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The foreign affairs section of the document lists a series of problems, beginning with Afghanistan. Afghanistan was not a particularly good start for this Government. I suspect that the mandarins at the Foreign Office gave the advice, "You will not influence people or make friends on the eve of a visit to Afghanistan by describing it as a 'broken 13th-century country'". They would have said that, if three Ministers were to visit, they should at least sing from the same hymn sheet to ensure a degree of harmony.

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The introductory paragraph of the section on foreign affairs talks of,

That is rather puzzling, as normally the European Union would be included in such a list. There is nothing exceptional on defence or international development, but there is no mention of the political consequences of what might happen to the Foreign Office budget and the importance of foreign policy, particularly in relation to conflict prevention. I look forward to hearing the contribution of the noble Lord, Lord Hannay, on that.

The document also contains the heading "Europe". A phrase from the introductory paragraph shines out. The document talks of striking,

When I read the phrase "constructive engagement", I thought, "Where have I heard that before?". I recalled that it was the phrase used by the Government of the noble Baroness, Lady Thatcher, in the 1980s in respect of apartheid South Africa. The phrase is also now used by France and the United States in respect of Syria. It gives the impression of a bilateral relationship between us and an external organisation-worse, if one thinks of South Africa and Syria, a rather dubious organisation-called the European Union. Who would think that we have been a member of the European Union for well nigh 40 years? One cannot have a bilateral relationship with an organisation of which one is a full and influential member. Perhaps this is not a puzzle after all, but something that leads from the Government's view of the Union.

The rest of the section on Europe is essentially negative. The context is the decision of the Conservative Party to leave the EPP for what the Deputy Prime Minister called "a bunch of nutters" and the failure of the Conservative Party to realise that, in our national interest, we have to work with appropriate political families. That is how the European Union works. It does no service to the party or, more important, to our national interest to leave a grouping that includes Chancellor Merkel and President Sarkozy.

The truth is that our external influence is much enhanced by our working together through the European Union. We are no longer capable of acting alone; the Falklands was perhaps the last such unilateral initiative. The document also mentions the Middle East, but we are a member of the quartet not as Britain but as a member of the European Union. It mentions Iran, but in relation to Iran we are not there as the UK but as a member of the EU3. It mentions the western Balkans as a priority but in the western Balkans we work through the European Union's special representatives. There seem to be a coyness and reluctance to recognise those realities.

In defence there is no mention of co-operation with France and certainly no mention of the CSDP. We know about this because it is a British admiral at Northwood who is heading Operation Atalanta. On international development there is no mention that much of our aid is channelled through the European Union. Are we, then, going to have a rerun of 1994-97,

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when we were pretty well marginalised in Brussels? Probably not, of course, because the Liberal Democrats will, I hope, moderate the anti-EUism of much of the Conservative Party and at least prevent major sprats being thrown to the Europhobes. That is why there was some relief in Brussels at the general election result. I hope the breathing space will be used constructively by the Government to learn some of the realities.

Yes, let us campaign against Euro-waste. Let us campaign against the excessive directives and aim for democracy in respect of, for example, parliamentary accountability on defence. As the former French ambassador to the UK wrote in a recent article in the Financial Times, there are choices to be made. There are,

That is the challenge; that is the choice-to work, as far as we can, in harmony with partners, and not constructive engagement with an external entity.

5.37 pm

Lord Chidgey: My Lords, in terms of the United Kingdom's engagement with the developing world, particularly the African continent, I for one take great pride in our continued commitment to achieving 0.7 per cent of gross national income in the aid budget. Two major respected reports published yesterday-by the Africa Progress Panel, headed by Kofi Annan, and to the monitoring agency DATA-highlight the efforts made by the UK. The United Kingdom is the only G8 country to have delivered on its G8 commitments and be on course to meet the 0.7 per cent of GNI goal by 2013. The United Kingdom continues to be the second largest country contributor of budget support to sub-Saharan Africa and has pledged major sums to the education and agricultural sectors annually over the next five years.

In this short contribution I wish to raise issues for the Government to address in several UK development aid destinations in Africa-for example in Uganda and in Congo-and stress the work of the All-Party Great Lakes Group. I seek assurances on the effectiveness of aid reaching its intended destinations; of evidence that robust audit trails are in place; that anti-corruption, transparency and accountability procedures are embedded; and, most importantly, that funding is granted on the basis of measured effectiveness in achieving project goals for the people intended on the ground, where it matters.

The coalition Government's programme states:

"We will support pro-development trade deals, including the proposed Pan-African Free Trade Area".

