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Does the Minister believe, as I do, that more needs to be done about our relations with Latin America? I accept that in the past there needed to be and in the present there needs to be a bolder and more innovative approach to Latin America. We need to change and adapt to the evolving circumstances that we see there. These are critical times, particularly since the United States is clearly ratcheting up its interest, and when China has had such an important role as a trading partner. Interestingly, China's huge hunger for commodities has done more over the decades than western aid and countless Marshall plans have been able to do.

All the fine words need to be fleshed out by the European Union and the United States as well as the UK. We need more joined-up thinking-we need to get our act together and to think more coherently. For instance, as members of the European Union we need to pay more attention to the emphasis that Brazil and other emerging economies are placing on what is called south-south diplomacy. They are not looking to the north for diplomatic contacts; they are looking for their southern allies to work with. In my view, they are punching above their regional and international weight in an unprecedented way. Brazil has recruited hundreds of new diplomatic staff and is strengthening relations with China, India, Russia and South Africa. Brazil now has more diplomatic missions in Africa than does the UK and, with other emerging economy allies, is crucial to making progress, as many noble Lords have said, on climate change, trade and financial regulation. It seeks a seat on the Security Council and argues that the UN must, sooner rather than later, reflect the make-up of the modern world. Would the Minister care to comment on these Brazilian aspirations? Does he agree, too, that progress has been made by a number of burgeoning Latin American democracies, which should be more positively recognised? P5 members such as the United Kingdom must be ready to respond that all permanent members and nuclear powers now face new and unprecedented challenges.

Another country to touch upon, as other noble Lords have done, is Venezuela. We take note of the purchase of £4 billion worth of Russian weapons and the Chinese loan of £20 billion. Those are surely clear reasons to up our game in Latin America at a time when its new allies are preparing to pour in still more dollars.

Noble Lords will be aware that a growing number of Latin American countries are making serious attempts to tackle some of the human rights abuses that have

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been raised by many noble Lords, including impunity, and to recognise increasingly that peace and reconciliation depend on truth, justice and reparation. Six countries in Latin America now have comprehensive laws on violence specifically against women, covering domestic violence, community and state violence. However, violence against women and girls remains endemic in many countries in Latin America and discrimination against women, according to Amnesty, still lacks vigorous discrimination. Meanwhile, discrimination against the indigenous people continues, as the noble Baroness, Lady Coussins, has said. They face intimidation and harassment across the whole continent. However, Bolivia has made substantial progress, including the elevation of indigenous jurisdiction, making it equal to current judicial process. As the noble Baroness, Lady Gibson, pointed out, in many ways that country is making a great deal of progress.

Would the Minister clarify what the UK position is on the European Union trade agreements with those countries, particularly Columbia and Peru, alluded to by the noble Lord, Lord Avebury? Will the Government insist, as the noble Lord asked, that there be consultation with and ratification when appropriate with the Parliaments of those countries? Will there be subsequent monitoring of any clauses relating to human rights and environmental protection? These are important points; the commercial interests are important, but they have to be seen in tandem with the leverage that it gives us on human rights.

In conclusion, we all know the stereotypes of Latin America have been transformed, but there are still structural constraints on economic growth and on political and social systems, which are in need of radical overhaul. There is insecurity stemming from the narcotics and arms trades, but this House should agree that partnership and engagement are the only way forward.

2.16 pm

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): My Lords, this has been a rich and deep debate. We have to thank the noble Viscount, Lord Montgomery, for initiating the debate, which he did quite excellently, and for giving us the opportunity to let our minds range over this increasingly important area of the planet. When listening to a debate such as this, the Minister arrives with a wheelbarrow full of briefing. However, the task is not merely to try to share with noble Lords the contents of my files; it is to share with the Foreign and Commonwealth Office the contents of noble Lords' minds. In this debate, there has been a magnificent briefing for all those that care to read Hansard and study the expert views of many noble Lords. There is a massive amount of material of immense value. I shall greatly enjoy studying it further and discussing it with Jeremy Browne, my excellent colleague in the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, who has immediate responsibility for this area in the pattern of responsibilities that we share out in the Foreign Office. In a way, that involves some slightly unrealistic silos, but we all have to take an area of the planet to look at, and I am very pleased that Jeremy Browne is doing just that.

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The debate was also marked by the remarkably comprehensive and profound maiden speech from the noble Lord, Lord Liddle. First, he told us about his dynastic connections with this House, and we really feel that he is one of us already-if that is not too offensive a phrase. It was a delight to hear his deep mind at work on the great issues. He is a committed internationalist, and I know that we will enjoy hearing much more from him. I shall come to some of his specific points later.

