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I welcome the appointments of Morgan Tsvangirai as Prime Minister and of his MDC colleagues to ministerial office but, so far, all the signs are that their position seems to be best described by the phrase “in office but not in power”. It has long been clear that real power in Zimbabwe is in the hands of the JOC, the Joint Operations Command. This is the junta comprising the chiefs of the army, air force, police, prisons and intelligence—five posts. Those are the people who really count. This is the junta that is effectively in control of the country. They continue to use abduction, beatings, arrest and detention as a means of intimidation and control. Corruption is rife and they use their power arbitrarily to seize property and other assets to accumulate wealth and power. Gideon Gono, the governor of the Reserve Bank, acts as their ally and banker.

An African diplomat was recently quoted as saying:

“The JOC is the real enemy of democracy. It obeys no laws and wants to send the signal that the MDC should not think that being in government offers it any sort of protection”.

It is significant that every member of this five-man cabal boycotted the swearing-in ceremonies for Tsvangirai and his new Ministers. They simply stayed away. Once its aim was to destroy the MDC as a political movement; now it is intent on bringing a swift end to Prime Minister Tsvangirai’s power-sharing Government, or at least keeping it on a tight rein for as long as it can serve a useful purpose of window-dressing the regime to the world.

Ironically, the body that ought to be monitoring and reporting back to SADC and the African Union on these breaches of the Global Political Agreement, which is the basis of this activity, is struggling to hold meetings because of a lack of money. JOMIC, the Joint Monitoring and Implementation Committee, was set up in January by SADC as a crucial element in the global agreement. Its role is defined as being,

to ensure “full implementation”, to act as a conduit for complaints and to promote,

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JOMIC is supposed to be guaranteed by both SADC and the AU, yet Elton Mangoma, its co-chairman, says that it is barely able to function through lack of funds. That is one of the key organisations that is meant to hold the reins. It has no permanent office to hold meetings, no administrative staff and three of its 12 members have difficulty in attending meetings since not even their travel expenses can be covered.

It is worrying that South Africa’s foreign affairs spokesman is blithely able to announce that JOMIC is “up and running”. This is an organisation that has no staff and practically no money. There seems to be a very dangerous complacency over much of the region that, now that the agreement has been signed and the swearing-in has taken place, they can sit back. Nothing could be further from the truth. What is needed is continuing and robust engagement.

Mugabe has been driving a coach and horses through what was supposed to be a finely balanced and delicate concord between the parties. Months of careful and painful negotiation have been set aside and overridden by Mugabe appointing more Zanu-PF Ministers—that is, Ministers from his own party—than he was entitled to. This week he has ridden roughshod over the agreement again by unilaterally appointing permanent secretaries to the 31 ministries. That means 31 new permanent secretaries. Anything more ridiculous one cannot imagine.

In response, Prime Minister Tsvangirai stated:

“Yesterday’s announcement of the appointment of Permanent Secretaries is in contravention of both the Global Political Agreement and the Constitution of Zimbabwe which is very clear with regard to Senior Government Appointments”.

Article 20.1.7 of the eighth schedule of the GPA states:

“The Parties agree that with respect to occupants of senior Government Positions, such as Permanent Secretaries and Ambassadors, the leadership in Government, comprising the President, the Vice-Presidents, the Prime Minister and Deputy Prime Ministers, will consult and agree on such prior to their appointment”.

He also quoted the SADC communiqué issued in Pretoria on 27 January, which states that,

I know that the Minister for Africa has maintained a close and detailed watch over all these issues. He is committed, as we all are, to the welfare of the people of Zimbabwe and the economic development of the region. It is vital that the EU-targeted measures against those who have brought death and destruction to Zimbabwe remain firmly in place. The very fact that Zanu-PF and its apologists in Africa call so vehemently for their repeal demonstrates that they are effective, particularly the hindrance to global gallivanting imposed by the prohibition on travel through the hub airports of Europe.

The UK has provided massive humanitarian support over recent years. I am sure that this is appreciated by the vast majority of the people of Zimbabwe, even though it is treated with contempt by the Zanu-PF elite, who simply see it as another source of hard currency that they can raid. While I accept that this

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aid will have to continue simply to relieve suffering and save lives, I hope that so far as possible it will be channelled via agencies well protected from the greedy clutch of the Reserve Bank governor, Gideon Gono. I also hope that together with our EU partners we will be strict in releasing other funding only once it is clear from evidence on the ground that the very basic benchmarks of rule of law are observed, including press freedom and respect for human rights, as reiterated recently by the Foreign Secretary.