In the DRC, where the UK is the largest bilateral donor, one of the key elements perpetuating the conflict in the region is the revenue gathered by armed groups engaged in the illegal extraction of the DRC's minerals. Trading for Peace is an important part of achieving stability, but to see results we must be able to regulate

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United Kingdom companies to prevent them trading with armed groups. I urge our Government to ensure that strong due diligence standards are in place for UK companies trading ore and refined metals from the Great Lakes region. It is widely accepted that this is inherent in preventing the investments which the UK is making in education, infrastructure and security sector reform being jeopardised.

In the coalition Government's programme, the Government are committed to providing,

In 2007, the United Kingdom signed a 10-year, £700 million development partnership deal with Uganda to help the country rebuild after decades of civil conflict. The peace, recovery and development plan for northern Uganda was initially published with a 2007 to 2010 timeframe. Implementation saw a slow start, with complex funding modalities still being worked out well into 2008. Only in 2009 did progress start to be made, with DfID support. Observers in Uganda and in the international community remain concerned that development in the north of the country-despite significant donor investment by the World Bank, the United States, us, and others-is very slow. Questions are being asked more and more frequently, and with increasing firmness, about where the money is going. I urge the Government to take these concerns seriously and to accept that this is a clear example of the need for transparent accountability and an effective audit trail.

In his opening speech the Minister mentioned Sudan. Do the Government agree with the Sudan All-Party Parliamentary Group that to avoid a contested secession and the risk of a return to full-scale conflict, they and other international guarantors should concentrate now on the January 2011 referendum-in particular, reaching agreement on issues such as citizenship for southerners or northerners settled on the "wrong" side of the border, oil-revenue sharing, border demarcation and crossing rights along the north-south boundary?

Returning to the DRC, reports from Human Rights Watch released in Washington last week confirmed that there has been no let up in the LRA's atrocities since its appalling rampage through north-eastern DRC in December 2009. Between January and early April, 96 civilians were slaughtered and dozens more, mainly children, were abducted. Human Rights Watch is calling on the US Government to swiftly implement new legislation to develop a comprehensive strategy to protect civilians from LRA attacks. Research has confirmed that the atrocities were carried out by LRA commanders reporting to General Ongwen-who, along with two other LRA leaders, has been subject to an ICC arrest warrant, outstanding for nearly five years.

The UN peacekeeping mission in the Congo, MONUC, has few troops in the area and, hampered by poor local roads, rarely leaves town. It is unable to prevent, let alone respond to, the recent attacks. The Congolese and Ugandan armed forces also have a presence in the area but, with poor logistics and communications, they too have been unable to provide adequate security for civilians. Human Rights Watch

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is calling on the US and other donor nations to help the Congolese improve communications systems in the LRA-affected areas, permit UN peacekeepers and others to respond quickly to attacks and pinpoint where LRA leaders are hiding.

Human Rights Watch claims that depending on the Ugandan army to end the threat of the LRA is a strategy that is not working. It is calling for the US, other Governments in the region and other concerned states to go back to the drawing board to develop new policy options to end the LRA's violence and, in particular, to find more effective strategies to apprehend the wanted LRA leaders.

MONUC's recent mandate, UNSCR 1906, expires on 31 May 2010, and the local population are fearful that without MONUC there will be no identifiable security service in the DRC at all. President Kabila continues to press for a full MONUC drawdown by August 2011, prior to the presidential elections. Many observers warn of creating a security vacuum and a return to instability.

As my final observation, I urge that the Government endorse the extension of MONUC's mandate for a further 12 months and support proposals to broaden its mandate with regard to cross-border LRA apprehension operations. Do the Government agree with the many Security Council members who would like to see MONUC take a stronger role in co-ordinating security sector reform within its commitment to stabilisation?

5.44 pm

Lord Hannay of Chiswick: My Lords, I begin by welcoming the new Government, and particularly the element of continuity represented by the presence of the noble Lord, Lord Howell of Guildford, as their principal spokesman in this House for international relations. He may have crossed the Floor literally if not in party political terms, but his views and experience are already well known to all in this House and, I believe, are greatly respected.

The world into which this new Government have been born is pretty troubled. A lot more problems than solutions are in sight. The multipolarity which succeeded that brief and unhappy period of US unipolarity has yet to take proper shape, with some of the main emerging powers seemingly uncertain as to whether to assert their increasing influence in efforts to work for the collective common good, or whether to push ahead in a mercantilist way and frustrate attempts to strengthen the multilateral institutions on whose effectiveness so much of our and their future prosperity and security depend.

