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Lord Newby: My Lords, does the Minister accept that, in terms of value for money, major concern is now being expressed about the PPP for London Underground? Some £400 million has been spent on consultants. Will the Minister take this opportunity to dissociate himself from the London Underground official who was quoted earlier this week as saying that this extraordinary sum is a mere drop in the ocean?
Lord McIntosh of Haringey: My Lords, we do not recognise the £400 million figure that has, I agree, been widely quoted. We suspect that any such calculation is likely to include the cost of London Underground staff and advisers who would have to be employed irrespective of which programme for the regeneration of London Underground is undertaken.
Lord King of Bridgwater: My Lords, the Minister said that the criterion was value for money. Is not the implication of that statement that in all of these cases, public money is available as an alternative to funds raised through the private sector? Will he clarifythis point has become increasingly important in view of the straitened situation that will face the Governmenthow many projects would not have gone ahead unless they had been conducted under a private finance initiative?
Lord McIntosh of Haringey: My Lords, there are two responses to that. First, we must make it clear that PFIs are not being undertaken, as they were under the previous government, as an alternative to public
Lord Brooke of Alverthorpe: My Lords, will my noble friend consider organising a short seminar for the House so that we can understand the difference between PPPs and PFIs, which might in turn help to raise awareness throughout the House?
Baroness Noakes: My Lords, I was pleased to hear that the Government have no interest in concealment. That is news to those on these Benches. I shall not ask the Minister to agree that the next Pre-Budget Report will show rapidly rising levels of public debt, because I know that even if he agreed with me, he would find a clever way of not doing so. I ask him to commit in that Pre-Budget Report to giving a comprehensive statement of the Government's liabilities, including those under PFI, whether or not they have persuaded the ONS to score them off the Government's balance sheet.
Baroness Crawley: My Lords, it is a fundamental principle of all humanitarian assistance and agencies working in Zimbabwe that humanitarian aid is targeted on the basis of need alone. We deplore the blatant use of food for political gain in the recent Insiza by-election and the obstruction of the work of some non-governmental organisations, which appears to be politically motivated. Aid has been suspended where there have been credible reports of abuse.
Lord Astor of Hever: My Lords, I am grateful to the Minister for that reply. Is she aware that there is no shortage of food aid to Zimbabwe? Tonnes of grain lie rotting at the Breitbridge border post and in Durban because of the monopoly of the grain marketing board. Is she further aware that that board is headed by Air Marshal Shiri, who was responsible for the massacre of thousands of Matabele 20 years ago and is now systematically starving people and then supplying food in order to manipulate the electorate and enable Mugabe to cling to power?
Baroness Crawley: My Lords, I very much agree with the noble Lord, Lord Astor of Hever. There is food aid that could be got to many starving people in Zimbabwe. A frightening statistic is that by the end of this year we believe that 7 million peoplethat is, half of the population of Zimbabwewill be in need of food assistance. The monopoly of the grain marketing board means that DfID does not have control over distribution through the marketing board. Where we do have controlthat is, through the World Food Programme and NGOswe monitor the situation very carefully. Where abuse is evident, we stop the aid.
Lord St John of Bletso: My Lords, is the Minister aware that there is now overwhelming evidence in Zimbabwe of partisan distribution of food aid and that the ZANU-PF militia is using starvation as a political tool? Is she also aware of growing concerns in Matabeleland of another wave of genocide?
Baroness Gould of Potternewton: My Lords, does my noble friend agree that, at times of such famine and such distress, it is usually the women and children who suffer disproportionately? Can my noble friend tell the House whether any specific actions have been taken in order to ease their burden?
Baroness Crawley: My Lords, I thank my noble friend for that question. I believe that the whole House will agree that DfID's record in Zimbabwe has been very strong. A year ago, when it saw the humanitarian crisis that was developing, DfID put into place a £2 million supplementary feeding programme which meets the needs of some of the children, pregnant women and nursing mothers so that at least they have a meal a day.
Baroness Williams of Crosby: My Lords, is the Minister aware of reports of Hutus from the Democratic Republic of Congo being trained in Zimbabwe in what one might call "advanced military techniques"? Secondly, given that the Minister has pointed out that DfID's major weapon is to refuse food aid where there is evidence of clear political manoeuvring in its distribution, is there any possibility that, by approaching NePAD or the other southern African countriesMozambique, Angola, South Africa and so onwe can get an African group to beg the Government of Zimbabwe to allow the food to be properly distributed?
Baroness Crawley: My Lords, because of her great experience in this area the noble Baroness will know that the agenda of the SADC/EU meeting, which my noble friend Lady Amos is attending at the moment, includes not only political issues in Zimbabwe but also the question of how we shall overcome the impending humanitarian crisis in the whole of southern Africa. That is very much part of the SADC/EU agenda.
Lord Judd: My Lords, My Lords, is my noble friend aware that many of us who were closely identified with the Zimbabwean struggle for liberation when it was based in Mozambique feel nothing but dismay at the way some people have shanghaied power for their own interests and are indulging in corruption and allowing themselves to be led by greed at the expense of the people as a whole? Does she accept that strong support exists for the Government in their determination to see that, whatever is done in response to the awful things that are happening in Zimbabwe, the ordinary, innocent people will not suffer? Does she also accept
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