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When it comes to inspiring fear and illogical responses, there are people who seem to be quite happy at being frightening and bellicose. The current Russian regime seems to enjoy being frightened and intimidated by the deployment of weapon systems. It may be true that the missiles placed in Poland and the Czech Republic would be incapable of stopping weapons striking from the former Soviet Union, but the principle is there. Are we getting ourselves into an escalation of threat, which means that we are crowding out the space for diplomacy? Surely, any action to which we are party must allow for that space for diplomacy, whether it is action on the ground or the potential placing of weapons. Let us remember that if Iran decides to commit effective suicide on a national level, it does not have to launch a missile; it need only put a nuclear device on a ship and sail it to the American coast or, indeed, our coast. I am sure that they are quite capable of understanding that. Unless we are prepared to sink every ship in the sea—I will not comment on Somali pirates now—we cannot defend ourselves long term by simply having that sort of system in place. It can always be flooded by more missiles or simply circumvented by another form of delivery.

I shall be interested in the Government’s response. First, will we take on board in our entire procurement and training instruction, at least for the Army, that an efficient operation and successful outcome in Afghanistan is our primary objective? Secondly, are we prepared to step back to give Iran a chance to step back as well? Allowing that country to back down with good grace is the best outcome that we could conceivably have.

3.37 pm

Lord Jay of Ewelme: My Lords, I searched in vain in the gracious Speech for any mention of the fight against global poverty. It is right that the Speech should focus on the financial crisis and its effects on the citizens of our country and others, but it is right, too, to focus on those millions of people around the globe for whom $1 a day is wealth. In 2006, net global

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aid to the world’s most fragile states amounted to $16 billion. In that same year Wall Street paid out $24 billion in bonuses. To pick up a point made in the excellent maiden speech of the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Bath and Wells, is that really the right way to divvy up the rich world’s wealth? I hope, and I am sure, that the Minister will give an assurance that the Government will give no lower priority over the next year to fighting global poverty than they have done so successfully in recent years.

I shall focus on one aspect of poverty: fragile states and conflict. It is a vicious circle: fragility leads to conflict; conflict reinforces fragility. The innocent suffer—more than 5 million have died in the Democratic Republic of Congo in the past 10 years, almost all of whom were civilians. There are hundreds of thousands dead in Sudan, both in the north/south civil war and in Darfur. Somalia is in chaos and threatens our trade routes. Zimbabwe, incredibly, is getting worse day by day. I want to offer some practical suggestions for breaking out of this vicious circle.

First, our diplomacy must focus on fragility and conflict throughout this cycle. The recent focus on international diplomatic activity in the DRC, including visits by the Foreign Secretary and the noble Lord, Lord Malloch-Brown, have been wholly welcome. But the seeds of today’s horrors have been evident for some time. They were certainly evident when I was in Goma and north Kivu a year ago. Might more active diplomacy earlier with President Kabila and President Kagame have prevented today’s crisis?

As other noble Lords have said, this focus on diplomacy must involve all parts of the Whitehall machine: the Foreign Office, DfID and the Ministry of Defence working closely together with financial arrangements that encourage co-operation on the ground as well as in London. Other noble Lords have mentioned the need for a better resourced FCO. It will not surprise noble Lords to know that I share that view; it is not sensible to have no proper representation in countries, such as Liberia, that are making real efforts to recover from conflict and to whom we are rightly giving aid.

Secondly, we should encourage and support regional groupings because their role is essential. The African Union has played an important role in Darfur, but the stronger it is, the better that role will be. SADC has tried, but failed, to intervene effectively over Zimbabwe. Ultimately, regional solutions will need to be found to regional problems. We should help the building up of regional organisations through encouragement, training and secondments. My suggestion is that we get the EU to put that at the heart of its diplomacy.

We should also lead by example; my third suggestion is that we need to get the EU and NATO to work more effectively together to plan and carry out peacekeeping missions. Ten years on from the St Malo agreement, there is real scope for the UK and France to lead on this, as President Sarkozy is keen to bring France back to NATO’s integrated military structure if European security and defence arrangements are strengthened, which is very much in our interest as well as in that of the EU and NATO. The present stately dance in

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Brussels between the EU and NATO with the occasional nod, but not much contact and certainly no embrace, is now wholly outdated.

Fifthly, and crucially, we need to strengthen the UN’s peacekeeping operations. The UN has more peacekeepers in operation around the globe now than ever before. The UN will remain indispensable for the future but, as the noble Lord, Lord Hannay, put it in an excellent recent book, the risk is that the UN will be both indispensable and ineffective, which is a desperate combination. UN peacekeeping therefore needs to be strengthened. Peacekeeping forces need clearer mandates. There needs to be quicker deployment, ideally with a rapid deployment force. Will that be easy? No, it will not, but the arrival of President Obama, with his commitment to multilateralism, and Secretary of State Clinton, with her experience and toughness, surely provides a real opportunity for progress. I suggest that it be at the centre of US/UK co-operation on foreign policy with an immediate focus on ending the conflict in the DRC and Darfur and on preventing a new civil war between north and south Sudan.