Regional leaders must unequivocally support Prime Minister Tsvangirai’s brave efforts to prove that a peaceful transition to democracy, good governance and economic stability is possible. Much more support should be forthcoming from members of SADC. For the second time in 30 years, Zimbabwe is a test case for democracy in southern Africa. The credibility of SADC and the AU are at stake. So are the lives of thousands of Zimbabweans.

3.08 pm

Lord Ramsbotham: My Lords, I join all those who have congratulated the noble Lord, Lord Marlesford, on obtaining this debate, on his masterly and tone-setting opening speech and on including the word “challenge” in the title, which has allowed so many subjects to be considered in a debate in which, as my noble friend Lord Wright rightly said, it is a privilege to take part.

As a fellow member of the Rifles, I join my noble and gallant friend Lord Bramall and the noble Lord, Lord King, in expressing condolences to the families of the three members of the regiment who lost their lives yesterday in Afghanistan.

I should like to cover two totally different subjects: Trident and prisoners. I was flattered that both the noble Lord, Lord Marlesford, and the noble and learned Lord, Lord Howe, should quote from a letter that my noble and gallant friend Lord Bramall, General Sir Hugh Beach and I wrote to the Times earlier in the year on the subject of Trident replacement. We did that not to try to suggest precipitate unilateral disarmament but rather to encourage a debate about whether this weapon system, and the capability that it represents, is a vital part of securing national self-defence, or whether there is an alternative. Four questions have to be answered if that debate is to be held. While taking part in a debate on the World Service, I was disturbed to be told by a senior Member of the other place that such a debate was unnecessary because a vote in the House of Commons had already decreed that Trident should be replaced. I told that Member that that was not the point, as many wider issues had to be considered.

Is Trident independent? The answer is strictly no, because the D-11 missile belongs to the United States. I have always thought it unthinkable that we should consider launching the Trident system without the backing and support of the United States. What is its current utility? Can we really see a weapon of this magnitude being used in wars or in an anti-terrorist situation? That is not to say, of course, that we do not have to consider threats that we cannot predict at the moment. It used to be said that possession of this weapon guaranteed you a seat at the top table. I do not

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believe that that applies anymore, because the place at the top table is now much more related to economics than to possession of a strategic nuclear deterrent.

My final point—there are others—concerns affordability. There are two definitions of “affordability”: can you afford it or can you afford to give up what you have to give up in order to afford it? As many noble Lords have said, the fact that our conventional arsenal is not equipped with all that we need to carry out what we have to do must raise questions about whether the cost of Trident is affordable in terms of what we cannot have because of it. The climate is right for such a debate. First, Trident has a limited shelf life. Secondly, President Obama has already announced where he is heading in this direction. An Australian-Japanese commission is examining the whole subject of multilateral disarmament. SALT and the nuclear proliferation treaties are coming up for renewal. Therefore, it seems to me that we would be wise to have a proper debate on this to make certain that all those taking part in the discussions are equipped with the relevant information.

On costs, the letter that we wrote states that our independent deterrent has become virtually irrelevant except in the context of domestic politics. In that context, I wonder therefore whether the time has come to remove it from the defence budget so that it is no longer weighed against conventional forces in the examination of that budget, and either put into another budget, such as the Foreign Office’s, or ring-fenced within the Ministry of Defence budget so that it is no longer an either/or with our required conventional force.

On my second subject, the Foreign Office is closely connected with two groups of prisoners. One group comprises foreign national prisoners in prison in this country. Fourteen per cent of our current prison population comprises people from foreign countries; that is, 10,300 men and 960 women. They come from 160 nations. However, half of them come from 10 countries, which seem to be the main offenders, as it were. Most are involved with drugs. Four out of 10 men and eight out of 10 women in prison are there for drugs offences. Six out of the 10 are sentenced to more than four expensive years. One-fifth of all the women in prison are foreign nationals.

In addition to that vast number of prison spaces being taken up by foreign nationals, the Prison Service requires 1,100 beds in our immigration hostels. A further 400 to 500 detainees are held in prisons while their deportation is processed after their sentence has been completed. I question whether the Foreign Office could not do more to help in this situation because, in a large number of cases, the deportation of foreign national criminals is written into the sentence.

Slightly different rules apply to people coming from non-European countries. A non-European is given automatic deportation after a one-year sentence or an aggregation of a one-year sentence. If he commits a drug or gun offence, he is automatically deported, or the court can recommend deportation. If deportation is recommended by the court, why does that not occur so that, at the end of the sentence, the prisoner does

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not go to a detention centre, where they cause problems because they are not immigration detainees? Why are they not processed so that they go straight from prison to the airport and are then deported? One of the reasons is inefficient bureaucracy within the Prison Service. That is not a matter for the Foreign Office. However, what is a matter for the Foreign Office, which I believe should be pursued with greater vigour, is obtaining the deportation and the travel documents, sorting out all the international complications and making certain that the prisoner is deported. We have agreements on unilateral deportation with 69 countries. A European framework document will be issued in 2011, which will make deportation happen automatically for European national prisoners.

