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House of Lords

Friday, 23 January 2015.

10 am

Prayers—read by the Lord Bishop of Coventry.

Death of a Member: Lord Brittan of Spennithorne


10.05 am

The Lord Speaker (Baroness D’Souza): My Lords, I regret to inform the House of the death of the noble Lord, Lord Brittan of Spennithorne, on 21 January. On behalf of the House, I extend our deep condolences to the noble Lord’s family and friends.

Specialist Printing Equipment and Materials (Offences) Bill

Specialist Printing Equipment and Materials (Offences) Bill15th Report from the Delegated Powers Committee

Second Reading

10.05 am

Moved by Baroness Berridge

That the Bill be read a second time.

Relevant document: 15th Report from the Delegated Powers Committee

Baroness Berridge (Con): My Lords, this small Bill is an important step in tackling identity crime. It had swift conduct through the other place by the honourable Member for Southend West, Mr David Amess. I will address briefly the context, the mischief that the Bill aims to address and a couple of final matters of clarification.

First, on the context, obtaining false identity documents enables criminals at all levels, from opportunistic criminals to those involved in immigration offences, serious organised crime and terrorism, to hide their tracks and evade detection. Although your Lordships will be aware of the use of false identities to commit fraud, in 2013 the National Fraud Authority showed that almost a third of UK adults have been the victim of such crime at some point, with an average economic loss of £1,200 per person. In fact, crimes using false identities now account for half of all frauds in the UK. False documents might be used to obtain a bank account, which gives the first layer of a legitimate identity that could then enable illegal immigrants to merge into society and even to claim social security benefits to which they are not entitled.

However, there is a public safety aspect to false documents. If someone knows that they will fail a CRB check to work with children, they might seek false documents and a false identity to obtain the requisite permission. People might even try to obtain a firearms licence with them if they have a previous conviction. On a visit this week to the specialist Metropolitan Police unit, Project Genesius, named

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after the patron saint of printing, I was shown numerous recent examples of illegal document factories which it has uncovered. Merely by downloading the hard disks from specialist printing equipment that it has seized, it has compiled a database of 94,000 false identities that are in circulation.

Project Genesius is a great example of the retailers of specialist printing equipment working together with the police to protect the public and the reputation of their industry. There are around only 1,000 retailers of this equipment. I was pleased to learn that when PC World proposed selling this equipment, it followed the police service’s request not to do so as, unlike other retailers, its systems would not have allowed the identity of the purchaser to be obtained. In fact, the consultation on this Bill showed that more than 80% of respondents favoured the introduction of this specific offence. I pay tribute to the dedication and enthusiasm of DCI Andrew Gould, Mr Gary McManus and their team at Project Genesius, which is such that other countries are now sending their officers to visit our specialist unit.

People who operate these document factories are of course prosecuted but the Crown Prosecution Service has not been able to prosecute those who have supplied this specialist equipment to criminals, even when there was evidence that the equipment was to be used for such purposes. The mischief that the Bill seeks to address is a small but important gap in the criminal law armoury: of knowingly supplying specialist printing equipment for the purposes of criminal conduct. Clause 2 defines “specialist” to cover the manufacture of relevant documents, which include passports and immigration documents, travel documents such as driving licences and blue badges, security passes, national insurance number cards, currency, credit cards, and birth, death and marriage certificates. It even includes those who make rubber stamps, as a false passport without a false UK immigration stamp can be useless.

Finally, there are a few matters of clarification. The geographical extent of the Bill will be for England and Wales. However, the Home Office is working with the devolved Administrations in Northern Ireland and Scotland, and the Crown dependencies, on these measures. It has committed to keeping them informed of the progress of the Bill. It is also important to note that false document factories are a cross-border problem, so the Bill will apply to the supply for the purpose of criminal activity occurring in any jurisdiction. If a supplier in England and Wales sells equipment to an identity fraudster knowing that they will use it to manufacture false documents, the supplier will be prosecuted whether the manufacture happens in England, Scotland, France or even Timbuktu.

Many of these specialist printing firms will also service the equipment that they have sold but the offence will take place at the time of the supply or sale of the specialist printer. If the company or an employee later becomes aware that a crime is being committed as a result of a printer supplied by their company, they will be in the same position as any other citizen, in having a moral responsibility but no legal duty to report it. However, if the company or an employee

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then made a subsequent sale to that person, their knowledge would be a relevant factor. I note that under Clause 3 corporations and partnerships, as well as individuals, can be prosecuted for this offence.

Finally, and in fear of sounding like I am on the National Lottery results programme, this seems to be the first appearance of the word “connivance” in an English statute. The word is not defined in the Bill and will therefore have its dictionary definition,

“willingness to allow or be secretly involved in an immoral or illegal act”.

Essentially, this is to cover implicit rather than explicit consent and will, I hope, cover those officers of companies or partnerships whose systems of reporting are so dilatory or are designed so as to avoid them knowing the information obtained by their salespeople or delivery drivers. I beg to move.

10.11 am

Lord Cormack (Con): My Lords, I shall speak briefly in the gap. It is a shame that there is no other Back-Bencher to support my noble friend’s admirable and exemplary Bill. It was introduced in the other place with his customary aplomb by Mr, and now Sir, David Amess MP, and we all congratulate him on his recent honour.

As I say, this is an exemplary Bill because it has a target and a specific purpose. If it is passed into law, every Member of your Lordships’ House will be a potential beneficiary. As my noble friend said, there can be few of us who have not been victims of identity fraud of one sort or another. I have had my credit cards used in America, and so has my son. Large sums were involved, but they were fully covered so they were not particular personal disasters, but the incidents bring it home to one just how prevalent such crimes are. If this Bill when it is enacted can strike at the root of these appalling criminal offences, we will owe a great debt of gratitude not only to my noble friend Lady Berridge, but also to Sir David Amess. I hope very much that we will be able to couple in that vote of thanks both the Opposition and the Government before this brief debate is over. I give my full support to the Bill.

10.13 am

Baroness Smith of Basildon (Lab): My Lords, I add my congratulations to the noble Baroness, Lady Berridge, and to Sir David Amess on bringing forward this Bill. Perhaps the fact that there are not many speakers in your Lordships’ House is a mark of the support the Bill has. I do not see it as anything controversial, although it is interesting to note that because we are also debating the Counter-Terrorism and Security Bill, we can see the synergies where this Bill can feed into the work we are doing on that legislation. This important Bill has real and tangible benefits, and it has our full support.

I have a few comments and questions. The noble Lord, Lord Cormack, has just made a very important point. Most of us know someone who in one way or another has been subject to some kind of identity theft or fraud. I recall sitting at my desk as a Minister

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in Belfast and receiving a call from my bank asking, “Where are you?”. I replied that I was in Belfast and was told, “So you are not in China, then”, where my credit card had been used by someone who must have taken great delight in spending a lot of money. The noble Baroness mentioned the figures and the level of fraud, but these crimes also cause people personal distress.

Another area of concern has not been touched on. Some elderly friends of mine went into the local high-street branch of their reputable bank. Although they own a computer, they do not go online to surf the internet, they do not use online banking and they do not buy anything from websites. However, a bank representative convinced them that they should take out insurance protection against online identity theft at quite great expense. They were fearful because they had read in the papers about the problems people experienced with identity theft, so they were persuaded to take out an expensive insurance policy. This crime preys on people’s fears and causes other problems. This Bill gives us an opportunity to put a stop to it.

However, the Bill goes further because there are other instances to which the noble Baroness referred where obtaining a fake identity facilitates further serious crime. I have mentioned the counterterrorism Bill. It is interesting to note that before coming into your Lordships’ House this morning, I googled “fake passports” to see what came up. It was a legitimate inquiry and I was not trying to buy one; rather, I wanted to find an estimate of how many fake passports were in circulation and what other information there was about this issue. The very first link was to a website offering to sell me a fake passport. That is an indication of the seriousness of this crime. I hope that the Minister will be able to say something about the efforts being made to crack down on those kinds of websites because they encourage half the nation to find a link to buying a fake passport.

This is a serious matter. The introduction of e-passports to reduce the level of counterfeiting that goes on has been important, and we should educate people on the value of e-passports and encourage them to use them. Last year I came through Heathrow with a Conservative MP. We looked at the queues at passport control and we both headed for the e-passport channel. The MP did not know what the logo was on his passport to identify its e-status, but we both went through much quicker than anyone else. At that point he did admit that he had actually spoken against e-passports because he had thought that they were less secure, but afterwards he swallowed his words. We need to make it clear to people that we are bringing in e-passports to address the security issues around these documents.

The noble Baroness has done the House a service by giving us some examples of what specialist printing equipment can be used for. I do not think that I have a particularly criminal mindset, but I did my best to imagine what kinds of things could be printed. The more I thought about it, the more possibilities and their attendant dangers emerged, which reflects how serious this issue is. Perhaps the noble Baroness will be able to help me by explaining whether every kind of document that could be forged is covered by the legislation. I shall probe on one point to seek clarity.

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It cannot be safe to have security guards producing false qualification documents or to have people working on construction sites producing fake SKILLcards. The definitions of the documents are rightly very wide, but it would be helpful to know whether the Bill would include all documents. Further, whether or not those kinds of documents would be included in the legislation, the people who produce them may well be involved in other criminal activities, such as producing documents that would come under the scope of this Bill. I am thinking by way of example of cards to verify national insurance numbers.

Road safety is undermined if people have fake driving licences. Our security is undermined if people have fake travel documents. Fairness in society is undermined if people use fake blue badges to park in disabled spaces. Fairness in our immigration system is undermined if false documentation is used to obtain work here in the UK. What should concern us, but which has not been touched on in our short debate, is the fact that once someone has obtained a series of false identity documents they can then apply for genuine identity documents, thereby creating what appears to be a genuine identity for themselves. That route is open to criminals. I join the noble Baroness in paying tribute to the Metropolitan Police for the work that it is doing in this regard. The fact that it has clear information about more than 90,000 false identities should alarm us all, and illustrates the importance of the Bill in order to ensure that the police have the legal powers they need.