The noble Baroness, Lady Kinnock, is absolutely right. To try to generalise about this colossal area of the world and this vast pattern of diverse and different countries is a dangerous thing anyway, but to do it in 18 or 20 minutes at the end of a debate such as this verges on the absurd. However, I will try to cover a great many of the points that have been made. I will not cover them all, of course, but I will write to noble Lords about some aspects that I omit.

Let me start where the debate started, with the excellent introductory speech of the noble Viscount, which immediately struck the central point of our debate: Latin America is a changed scene. We have stereotyped ideas about the Latin America of the past-inflation, dictatorships, juntas and appalling poverty. The poverty still exists to some degree, but the stereotype is no longer valid. A completely new pattern of interrelationships weaving with the rest of the planet has emerged. If we have no other message from this debate for the wider world, I hope that that one will stick.

In the words of my noble friend Lord Garel-Jones, the issue is now in fashion. It is right that it should be, as entirely new influences, trends and interests for this country are now at work, which we have to study closely, grasp and adjust our policy to. My noble friend pointed out that, in many ways, Latin America is a continent full of prisoners of nationalism. Well, we are all prisoners of nationalism to a degree, but we also have to adjust to global trends and interdependent forces which are bound to require that nationalism to be modified. The dilemma remains of how to combine loyalty-in the sense of belonging to one's local community and nation, in which one wants pride-with the facts of globalisation and interdependence. I thought that my noble friend put that extremely well.

The noble Baroness, Lady Gibson, spoke with great knowledge and detail about Bolivia and Cuba. I do not think that I have anything to add to her knowledge; indeed, it would be almost an impertinence to do so. She rightly said that we are not in favour of the continuation of the blockade of Cuba. I believe that minds in other capitals take the same view, so we could be moving to a better era, although I hardly need to tell your Lordships of the difficulties.

The right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Liverpool talked about new international bodies. It is a profound thought. The 20th-century platforms that we inherited need repair and refurbishment and, although they still have immense value, we may have to think about new prospects as well. He mentioned the central issue of the rainforests, which are one of the keys to both adjusting to and mitigating the effects of global climate

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change. I can assure him that, as we move towards the Cancun gathering, that will be very much in our minds. We shall give considerable emphasis to the whole issue of rainforests, on which a great deal of work has been done both under the previous Government and under this one. There is no question but that that is a central issue.

The noble Lord, Lord Giddens, turned to an area that interests me very much and rightly illuminated the issues relating to the power of Brazil, about which we heard a great deal in the debate, as it emerges as a major global player. Underpinning that power is the effective policy on renewable energies that Brazil has developed with great courage over many years. I say "with great courage" because, throughout the 1990s, when oil prices dipped right down to $6, $7 or $8 a barrel, many people said that Brazil had backed the wrong horse in going for renewables-the ethanols and so on-which it would find more expensive, as indeed they were for a time. However, the Brazilians stuck to their policy and now it has paid off handsomely. Brazil is now one of the greatest producers not just of ethanol but of commercial and clean ethanol of the highest quality, which puts it to the forefront as a great energy nation. That is quite aside from the fact that Brazil has now discovered so-called pre-salt oil deposits at considerable depth, which make it a major oil-producing power as well.

One way or another, quite aside from natural resources and energy, Brazil is emerging as a key player. It is a country with which we intend to establish close and closer relations. Indeed, we would be foolish not to do so, as the voice of Brazil can be heard very clearly on the international scene. The noble Lord, Lord Hannay, rightly reminded us that not only Brazil but Mexico and Argentina are members of the G20, which is the new motor of global policy-making. It is not the only one, but it is very powerful, and three countries in our purview today are at the centre of it. He referred to the deal that Brazil recently offered, alongside Turkey, to Iran over enrichment. That caused a number of queries around the world, because it was a surprise to many people that suddenly Brazil and Turkey should be players on the international stage. We have to look carefully at that and perhaps have second thoughts about what they were proposing and what contribution it could make in unravelling the hideous jigsaw of Iran's nuclear weapons ambitions, which we all fear.

The noble Lord and the noble Baroness, Lady Kinnock, mentioned the influence of China and, indeed, Japan on Latin America. We are all sitting here thinking that Latin America lies somewhere to the west of us, but of course in Latin America there is just as strong a perspective going westwards around the world to China and Japan. Chinese investment and interests are spreading all over Latin America, while Japanese interests are strong, too. These are major factors in assessing our own relationship and how best we can build on it. The noble Lord also mentioned what we all recognise, which is that we may get a little carried away with the rhetoric of the new dynamism of these great economies, as poverty remains in massive quantities. The need for effective and well targeted aid and development programmes-the kind of aid that leads to development, which not all aid does-remains vital.