I draw the following fact to the attention of the Foreign Office. Quite apart from the fact that prison is extremely expensive, it will not do its job of protecting the public unless it includes a period of resettlement to prepare people to live a useful and law-abiding life in their own country. Why, then, should not the Foreign Office make certain that our prisoners abroad are brought back in time to be resettled in this country before they go back to their community instead of arriving at the airport after their sentence with nothing—no benefits, no clothing, nothing? Without a charity called Prisoners Abroad, there they would be. Urgency by the Foreign Office could improve this. Similarly, urgency is needed to resettle foreign prisoners back in their own countries, rather than using up vast amounts of our money taking part—or not taking part—in programmes that have nothing to do with them, because they are not going to be resettled in this country.

This is a challenge to the Foreign Office to which speed should be given, due to the fact that we have a hugely overcrowded and vastly expensive prison system in this country. If 14 per cent of prisoners could reduce the contribution to that, I recommend that the Foreign Office at least do something to help.

3.18 pm

Lord Joffe: My Lords, I join in thanking the noble Lord, Lord Marlesford, for introducing this debate. I have listened with respect to the vast experience and views of the noble Lords, Lord Hurd and Lord Wright, on the conflicting foreign policies of the Foreign Office and DfID. I am not competent to express a view on that. However, addressing poverty in the developing world is a key part of our foreign policy. I declare a interest as an ex-chair of Oxfam and I am indebted to it for a briefing for this debate.

The poor of the world are fortunate that our Prime Minister, who has led the way in the attack on poverty in the developing world, is also taking the lead in the forthcoming London G20 summit to broker a new global deal which will, I hope, benefit the developed and the developing worlds. I shall focus on what I believe the developing world hopes will emerge from the summit, which faces the challenge of responding to what is probably the world’s most serious economic crisis since the 1930s.

There is a real danger that the significant gains made towards meeting the millennium goals by many developing countries could be wiped out as financial

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flows dry up and, as usual, the most vulnerable will be most at risk. The severity of the crisis means that Governments around the world, led by the United Nations and the G20, need to act together to address it.

In relation to the developing world, there are four key areas upon which the G20 should focus. These are delivering a rescue package for developing countries, tackling climate change, regulating finance to ensure stability and reforming global governance. These areas overlap to a certain extent with what is required by the G20 countries for their own economies.

I shall briefly touch on each of these areas, beginning with a rescue package. It is hoped that a fiscal stimulus and resource for developing countries should be set up as soon as possible through the World Bank and the IMF, and it should be available on concessional terms, delivered as budget support and be free from conditionality. Rich countries must also increase their aid levels to reach the agreed target of 0.7 per cent of GDP, and debt cancellation must be actively pursued. Naturally, this will require significant additional funding, and it is important that it should not be taken out of existing ODA budgets, otherwise there will be no net benefit.

In relation to climate change, without urgent action to curb greenhouse gas emissions, developing countries such as Bangladesh will be at great risk. It is hoped that the G20 rich countries will commit to delivering a fair share of adaptation finance to developing countries to help them avoid the worst impacts of climate change.

In relation to finance and ensuring stability, the G20 must ensure that the world financial system is under greater public control and is more transparent and accountable. Tax havens, to which much of the wealth of the developing world is illicitly channelled, must be tackled. Measures should also be taken to curb volatility and speculation in financial markets, particularly exchange rate markets.

Finally, there is a need to reform global governance. The crisis offers an opportunity to make the international system fit for the 21st century. This means having not only better regulation of financial flows, but more equitable governance and oversight at the international level, including the G20. The G20 includes the major developing economies, but excludes the least developed of them. It should be more inclusive and bring in broader representation. It was encouraging to learn, in the eloquent speech from the noble Baroness, Lady Amos, that NePAD and the African Union have been offered invitations to attend the London G20 summit. I hope that will continue in future.

The London summit is an opportunity to mark an historic break with the failed system of unfettered capitalism, and the start of a new system that seeks to make the market work for the benefit of all people and for our planet. The challenge is for our Government, led by the Prime Minister, to help make that happen.

3.25 pm

Baroness Hooper: My Lords, it feels quite like old times to be having a five-hour state-of-the-nation debate in your Lordships’ House on a subject of extreme importance to our nation and to the whole world. I

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therefore add my thanks and congratulations to my noble friend Lord Marlesford on securing time for this debate, on his brilliant introduction and, indeed, on his timing. It is important, as the noble Lord, Lord McNally, reminded us earlier, that Conservative thinking and priorities on foreign policy are fully understood.

