Previous Section Back to Table of Contents Lords Hansard Home Page

Iraq: Increased Aid

Baroness Northover asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Lord President of the Council (Baroness Amos): My Lords, the Government are committed to spending 90 per cent of Department for International Development country programmes in low-income countries by 2005–06. That, together with contributing to the cost of recovery in Iraq, is leading to some reductions in aid to other middle-income countries in future years.

Baroness Northover: My Lords, I thank the noble Baroness for that precise reply. On Monday, she told me that I had misunderstood the matter. I remind her that DfID stated to the International Development Select Committee—

Noble Lords: Question!

Baroness Northover: My Lords, does the noble Baroness recall that DfID stated that it would clearly be wrong to consider withdrawing DfID funding from development efforts elsewhere in the world; that she said a week later that money for Iraq would come from DfID's reserves; and that the Prime Minister wrote to a director of Christian Aid on 25th April stating:

Is that not clear?

As the security situation in Iraq worsens—

Noble Lords: Order!

Baroness Northover: My Lords, you do not want to hear it, do you? What assurance can the noble Baroness give the House that the poorest people elsewhere in the world will not be affected by this situation?

Baroness Amos: My Lords, I shall repeat what I said on Monday. We are currently spending 78 per cent of our bilateral funding on the poorest countries in the world. We have a target to increase that to 90 per cent of our bilateral funding by 2005–06. That commitment remains. In addition, we shall be spending 1 billion in Africa by 2005–06. That commitment remains.

Again, as I said on Monday, we are considering our spending in middle-income countries. Iraq is a special case as a post-conflict country. That is the basis on which the World Bank will make a special case of Iraq for the next two years.

So our spending in middle-income countries for the current financial year will be sustained, but the ongoing reprioritisation—it is ongoing because we are moving from 78 per cent to 90 per cent—will continue. We will have to advance the closure of some programmes in middle-income countries to fund our

13 Nov 2003 : Column 1564

programmes in Iraq as a special post-conflict country. That will not affect our commitment to the poorest countries in the world.

Lord Astor of Hever: My Lords, in the light of the decision of the Red Cross and other charities to close their offices in Baghdad and Basra, what discussions have the Government had with non-governmental organisations about the reallocation of funding?

Baroness Amos: My Lords, we have had ongoing discussion with NGOs, especially about security issues in Iraq. In fact, we have told NGOs that we will help to fund some security measures that they need to put in place, and which can be expensive, to enable them to continue to work in Iraq. Several NGOs have expressed concern about our long-term programme in middle-income countries more generally, but that would have been the case regardless of the situation in Iraq.

Lord Tomlinson: My Lords, does not my noble friend agree that the best way to ensure effective aid in Iraq would be if all our allies, especially some other countries in the European Union, would accept all the obligations of the most recent Security Council resolution, which calls on them to provide all sorts of assistance to create the security environment in which that aid can be properly dispersed?

Baroness Amos: My Lords, I agree with my noble friend. The UN Security Council resolution put in place a framework that would enable other countries to engage more effectively with that agenda. We will continue to work with our partners to ensure that they can contribute to the longer-term future of Iraq.

Lord Eden of Winton: My Lords, is there any truth in the reports that the Government are going to cut back the extremely important funding that they provide in support of the G7 pilot programme for the conservation of Brazilian rainforests? If so, why?

Baroness Amos: My Lords, that is not correct. A number of projects were agreed. They are all approaching the end of their funding period. Only one of them will undergo review because it has come to the end of its funding period, but it will continue. I will be happy to write to the noble Lord with details.

Lord Renton: My Lords, in order to restore prosperity in Iraq, should not the priority be the restoration of the oilfields, which in the past have brought a good income to Iraq?

Baroness Amos: My Lords, the noble Lord is quite right. We need to ensure that Iraq's own resources, which will be fundamental for the longer-term development effort, are restored. Noble Lords will know that the current security situation and the

13 Nov 2003 : Column 1565

ongoing programme of sabotage is the result of a deliberate effort to ensure that Iraqi resources cannot be used in that way.

Lord Oakeshott of Seagrove Bay: My Lords, as the noble Baroness mentioned middle-income countries, what does she expect to be the effect of the money spent in Iraq on our aid to Latin America by 2005–06? In particular, Brazil has been mentioned as a middle-income country. Is she aware that some of the poorest people in the world are in middle-income countries such as Brazil?

Baroness Amos: My Lords, of course I am aware that there are poor people in many middle-income countries, but this country's strategy for our development effort has been clear. It was set out in our White Paper in 1997, when we stated that our core commitment was to the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals. The continent in the world in which we are least likely to achieve the Millennium Development Goals is sub-Saharan Africa. That is why our focus on increasing our spending in sub-Saharan Africa to 1 billion by 2005–06 remains.

It is important for noble Lords to remember that all our spending does not go through the bilateral route; 40 per cent of our expenditure goes through multilateral channels. As for Latin America, in 2001, our share of European Commission spending in Latin America was about 21 million.That level of spending will continue. The total for all multilaterals, including the Commission, was 49 million.

Rural Delivery Review

3.8 p.m.

Baroness Byford asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What action they will take in response to the Lord Haskins' rural delivery review.

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Lord Whitty): My Lords, the report of my noble friend Lord Haskins was published on Tuesday. It recommended significant and wide-ranging changes to modernise the way in which government delivers rural policy. The Secretary of State's Statement in the House of Commons set out the Government's initial response. Her first priorities are immediately to review rural funding schemes and to set up an integrated agency to conserve and improve the natural environment. The Government will publish a practical implementation plan in the spring.

Baroness Byford: My Lords, what is the Minister's response to the remarks yesterday of the noble Lord, Lord Haskins, at the crops conference at which I spoke? He said:

    "Defra will fall flat on its face when it tries to cope with CAP reform if it does not respond"—

13 Nov 2003 : Column 1566

that is, to his report. Secondly, the Minister said that the department will have a review and will be modernised, but that will not happen until next year. What urgent action will the Government take to address the description of the noble Lord, Lord Haskins, of Defra's current structure as,

    "a dog's dinner of the highest order"?

Lord Whitty: My Lords, we asked the noble Lord, Lord Haskins, to look at the delivery of the policy and the mechanisms for delivery. Defra's inherited structure, particularly from MAFF, has long been recognised as in need of serious reform. But we should also look at each of the agencies and NDPBs involved in delivery and, as the noble Lord, Lord Haskins, said, bring delivery further down the line so that the regions and, to some extent, local authorities bring the action closer to rural businesses and farmers. That will take time, but we need to do it in parallel with the delivery of the change in the common agricultural policy, whose implementation starts at the beginning of 2005. We intend to clarify by then the proposed structure and to deliver the outcome of CAP reform in that way.

Earl Peel: My Lords, does the Minister not agree with me that, if the Government are to remain consistent with their previous responses to other reports produced by the noble Lord, Lord Haskins, they have only option: to disregard completely this new tome from the noble Lord?

Lord Whitty: My Lords, I am not clear what report the noble Earl attempts to draw to our attention. We have had very effective reports from my noble friend Lord Haskins, particularly on recovery from foot and mouth disease, much of which was implemented and has guided government policy. That will also be the case with this report. We accept the broad principles of the report. We will need to sort out some details. But the most important thing is to find the best means of delivery for the best policy. Those two aspects need to be taken in parallel.

Next Section Back to Table of Contents Lords Hansard Home Page