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Lord McIntosh of Haringey: My Lords, the noble Earl, Lord Sandwich, is right. It is true that, in several

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countries, there are over-optimistic assessments of the possibility of increased exports. If we consider the fact that the world aid budget is of the order of 50 billion a year, while developed countries spend 350 billion a year in agricultural subsidies, we can see how much scope there is for improvement through world trade.

Lord Renton: My Lords, it has been suggested in the press that the food crisis in Zimbabwe is entirely due to the policy of the Zimbabwe Government. Has the Minister any information on that?

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: My Lords, it is seldom that there is a single, simple explanation for such an issue. The food crisis in Zimbabwe is partially the result of government policies—but only partially.

Lord Judd: My Lords, does my noble friend the Minister accept that many of us strongly admire the international lead that the British Government consistently give on debt? Does he also agree, however, that if any policy on third world development is to be successful, one of the most crucial issues is the quality of governance in those societies?

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: My Lords, Gordon Brown and Clare Short will be glad to hear what the noble Lord, Lord Judd, has just said; it is undoubtedly true. When we talk about the effectiveness of aid, what we are discussing is whether it actually reaches the people most in need—the people in poverty. That is, of course, an issue of governance.

Baroness Northover: My Lords, does the Minister agree that the HIV/AIDS crisis presents problems on a new scale? For example, Zambia spends three times as much on debt relief as on health, yet 13 per cent of Zambia's children are AIDS orphans and 20 per cent of the adult population live with HIV/AIDS. Does the Minister agree that the crisis has reached the point at which we should be discussing, not debt relief, but debt cancellation?

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: My Lords, the problem with all the countries is that poverty is not necessarily the same as indebtedness. For example, Bangladesh is extremely poor—one of the poorest countries in the world—but has little international debt. Debt cancellation is not the way forward. The way forward, as I said in my Answer and as the Government say in their international financing facility, is a clear and binding commitment of additional resources by donors. That may be associated with debt relief but not necessarily so.

Lord St John of Bletso: My Lords, can the Minister elaborate on the measures that Her Majesty's Government propose to enhance the HIPC initiative and offset debt caused by unforeseen emergencies such as the terrible drought and the floods in Mozambique several years ago?

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: My Lords, as has been said, the United Kingdom Government are in the lead.

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Internationally, an additional 1 billion a year has been allocated for the purpose. As, I hope, I made clear, the problems do not arise because the HIPC initiative is not working. They arise because, at the end of the HIPC process, as a result of the slow-down in the international economy and the collapse of commodity prices, countries that have been through the HIPC initiative are still in a position of unsustainable debt.

Baroness Rawlings: My Lords, the noble Lord says that the enhanced HIPC initiative is working. However, is it not the case that 15 countries have not even reached their decision-point? In other words, a third of heavily indebted poor countries have received no debt relief under the initiative. Does the noble Lord agree that there must be a radical revision of the terms of the initiative, so that more countries can qualify for debt relief in 2003?

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: My Lords, the HIPC initiative is not set in stone. It is possible for additional countries to enter HIPC, and it is also true that the conditions—completion dates, for example—can be changed. I have tried to persuade the House that there are huge problems that are not simply questions of the composition of the HIPC initiative; they are more widespread than that.


3.36 p.m.

The Lord Bishop of Oxford asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What financial support they are giving to Zimbabwe in the present food crisis.

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Amos): My Lords, the Department for International Development has pledged over 47 million for humanitarian assistance for Zimbabwe since September 2001. Some 38 million has been spent. DfID funds food purchases and supports non-food relief efforts, including nutritional surveillance, emergency drugs and support to agricultural recovery. Funding is directed through NGOs and UN organisations. No financial support is provided through Zimbabwe government systems.

The Lord Bishop of Oxford: My Lords, I thank the Minister for that reply. It was good to learn of the amount of financial support that is going to Zimbabwe. As the Minister is aware, the situation is exceedingly serious, with 6.7 million Zimbabweans under a serious threat.

On 3rd December, the United States Government voted 100 million dollars, one of the largest grants ever. Does the Minister judge that the aid that we put into Zimbabwe is commensurate with that? Can she say more about the steps that Her Majesty's

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Government take to ensure that the aid that goes to Zimbabwe does not go simply to ZANU-PF supporters?

Baroness Amos: My Lords, the United Kingdom is the second largest bilateral donor to Zimbabwe with regard to the humanitarian crisis. My right honourable friend Clare Short made it clear in the other place that we would consider other ways of continuing to support the people of Zimbabwe. We also contribute to the aid given by the European Union.

I must make it clear that there are two different channels for humanitarian relief. Two-thirds of that relief goes through the Zimbabwe Government; one third through humanitarian organisations and, in particular, the World Food Programme. Our aid is channelled through the World Food Programme, and we are confident that it is not being diverted.

Lord Avebury: My Lords, did the Minister notice the comments made by Comrade Jabulani Sibanda, the regional chairman of ZANU-PF in Bulawayo, on the need for greater transparency in maize distribution? The Sunday Times reported his allegation that maize was,

    "used by the 'big fish' to spin money".

In other words, the proceeds are being diverted into the pockets of senior politicians. Although I applaud the Government's response to the humanitarian crisis in southern Africa, is the noble Baroness satisfied that there is sufficiently rigorous independent auditing of the distribution of food and sufficient reporting of the alleged illegal diversion and profiteering that is taking place?

Baroness Amos: My Lords, I repeat: through the Grain Marketing Board, which has a monopoly, the Zimbabwe Government are responsible for tackling two-thirds of the crisis. The other third is handled through international organisations and the World Food Programme. We are absolutely confident about the auditing processes in place for our contribution, which goes through the World Food Programme and NGOs.

In a recent by-election, there were allegations that World Food Programme resources were being diverted. That allegation has been investigated and the World Food Programme stopped distribution for a time. With respect to the operations of the Government of Zimbabwe through the Grain Marketing Board, we have no control over that. It is significant that their own people are now making complaints about lack of transparency.

The Earl of Onslow: My Lords, is it in any way sensible to give money to the Government of Zimbabwe, who are the cause of the problem? Is it not true that that must be wrong? Is the noble Baroness, Lady Amos, aware—actually she cannot be—that an acquaintance of mine went on holiday to Zimbabwe? As he crossed the border from South Africa, the South African border guard said, "I will bet you that by the end of this evening you will have seen dead bodies".

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And he did. He saw people lying dead of starvation by the side of the road. Does the Minister agree that those dead bodies were directly caused by the Government of Zimbabwe, and that to give the Government of Zimbabwe just one groat is criminally irresponsible?

Baroness Amos: My Lords, perhaps I have not made myself clear. We are not giving the Government of Zimbabwe any money. We are concerned about the plight of the people in Zimbabwe—nearly half the population is facing food shortages. We are supporting feeding programmes. In November, we fed up to 1 million children through the World Food Programme and NGOs. None of that money is going through the World Food Programme. The World Food Programme has not received 100 per cent of the money that it needs, partially due to donors' concerns about the behaviour of the Government of Zimbabwe.

Secondly, we are extremely concerned about the possibilities of famine and death in Zimbabwe. An assessment is being carried out now and we shall have the results next week. We believe that the situation will become much worse and that we must do all we can to ensure that people are fed.

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