substantial commitment by any standards—an additional 6 billion dollars each year for the world's poorest continent. It recognises Africa's needs. But it is also a strong signal of the G8's confidence that the commitments African leaders are making under NePAD really will transform the environment in which our aid is invested.

    "The United Kingdom will contribute its share of these additional resources. I can tell the House that we expect UK bilateral spending on Africa to rise from around £650 million a year now to £1 billion by 2006, which is three times the level we inherited from the previous government.

    "President Mbeki of South Africa said,

    'there has never been an engagement of this kind before, certainly not between Africa and the G8 . . . it is a very, very good beginning'.

    "President Obasanjo from Nigeria called it an,

    'historic moment for Africa and for the whole relationship between the developed and developing world'.

    "Africa is not a 'hopeless' continent, as some have described it. Uganda has reduced poverty by 20 percentage points in the past 10 years; growth has

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    averaged around 7 per cent a year. HIPC debt relief and aid have been used to help provide free primary education. As a result, enrolment has doubled, putting millions of children into school.

    "Mozambique has seen growth of 9 per cent over the past four years. Tanzania is now providing free primary education. As a result of courageous new policies, Mali has reduced poverty dramatically in the past four years.

    "Of course we need to do more; much more. But for the first time there is a comprehensive plan dealing with all aspects of the African plight. For the first time it is constructed with African reforming leaders as partners, not passive recipients of aid. For the first time we link explicitly and clearly good governance and development.

    "This is not our destination, of an Africa renaissance, achieved. But it is a new departure. It is a real signal of hope for the future. It is up to us now to make it a reality. I am proud of the part Britain has played in it. There are those who say Africa matters little to the British people. The millions who donate to charities, who give up time, energy and commitment to the cause of Africa, eloquently dispute this. Africa does matter; to us and to humanity. We intend to see the plan through."

4.20 p.m.

Lord Strathclyde: My Lords, I thank the noble and learned Lord the Leader of the House for repeating the Statement. I assure him, as I am sure will the noble Baroness, Lady Williams, that we very much welcome the commitment of the G8 to support education in developing countries and to assist them in tackling the scourge of diseases like AIDS, TB, malaria and polio. The progress made on international debt relief is also very welcome.

The Prime Minister understandably focuses on the G8's meeting with African presidents and the UN Secretary-General to discuss the New Partnership for Africa's Development. It is an important step in the right direction. But does he share my surprise that the Statement was not more forthright on the matter of dictators who have despoiled Africa and on the case of Mugabe in particular? Indeed, the Statement mentions almost every single African country except Zimbabwe where it has been reported recently that children are now starving to death.

We are told that there can be no partnership for development with countries which do not respect political freedom and the rule of law. But what does that amount to in the case of the racism, violence and corruption so evident in Zimbabwe? Did the Prime Minister press the summit to demand fresh presidential elections or to co-ordinate sanctions between the EU and North America?

On a wider theme, we have heard much recently of the doctrine created by the Prime Minister that claims a right to require other countries to change their governments or to exclude certain parties from power: for example, last year Austria; this year France; or intervention in the former Yugoslavia. And now we

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have the Prime Minister's statement that African countries must have proper commercial and legal systems and respect for the processes of democracy. Did the summit try to define exactly what criteria third countries have to meet to pass the acceptability test and receive support? If not, can the noble and learned Lord undertake to lay before the House a document which sets out in detail what this country's own criteria are? This surely must be a key working text of an ethical foreign policy.

Can the Leader of the House say whether there were discussions on the implications of the creation of the International Criminal Court for the fight against terrorism? Has he any news on the latest situation with regard to the UN operation in Bosnia? As he will recall, we expressed our concern in this House on the issue now being raised by President Bush. We wanted the ICC to work but we also wanted to protect our own troops against malicious prosecution. The French Government wisely put a declaration and reservations into the Rome Statute designed to protect their military personnel against the jurisdiction of the court. This House tried to achieve the same for our forces. The Government resisted it. Does the noble and learned Lord now regret that? Would not sensible safeguards for troops engaged in lawful operations set the court on the firm basis we all want from the beginning?