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The noble Baroness, Lady Coussins, concentrated on human rights in Mexico and Colombia. I have extensive notes and briefings on these, but I may need to write to her. However, I will say now that, although we have all read about the ugly drugs wars and the heavy casualties in Mexico, we take all reports of human rights abuses seriously wherever they occur. Human rights are a key part of our bilateral political dialogue with Mexico. The noble Baroness asked whether we regard human rights defenders and NGOs as important for Colombia. Yes, we do. The work in Colombia of civil society groups, human rights defenders and trade unions is very important. We want to promote the strengthening of Colombian civil society and, in our view, human rights defenders need to be seen as part of the solution to human rights difficulties and should not be stigmatised officially or otherwise as part of the problem. Are we undertaking practical work to help? Yes, we are. Our embassy in Bogota frequently meets those under threat to discuss the situation and how we can carry it forward in a positive way. There is much more to say on that but, frankly, there is no time to say it.

The noble Baroness also asked how the EU fits into all this. There is the EU-Rio Group and the EU/Latin America/Caribbean group, a meeting of which my right honourable friend the Secretary of State and my honourable friend Jeremy Browne, whom I have already mentioned, attended within the first few days of taking up their posts in the department. They had considerable, detailed and constructive discussions with Latin American leaders, demonstrating the seriousness of our commitment behind the words and generalities about stronger relations with Latin America.

My noble friend Lady Hooper, who is extremely well acquainted with these issues and has considerable knowledge and understanding of Latin American developments, spoke on the sensitive question of our representation there. There have been closures, and concern has been expressed both under the previous Government and recently. Our intention is that there should be no further retreat in these matters. We have no plans for further closures of embassies. There may have to be reallocation of resources-we are all in the business of trying to adjust to a tighter resource allocation-and details about how we will react to the pressures on us will be spelt out fully and clearly to both Houses of Parliament at the right time. However, in general we are concerned to see no further retreat in our diplomatic capacities and representations in the area. Changes to meet new conditions may be required, but the shrinkage is something that we hope to put behind us.

The noble Lord, Lord Griffiths, gave the sort of classically valuable speech that can emerge in your Lordships' House. He spoke with enormous and detailed expertise on Haiti. Most of us think of Haiti only in relation to the horrific earthquake that happened recently, and to what we could do thereafter. We have done a good deal-we have cancelled all Haiti's debts to the United Kingdom-and it is encouraging to hear from the noble Lord that there are signs of recovery and development brilliantly emerging out of the ruins and horror that we saw reported in the papers only a few months ago.

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My noble friend Lord Avebury spoke, as I expected him to, on a range of detailed issues concerning drugs and human rights. In Colombia, the work of the British Government with the Colombian authorities has been much appreciated and is seen as very successful. This is a very positive and effective story in a difficult area. Generally, we try to encourage-this is a different issue from drugs, but the noble Lord mentioned conflict with indigenous peoples-any kind of conflict-reducing talks and developments. We have encouraged all kinds of negotiations. The noble Lord mentioned Honduras, where our non-resident ambassador and her staff have just visited and met NGOs to hear concerns about human rights. The clear aim is to normalise relations with Honduras and that is what we will do. I will write to my noble friend about the Peruvian situation, because I must devote a few minutes to some general remarks.

The noble Baroness returned, as I expected, to the salient issues of the rise of Brazil as a great nation; of the vast power of Mexico, which is now the 11th largest manufacturing nation in the world; and of Argentina, with which, despite the colouring of our relations over the Falkland Islands issue, on which there is no change in our policy, we want to have warm and effective relations, as historically we have had. We will continue to work to achieve that, despite the Falklands problem. The Government intend to build on these newly established relationships with Latin America across a whole range of foreign policy areas. A deeper understanding, which this debate has certainly assisted, will enable the UK not only to be a true friend of the region, but will also allow us to extend the hand of partnership, which will be in the best interests of our own citizens and society as well as of those in the region.