I seek clarification on one other point. Can the noble Lord or the noble Baroness give some more details on how, under the Bill, it can be proven that somebody “knows” that the equipment will be used for illegal purposes? Will it be enough to assert that the person supplying the equipment could only reasonably have come to the conclusion or will a higher level of proof be needed? In addition, it will be helpful if anything can be said about the likely costs and benefits of the Bill. The Minister in the other place said that the likely costs and benefits would be overwhelmingly positive, and I have no doubt that he was right, but it would be helpful if we could have any other information on that. The City of London Police, which has expertise in this area, believes that it,

“will not be overly onerous on legitimate businesses, but will allow police to take much needed action against those companies who seek to put their own profit above the country’s security and safety by selling this equipment with a complicit ‘no questions asked’ approach”.

My final point is that there is often a general view that forgery and dealing in fake goods is a benign offence. Many of us have been on holiday and seen the so-called Gucci handbags on sale in a market for the equivalent of £20. In Istanbul I was offered a “genuine fake”—not like the other fakes—Mulberry bag, which I must say was pretty impressive. I also recall being in China some years ago, when I took a trade mission from Northern Ireland when I was a Minister there, and the amount of fake “branded” goods on sale, semi-openly, was quite staggering. I did not take that terribly seriously—I was not going to get too upset about a handbag or a £1 Montblanc pen. However, officials told me that those things were linked to the same gangs who produced engineering parts—spare parts

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for aeroplanes and cars; there are obvious implications if those are fake—and documents. I do not know if that is always the case, but it illustrates how serious forgery is. What may seem benign and a bit of fun could be the thin end of the wedge that leads to very serious criminal activity and impacts on national security. This legislation is therefore clearly needed. I hope it will prove useful to the police in tackling a form of crime which in itself is bad but which may also lead to very many more serious and dangerous offences.

10.22 am

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Home Office (Lord Bates) (Con): My Lords, I join other speakers in paying tribute to my noble friend Lady Berridge for the way in which she introduced the Bill. In the words of my noble friend Lord Cormack, this is an exemplary Bill. It is exemplary because it focuses clearly on a specific problem identified by the police. I join my noble friend and the noble Baroness, Lady Smith, in paying tribute to the Metropolitan Police and to Project Genesius. The project has done tremendous work in tackling fraud since it was formed in 2007, which shows that this has been a problem for some time. We have all had experiences of being victims—or alleged victims—of this type of fraud. I once had a panicked telephone call from someone at my bank who said, “We’ve had to stop your credit card—it’s been used six times in Albania”. I replied, “That’s because I’m in Albania. I’m walking there”. They said, “Don’t worry; you can just pop into the local branch where you are”. I said, “This is Albania. You don’t have branches in Albania”. They said, “Don’t worry, we’ve got branches everywhere. I’m sure you’ll find one”. But I did not.

Identity crime is a serious problem. It is rarely committed as a sole offence; it is usually the enabler for a broad range of serious crimes. For example, criminals use false documents to evade criminal record checks and gain access to children and vulnerable adults, to commit immigration and benefit fraud and to assist in terrorist activities. I therefore fully support my noble friend in her taking this important legislation forward and join other noble Lords in paying tribute to the work of Sir David Amess in the other place.

Prosecuting those who make and possess false documentation is a relatively straightforward process under the Identity Documents Act 2010. However, it is not specifically against the law to supply specialist equipment or materials to those who make those documents. That makes it difficult for police to prosecute those who “knowingly” supply specialist equipment to persons who intend to use it to commit a crime.

The Bill has strong support among the specialist printing industry, as noble Lords mentioned. Some 81% of respondents to the Government’s public consultation expressed support for the legislation, with 93% agreeing that it would act as a deterrent to specialist printing companies that might be tempted to collude or connive with identity fraudsters.

Just one individual colluding with identity fraudsters can lead to the production of thousands of false documents; and as the noble Baroness said, in the wider context of the counterterrorism legislation that

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we considered last night, this issue needs to be addressed. I also pay tribute to her for the assiduous way in which she was able last night not only to identify Twitter accounts belonging to the proscribed terrorist organisation under discussion but, today, to identify new sources of fake passports. I am grateful to her for her research. I am sure that the officials are listening in to this debate, and we will be sure to pass those details on to either the police or other prosecuting authorities.

Existing legislation is clearly insufficient as there is no targeted offence for “knowingly” supplying specialist printing equipment for criminal use. Currently, the police can prosecute using the conspiracy to defraud offence under the Fraud Act. However, conspiracy to defraud is not easy to prove, and the police have informed us that prosecuting under that offence requires a lot of time and resources to take it forward, often to no avail. The Bill will therefore strengthen the police’s powers in this area and send the message that the Government and this House take criminal behaviour very seriously.

The Home Office has also developed a wider programme of activity designed to tackle the manufacture and criminal use of false identities, including working closely with the City of London Police to address the wider issue of identity crime. This will reduce the harm and loss to the public and service providers caused by the criminal use of counterfeit documents, an offence which ultimately damages businesses and harms the economy, at a time when we are seeking to encourage economic growth.

Identity crime is clearly a serious crime, and it is clear that we must act now to prevent and disrupt criminal activity brought about by the supply of this highly specialist technology. The Private Member’s Bill before us today provides us with the opportunity to make this necessary change to strengthen police powers and to send a message to those who might collude with criminals. We must seize that opportunity. I hope that all Members of this House will support this much needed and exemplary Bill today. I commend the Bill to your Lordships’ House.

10.27 am

Baroness Berridge: My Lords, I am grateful to the noble Baroness, Lady Smith, and to the Minister for supporting the Bill. I shall deal with a couple of points that were raised.

First, on the scope, the Bill is aimed at identity documents; so while it would cover entry passes to premises and driving licences, faked examination results or qualifications would not be. Secondly, on mens rea, I made specific inquiries about why the wording is “knowingly supplying”. Making this a “recklessness” level offence had been considered but as there is a response to that, the mens rea remains “knowingly supplying”. Clause 3(1) states that the issue is whether the person who supplies the equipment “knows of the fact”. The lesser mens rea of “neglecting” or “consent and connivance” apply to the offices of a company. The Bill aims to ensure that officers cannot escape prosecution, leaving their front-desk staff, who have the knowledge, to be prosecuted alone. I hope that that clarifies the points raised.

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I should cover one or two other minor matters. The craft shop sector was the only part of the industry where the police were concerned about a lack of awareness, because in order to fake a large number of documents, the forger needs hot foil which is obtainable in craft shops. Criminals go round buying up hot foil from many different shops, so the police are keen to raise awareness within the sector. I saw what these machines can do: they can print fake passports at a cost of just £300 each. I have checked and found out that, fortunately, none of the equipment seized so far has been used to try to forge parliamentary passes.

Bill read a second time and committed to a Committee of the Whole House.

International Development (Official Development Assistance Target) Bill

†International Development (Official Development Assistance Target) Bill 15th Report from the Delegated Powers Committee

Second Reading

10.29 am

Moved by Lord Purvis of Tweed

That the Bill be read a second time.

Relevant document: 15th Report from the Delegated Powers Committee

Lord Purvis of Tweed (LD): My Lords, it is my privilege to be able to support my right honourable friend Michael Moore in bringing his Bill to this House for consideration. I am grateful to noble Lords for their attendance in the House today, and to those who will be taking part in the debate with their great knowledge and experience in this field over many years. In particular, I know that we are looking forward to the contribution of my noble friend Lord Fox, who will be making his maiden speech. I am also grateful to my noble friend Lady Suttie for her support leading up to today.

This Bill, founded upon a strong evidence base and backed by a wide cross-party political consensus, is supported strongly by non-political bodies, academics and charities and will play a major role in securing a long-term level of support for those in the world most in need, both directly through our bilateral aid and through multilateral support with our partners. The Bill also allows for UK leadership in the field of international development to be strengthened even further. Finally, it is in the long-term national interest of the United Kingdom itself.

The UK has been a major contributor to development assistance since the first moves to assess what level of support of official flows—loans at market or near-market rates and direct concessional flows through aid—would be needed for countries to develop their economies faster, in addition to private sector flows, in order for them to deliver improved social outcomes. From the initial work in the late 1950s and the subsequent analysis of the World Bank and the Pearson commission, the 0.7% target was formally recognised in October 1970, when the UN General Assembly adopted Resolution 2626, which included the goal:

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“Each economically advanced country will progressively increase its official development assistance to the developing countries and will exert its best efforts to reach a minimum net amount of 0.7 per cent of its gross national product at market prices by the middle of the Decade”.

The decade in question was the 1970s. In many key respects, the UK finally meeting this target in 2013 also met the commitments of our Liberal manifesto, which stated:

“Greater freedom in international trade will assist the underdeveloped countries who need markets for their products. We support the principle that in accordance with the Pearson Report Britain and other countries should contribute 1 per cent of Gross National Product of official aid to developing countries as soon as possible”.

The manifesto in question was that for the 1970 general election.

It is with a deep sense of quiet pride, therefore, that, for the first time since the UN target was established, Liberal Democrats have served as a partner in the UK Government and the UK has met the UN target, making it the first G7 country to do so, and we are bringing a measure to Parliament to entrench this achievement for years to come. We have delivered this in close partnership with Conservative colleagues equally committed in recent years to securing this goal. We have built our joint work on the very strong foundations laid down by the Labour Party, which made considerable progress after its election in 1997, especially in the commitments given in the 2004 spending review and the 2009 White Paper. I therefore echo the tribute that Michael Moore made in the other place to those on different Benches and those beyond Parliament who for many years have worked hard together to increase our development assistance. There was unanimity in the major parties’ manifestos in the 2010 general election to reach the UN target and entrench this in law.

Perhaps I can borrow words from the OECD’s Development Assistance Committee peer review report of 2014 of the UK’s development aid effort:

“Development is a high priority for the UK government. Even in difficult economic times, it remains committed to honouring its commitments and leads by example … This shows that persistent political will, sustained by broad cross-party consensus, makes it possible to achieve ambitious objectives”.

This Bill delivers on this wide consensus.

Clause 1 places a duty on the Secretary of State to meet the UN target in 2015 and in each subsequent year. Clause 2 provides for a requirement on the Secretary of State to make a statement as to why the target has been missed, if it has been. Clause 3 states that the process of reporting is to Parliament only, while Clause 4 consequentially repeals an existing duty on the Secretary of State to report when the target would be met in future. Clause 5 was amended in Committee in the other place, where Michael Moore accepted a government amendment for a duty on the Secretary of State to make provision for the independent evaluation of aid spending rather than the establishment of a new, separate body to carry this out. Consequently, the Schedule to the Bill was removed.