Sixthly, I suggest that we should work to strengthen and put into practice the UN concept of responsibility to protect, which was adopted at the 2005 UN General Assembly. This seeks to redefine state sovereignty to include the duty of every state to protect its own populations from atrocities, including genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity. Where they fail to do so, it puts the onus on the international community to step in. That doctrine needs to become accepted as customary international law and to be put into practice as the basis for international action to confront crises such as Darfur. Had it been more widely accepted, it would have strengthened the will and the hand of Zimbabwe’s neighbours in bringing pressure on Mugabe. Responsibility to protect is a Canadian concept. My suggestion is that we work with Canada to build it up over the next year so that when in 2010—just over a year’s time—Canada takes over as the head of the G8, the G13 or the G20, whichever it has by then become, Canada can declare the concept operational.

Finally, we must all ensure that the aid that we give fragile states, in particular as they try to recover from conflict, is targeted at those who need it most, at building up capacity to provide basic services, is disbursed quickly, and that bilateral and multilateral aid agencies work with and through the many NGOs that know the situation on the ground at first hand and are doing a tremendous job, in often dangerous circumstances, to help the world's most vulnerable people.

Those are seven practical proposals in seven minutes for action over the next year and longer, of course working on our own but, crucially, with our partners and allies which, if implemented, could help to break the circle of fragility and conflict and save millions of lives.

3.45 pm

The Lord Bishop of Chelmsford: My Lords, I have been heartened to hear so many of your Lordships address the subject of Europe. I intend to address that subject and to make one point, and one point only, in its midst.

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I was greatly helped by some of the remarks made by the noble Lord, Lord Howell, when he talked of the need for us to come to terms with the diversity of Europe and to make Europe less remote. Those are important themes. Your Lordships will be aware that the Church of England has strong and growing links with churches right across Europe. We are in full communion with the four major national Lutheran churches in northern Europe. We have deep formal relationships with the Reformed churches in France and Germany. Your Lordships will be aware of the growing bonds of affection between his Grace the most reverend Primate the Archbishop of Canterbury and his Holiness the Pope. Alongside that are our deep and historic bonds with our Orthodox brothers and sisters in the eastern part of Europe. My diocese has a formal link with the Swedish diocese of Karlstad and with the Romanian Orthodox metropolitical diocese of Jassy.

We know that Europe today is a meeting ground for many cultures and faiths. We are sometimes prone to forget that it has always been like that. Europe has a significant Jewish history, which the 20th century brought so brutally to the surface, and an important Islamic history, which we are growingly aware of in the 21st century. In its midst, there is a strong secular thematic culture that arises from classical antiquity through to the Enlightenment, with its strong and passionate demand for liberty, equality and fraternity. Sometimes, both intellectually and actually, those cultures have fought one another. Every so often, even in our time, resurgent nationalisms tempt us back to old hostilities. The price of those, which can be seen in many of the graveyards of Europe, urges us to pursue peace, mutual affection and the guarding of the rights and integrities of all.

One of the great challenges of our time and our world is how we live well with diversity of history and culture. As has been evidenced in this debate, in many parts of the world we are struggling. My good friend the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Winchester has, with his usual commitment, taken us to the DRC in Africa, where tribes, cultures and diverse histories are in mortal combat. We heard from the noble Lord, Lord Ahmed, about the Middle East, Palestine and the Gaza Strip in particular. There is Arab and Jew; the tribal battles in Afghanistan and Pakistan; Sunni and Shiite; Chinese and Japanese; and, closer to home, Georgia and the Russians and the vexed question of how Europe relates to Turkey and its internal struggle over the meaning of its secular history in the 20th century. In our society, as we all know from the various places from which we come, we are not without our own tensions. These are many issues, but they draw us to the one agenda of how we find the values and the cultures that bring peace and mutual respect. This is the level at which Europe needs to engage.

We use the word “Europe” in our debates as if it were simply a set of institutions and functions. No wonder people are turned off and complain of distant and bureaucratic powers a long way away that are uninterested in their lives. If Europe is simply a set of pragmatic political and economic functions and programmes, it has no future. Its future lies only in

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renewing the deeper themes of its cultures. Of course it is possible to see European institutions as essentially secular. Indeed, many do, but that would ally these institutions to one particular intellectual tradition in European history, which would be disastrous.