Noble Lords have said in the debate this afternoon that the centre of gravity, and the balance of power and influence, have shifted away from traditional 20th-century patterns, and global decision-making has moved away from the narrower North Atlantic duo of European and North American influence to the broader and more representative G20. Many wise voices have pointed to the rise of the BRICs: Brazil, Russia, India and China. That has become a shorthand for describing the shift in the economic climate, which includes not just the BRICs but such large and influential countries as Mexico. It is absolutely right that countries such as Mexico, Brazil and Argentina are members of the G20 and at the heart of global economic decision-making today. Not only is it important that our international economic framework reflects the global economic reality, but many of our Latin American friends who suffered great financial turbulence in the 1980s and 1990s, which we all remember, learnt early lessons about strict financial discipline from which we could all benefit-as Secretary Clinton rightly pointed out the other day when she spoke about these matters. The markets of Mexico and Brazil may seem far removed from the bread and butter of our domestic issues, but intensifying our engagement with emerging economies will be critical in helping us tackle the issues that we face at home. The same is true if we are to make our views count on the global challenges central to our security and well-being. I include in those challenges

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concerns about climate change. Latin American countries are more important than ever to the achievement of these objectives.

We have all had the opportunity in this debate to discuss briefly where some of our shared interests lie. The examples that have been raised show that our relations with Latin America are multidimensional: not one of them can be defined by just one issue. A stronger relationship between the UK and Latin America would benefit us all, and I leave noble Lords in no doubt that that is the view of Her Majesty's Government. Our posts in the region raise human rights issues with host Governments and ensure that the European Union takes these matters seriously. We are pleased that many Latin American countries are participating positively in the UN's universal periodic review process, and we look forward to ongoing co-operation with them in this process.

In conclusion-because my time, too, is up-the fortunes of Latin America and the UK are very much intertwined. Although we may not agree on everything, we understand how important it is to remain engaged with each other, and we look forward to the future. It is the Government's intention to shape a distinctive foreign policy that protects and promotes our national interests, strengthens our economy, makes the most of the opportunities of the 21st century and upholds the highest values of our society-namely, political freedom, individual aspiration, democratic choice, human rights, free trade and the eradication of poverty. I look forward greatly to working with my noble friends in the House, and with our friends and partners in the countries of Latin America, to achieve those goals.

The central message remains that Latin America has changed. In the words of the noble Baroness, Lady Kinnock, we need bold and innovative approaches to the new conditions. The role of the United States, our great ally, is no longer so dominant. The Washington consensus is no longer the ruling rubric of the area, as was pointed out in the debate. Countries such as Brazil and Mexico have their own agendas and are reaching out to parts of the world in new ways, including to the United Kingdom. The noble Lord, Lord Garel-Jones, reminded us that Mr Canning talked about the new world being called in to redress the balance of the old. Perhaps we should turn that on its head and say that the time has come when the old world should be called in to redress the balance of the new. I thank noble Lords for a superb debate. We all have a right to feel that we have made a contribution to understanding this vast and important issue for our nation.

2.39 pm

Viscount Montgomery of Alamein: As two noble Lords have withdrawn there are theoretically a few more minutes for me to sum up, but I do not propose to take many of them. Fortunately, the noble Lord, Lord Howell, has summarised everybody's speeches succinctly, so I do not have to.

We have this afternoon had an amazing range of opinion and views. I cannot fail to mention the maiden speech of the noble Lord, Lord Liddle, with which I

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agreed almost entirely. He will be a valuable asset not only to this House but to the cause of Latin America. His policy review organisation will no doubt produce many interesting papers of value on the subject.

The themes that came though in this debate were, obviously, human rights and environmental concerns, which were mentioned by so many. The one thing that I thought was particularly striking was the idea of unity-the noble Lord, Lord Hannay of Chiswick, expressed this-in Europe and Latin America; in other words, the dream of Bolivar. There are obviously a lot of differences of opinion and different ideas about how to achieve unity in these two great continents that must work together. In coming back to that in other debates, as the noble Baroness, Lady Hooper, said, we may need to address many aspects of this immense problem.

I am extremely grateful to all those who have taken part. I have learnt an enormous amount from this debate. One never stops learning. Even though I have been at it for many years, every day I learn something new. Today has been no exception. I beg leave to withdraw the Motion.

Motion withdrawn.

Health: Primary and Community Care


2.41 pm

Moved By Lord Mawson

Lord Mawson:My Lords, it is a privilege to be able to lead this debate on the future of primary and community care at this early stage in the new coalition Government. The vision that the Government have set out for primary care, where resources are deployed in the hands of practitioners close to the ground, has significant risks but is full of opportunity. As a social entrepreneur, I welcome this bold step.

As noble Lords will know, over the past 13 years in an area of great deprivation and health need, where the health authority had left a gaping hole in primary care provision, we, with the local community of Bromley by Bow, have set up a health centre which is integrated with housing, education, businesses and the arts. I declare an interest as the founder and, now, president of the centre, and that, in my professional life, I am increasingly working across the country advising on this area of health development.

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