The independent evaluation of the efficacy of aid spending is both important for us to deliver properly on our aid objectives and important for our own public to know that such a large amount of money is

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being spent properly. This is especially important at the time of budget pressure within the UK. The Independent Commission for Aid Impact, established by the coalition in 2011, is expected to carry out the duty under the Bill, but Clause 5 also places a duty on the Secretary of State to report to Parliament on how the Government carries out the evaluation. Finally, Clause 6 states that the Act is to commence on 1 June this year and extends to the whole of the UK.

I shall address some of the issues raised about the Bill that have been aired before turning to the real benefits that I believe it will bring. These issues fall into four main broad areas: questions about the merits of maintaining the 1970 target in the modern world; whether maintaining the target focuses too heavily on how much is spent rather than what it is spent on; whether meeting the 0.7% target each year has distorting aspects with unintended consequences; and whether the Bill can really bind successive Parliaments.

Recent evidence from development charities, with which I am confident noble Lords will be familiar, highlights the positive change in global development over the past decade—principally because of economic growth in China and India but also in African and Asian economies. The impressive report of the Commons International Development Committee last February highlighted the practice for middle-income countries to graduate from aid in a controlled manner, making more use of technical assistance and climate change for economic development, for example, and loans and support for NGOs.

Support is therefore directed more towards low-income countries, with more support for financing global public goods. In particular, this addresses disease alleviation, health support, nutrition, sanitation and child mortality. The committee’s strong conclusion addressed the second concern directly, saying:

“There has been huge progress in developing countries. The number of people living in extreme poverty since 1990 has halved, and the prospect of ending extreme poverty by 2030 is within reach. Aid is still of critical importance, especially for reaching the very poorest people in Low Income Countries and we believe that they should remain the priority for UK aid”.

The third issue is that there might be an inbuilt instability and an end-of-year rush to meet a binding target, especially if external factors on the calculation of GNI take place. Last week’s National Audit Office report, which I am sure noble Lords will have seen, is an important contribution. The requirement to hit, but not significantly exceed, 0.7% every calendar year means that DfID has to hit a fairly narrow target against a background of considerable uncertainty. However, the NAO’s conclusion was:

“The Department worked hard to manage this very substantial increase in its budget, completing preparatory work to strengthen many of its business processes, increasing the capacity of its workforce, and improving its focus on capturing the results of its spending”.

There is also now a considerable body of work from the Independent Commission for Aid Impact, with its growing reputation since it was formed, and its report to the sub-committee of the Commons International Development Committee also shows a clear reporting mechanism and accountability that is proving its worth.

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The fourth major area of concern is whether the Bill is necessary at all, since future Parliaments may change course. The Bill not only entrenches the 0.7% target but entrenches a wide consensus. Repealing the measure effectively means repealing such consensus. Secondly, as the legislation becomes established in the coming years, it will become a core part of our arrangements with fellow countries and international organisations, which will give it extra strength. Both together mean that this law becomes an enduring law. The major benefit is that we move on from debating whether we reach the target to how we improve even more the effectiveness of our budgets.

We start, of course, from a good foundation. By 2013-14, DfID had made major progress towards its 2011-15 commitments, which demonstrate the sheer breadth and depth of British development aid around the world. On behalf of us all, it has helped 43 million people with access to clean water, better sanitation or improved hygiene conditions; supported more than 10 million children—half of them girls—to go to primary and lower secondary school; ensured that nearly 4 million births took place safely with the help of nurses, midwives or doctors; prevented 20 million children under five and pregnant women going hungry; reached more than 11 million people with emergency food assistance; and, as an investment for the long term, provided more than 54 million people—more than half of them women—with access to financial services to help them work their way out of poverty; and, in an area close to my heart, helped 86 million people to hold their authorities to account and have a say in their communities’ development. This is the UK acting as a global citizen, helping people to have citizens’ rights around the world. The Bill allows for this to be a starting point, not a culmination, and—this is of critical importance—allows us actively to shape the global development agenda post 2015.

The UK’s recent record was recognised by the OECD peer review report, which commented on our success in meeting the 0.7% target. It says:

“This commendable, well planned achievement adds weight to the UK’s internationally recognised leading role. Maintaining that level of support until 2015/16 and beyond will reinforce the UK’s legitimacy with respect to the global development agenda”.

The Bill helps us to bring about even more stable sources of funding and allows greater planning with our partners and recipients. This can be witnessed perhaps most clearly in the areas of aid where long-term support is key, such as education, supporting young women and medical research. Cures for the world’s preventable diseases are sitting in the world’s labs, waiting for long-term, secure and stable research funding, and then a secure means of distribution. We will be making a major contribution to shorten that wait. We will retain possibly the most respected humanitarian relief capacity in the world, able to respond quickly and methodically. In all this, we continue to tackle corruption and poor governance, too.

We also know that supporting people abroad is one of the best means of helping people at home. Reducing at source the threat of dreadful incidences of Ebola or other diseases, reducing radicalisation or preventing conflict helps us be safe and healthy at home in a

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shrinking world and an open, multicultural Britain. But we do what is right and potential benefits then flow—it should always be in that order, with that motive. We should make a contribution in an untied way, without condition, because at the very heart of this is simply: a girl who wants to have an education and to learn in a safe school; a mother who wants to feed, wash and nurture a child with good health, clean water and access to a hygienic hospital; a father who wants to work in an open, free-trade economy, free from slavery, danger or exploitation in the workplace; a woman who wants to be empowered to represent others or to lead in a corruption-free political system; and a boy who simply wants to play outside and have a childhood not in a war zone. We take all these things for granted at home; we must end the situation whereby others abroad think that they are a luxury. We must strive for them to be taken for granted everywhere in the world. Perhaps now, much more than in 1970, we can see the prospect of global development making seismic advances in the coming 15 years, ending extreme poverty and eradicating preventable disease.

I conclude by saying that the UK has less than 1% of the world’s population. Our global footprint is massively disproportionate to the size of our tiny islands. If the UK is a citizen of the world, what kind of citizen must we be? I say we are one that comes to the assistance of others who are in need, does not shrink from challenging those who abuse minorities, refuses to support those who prevent women accessing rights, and never turns a blind eye to those who disempower their own citizens. We establish our place and our identity as a citizen of the world if we uphold our obligations and encourage others to do likewise. This Bill is one major way in which we demonstrate our citizenship of the world. I beg to move.

10.44 am

Baroness Royall of Blaisdon (Lab): My Lords, it is a real pleasure to wholeheartedly support this Bill on behalf of the Opposition. I congratulate the noble Lord, Lord Purvis of Tweed, but also his right honourable friend Michael Moore, who brought the Bill forward in the Commons, and who, together with my Labour colleagues, secured its safe passage, notwithstanding the fierce opposition of some on the Conservative Back Benches. I am delighted that the Government support the Bill and I hope—indeed, I believe—that while some in this House may express concerns, they will be few. It is, of course, right and proper that their arguments should be heard, although I believe that they are profoundly wrong. This measure is neither against the national interest nor the interests of poor countries and their people.

I warmly welcome the fact that there is strong cross-party consensus on the Bill but noble Lords will understand if I express particular pride in the enshrining of the commitment to spend 0.7% of our gross national income on development assistance. It was a Labour Government who first adopted this target in 1974, and it was a Labour Government who established the Department for International Development in 1997. We helped to lift 3 million people out of poverty every year and to get some 40 million children into schools, and that has been built on. We made huge progress

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towards achieving the 0.7% target, but I pay huge tribute to this Government for all that they have done. It is an area of policy in which achievements have been consolidated and built upon rather than torn apart for ideological reasons, and I celebrate that.

I also pay tribute to the exceptional work of the NGOs, including many faith-based organisations, and to the bravery and selflessness of those who often live in difficult and dangerous circumstances, saving and transforming lives. We should be proud of the work and reputation of DfID. I note that your Lordships’ Economic Affairs Committee was pleased to report that,

“expert opinion is virtually united in agreement that DFID enjoys an outstanding reputation internationally as an effective aid agent”.

I say, “Hear, hear” to that.

With cheap travel and extraordinary advances in technology, the world grows smaller by the day and we become increasingly interdependent. This should provide a huge opportunity for all, including those in developing countries who need freedoms to flourish, be educated, have access to healthcare, work, live with dignity and human rights, have a voice and the power to demand change through peaceful means. But the reality is not like that for far too many of our fellow human beings. The Oxfam report this week was shocking, demonstrating that global inequality is growing, making it more difficult to eradicate poverty and slowing much needed global growth. Inequality also makes the world a more dangerous place, not just in places of war and fragile states, but in the cosy corners of the developed world. That makes development assistance more vital than ever. Evidence shows that aid works and has succeeded in lifting people out of poverty, saving lives and enabling countries to take hold of their own development, helping people and countries to help themselves. The noble Lord cited many examples of where we have been at the forefront of this aid, and I know that many more examples will be given today. Aid really does transform lives, especially those of women and girls, and transforms communities and countries.

When young women are educated, they are more confident and less likely to be victims of domestic violence. They are able to take decisions about the size of their families and are less likely to die in childbirth. They are able to work, not just in the home, on the land or in sweatshops, but can become doctors, nurses, teachers, entrepreneurs and leaders. Sitting on the floor in a mud hut in India, talking with young girls about their aspirations, is awe inspiring. Not only did we enable their education, we ensured that they were able to go to school because there was adequate sanitation. But there is much more to be done. The latest UN statistics show that 58 million children of primary school age still do not go to school and are unable to fulfil this basic human right. The situation is, sadly, much worse for disabled children, who make up more than a third of the out-of-school population.

Of course, there is a moral case for development assistance, but it is also, as the noble Lord said, in our national interest, and not only in terms of trading with newly prosperous countries, although that is important, as the untapped potential of developing nations represents lost customers, lost trade and, ultimately,

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lost economic growth for the UK. However, such investment can help to make our people and our country safer. Our security and stability are assured not just by our Armed Forces but by training the police in Afghanistan, by building governance structures in the Middle East and by educating young people in Pakistan. Poverty, injustice and oppression go hand in hand with conflict and instability.

This Bill will make aid more effective by ensuring that it is predictable, allowing developing countries to plan and spend it effectively, with an impact on the long-term health and sustainability of their economies. It will allow our Government to make smart, long-term investments, ensuring that we get better value for money for every pound spent while measuring success by the change we make. With this Bill, our Parliament and our country will be showing global leadership, acting as a catalyst for the other countries in the G7.