At the same time we and other European countries have been punching a good deal below our weight in recent months; and the Obama Administration, who set their course so hopefully 18 months ago, and whose main international objectives still seem to be admirable ones which we largely share, remain heavily preoccupied by domestic issues and are only too likely to be weakened by the mid-term elections in November. No wonder if there is a sense of drift, cynicism and disillusionment about the international community's joint capacity to face up to the global challenges

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before us-whether they are from trade protectionism, terrorism, climate change, nuclear proliferation or the shortfall in meeting the millennium development goals.

Making a serious contribution to dispelling that sense of drift must surely be a priority for the Government. I hope that the Minister will, before too long, say a bit more than he has been able to say this afternoon about how the Government intend to set about this task-what their aims are for the two G20 summit meetings already scheduled for later this year; how they plan to extract the Doha round of trade negotiations from the doldrums in which it is becalmed; and how they intend to move the climate change negotiations beyond the inadequate and fragile deal struck at Copenhagen on to the firmer ground of a legally binding set of commitments, properly monitored and verified on an international basis. I have to say that the coalition agreement on the climate change point was singularly fuzzy and vague. How do the Government intend to pursue the twin aims of nuclear disarmament and proliferation and deal with the threats to the non-proliferation treaty from the policies of North Korea and Iran? In that context, I warmly welcome the statement by the Foreign Secretary, which the noble Lord referred to, about our warhead assets and our nuclear posture. In fact, I wrote to the previous Foreign Secretary before the two big nuclear conferences this spring and suggested that we should do just that. He did not do it and he did not reply.

No one reading those parts of the two parties' election manifestos which dealt with the European Union can fail to be struck by the sharp contrast between them, as several others have said before me. The Conservative document was a long litany of negatives-a list of things that the European Union must not be allowed to do or, perhaps even less realistically, must desist from doing. The Liberal Democrat document set out many objectives which any supporter of our membership would applaud. Producing one policy out of those contradictions will not be an easy task, but the coalition agreement seems to represent a first hesitant step down that road. What this country cannot afford is to zig-zag between two unreconciled sets of European Union policies. But nor can it afford to have no EU policy objectives at all, which is what a cursory reading of the gracious Speech might lead one to suppose was the situation.

I hope that the Government will not head back down the long dark tunnel of institutional wrangling from which the EU has only just emerged with the entry into force of the Lisbon treaty. Surely it is better to concentrate on the substantive policy areas where our objectives and those of the EU broadly coincide-on trade, climate change, energy security, completing the single market, resuming growth and increasing productivity-so that we are not left far behind by the emerging countries that are coming out of recession much faster than we are.

Pursuing further enlargement, against the views of the doubters, is another policy that we should support, along with preparing carefully for the next major budgetary negotiations, which will be upon us before long, and building up common policies towards Russia and in support of US efforts to achieve progress in the

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Middle East. All these are surely far more urgent requirements than tilting at the windmills of further and unspecified treaty changes.

Any foreign policy worthy of respect requires a minimum of resources if it is to be effective. The outgoing Government have left the Foreign and Commonwealth Office well short of that minimum, and with the prospect of falling even further short as the wider pressure builds for drastic cuts in spending. What seems not to have been appreciated is that, by removing the protection for the foreign and Commonwealth budget from exchange-rate fluctuations, and as a consequence of rising, legally binding international obligations such as UN-assessed contributions for peacekeeping, the FCO has been facing proportionately far greater cuts than any domestic department, at a time when Britain's relative decline in economic weight increases the need for a nimble, effective diplomatic effort. When a country is rising up the international league tables, everyone beats a path to its door; but alas, the contrary is also true. Surely now is not the time to starve our diplomacy of resources. I hope that the Minister will assure us, when he winds up the debate, that the extremely welcome strategic defence and security review that the new Government have set in hand will cover the issue of resources for our diplomacy, and that meanwhile no irretrievable damage to our resource base will be allowed.

The Government have set themselves the laudable objective of finishing a five-year term. That must be welcome from the foreign policy point of view, because short-termism is inimical to an effective foreign policy. I welcome it also from a wider constitutional point of view. However, we cannot afford a period of introspection, of turning our backs on the world's problems. Glib remarks about Britain not being a global policeman sound pretty odd at a time when we are providing 200 to 300 peacekeepers to a United Nations that has deployed roughly 100,000 worldwide. We need to set out now, with realism but also a degree of ambition, to make the most of our partnerships and alliances in Europe, across the Atlantic and in the Commonwealth. We must remember that, hard-pressed financially though we feel and undoubtedly are, we are still a country that, working with others, can make a difference; and that we have a responsibility so to do.