Kananaskis was the first G8 gathering since 11th September. Naturally, we welcome the practical steps agreed to fight international terrorism and prevent the spread of weapons of mass destruction. We also welcome the full re-emergence of Russia on the world stage. It is right that the G8 should help to reduce her nuclear stockpiles and fitting that Russia will assume the presidency of the G8 in 2006.

I turn briefly to the communique˙ on transport security. Can the noble and learned Lord explain what is meant by minimum standards for the issue of travel and identity documents by October 2002? What, in the Government's view, is involved in recommendations on minimum standards for the application of biometrics in procedures and documents by spring 2003? Does he anticipate that any of that will require domestic legislation? And can he assure the House that the sharing of information on certain passport data will accord with this country's rules on data protection?

We welcome the attention being given to container security although the lead times seem long. But, given the aspiration in the communique˙ only to seek to agree standards on reinforcing flight deck doors on passenger aircraft by April 2003, can he say when the Government expect improved security to be in place on UK carriers?

We note the balanced statement on the Middle East, which we endorse. But what is the meaning of the statement by the Prime Minister that,

    "we have got to have a Palestinian leadership with whom we can negotiate seriously"?

In the noble and learned Lord's view, does the Palestinian authority have such leadership today?

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On Afghanistan, can he tell the House whether British troops will be involved in action to eliminate opium production and trafficking as was agreed at the summit?

Finally, the noble and learned Lord may not yet have seen on the communique˙ on co-operation projects on counter-terrorism in guideline ix that,

    "measures will be put in place to ensure effective protection of sensitive information and intellectual property".

What are the implications of that for the issue of academic freedom that is of such concern to this House on the Export Control Bill to which we shall soon return?

If the summit is to be remembered, it will be judged by what it achieves for Africa and whether the G8 and, no less important, African leaders can make good the aspirations set out. We have learnt through decades of bitter experience that the size of the aid promises does not necessarily lead to long-term development and prosperity. Against this background, does the noble and learned Lord think that the £200 million cost of the summit, as is alleged, was excessive? What will be the cost to United Kingdom taxpayers of hosting the summit in 2005?

4.27 p.m.

Baroness Williams of Crosby: My Lords, I thank the noble and learned Lord the Leader of the House for repeating the Statement. I make some congratulatory remarks to the Government although in some matters I shall be closer to the criticisms of the noble Lord, Lord Strathclyde.

I congratulate the Government on what I understand was very much a UK initiative with regard to the opium crop in Afghanistan. The UK Government seized upon it, rightly, and then pursued it, bringing their allies along with it. The Government should be fully commended.

Although we shall come to the issue in the questions, I also congratulate the Government on the position that they have taken consistently to try to do something serious about the continent of Africa. I have reservations about some of the conclusions of the summit. However, I wish to make it plain that in my view the United Kingdom in this respect has been consistently more proactive than many other members of the G8.

I regret the brevity of the reference in the Statement to the Middle East. It is a matter of only three or four lines. At this extremely troubling and even fateful moment in history, at least two questions should be asked. First, what position do the United Kingdom Government take in the light of the G8 Summit Statement and of the earlier Statement from Seville, Spain, about the EU summit, where, specifically Israel was asked to cease military operations in occupied territories? That was not reflected in the summit Statement. Perhaps the noble and learned Lord can tell us exactly where the Government stand.

On the other side of the troubling equation of the Middle East, allegations have been made in particular by some leading American politicians on the deep

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involvement of the leader of the Palestinian authority, Yasser Arafat, in terrorist operations. There are implications that at Ramallah and elsewhere evidence has been turned up to show that there are close links between terrorist operations and Mr Arafat himself. I do not expect to receive a straight reply on the matter, but perhaps the Government, along with other G8 leaders, would consider publishing any evidence that they may have of Mr Arafat's direct involvement in terrorism. Obviously, that is very germane to the question about whether or not he can be accepted as the democratically-elected leader of the Palestinian interest in the Middle-East.