It is fitting that the 0.7% target will be put on to the statute book in 2015, which has been called by the EU “the year of development”—a year in which the world will commit to a new set of global targets, the sustainable development goals, and a year in which we must all hope that there will be a historic agreement on climate change.

Aid alone will never eradicate poverty but development assistance empowers and enables. It is an investment in people, their health and education, in building prosperity and promoting good governance, and in tackling conflict, promoting human rights and supporting people to live a life of dignity. I end with the words of Nelson Mandela:

“Poverty is not an accident. Like slavery and apartheid, it is man-made and can be removed by the actions of human beings”.

By giving this very welcome Bill its Second Reading today, we are taking much needed action.

10.51 am

Baroness Chalker of Wallasey (Con): My Lords, I welcome the opportunity to debate this Bill, albeit that I am able to make only a short contribution when there is so much to be said. I very much welcome the noble Lord, Lord Fox, who will be making his maiden speech today, and I hope that he will join in our debates on this subject a great deal in the future.

As colleagues will know, it is almost 18 years since I completed my nearly eight years as the Minister for Overseas Development—that was the title in those days. In the last of those years, our spending on overseas development reached just 0.26% of GNI. There are many in this House now, as there have been in the past, who heard my pleas that we could do so much more if we had a little more money. In those days, 0.7% was an aim but it was very far off the reality. We turned down far too many good projects because we had to cut our coat according to the then available cloth. We also discouraged too many people from becoming involved, which, to me, was almost a sin. We were unable to fulfil many deeply needed programmes across the world, but we did our best.

Following my role in government, I went on to do some part-time work for the World Bank as I set up my own consultancy. Africa Matters Ltd is not involved in the NGO sector, except in the donations that we

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make, but we are very involved in encouraging investment in worthwhile projects in Africa. That investment can be from anywhere, provided it is honest and open. There have been real improvements in the manner in which the richer countries of the world have worked with Governments to develop skills, institutions and democratic management, but there is still a long way to go, as many of the reports which will be referred to in this debate will undoubtedly mention. The millennium development goals have been a real spur to improvements, and most of the international and national bodies have raised their game. We can see the results, to which many have already referred.

It is in the light of the great changes that have taken place that I have thought long and hard about whether or not the UK Parliament should make the 0.7% target a legal requirement of public spending. Yes, most of the developing countries are gradually improving their economies and their business sectors. Some, such as India, will no longer have assistance, as they can afford to give aid to those parts of their country which lag far, far behind the good-news stories that we occasionally hear. It is quite clear that the UK is giving a higher proportion of its bilateral aid to low-income countries than most other bilateral DAC donors.

My daily work is telling me that there is much more to do, especially in the Commonwealth, to help to build up business and social institutions so that the money being raised is properly spent. I say this as a supporter of the African Corporate Governance Network and many other institutions, such as Transparency International, which, when I was a Minister all those years ago, I was proud to assist in getting started. However, there are areas such as education provision across the developing world that must have our help, even though the improvements contributed to by UK aid have seen in the last three years more than 10.2 million more children, including 4.9 million more girls, go to primary and lower secondary schools. Starting at the very bottom with education and healthcare makes an enormous difference 10, 15 or 20 years on to the ability of those young people to be involved in business and to create their own economic future. Therefore, it is in education, clean water, sanitation and healthcare improvements, as well in as institution building, that DfID is now so much more involved. I believe that the £11.6 million donation helped many organisations to get access to financial services, and this has been another of the critical steps forward which DfID has gradually been able to take in the last few years.

Time does not allow me to go into all of this. I have considered very carefully whether it is right to put this target into law. However, from all my work in corporate social guidance and other development areas of business, I know that there is a real feeling that Britain, which is leading the way, must have the money to do this. As the mover of the Second Reading, the noble Lord, Lord Purvis, said, it is critical that people know from year to year how they are going to be able to finance projects. One of our great nightmares was that we never knew how much we were going to have.

On balance, I welcome the Bill wholeheartedly and I hope that the House will give it a Second Reading.

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10.57 am

Lord McConnell of Glenscorrodale (Lab): My Lords, having in the past criticised the delay in bringing forward this legislation, I start by expressing my appreciation to the Government for making time both in another place and in your Lordships’ House to ensure that we can debate and, I hope before the end of this Parliament, agree this important legislation.

I congratulate the noble Lord, Lord Purvis, on his outstanding opening speech and on bringing forward the Bill in your Lordships’ House. It is a long time since I heard such a comprehensive and passionate but also evidence-based case for the cause that we are debating today. It was also a great pleasure to hear, with all their years of experience and dedicated commitment, the wise words of the noble Baroness, Lady Chalker, and my noble friend Lady Royall on our Front Bench, who stressed the important year in which we make this decision—2015. This is when we will go from the millennium development goals to the new sustainable development goals, which will, I hope, move international development on to a completely new level of quantity as well as quality.

It is with the issue of quantity versus quality that I want to start my contribution today. When we have previously debated in your Lordships’ House the issue that is in front of us today in this Bill, primarily two points have been made. The first is that an increase in spending was happening far too quickly. If that was a legitimate point then—and it was of course legitimate that we debated it—then I say to those who have made the point in the past that the time for that argument has passed. Not only do we now have a consensus among all the major parties in the United Kingdom but also the reality of 0.7% of GNI being the annual budget for international development co-operation.

The second point was about effectiveness, which is where the argument about quality versus quantity comes forward. We have been debating for 45 years—I repeat: 45 years—since UN Resolution 2626 was first carried. It is 40 years since it was meant to have been implemented and we have since then debated the quantity of international aid. Today, we have a chance to move on and to debate in the future only the quality of our international aid and no longer the quantity. I appeal to those who have made this argument in the past to consider that point and to join those of us who have supported 0.7% of GNI in moving forward in the years to come to a debate on the quality and effectiveness of our aid. This is important for many reasons.

The key issue of justice is at its heart. We are not rich because it was predetermined and they are not poor because it was predetermined. We are not smarter than the average African, south-east Asian or Caribbean person. Decades and centuries of exploitation, distortion of international trade, abuse of natural resources and bad governance have been encouraged by us, and not just by those who were in power in the underdeveloped world, the developing world, the Third World—or whatever it has been called from decade to decade. We helped to create that situation and we must now help to resolve it. Justice is absolutely key. That justice did not stop at the end of colonial times. We were quite happy to participate in a cold war in the 1970s and

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1980s, in the first 20 years after the UN resolution was passed, when both sides propped up dictatorships and bad governance, and the exploitation of people in the developing world who still suffer today as a result.

Looking forward, there is also the issue of our self-interest. There are great fears in our country and across Europe today of migration, fears about the climate and fears about identity-based conflicts, which many people do not understand and do not know what to do about. Do we really imagine that migration, climate change and conflict will be improved by a reduction in or a halting of international aid? Surely the evidence shows us that if we invest in development co-operation, we can help to tackle those real fears of migration, conflict and climate change.

Finally, it is 45 years since the UN resolution was passed and 40 years since it should have been implemented. Can we just imagine what the world would be like today if 40 years ago the resolution had been implemented in the middle of that decade? What would our global education system have looked like? How many people would be smarter, better educated and better able to cope with the demands of the modern world? How many people would have been vaccinated and how many lives would have been saved? How many democracies would have been built? What great works of culture would have been created? How many scientific inventions might have been forthcoming? How many problems might have been solved? If we can imagine what might have been possible if the right decisions had been made back then, we can imagine what is possible in the 15 years to come when we could end extreme global poverty and build the better world that was imagined in 1970.

11.03 am

Lord Chidgey (LD): My Lords, I add my congratulations to my noble friend Lord Purvis on the way in which he brought the Bill to this House. It is absolutely first-class. I echo his remarks on the quote from the National Audit Office on managing the ODA target. It states that DfID,

“worked hard to manage the substantial increase in its budget, completing preparatory work to strengthen … business processes, increasing the capacity of its workforce, and improving its”,

focus on capturing the results of its spending. Those words will be remembered for many months.

I remind noble Lords of what our ODA expenditure achieves and can achieve if this Bill is passed. UK aid saves lives around the world every day. It provides more than 40 million people with clean drinking water. It puts more than 10 million children in school. It delivers emergency food assistance to more than 11 million people. It provides 54 million people with access to financial services that helps them to work their own way out of poverty. UK aid has the potential to transform the lives of millions of people around the world. This Bill will enshrine that potential into law.

The facts and figures about world poverty and disease provided by NGOs such as Bond, Save the Children, UNICEF and RESULTS, which many Members will have received, make sobering reading. Nearly 14 million people die every year from poverty-related diseases, including TB, which we nearly eradicated

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some decades ago, and HIV/AIDS, which are each responsible for 1.5 million deaths every year. Globally, 35 million people live with HIV/AIDS.

Since 2002, the Global Fund has contributed hugely to the campaign to eradicate TB, funding the treatment of more than 12 million people. Since its inception in 2002, the Global Fund has helped to save nearly 9 million lives. DfID has pledged up to £1 billion pounds to the Global Fund over the next three years, which will save a life every three minutes and is an eloquent answer to those who might doubt the efficacy of DfID’s 0.7% of GNI budget being taken into law.

Since I entered your Lordships’ House in 2005, and particularly in this Parliament, I have been very fortunate to have had the opportunity, as a parliamentary representative, to see for myself the impact of some of the work that DfID is doing. For example, in Malawi, DfID wrestled with the tangle of local administrative practices that hindered the distribution of vaccines and dietary support for children. That has been overcome through a very tenacious approach to its task.

At the other end of the world, in Bihar state in northern India, with a population of more than 103 million, stunting and malnutrition are endemic. DfID is working with its Department of Agriculture. Although our aid programme is coming to an end, technical support continues. In that support DfID is helping the Department of Agriculture to develop crops with a higher nutrition content, expand crop diversity and access infrastructure to markets, cold storage and packaging and marketing skills, in an attempt to reduce the 40% of produce that is currently wasted.

In Ethiopia and Kenya, the story is even more upbeat, with DfID providing major support for Ethiopia’s land and agricultural reform programmes, which are aimed at unlocking the vast potential in the economy for developing an agricultural base. That is a precursor to an industrialised economy. In Kenya, DfID is supporting a small UK company that has invented a revolutionary and simple tank-fed system for regulating crop irrigation, which minimises water wastage in the process.