5.52 pm

Lord St John of Bletso: My Lords, I will devote my remarks to current developments and challenges in southern Africa. While the gracious Speech made no mention of Africa, it did mention Her Majesty's Government's commitment to development aid. I wholeheartedly support the Government's agenda for international development, as outlined in One World Conservatism. At a time of economic uncertainty, when budgets are tight, the focus on aid effectiveness and value for money becomes all the more critical. To this end, I welcome the establishment of the independent aid watchdog, which is an excellent move towards results-driven aid and a re-evaluation of where the money goes. I was also pleased to see a commitment to more involvement of the private sector, and to public/private partnerships, in an effort to achieve the millennium

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development goals. I firmly believe that aid should be linked with trade when considering the needs of Africa.

There have been many extremely encouraging developments in Africa over the past 20 years, from 1990 when there were only four elected democracies to the peak in 2005 when there were 24 elected democracies. That is all very encouraging but, in its quest for greater democratisation and economic growth, the continent is still dogged with the problems of corruption and a lack of transparency and accountability, as well as a lack of infrastructure and power shortages. Sadly, in some countries such as Zimbabwe, political hardliners are clearly more interested in their personal wealth and prosperity than in the interests of their people.

In just over two weeks' time, South Africa will be hosting the World Cup. In the words of President Jacob Zuma:

"This is the single greatest opportunity we have ever had to showcase our diversity and potential to the world".

I firmly believe that after years of doubt and criticism, the World Cup will confound the pessimists and be a resounding success. Preparations for the World Cup have not only taken the country's infrastructure to new levels, with new airports, ports, roads and rail links, but have also provided a focus for social cohesion which could-I say "could"-and, I hope, will result in the social legacy that is the most important thing of all.

Thankfully, South Africa emerged from the credit crunch and global recession in considerably better shape than many of its trading partners in the G8 and avoided the worst effects of the economic contraction. However, while the country boasts many economic achievements, it desperately needs to tackle the deep-seated problems such as skills shortages, high unemployment and poverty. That is why I was very encouraged by the recent budget speech by the Minister of Finance, Pravin Gordhan, in which he focused on five priorities-healthcare, education, housing and rural development, tackling crime and, finally, promoting job creation in a sustainable way.

Inadequacies in the power supply in southern Africa will continue to be a serious constraint in the growth of business and inward investment into the region. Just as important as power supply are water management and distribution issues, which are also likely to become major constraints in the region.

Great strides have been achieved in southern Africa in tackling the spread of HIV/AIDS. Of course, South Africa has the worst statistics in the world when it comes to HIV. However, in my opinion not enough has been done to tackle the scourge of malaria in the region. I was, therefore, delighted to note that £500 million will be pledged every year to tackle malaria.

A lot was achieved by the recent state visit of Jacob Zuma here in March. This was all incorporated in the joint declaration on 4 March. One of the subjects-a point raised by the Minister-was the need for South Africa to play a more proactive role to complete the implementation of the global political agreement in Zimbabwe, paving the way for free and, one hopes, fair elections there.

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Many would argue that Zimbabwe is in a state of stalemate. Although I have some reservations as to the road map and the timetable for full and fair elections in the country, over the past year the transitional Government have achieved some major breakthroughs. Following the implementation of the de-dollarisation of the currency in January last year, gone are the days of hyperinflation, where a 100-trillion dollar note was worth just £2.50. This has had a knock-on effect with an improvement in agricultural performance, a doubling of tobacco production and a mild economic recovery. Also, all the schools and hospitals have now reopened. Hospitals have far better access to clean water, and food is more readily accessible on supermarket shelves. However, the political hardliners-the likes of Patrick Chinamasa, the Justice Minister; Emmerson Mnangagwa, the Minister of Defence; Chiwenga, the Minister of Police; and of course Robert Mugabe-have clearly been stalling the process towards elections.

While talks have started on agreeing the constitution, progress has been extremely slow. Much needed inward investment has been stalled by political uncertainty and the recently introduced Act on indigenisation and the poor state of infrastructure-particularly the lack of power and the skills shortage, with more than a third of all Zimbabweans living out of the country-has certainly not helped the situation.

Following his recent state visit here, President Zuma visited Zimbabwe. It is encouraging that following that visit and the meetings with President Mugabe a human rights commission, a media commission and an electoral commission have been established, the membership of all three having been agreed by all three parties.

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