On Bosnia, my remarks are somewhat close to the concerns expressed by the noble Lord, Lord Strathclyde, though I approach them from a rather different angle. I very much hope that the Government will not blink on the subject of the International Criminal Court. Perhaps I may remind the noble Lord, Lord Strathclyde, that any government with a proper judicial process—with proper rights of defence and a recognition that people are innocent until proven guilty—may try any case of this kind in its own courts about its own nationals. It is only where such cases cannot be adequately dealt with for one reason or another that the ICC comes into the picture. It is important to make that observation because, as someone with considerable respect for the American judicial process, I do not believe that miscreants, or others, who are involved in war-crime activities would not be properly tried in that country. Therefore, such cases would be unlikely to come before the ICC.

We on these Benches cannot fully accept that any country, however excellent its standards and however high its implementation of such standards, can be found never to be likely to be guilty of any crime at all in the international field. Would it were so! Let us be honest, every country has some bad apples. That must include the United States, and certainly this country. The great thing about the ICC is that it looks into such matters most carefully.

I have a few questions to ask the Minister on the two major issues. As regards weapons of mass destruction, I should declare an interest as a board member of Senator Nunn's nuclear threat initiative (NTI). In that context, I should point out that, according to NTI, Russia probably has the capacity to create 80,000 nuclear weapons. It is estimated that the great majority of the nuclear arsenal in Russia is still not fully protected. Anyone who has visited the Arctic Sea, or, for that matter, the Black Sea, will have seen deteriorating nuclear submarines in water up to their conning towers at any time. The situation is extremely grave; indeed, one could say that it is most frightening.

Can the Minister assure the House that the finances now being made available for the purposes of cleaning up Russia will enable those concerned at least to secure the most dangerous and vulnerable sites as quickly as possible? That is all the more important in the light of the fact that, since the US/Moscow/Russia treaty came into effect, the much more careful inspection and

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monitoring provisions of the original START treaties have been abandoned. It is an extraordinarily troubling situation.

Due to lack to time, I am unable to pursue that matter further. I shall conclude by asking the Minister one or two questions about Africa. We welcome the new 12 billion dollars for ODA announced at Monterrey, though that sum seems to have more than one function—half is to be used for Africa. The estimate of Kofi Annan is that Africa needs between 40 and 60 billion dollars a year to deal with its desperate problems. Therefore, 6 billion dollars is a relatively small sum of money. As regards the pursuit of dealing with corruption in government, which is a serious issue in Africa, and of dealing with money laundering, can the Minister assure the House that there will be full co- operation from western governments? I have to say that that has not been forthcoming in all G8 countries, especially as regards money laundering. Without such help, it is simply useless to expect African governments to do on their own what can be done only as a combined effort.

Finally, whatever happened to that wonderful vision expressed by the Chancellor of the Exchequer, Gordon Brown, at the US Federal Reserve Bank earlier this year? Can the noble and learned Lord the Leader of the House tell us whether that is still in play, or whether it has simply disappeared?

4.35 p.m.

Lord Williams of Mostyn: My Lords, I am grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Strathclyde, and the noble Baroness, Lady Williams, for the general support, subject to the usual caveats and questions, that they offered. The noble Lord, Lord Strathclyde, made a point with which I entirely agree; namely, that there are dictators who have despoiled Africa and corrupted the economies. That is the whole purpose behind the present approach. It is legitimate—indeed, it is right and ought to be mandatory—that, in future, countries that seek aid from those who are wealthier should recognise the collateral obligations that that aid is properly spent, and that internal judicial systems are there to work.