Given the generous terms of the Motion, it is tempting to cover a lot of ground and touch on challenges such as the updating for the 21st century of our post-1945 global institutions, which the debate has not yet touched on. I refer to the changing role of the Council of Europe, with its 46 member states including Russia and Turkey—for 10 fascinating years, I served as a Member of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe—and to the European Union, especially in this year of European parliamentary elections. There is also the challenge and excitement, in the United States, of what my noble friend described as the new wave of the Obama presidency.

However, as many of your Lordships will not be surprised to hear, I intend in my allotted time to concentrate on two themes that are, I believe, all too often lost and forgotten in the drama and turbulence of the Middle East and in considering the overwhelming size and dynamism of growing economies such as India and China. I speak, first, of the rich and varied region of Latin America and, secondly, of the Commonwealth—an organisation of great importance to this country, and which I greatly admire.

In all this, I wish to reiterate what has been said, today and on other occasions in your Lordships’ House, about the importance of the role of the Foreign Office and of agencies such as the British Council—on which subject, I am disappointed that the noble Lord, Lord Kinnock, was not able to participate in this debate. I lament, once again, the closing and downsizing of embassies, high commissions and representative agencies, both in Latin America and in Commonwealth countries. My noble friend Lord Hurd has emphasised that, while I also lament the reduction in educational exchanges and scholarships that have traditionally played such an important role in our international relations and goodwill from countries worldwide.

I must mention how magnificent a job the British branches of the Inter-Parliamentary Union and the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association do to fill the gap, as do many NGOs. I cite, for example, the English Speaking Union, but we must not forget the roles of Canning House, our Latin American organisation, and, indeed, of Chatham House. They deserve and need support, which I hope will be stepped up by a future Conservative Government. The noble Baroness, Lady Gibson, set the scene on Latin America in her role as chairman of the all-party group. She gave us facts and figures to underline the region’s importance, and posed a number of questions that need answers. No doubt, the noble Viscount, Lord Montgomery, will also talk from his wide experience and knowledge of the region.

The individual countries that together constitute what we, for convenience, refer to as Latin America play a vital part not only in the world economy but in other world aspects. They are rich in commodities, not

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only oil and gas but water and precious metals, and in food production. In the vital area of climate change, Amazonia is recognised and often described as the lungs of the world, and Brazil is a world leader in developing energy from sugar, one of the most efficient forms of alternative energy. China recognises that and is investing heavily in the region, replacing British investors in some cases. While we currently give priority to developing trade with China, as every other country in the world seems to be doing, China is replacing our investment and interest in Latin America.

The European Union also recognises the importance of Latin America and has negotiated and continues to negotiate trade agreements with the region and with individual countries within it. In my day as president of Canning House, the Hispanic and Luso Brazilian Council, my aim was to build bridges between the European Union and Latin America. I saw one bridge going, obviously, from Spain and Portugal, from the south of Europe, and the other going from the north of Europe from the United Kingdom. Our historic and traditional links with individual countries through their independence movements, led by Bolivar, San Martín and O'Higgins, and our history of trade and investment in that region, have created an enormous amount of good will.

To illustrate our neglect of Latin America, as a trustee of the Industry in Parliament Trust, I recently intended a seminar entitled “Global Markets: A Look Forward”. The chairman of UK Trade and Investment’s Financial Services Sector Advisory Board talked about its priority markets being the BRICs. He went on to talk about China, Russia, India and Singapore. The “B” of the BRICs acronym stands for Brazil, so I asked why Brazil, with its leading role in Latin America, its membership of the OECD, and so on, was not treated as a priority area. He answered that I would be glad to hear that it had indeed been a runner-up and almost included within the priority area.

UK banks used to be household names throughout Latin America; now we probably see only HSBC there. Surely the balance needs redressing. For that matter, Mexico also has a huge and thriving economy and a Mexican is currently running the OECD. I very much welcome the state visit of the President of Mexico, which will help to call attention to the importance of that country. I hope that the Minister will be able to reassure us that in future, UK Trade and Investment priorities will include more than one country in Latin America.

In the few moments that remain to me, I shall dwell on the Commonwealth. It is appropriate during the 60th anniversary year of the foundation of the Commonwealth to review an institution that has changed and developed over the years and now has countries with no historic or colonial links queuing up for membership. It includes and gives democratic voice to 53 countries large and small, including all the major faiths and spanning five continents and three oceans. Its importance was underlined recently by my right honourable friend William Hague—here I may help the noble Lord, Lord McNally, with his lack of confidence in him as a future Foreign Secretary. In a major speech my right honourable friend said:

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