After these positives, one can only despair at the situation in Sudan and South Sudan, where millions have been displaced and thousands of children orphaned. The DfID teams work on, but some tragedies are difficult to deal with; for example, in Juba, seeing the plight of children as young as three and no older than eight attending an ad hoc playgroup run and supported by volunteers from UK NGOs. Talking to them through interpreters, we learnt that one little girl wanted to be a doctor. The dearest wish of another was to be adopted. The reality was that the children were found every morning wandering in the Juba markets, and brought in to be washed, fed and clothed. But in the evening, there was no alternative but to return them to the markets to find places to sleep. Their future was grim. The girls would be taken into one of the market brothels by the age of 11 and probably be dead by the age of 13. For the boys, the future was even grimmer.

Now, we have Ebola. In Sierra Leone, DfID, together with Save the Children, the British Army and NHS volunteers, has stepped up to the plate. They have

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prevented the Ebola outbreak turning into a pandemic, with potentially hundreds of thousands of victims. Dr David Nabarro, the UN Ebola special envoy, has described their effort as magnificent. I tracked him down in Davos to ask his views on the 0.7% of GNI for aid. He e-mailed me last night to say, in terms, that it gives the UK potential for significant impact and has massive benefit for poor countries. The UK and countries that commit to the target are more respected internationally and able to advocate more strongly for other donors to increase their development aid contributions. It is a very good thing.

From all these international debates and deliberations, one thing is abundantly clear. DfID has a formidable reputation among its peers around the world. It sets standards and achieves goals that are the envy of many. Adding legal force to a 0.7% commitment of GNI to the development aid budget can only reinforce the respect and leadership that DfID and the UK enjoy in the developing world.

11.09 am

Lord Williams of Oystermouth (CB): My Lords, it would be all too easy to see this admirable and welcome Bill in terms simply of its financial implications. The truth is that its significance is a great deal broader. Many international voluntary agencies—I declare my interest as chair of the trustees of Christian Aid and patron of the Africa Prisons Project—are working, and will continue to work, not only to alleviate poverty and privation but actively to resist a culture of long-term dependency and structural dysfunctionality in developing economies. Our hope as aid agencies is to build up active, creative economies which are proper vehicles for people who need their dignity affirmed at least as much as they need their physical privations dealt with. Contrary to some people’s stereotypes, I can think of few, if any, aid agencies which would disagree with the definition offered by a leading local broadsheet earlier this week saying that aid works if it promotes self-sufficiency by laying the groundwork for investment, enterprise and growth.

We strive to tackle both the building of lasting capacity and to diagnose and campaign around the factors, global as well as local, that keep cycles of poverty and dependency alive. We are very grateful to those in government who have taken this on board in their response to the campaigns in recent years around, for example, tax transparency. When last year I visited some of our Christian Aid projects in South Sudan, what struck me most was the extraordinary resilience and vitality of small-scale co-operative projects, especially those run by women, whose education and empowerment is a major focus of our work. It was good to hear that flagged up by several previous speakers in the debate. The will and the ability, the strength of purpose and the sense of large responsibilities are all emphatically present in developing countries, and so often the real task is to work with the grain of this, listening hard to what local communities want and believe they can achieve. Once again, contrary to some stereotypes, it is simply not the case that there is an appetite for handouts in contexts such as this.

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Yet South Sudan illustrates with painful clarity why this Bill matters. I am most grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Chidgey, for foregrounding the needs of South Sudan. We at Christian Aid are privileged to work with our own Government and others to sustain capacity at the grass roots. But collapsing or non-existent infrastructure, the lack of real nation building at a number of levels, endemic problems with the diversion of funds to elites, constant instability with sporadic outbreaks of murderous violence, all mean that grass- roots work is deeply vulnerable.

In Juba last July I was shown the empty and shattered cashbox which was all that was left of one small women’s co-operative’s savings after the murderous disorders of the winter of 2013-14. Without the wider and longer-term commitment of our Government to support not only grass-roots work but nation building and the creation of a responsible political culture, smaller-scale projects will always be at the mercy of political and social instabilities, which need more resources than any voluntary body can summon up. I applaud wholeheartedly the emphasis given in the excellent opening speech of the noble Lord, Lord Purvis, to this question of the long-term perspective, which we need to keep in mind, and what was said in support of that by the noble Baroness, Lady Chalker.

Intelligent and well directed government support is what saves many nations from becoming failed states. We hardly need reminding, in the light of the events of recent weeks, how readily instability leaks out from failed and failing states, with murderous effects elsewhere. The Bill offers the possibility of proper planning and consistent strategy. The commitment we are talking about today is a commitment to that task as well as the routine responses to crises and the building up of local self-sufficiency.

Another word for a commitment is a “treaty”. We have always regarded it as a matter of national honour to keep our treaty obligations. These are obligations of mutual defence and support. I believe that what we are being invited to do in taking the Bill forward is likewise a matter of our honour, our self-respect as a nation. We are making a treaty with those who inhabit a poorer and more risk-laden environment than ourselves, a treaty which recognises that what people need to be defended from is not just aggression from outside but chaos and need within. I am delighted to think that we are still a society willing to make and keep such commitments of honour. I believe, on the basis of the continuing generosity of so many supporters of our work at Christian Aid and that of other charities, that even in a time of financial stringency the people of the United Kingdom still care profoundly about behaving honourably towards their less fortunate neighbours.

11.15 am

Lord Fowler (Con): My Lords, I very much agree with what the noble and right reverend Lord has just said.

Following the sad announcement made at the start of business by the Lord Speaker, perhaps I may preface my comments on the Bill by one or two remarks on Lord Brittan—Leon Brittan—and still be within the five-minute timescale.

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You can sense the man by the tributes that have been made over the past 18 hours. They came from people like me who knew him well. I knew him in Cambridge where he was, without doubt, the outstanding undergraduate of our generation; I knew him in the Commons and in the Cabinet. One of the last conversations I had with him was about his ambition to play a bigger part in this House. Regrettably, that was not possible. He was the youngest Home Secretary since Churchill. He was moved from that post for, frankly, no sensible reason. He became Trade and Industry Secretary and was just re-establishing his career when Westland intervened. Anyone who thinks he woke one morning and thought, “I am going to leak the Solicitor-General’s memo” is gravely mistaken: it was a very different story from that. However, what is certain is that he was left to carry the can. Happily, the effect was that he went to Europe and made an indelible contribution there.

The man himself was kind, with a gift for friendship; he was wise, and people went to him for advice. Perhaps above all, in the light of some of the comments today, he was a man of honesty and integrity. That is what I remember and recall. It is a vast tragedy that his very last months should have been scarred by innuendo and gossip. It is inconceivable that he would have taken part in any kind of cover-up. Indeed, Geoffrey Dickens, I understand, wrote to him, thanking him for the way in which the Home Office had dealt with his letters—letters, not a dossier. Now that he is dead, I hope that people will not use the release from libel to attack his reputation; he certainly does not deserve that.

I have lost a lifelong friend, but this is as nothing compared to the loss of Diana, the great love of his life, and of Catherine and Victoria. To them we send our heartfelt commiserations and the small comfort that their sense of loss is very widely shared by a vast number of people in this country.

Turning briefly to the Bill, I support it very strongly and I will tell noble Lords why. Over the last two years I have been researching a book on HIV and AIDS. I went to look at the position on the ground in a number of countries. I saw a hospital in east Africa that had not had a budget increase for a decade; where a visit to the hospital took a day in travelling to and fro; where they did their best to meet the demand, but, frankly, many births were far away from the hospital on concrete floors, under a single blanket. In another country I saw a so-called model treatment centre, where drug users queued for long periods; while in another African country where they were treating TB, the queues started forming at 5 am and patients waited hours to be seen.

I am not overdramatising the position—that is the trouble. There are far worse examples. It is the way of life and death in vast parts of the world. The recent outbreak of Ebola is closely connected to the lack of medical support. In Sierra Leone, there are 134 doctors for a population of 6 million.

I often feel that there is a lack of imagination about the health provision for millions upon millions of people in other parts of the world. Worse, I think that sometimes there is an optimistic belief that private giving and philanthropy can solve all the problems. Valuable as voluntary giving is—it is invaluable—it is

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never going to meet the gigantic demand around the world, so I support entirely the amount of aid that is going to fight these diseases. I support the 0.7% target. Without that international aid, the world would be facing a catastrophe.

I also support the leading part that this Government are taking in making help available. I also reject some of the headline reports we have seen over the past week which allege that the decision in 2013 to meet the target of 0.7% of national income was rushed and last minute. The decision on £500 million going to the Global Fund was about the best-trailed announcement that I can remember.

I regret the time imperative of this debate. Suffice it to say that I entirely back the emphasis that this Government have given to international aid. It is what I would expect from a civilised and outward-looking country that recognises it has responsibilities to try to help the poorest people in other parts of the world.

11.21 am

Lord Lipsey (Lab): My Lords, as the first dissident to speak in this debate, I start by saying that I agree with north of 90% of what has been said so far, particularly the moving remarks of the noble Lord, Lord Fowler, about the impact of the aid programme. I am unambiguously for aid, and I am unambiguously in favour of a highish level of public expenditure on aid; the sole question is whether we assist effective aid by setting this 0.7% target. Last time I spoke on this, I had hardly got to my feet before somebody popped up and said, “Do you not realise that 0.7% is party policy?”. I know, but in this House I do not think we should put party policy first. We put first our own assessment of what is in the interests of, in this case, not only our country but people in poorer countries whom the aid programme is designed to assist.

The House’s Economic Affairs Committee, chaired then by the noble Lord, Lord MacGregor, looked into the development aid target in its 2012 report. I must say that the noble Lord, Lord MacGregor, is profoundly upset that he is unable to be here today. He hopes to participate in later stages of the Bill. If he were here, he would outline better by far than I the arguments that persuaded the committee—every member, left, right and centre—that the 0.7% target fails the test of helping poor countries and is bad for our country. I will not go over the arguments in the report today, but simply ask that noble Lords read it. It is in the revised Library brief circulated last night.

I shall add two points that have emerged since the committee studied this subject. The first is quite general. The evidence accumulates that singling out particular items of public expenditure for special treatment has disastrous results. Modern government cannot help itself: we say that health expenditure must remain the same in real terms at least, and education; we ring-fence this, we hypothecate that—anything to please the voters, anything to please the pressure groups. This is making the management of public finances almost impossible.