It is very important that there should be internal judicial systems. In my experience, no country will ever be able to attract inward investment if there is no mechanism for the proper independent, non-corrupt, impartial settlement of civil disputes. Allied to that—and this almost always follows—is that if you have an independent, non-corrupt civil system and an independent civil judiciary, it is inevitable as night follows day that a criminal system will have to be established.

The noble Lord raised the question of Zimbabwe and asked why there was so little reference to it in the Statement. I should tell him that it is essentially because the House of Commons and the House of Lords have been given a Statement from the Prime Minister in order to bring them up to date with the present situation. I see that the noble Lord, Lord Blaker, is in his place. I believe that he would agree

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with me that the question of Zimbabwe has frequently been discussed, and rightly so, in this place. It was raised at the G8 summit. I do not pretend that it was the core of the discussion but, if any country wants assistance of any sort, it must conform to the norms of a civilised society, and I do not refer to the United Kingdom alone. It must conform to what general international norms dictate.

The noble Lord, Lord Strathclyde, asked for definitions of "independent commercial legal systems". It is not possible to have one-size-fits-all; nor would one wish it to be so. After all, we are a very close colleague of the United States, but the system in that country is not the same as the one that applies in this country. Indeed, its systems are not the same as ours because some of them are Roman law systems in the former states that were French or Spanish properties, while others, which did not have that good fortune, have common law open systems like ours. Their laws are different: one size will never fit all. However, one can have a peer review like the one that is due to commence in Africa. This is a very long journey. No one pretends that it will happen overnight.

The question of the International Criminal Court was raised by both the noble Lord and the noble Baroness, though in slightly different forms. The noble Lord asked whether I had any regrets in this respect. I had the great pleasure of assisting my noble friend Lady Scotland in the passage of the ICC legislation through this House. We were an early signatory to the treaty: we ratified, and we did right. The noble Lord asked whether it was perhaps disproportionate to think that members of the armed services "acting lawfully" might be subject to prosecution. No member of the Armed Forces acting lawfully has any prospect at all of being arrested or prosecuted.

The noble Baroness is quite right in what she says. We spent a little time in our debates on—I am afraid to fall into jargon, but it is useful shorthand— pointing out that the statute relies specifically on complementarity. Its jurisdiction does not even begin to be thought about until the internal national jurisdiction has displayed the bad faith of which the noble Baroness spoke.

As regards the noble Lord's question, which was not rhetorical, I shall, nevertheless, offer a rhetorical answer in return. Is it to be said that the servants of international organisations should be free of all jurisdiction if those countries that could take jurisdiction refuse it? I know of no state organisation all of whom's agents are perfect. If one is dealing with gross crime, it seems to me that those alleged crimes should not go unpunished. I believe that there is an international criminal tribunal sitting at present. I know it to be true: I have been there. Indeed, I was present on the day that Madame Plavsic surrendered herself to the jurisdiction. I do not believe that the United States has ever objected in principle to that tribunal or to other tribunals that have been set up. The world has long changed. Domestic jurisdictions are not always sufficient, and if they are not, the gap in law must be filled. I do not regret the passage of the Bill; I rejoice in it. It was a distinct step forward.

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I believe that I have dealt with the questions of the noble Baroness on the International Criminal Court. The noble Baroness and the noble Lord asked about Russia. It has significant problems. The only way to deal with them is to behave co-operatively. President Putin shows himself to be a statesman and not an internal politician. He wishes to join the G8; he wishes to have the presidency, which has been agreed; and he is determined on reform in a country that has had no significant change for the better part of a century. Russia has vast problems and the international community must engage in them. The capability of weapons or the dangerous relics of nuclear armaments must be dealt with in our interests as well as in the interests of Russia.