We recently read in our newspapers about the most reverend Primate the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Chief Rabbi going on a pilgrimage to Auschwitz, but they did so as public figures, not as people making a private journey. They were therefore engaging in the intellectual, spiritual and cultural politics of Europe. If we are to engage the people again in Europe beyond the level of finding some warm sunshine in winter, which is very attractive at this point in our weather system, European institutions and our leaders need to be seen to be drawing on these rich streams of cultural and faith history that make us what we are and that have the potential to shape our future. Politics, faith and culture need to re-engage with each other in Europe.

The churches are beginning to make that journey, but the journey needs to be widened to embrace the whole of our life in this diverse and changing environment. This is a new way of living well with diversity. I say gently from these Benches that we should not go down the narrow secular route of thinking that we can cope with faith and its cultures only by keeping them on the margins and failing to draw on the wealth of them all. The task is to build bridges across historical divides and to create new unities and opportunities where there has been division and conflict. I would be interested to know from Her Majesty’s Government and the Minister today what energy there is in government and in Europe for tapping into these deeper sources of life and energy in the traditions that have shaped our past and that have so much potential for the future. Our rich inheritance of both faith and the Enlightenment offers us real possibilities and our divided world needs us to engage in these things in our own time.

3.52 pm

Baroness Jay of Paddington: My Lords, it is a pleasure to follow the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Chelmsford. I hope that he will forgive me for focusing not on Europe, as he did, but on the acute problems that face the developing world in this global financial crisis. I declare my usual interest as a member of the council of the Overseas Development Institute.

As my noble kinsman, the noble Lord, Lord Jay of Ewelme, said, it was quite appropriate that the Government should give overriding priority in the gracious Speech to domestic economic problems. However, unlike him, I was encouraged by the fact that the gracious Speech also said that the Government,

That position was spelt out in more detail by the Prime Minister in his report to Parliament on the G20 crisis meeting in Washington last month. My right honourable friend emphasised then that the commitments made to protect the poorest and most vulnerable countries would be upheld. He reconfirmed the millennium development goals and called, importantly, for a greater voice and representation for the emerging

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and developing nations at future meetings. This emphasis was, of course, consistent with his well established personal interest in the fortunes of the developing world. This Government, under both the present Prime Minister and his predecessor, have built a proud record on development in the past decade.

Interestingly, this lead has been supported by enthusiastic public opinion. Campaigns to help the poorest people in the world have attracted unprecedented support. In the past few optimistic years, at times it seemed that the iconic ambition to make poverty history could become a reality rather than just a rallying slogan. But what are the prospects now? As we have already heard from several speakers, the global crisis is bound to have a profound impact on developing countries, particularly, as my noble friend Lord Anderson of Swansea said, in sub-Saharan Africa.

In the past two months, the International Monetary Fund has downgraded its growth forecasts for 2009 by nearly two percentage points for both developed and developing countries. As noble Lords will be aware, world growth is expected to be only 2.7 per cent in 2009, compared to 5 per cent in 2007, and world trade is likely to stagnate. However we apportion responsibility for this dire situation, it is clear that the poor developing countries have played little or no role in creating it but are likely to suffer most and be affected most badly.

Research shows that net financial flows to developing countries may fall by as much as $300 billion, which is equivalent to a 25 per cent drop, even in the next 12 months. We should remember that even before this autumn’s financial crises the World Bank estimated that more than 2 billion people are now living on less than $2 a day. The dramatic food price rises that we have seen mean that an extra 100 million will be dragged back into the miserable destitution of less than $1 a day.

Of course, it is even harder to make exact forecasts for the next few years in the developing world than it is here. After all, if we look at the statistical projections in this country with our sophisticated systems and our many experts, we see that there are widely different opinions about how long and how deep the recession may be. In southern countries, the future is even more opaque, but I am grateful to the ODI and to the Institute of Development Studies at Sussex University, which have produced some rapid research analysis, Doing Development in a Downturn. The analysis suggests that developing countries will be affected, just as we are, by financial difficulties and a harsh contraction in their real economies. It seems probable that the effects will not be consistently bad. Experience may vary even between individual countries in the same region, particularly, for example, in south-east Asia. What is certain is that the poorest and most fragile places, the failing states, will suffer most. Somewhat paradoxically, at the moment they are insulated from one part of the financial hurricane. The success of debt relief initiated after the Gleneagles summit by this Government means that they are not burdened today by owing huge sums to foreign creditors.

However, none of these countries is insulated from a collapse in the volume of remittances from overseas. Many sub-Saharan African countries are highly dependent

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on remittances; for example, Sierra Leone, Lesotho and Uganda are among those where they constitute more than 7 per cent of total gross domestic product. In Kenya, where a large volume of remittances comes from this country and the United States, the Central Bank has already calculated that there will be a massive drop of 40 per cent next year. Migrant workers faced with a squeeze on their livelihoods clearly will no longer be able to send payments to family and friends at home.