I will take a salient concrete example. Health spending is protected but social care spending is not, so we have people going to hospitals in droves because services are available there while we are slashing community

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services, which are where those people could most economically and best be treated. The Institute for Fiscal Studies recently drew out the implications of this. Because of all the protected programmes, we are going to see cuts of 30% or 40% in the unprotected programmes. We will be looking very hard around the streets to find a policeman if the government cuts go through. This is a mad way to run public finances, and this Bill seeks to add another item to the protected pile.

Secondly, we no longer have to gaze into the crystal to see the damaging effects of the Bill; we can read the book. Last week, the authoritative National Audit Office—I know that the noble Lord, Lord Fowler, with all his experience disagrees with it—published a report on aid. It was a very judicious report and showed how the ODI, in a desperate attempt to get past 0.7%, rushed out money in the last two months of the year as if it grew on Whitehall trees. That is taxpayers’ money and much of it is going straight into the pockets of the elites in developing countries. That is the trouble you get when you have a target. People do stupid things in order to meet those targets. Margaret Hodge said that Parliament is going to have to look at this; we are going to have to look at that every year, because it is going to happen every year.

I hope that the House will not divide on the Bill today. The right course is to consider it in Committee with sensible ameliorative amendments. If we do not make such amendments, the Bill will go down in history as a piece of gesture politics whose adverse effects will be felt. Development aid in principle has my strong support, as it does the support of every Member of this House, bar only a few—but this Bill in practice will aid only those who want to discredit aid.

11.27 am

Lord Shipley (LD): I, too, was a member of the Economic Affairs Committee when it conducted a lengthy inquiry into the economic impact and effectiveness of development aid two years ago. I spoke in the debate in your Lordships’ House and said then that it was morally right for rich countries to give aid. It can help to make the world a safer place by spreading wealth and opportunity.

This Bill enshrines in law that figure of 0.7% and, as I said in that debate, that figure exists as a statement of the responsibility of richer countries to support poorer ones, and I subscribe to it. This Bill means that we can move the debate on from whether to spend aid to ensuring that we spend it most effectively. However, it should not be paid in such a way that it enables or encourages fraud, corruption, capital flight or the purchase of arms, and it should always be properly audited to give confidence to UK taxpayers who fund it. That is why Clause 5 is so important. It requires an independent evaluation of the extent to which development aid reaches its target and gives value for money. For this to be achieved, it will be important for proper systems of audit to operate in each country on the ground, not just in capital cities.

Spending 0.7% cannot be an end in itself. Rather, it should be the consequence of what we do project by project and programme by programme. It is on that that we now need to focus. In our debate two years

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ago, I expressed some doubts about the speed of the increase in spending—some 37% to 2015—and queried whether DfID had the resources to do it successfully. Evidence was given to us that there had been a serious loss of experienced staff in DfID. I hope the Minister when she replies will be able to say something about DfID’s current staffing levels.

In fully supporting the Bill, I emphasise that the development aid we give must be in a form that can be audited for its outcomes. Budgetary support to other Governments is not fully auditable, and it would be interesting to know how much of our aid is still in that form. We heard, for example, evidence from Professor Jeffrey Sachs of Columbia University advising strongly against budgetary assistance. He said that handing over money to central Governments and expecting it to reach the local level was “a hope too far”. He urged well targeted and well defined programmes that accomplished a specific purpose, such as vaccines or bed nets, which can be properly audited. That seems sound advice.

It is good that this country has achieved the 0.7% UN target. However, we should note the NAO report last week, which pointed out that £3.7 billion out of the £11.4 billion budget in 2013 was spent in the last two months of 2013, raising questions about target-driven spending. We will no doubt learn more about this in due course, but my own reaction is similar to that of my noble friend Lord Fowler, in that spending it as humanitarian aid seems absolutely appropriate in the circumstances.

The Bill is important, and Clause 5 is particularly important because it will build public confidence that their money is being well spent. The Bill as a whole gives a certainty to future planning of overseas development aid. We should welcome that.

11.31 am

The Lord Bishop of Derby: My Lords, I, too, congratulate the Government and the leaders of all the major parties on, at a time of amazing austerity and financial challenge, this bold commitment to a generous settlement in our public finances for the support of those in developing countries, especially the poorest of the poor. As we have heard, the 0.7% is an international target and therefore a very important sign that we play our part in an international community in a responsible way. Many activists, and church members in particular, are concerned for us to make that witness to global citizenship, and see this as an important issue. We have heard that it is important for us to be able to plan and be efficient and effective in the deployment of these resources. We have also heard that it creates more stable and peaceful societies, and gives us better communities with which to trade.

Some of your Lordships were in a debate in December about soft power. This is a very important sign to the world of a narrative of a generous country that has high values. We need that narrative in an age when our young people are being radicalised by other, more violent and narrow-minded narratives. This is very important sign not only to our own society but across the world, especially to young people, about generosity and commitment to others. Some of us, too, were

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involved in the legislation proposed for slavery. I met a young man who, when he was six, was sold by his family into slavery in the fishing trade in Africa because they were so poor. I met a young woman who, when she was 12, was sold into sex slavery in Nigeria because her family were poor. This kind of policy and this kind of committed, regular and properly audited investment in building societies across the world joins up with other concerns we have, such as the slavery issue, and the fact that it is not just an issue here but across the globe.

Like my colleague, the noble and right reverend Lord, Lord Williams, I am privileged to be a trustee of Christian Aid. The noble Lord, Lord Purvis, gave some statistics, and we are proud to be involved in the provision of clean water, schools and financial services, and in working with women and girls. They all provide stability and capacity for local societies to be healthy, peaceful and forward-looking. The OECD estimates that for every pound spent on some of these enterprises, developing countries gain an additional £350 in increased revenue, which shows how effective targeted and planned investment can be. Christian Aid is proud to work with DfID in programmes such as those to eradicate malaria; to give priority to women and girls, as the noble Baroness, Lady Royall, said; and to provide mobile technology to help health services develop appropriately in rural areas. All those things need consistent and planned investment, as does the response to climate change. There are more and more signs of flooding in El Salvador, for example, and more and more problems relating to a lack of water supply in Kenya as the climate changes. Christian Aid is proud to work with DfID and others to be proactive in being able to plan to tackle those issues and to invest in them properly.

I say thank you to the noble Lord, Lord McConnell, for his inspiring words and say to the noble Lord, Lord Lipsey, that it is not just a matter of neat systems. This is a moment for giving a sign, to our own people and across the globe, about our commitment to generosity, the development of others and a mutual world that works through partnership—a narrative that is radical in the proper way.

11.35 am

Lord Tugendhat (Con): My Lords, like my noble friend Lord Fowler, I begin today by saying a word or two about my dear friend Leon Brittan. A lifelong friend, I met him in our first week at Cambridge in 1957. He was a man of outstanding ability—generous, loyal, wise and of the utmost integrity—who gave great service to this country. I mourn him deeply and pay tribute to his character, life and achievements. I want, from this Chamber today, to send my condolences to his wife Diana and to my former colleague, Sam Brittan, with whom I was once on the Financial Times. It is a very, very sad day for me.

Like the noble Lords, Lord Lipsey and Lord Shipley, I, too, was on the Economic Affairs Committee under the leadership of my noble friend Lord MacGregor, who very much regrets that he cannot be here today. I repeat the point that they made: it issued a unanimous report that was against coming down in favour of the 0.7% target, with Conservatives, Liberal Democrats,

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Labour and Cross-Benchers, all of whom had seen the same evidence, reaching the same conclusion. I stress that this does not mean that we were against development aid. We all want poor countries, and especially poor people in poor countries, to escape from poverty and we all agree that British aid has an important and continuing role to play. In that connection, we were very pleased to hear that DfID is widely regarded as one of the most effective and efficient operators in the field—a point made by the noble Baroness, Lady Royall, and by the noble Lord, Lord Chidgey.

However, to set an expenditure target that must be met, come what may, as a legal obligation, is never a good idea. It will deprive government of flexibility to respond to changing circumstances, whether here or in the recipient countries. It is also bound to lead to distortions and misallocations, as administrators strive to spend given percentage amounts, on an annual basis, of what are bound to be multi-year programmes, instead of in accordance with the practical needs and rhythms of those programmes. In my view, the noble and right reverend Lord, Lord Williams of Oystermouth, made exactly the wrong point when he talked about the target helping good administration, while the noble Lords, Lord Lipsey and Lord Shipley, made exactly the right point.

I do not oppose the target just because it is set in this field—far from it. I would oppose it in any area of expenditure and believe that in setting it in one, we are establishing a very bad precedent which is likely to be followed in others. I very much hope that the Minister will give an assurance, as far as she is able, that the Government do not regard this as a precedent. If the Government do not regard it as a precedent, why do they think it is such a good idea on this occasion?

In this particular case, there is an additional problem that we need to consider. The Government are rightly shifting the emphasis of the aid programme to the more fragile and needy states, but those, by definition, are often the states where Administrations are weakest and the temptations to corruption greatest, and where the pressures of the powerful elites, to which the noble and right reverend Lord, Lord Williams, referred, can also be very considerable indeed. I am afraid that the provisions of Clause 5 are very unlikely to put up a substantial barrier to the difficulties that are going to arise.

I would also like to draw attention to the extent to which the landscape of international development has changed in recent years—a point made by the noble Lord, Lord Purvis. Aid used to be a major element in the flow of capital to developing countries. Now, although it has increased greatly since the 1970s, when the 0.7% target was set, it is dwarfed by private flows by about nine to one. The major elements in the private flows are not just investment—foreign direct investment and portfolio investment, very important as they are—but the remittances from citizens of developing countries working abroad also play a major role and are, indeed, very much more substantial these days than aid itself. If we want to be more helpful, we should be encouraging still further the investment by corporations—private and foreign direct—as well as finding ways to help those who have migrated to

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developed countries such as ours to send remittances home. That would be something practical that we could do.

Finally, I ask the House to remember that development aid is no longer something that flows only from western countries to developing countries. Important new players in the game—China, India and Brazil—have joined Japan as substantial providers of aid. We should welcome this, particularly this week, when so much attention is being given to the proportion of the world’s wealth in the hands of the top 1%. Oxfam, I read in the Guardian, claims that the 85 richest people on earth have the same wealth as the 3.5 billion poorest. As we all know, a significant number of those 85 are to be found in India, China and Latin America. They, among others, should be doing much more to help relieve the poverty in their countries and elsewhere in the developing world.