The noble Lord, Lord Strathclyde, asked about transport. A start has been made. We have been supportive of the initiative for the compulsory fitting of reinforced cockpit doors to all passenger aircraft and the last plane on which I flew—I believe that it was a Virgin plane—had such a door and not just because I was a passenger! Russia retains a reserve on some of the ambitious dates put forward. We have to deal with ship and port security plans—it is not just a matter of dealing with aircraft—and we have to deal with systems of automatic identification for ships. Some are in place and some are not.

The noble Lord and the noble Baroness asked about the Middle East. Our attitude, which is plain, was set out at Seville: we wish an end to the occupation and the early establishment of a viable democratic, peaceful and sovereign state of Palestine on the basis of the 1967 borders, if necessary with minor adjustments to be agreed. I repeat what I said quite unambiguously that there is no prospect of this Government, or any successor government, abandoning the absolute right of the state of Israel to exist within stable and secure boundaries as a democratic state in a part of the world where democracy is not universal.

Recently the Foreign Secretary said that it is not within our gift to choose the leaders with whom we deal. There are many leaders of foreign countries with whom we are not entirely in sympathy, but we do not have the luxury to pick and choose.

In relation to Afghanistan, the noble Lord, Lord Strathclyde, asked about drugs. It is not simply a matter of destroying crops. We need to build local capacity in the security sector and we need to rehabilitate the rural infrastructure with roads and irrigation. That is the work of many years, as the present situation is the consequence of decades of wilful destruction. We need to introduce modest schemes, such as micro-credit schemes, to underwrite small loans for small farmers and we need agricultural input provision, such as seed, fertiliser, tools and expertise. It is not simply a matter of armed forces, although they discharge their duties magnificently.

The noble Lord asked about academic freedom. I believe that the objection to the Export Control Bill has been wholly misconceived, as may be realised.

The noble Lord spoke about Africa where there is a fantastic opportunity. NePAD is capable of being made to work. The noble Baroness spoke of the

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Secretary-General's figures, which are substantial—up to £6 billion a year. It is true that the Secretary-General spoke about much more, but I understood that he was speaking about total investment and we are hoping to provide the infrastructure upon which substantial increased investment can be based.

The noble Lord asked about the cost of the G8 summit. The cost to the United Kingdom Government must have been one of the smallest because our delegation was one of the smallest. It was of the order of 25 to 28 officials with about five security people.

The noble Baroness asked whether evidence relating to Mr Arafat's involvement in terrorism existed or whether it would be published. I do not know the answer. I read various assertions, followed by vigorous counter-assertions and I have no personal knowledge or any means of judging whose assertion is correct.

I have dealt with Bosnia. I take the point about the significant numbers of weapons in Russia. I cannot guarantee that they are fully protected, although substantial resource is being provided for clean up and protection in Russia.

On the specific question of the noble Baroness about the Chancellor of the Exchequer, I believe that my right honourable friend Mr Brown made it clear that we would need additional money for Africa, with which we agree. Donations will not be enough. We want engaged investment, which the wisest, most prudent and most imaginative of the African leaders recognise. It is still in play; it has not been abandoned. I accept that the Statement is only a summary of substantial achievement, but it is an optimistic summary.

4.46 p.m.

Lord Hughes of Woodside: My Lords, while it is right that corruption in all its forms should be denounced, and without seeking to defend dictators in Africa, does my noble and learned friend accept that fault in relation to Africa lies not entirely within Africa? Does he recall the years of the Cold War when the dictatorship in Zaire was fully supported by Western governments because it sat on the right side as far as Communism was concerned? Does he also recall that decades of strife in Angola were artificially fostered by the United States arming the UNITA rebels of Savimbi? Perhaps we may take comfort from the fact that the problems in Africa are now being given serious consideration? I welcome the support promised to Angola so that it can stabilise a long-lasting peace.

In terms of support for Africa I believe that we have moved a long way. Some of the rather mean comments about the summit have to be set aside the words of President Mbeki of South Africa who says that this is the end of an e˙poque of colonialism and neo-colonialism. Although it may be a long time before that journey is completed, at least we are making an honest start.

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