The credit crunch and economic downturn in the industrial north are also having a major impact on direct investment in the south. In 2007, foreign direct investment to sub-Saharan Africa amounted to $25 billion. Not surprisingly, that figure is projected to fall substantially in the near future. For example, in South Africa and Zambia, major mining projects are already under review. The Ethiopian Electric Power Corporation has already severely compromised its investment plans. In general, entrepreneurial business activity is slowing down right across already vulnerable economies. Sudden withdrawal of foreign capital has also caused steep falls in exchange rates; for example, the South African rand lost 35 per cent of its value in one month, between September and October.

Equally at risk are the exports of developing countries, particularly of primary products. The price of Zambian copper exports has collapsed dramatically, down by 40 per cent since July. Ghana’s cocoa prices, which make up a significant percentage of GDP there, have fallen by 24 per cent. The same is true of the coffee trade in Kenya and Uganda. The crisis in these countries is compounded because several of them have very few reserves.

None of this bleak assessment is unexpected, given the current global retrenchment. Even the emerging giants of China and India, which are usually vast importers of primary products, are indicating that their needs will be less. However, that makes some kind of immediate success in the Doha trade round even more urgent. Again, the Prime Minister’s assurances after the G20 meeting were encouraging. On 17 November, my right honourable friend noted the vital importance of a ministerial meeting this month to reactivate the stalled Doha talks, saying:

“To ensure the trade round truly is a development round which benefits the poorest countries, it will be accompanied by a $4 billion aid-for-trade programme to invest in the infrastructure of those developing countries”.—[Official Report, Commons, 17/11/08; col. 23.]

Even more recently, my noble friend Lady Ashton, in her new role as EU Trade Commissioner, expressed confidence about achieving an immediate deal. She said:

“In this economic climate, any move towards inward-looking protectionism would be dangerous”.

She added:

“The consequence of not being able to complete the round in these circumstances would not only be a shame but a tragedy”.

I hope that these strong European sentiments are echoed on the other side of the Atlantic. Some of President-elect Obama’s campaign rhetoric was alarmingly protectionist and the incoming Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, took an even harder line in the primary

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elections. Optimistically, one has to assume that in office the Obama Administration will pursue a more open global policy. After all, we all know that in a hard-fought general election public opinion polls are a powerful influence. Although, as I said, there is widespread support for international development, that support is broad but shallow. It is naturally vulnerable to how people feel about their own jobs and livelihoods at home. In a recession, the tension between altruistic concern for the world’s poorest and how people want their taxes to be spent is often especially focused on the overseas aid budget.

As noble Lords will recall, at the G8 Gleneagles summit in 2005 world leaders ambitiously pledged to double aid by 2010, now just a year away. Those promises have been repeated many times since, but action has not followed the words. Actual delivery of more aid is currently 30 per cent below target. The British Government have once again demonstrated leadership by sticking firmly to their commitment, but France and Italy, as well as the United States, have fallen well behind. The Italian Government have now proposed to cut aid by half in their latest budget and no doubt as the world recession deepens pressure will grow on other donors to follow suit.

However, some economists are now arguing that, in spite of the political difficulties, aid budgets should be increased rather than cut. At its simplest, this is a kind of international Keynesianism. Aid may not just prevent poor developing countries from sliding back on their modest economic and social growth of the last few years and protect social stability, but could also provide an additional welcome stimulus to currently frozen trade flows.

Ever since the Brandt commission in the 1980s, we have understood at least theoretically the economic interdependence of the rich and the poor worlds. In the last prosperous decade, this understanding of interdependence, combined with popular enthusiasm for the moral case for helping the world’s poorest people, has made it politically straightforward for Governments to give development policy the prominence that it deserves. Perhaps now, in a global recession, it is time to re-emphasise global interdependence not just in economics but in the current threats of climate change and potential disease pandemics. I follow the noble Baroness, Lady Northover, in thinking that in the broadest sense this is just as much about our own security as about threats of terrorism and military action.

More and better trade as well as more and better aid can undoubtedly create more international stability. We must try to achieve this by multilateral action and reform of international financial institutions so that developing countries are given a much stronger voice in global decisions. A densely interconnected world with 2 billion marginalised people will never be either secure or stable. The Government clearly understand this and have given a powerful lead over the past 10 years. Ministers need to maintain momentum at a time when the instinctive response is to look inwards and concentrate solely on the crisis at home. I know that my noble friend Lord Malloch-Brown, who is to reply to the debate, will champion internationalism, as

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he has always done in his distinguished career. The United Kingdom has a great opportunity in 2009 in chairing the G20 group of nations and I am sure that the Minister, the Prime Minister and all members of the Government will seize it enthusiastically.

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