11.42 am

Lord Cashman (Lab): My Lords, I congratulate the noble Lord, Lord Purvis of Tweed, on his excellent introduction to this discussion. I welcome this Bill from the other place and applaud its author. While we are congratulating, I also congratulate the Government on their commitment to 0.7% of GNI as ODA, and successive Labour Governments on their unbroken commitment. This promise to place in law 0.7% of GNI as ODA is long overdue and we should work to ensure that it becomes a reality before the election of May 2015.

Some have argued that they do not believe in this target or that it will create an overflow of funding that will be washed out through the doors of Whitehall. I believe that argument has already been dealt with, but I will return to it later. The fact is that over recent years, since the global economic crisis, programmes have been shortened or cut by other EU countries. Indeed, there have been attempts to recalibrate funding by creating the dubious concept in development terms of “middle-income countries”, where instead of looking at poverty and inequality indicators, the overall GDP of a country is used as a crude basis for funding decisions, often undoing the good that has already been done. As I said in a previous debate, the UK Government are actively pursuing this approach, and it has detrimental effects.

Reductions of programmes and funding hit those in need the hardest—South Africa, a country I know well, springs to mind. But let me repeat a few statistics—oh, how we repeat and use statistics on different sides of the argument. In its 2013-14 programme, DfID provided 43.1 million people with access to clean water—something we take for granted—better sanitation and improved hygiene; supported more than 10 million children, half of them girls, to go to primary and lower secondary school; ensured that 3.6 million births took place safely with the help of nurses, midwives or doctors—something that we take for granted; prevented 19.3 million children under five and pregnant women from going hungry; and reached 11.4 million people with emergency food assistance. The multilateral organisations that DfID supported provided food assistance to more than 80 million people in 75 countries,

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immunised 48 million children against preventable diseases and detected and treated 1.5 million cases of tuberculosis—I could go on and on with these statistics.

Why do I repeat these statistics? Because some people say that ODA does not work and that to do more would be to throw money away. I say: tell those millions that ODA is not necessary and that ODA does not give value for money; tell the child whose life is saved and whose mother survives childbirth; tell the girl who goes into education and the child soldier given a future; tell the farmer now able to grow and sustain; tell the pregnant mother now able to prevent the transmission of the HIV virus to her unborn child; tell the person whose life is saved by access to medicines and antiretroviral drugs; tell it to the AIDS orphans who now have a future where before there was none; tell it to LGBTI communities and individuals given hope and support in the face of hatred; tell the neediest and the poorest that theirs is not our case—and let civilised societies and individuals give their judgment.

What happens elsewhere in the world does affect us and does matter. It makes sense—as my mum would say, good old common sense—to continue our investment in developing countries. It affects us and protects us, whether our borders, immigration, trafficking, anti-terrorism policies or sense of decency. I will repeat this again and again, as I did in the European Parliament: we are not committing a sum of money; it is a percentage of our gross national income, and if our income goes down, so does the amount of ODA. Therefore, let us do the decent thing and pass this Bill swiftly and with pride.

11.47 am

Baroness Manzoor (LD): My Lords, I am delighted that Michael Moore MP instigated this Private Member’s Bill in the other place—otherwise, it would not be before us today—and that my noble friend Lord Purvis is seeing its passage through this House. I concur with everything he said in his excellent opening speech. I start by accepting that there are competing demands on all Governments and that most noble Lords are committed to some form of humanitarian aid. After all, what differentiates us as humans is what we do for humanity.

In 2013, the UK was the first G8 country to achieve the 0.7% GNI target and, in doing so, met the 1970 UN resolution. We are one of the richest countries in the world and, like the rest of the western world, have faced hardships resulting from problems in our economy. However, these hardships are relative to the huge poverty, misery, pain, and death seen by millions in many parts of the developing world.

In 2010 the World Bank estimated that 1.2 billion people across the world were living in extreme poverty, on just under £1—around 83p—a day. There are also estimates that between 2008 and 2012, 143 million people were displaced because of disasters and 33 million people were displaced within their countries as a result of war and conflict. Some 870 million people suffer from under-nutrition and around 3 million children die each year as a result. Under-nutrition falls the hardest on the very poor, mainly women and children, and pushes them even further into a continuous

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cycle of infections such as TB and further poverty. Nearly 22 million children from the poorest families and the most marginalised groups do not have even basic vaccines. It is estimated that only 5% of the world’s children receive all 11 of the vaccines recommended by the World Health Organization. This is a disgrace.

Aid, used wisely, creates the right conditions for economic growth, because the most powerful tool to take people out of poverty is to give them the means to look after themselves. I was part of the delegation with my noble friend the Minister that visited India last year. We saw at first hand the excellent work being undertaken by DfID; for example, community-led infrastructure projects such as building classrooms, improving sanitation and providing vaccines to eradicate polio. We also witnessed the emphasis that DfID was placing in its work on educating girls. As has already been said, it is well known that getting girls into schools begins a chain of further benefits. Educated women have better maternal health, fewer and healthier children and increased economic opportunities, thus improving the quality of life for their families and lifting their communities out of poverty.

As has already been said, and I make no apology for repeating it, in 2013-14 alone DfID supported 4.9 million girls to go to primary and lower secondary schools, ensured that 3.6 million births took place safely, and provided 26.9 million women with access to financial services to help them work their way out of poverty. We saw an example of this during our visit to India, where local women with seedling money started tiny fish farms. The women took great pleasure in telling us that, previously, the banks would not lend them any money but that now the men were borrowing from them.

Enshrining the 0.7% of GNI in law shows how serious our commitment to humanity is. It demonstrates our leadership in this vital area to the world. It will enable proper planning and resourcing of the valuable and excellent work that DfID and other organisations do on our behalf.

We must not forget that some of our most important trading partners are countries on which we have spent development aid previously—countries such as India and China. In today’s turbulent world, when it seems that a day does not go by where some heinous crime is not committed, one thinks of the words of Nelson Mandela, who said that the greatest threat to peace was international poverty. Clearly, where there is little or no hope, there is no future. Tackling global issues such as economic development, supporting conflict, supporting fragile countries and communities, ensuring effective governance and working together in areas of climate change are in all our interests. I support this Bill wholeheartedly.

11.53 am

Lord Anderson of Swansea (Lab): My Lords, I was Leon Brittan’s pair and I wholeheartedly endorse every word in the tributes paid by the noble Lords, Lord Fowler and Lord Tugendhat, and share with them the sadness and the willingness to be with Diana at this very sad time.

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I support the Bill so ably moved by the noble Lord, Lord Purvis, but accept that it is largely symbolic. Since this is a consensus Bill, no party in the future would dare to move away from or fall below the 0.7% of GNI target. I support the Bill on moral grounds, not passing by on the other side, but also because I believe that it is in our national interest broadly defined. I have had the good fortune to travel widely and see at first hand the work of DfID—I join in the chorus of approval for it—but also the work of non-governmental organisations and wonderful individuals from the UK.

That said, we do no service to developing countries or to our own taxpayers if we abandon our proper scrutiny, value-for-money criteria and accountability. Those are points raised in the Select Committee’s report published in March 2012 and in Clause 5 of the Bill.

I shall make a few random observations. We must be willing in a positive spirit to ask hard questions—heart, yes, but head also. Why, for example, has South Korea pulled itself up so remarkably when so many other countries, particularly in Africa, remain dependent on aid? It is not a question of natural resources. Is it bad governance? Is it tribalism? Is it culture? Is it corruption? Is it armed conflict? Or is it failures in the education system?

We must also be prepared to challenge political correctness; for example, in confronting problems of long-term population increase. This is not only a question of women’s reproductive health; it is not only a question of education of women in family spacing, for example; but it is clear that population explosion may negate the effects of aid. For example, who dares point out that the recent turmoil in Kenya is due not just to tribalism but to competition for land from the booming population; that the population of the Philippines has doubled in the recent past; and that the population of Gaza was in 1948 250,000 and is now 1.8 million on that small territory?

My main point, however, relates to the definition of aid, the remit of DfID, the need for “Whitehallism” and market share, and co-operation with other countries and international organisations to maximise the beneficial effects of aid. Failure to include such considerations will only give ammunition to the populist press. Purists strongly oppose any proposal to weaken or dilute the definition of what should be within the 0.7% target. They may often fall into the trap of concentrating on the amount rather than on quality or effectiveness.

The budget of DfID is ring-fenced; the budgets of the FCO and MoD are not and under increasing strain. Surely we should recognise the contribution of these departments to our national aid effort. I have in mind particularly—and the noble Baroness, Lady Chalker, will recognise it, too—the work done by the British Council in education in South Africa in the past. Even the most “pure” aid specialists would surely agree that the MoD’s work to combat Ebola in west Africa should be reimbursed from our aid budget, as it has been. We should at least consider taking that precedent further on the grounds that there can be no development without security and possibly include our contribution to international peacekeeping, even perhaps seeking

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to look again at the OECD definition of official aid, which I concede is wide in part, including support for civilian nuclear energy.

The independent appraisal proposed under Clause 5 should be given adequate resources and expertise. It should look at the precedents of co-ordination in Whitehall, for example, in the Balkans in the 1990s and more recently in Afghanistan.

The NAO report has been mentioned. This only underlines the case for an independent evaluation and the need for accountability and transparency, which is overwhelming. Any evaluation should include not only the value added from co-ordination within Whitehall, but also from co-ordination with international organisations and bilaterally. There is a good precedent here over co-operation on Ebola, for example—Liberia to the USA, Guinea to France and Sierra Leone to the UK. I recall Robin Cook’s excellent initiative after 1997 in building co-operation with France in west Africa. Whatever became of that?

With these few observations, I end not in a spirit of negative criticism but by welcoming the commitment of the Bill. Once we accept that principle in legislation, as I am confident we shall do, we should be ready to ask hard questions about effectiveness and value for money. Therefore, Clause 5 is an essential element of this important Bill.


Baroness Falkner of Margravine (LD): My Lords, I had the privilege nearly five years ago of being the first Liberal Democrat to speak from Government Benches in seconding the Queen’s Speech when the coalition was formed. One of the most significant things in that Queen’s Speech was the commitment to legislating for 0.7% of GDI being given in overseas development aid. I am sorry that it has taken nearly five years to get there but immensely proud of this Government for delivering on that significant and early promise. I also pay tribute to Labour: that promise was committed to by a Labour Government and the enabling departments and structural factors were very much theirs and bear their signature.

At a time of singular apathy towards voting as we face another general election and with a view that there is very little that engages the public, listening to the debate in the House of Lords and seeing noble Lords across the Chamber coming together with such singular purpose to support this noble objective is heart-warming. If there is anything that the public should be proud about, this debate bears testament to Britain’s internationalism.

I turn directly to the argument of the noble Lord, Lord Lipsey, about hypothecation. I am sorry that the noble Lord is not in his place—oh, I see he is now sitting in another place. I am very glad to see him here. His argument was very valid when it comes to the broad thrust of this. When you hypothecate too many different departments you leave all the rest to take the brunt of cuts. Of course that cannot be right. However, I take the example he used: the NHS. There is no comparison here. The NHS spends something like £100 billion a year. In having achieved 0.72% of GDI,

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we are talking of expenditure of something in the region of £11.5 billion. Were you in this case to rob Peter to pay Paul, you would make a fractional difference in terms of the NHS. I point out to him that the recent report by an eminent body, the Academy of Medical Royal Colleges, found some £2 billion being wasted in NHS treatments and drugs. Frankly, that wastage is the equivalent of almost 20% of what we spend on humanitarian assistance. While hypothecation overall can be difficult, there are exceptions where it is absolutely necessary. It has taken 40-something years to get here. If this legislation is not necessary, I do not know what is.

In the brief time I have, I turn to how appalling it is that the five most powerful countries of the world—that is, the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council—have such a poor record in this area. As I said, we in the UK can be proud that we give 0.72% of GNI. However, France gives 0.4%. The US—one of the richest countries in the world—gives 0.2%. Russia, with the benefits of the extractive industries of oil and its mineral wealth, gives a mere 0.3% and, charged with securing international peace and security, is actually a catalyst for increasing international instability rather than helping to solve the problems. China, the fifth member of the United Nations Security Council, does not even recognise OECD methodology in terms of assistance. It is completely untransparent in what it gives, but from what experts can determine most of its funding is through state-owned enterprises and banks, and is spent on extractive industries and infrastructure in developing countries. Most of that is conditional or tied. Estimates are that, at best, it gives about 0.3%—like Russia.

We have a situation where the five countries charged with upholding international peace and security—in this area, security should have a wide meaning and encompass disease, food security and environmental degradation as well as conflict—give appalling amounts in terms of discharging their responsibilities. This is an important Bill. If we legislate for this in the UK, we serve as an example to other rich and developed countries that they, too, should move in the same direction. In that alone, we will have achieved a significant step forward.

12.05 pm

The Earl of Sandwich (CB): My Lords, this is an historic occasion which should make us all proud of belonging to an outward-looking United Kingdom. It was a pleasure to hear the noble Lord, Lord Purvis, lead this debate. The Bill provides us with an opportunity to re-emphasise the importance of maintaining our aid programme at its present level. We are not the first country to reach 0.7%—far from it—but we are recognised as among the foremost of OECD countries in delivering an effective programme.

I have spent most of my working life working with aid agencies, especially Christian Aid and Save the Children. However, I am not an uncritical supporter of aid. I listened to the forceful contribution of the noble Lord, Lord Tugendhat, with particular interest. We must acknowledge that there are failures in both official and voluntary sectors, and I know aid is wasted or diverted, especially during emergencies. Yet I strongly

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support the size of our aid programme and I have seen enough to be convinced of the potential long-term value of both humanitarian and development aid, especially as a catalyst to stability and stronger local initiative and participation.

No one can deny the necessity of humanitarian aid and there are many competing demands for it. I was with the noble Lord, Lord Chidgey, as he described those demands. Among them are the girls in South Sudan, the Syrian refugee camps, the vast Somali camps in Kenya and the victims of Ebola in Sierra Leone. Our voluntary aid agencies have an outstanding record alongside UNHCR, ever since the Indo-China emergency, bringing emergency relief and providing jobs and education—the two essentials that refugees dream of but can scarcely reach.

Long-term development is a more difficult concept to explain to the public. For some, it implies interference in another state’s internal affairs and the distortion of a national economy, as has certainly occurred for good or ill in countries such as Iraq and Afghanistan. However, to most people, development is the basis of economic survival and sustainability. It means immunisation, reproductive health, the reduction of infant mortality and the halving of under-five mortality since 1990. These are the pillars of successful aid. Capacity and institution-building are equally important.

As has been mentioned several times, one of the best reports on our development aid programme was carried out in 2012 by our own Economic Affairs Committee. The report generally commended DfID but made criticisms as well, notably that there was insufficient evidence of aid’s contribution to economic growth, that aid could undermine local economies and that there were considerable risks of corruption. All these still apply to aid today but this Government have set up an impressive watchdog in the form of the Independent Commission for Aid Impact, reporting to the International Development Select Committee. I did not agree with the committee that the 0.7% target should not be enshrined in legislation. Its argument was, broadly, that any ring-fenced target would place an undue emphasis on quantity. I understand the point but it is much exaggerated. International targets are now widely used and there is a strong moral case for a minimum percentage of national wealth. That does not mean that aid money will be wasted as end-of-year surpluses accumulate in most businesses and must be properly managed. However, that lays a greater responsibility on the ICAI, the IDC and our own EU Select Committee.

An essential element of the Bill is the duty to lay a Statement before Parliament if the target is not met. It is inevitable that that will happen before the end of a year. As the National Audit Office pointed out, there should be no rush to make up lost ground unnecessarily. In fact, the NAO recommended a two-year target to avoid that happening. I am sure that the Minister will comment on that.

I, too, was pleased to see in Clause 5 the need for the Secretary of State to commission an independent evaluation to show value for money. That complements the present arrangement introduced by the coalition. We must recognise, however, that there is a proportion

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of the public, perhaps as high as one in three, who believe that the 0.7% figure is too high. That suggests to me that the aid lobby is not doing enough to explain the purposes of aid and what it can achieve. We must make more of the argument of self-interest. For example, we need to find ways to stem the flow of migration. One of those is to reduce conflict and support local economies. Our own economy benefits from rising standards in developing countries, which can bring us jobs through aid, trade and investment. It is imperative to fight the scourge of Ebola, not just for humanitarian reasons but because it could easily affect this country. Development education and global awareness is another area in which we as a country benefit from our outreach to the poorest parts of the world.

Finally, I agree with the noble Baroness, Lady Falkner, that the Bill sends an important signal to other countries that they, too, must meet their aid targets. That is particularly important as we look towards the future financing of international development and the post-2015 sustainable development goals.

12.11 pm

Viscount Astor (Con): My Lords, it is surprising, when one has heard that the Bill has all-party support and was a manifesto commitment, that it is not a government Bill but has been left for the noble Lord, Lord Purvis, to introduce as a Private Member’s Bill at what might only be described as the very end of the parliamentary Session.

I fully support the Government’s intention to keep the aid budget at 0.7%. I would be delighted if economic and financial circumstances in this country allowed that percentage to increase in future, but I am concerned by the way the Bill enshrines the percentage in legislation. Surely that should be a matter of policy rather than law. Future Governments might feel constrained not to increase the percentage because it would require legislation. Equally, in severe economic times, they might be discouraged from lowering it if that was necessary in one particular year. I am nervous of enshrining any percentage of expenditure in legislation. This seems to be one Parliament binding the next, something that we have so far always avoided in legislation. Why the exception in this case? If the aid budget, why not the health service or defence spending? They are all just as important.

The argument has been put forward that we want to encourage other countries to follow suit. That is a laudable aim, but I am not sure that domestic legislation is the right way forward. We should be putting pressure on other members of the EU through the Commission, and other countries through the UN, to increase their development spending.

Then we have the problem of defining exactly what aid is. Is it just money spent by DfID? What about the sums that we send to the EU that is spent by the Commission in its aid budget? Should not that contribution be taken into account? Can the Minister tell us how much we send and how much is spent by the Commission?

Then we have to consider the MoD. It is currently manning hospitals in Sierra Leone, treating Ebola patients. It is vital work; is it not also a form of foreign

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aid? We should all be very proud of the work that our Armed Forces and health workers are doing in that country, which is not without risk.

If we added all that together—together with the work of the British Council, which the noble Lord, Lord Anderson, mentioned—would that not increase the amount of money that we are spending? We should be championing that.

Then we have the issue that the NAO report raised about year-end spending. We know that the department spent £1 billion in eight weeks to hit the target. Anyone who has spent time in a government department has seen that when that department suddenly finds an underspend, there is always an ugly rush to spend the money. It cannot be given back or rolled over. Projects that have been rejected are revived, or brought out of mothballs. One way that that could be solved for DfID is if it was allowed to roll over spending from one year to another, rather than go through what looks like a panic to spend money before the year’s end. Would that be allowed under Clause 3(3)?

Another issue is that the department’s year end is March, but the OECD year end is calendar. The National Audit Office report says:

“This difference is likely to represent more than an accounting difficulty because of the need to hit a target with little or no flexibility, causing significant decisions to be made late in the year and at short notice”.

The report recommends a three-year rolling average when specifying spending targets. Perhaps the Minister will respond to that suggestion.

In Committee in another place, the Minister, Desmond Swayne, answered that question with the following words:

“I come finally to the question about the difference between the calendar year in which we report overseas development aid and the financial year in which we do all our other business. I confess that that has caused me some angst over recent weeks as it has crossed my desk again and again. If you will excuse my French, Mr Crausby, it is a bugger”.—[Official Report, Commons, International Development (Official Development Assistance Target) Bill Committee, 4/11/14; cols. 26-7.]

I hope that the Minister will today be able to give a less colourful but more explicit answer to that question.

I fully support our aid budget. It helps to control economic migration, it helps countries to develop their infrastructure, it promotes self-sufficiency and, above all, it helps those in dire need. It saves lives. However, I have questions that I hope that the Minister will answer. Anyone listening to the debate today will wonder whether it is just a debate about the benefits of the money we send to countries in need. There is no question about that, but I respectfully suggest that we ought also to consider the detail of the Bill to see whether it achieves its laudable aims.

12.16 pm

Lord Watson of Invergowrie (Lab): My Lords, occasionally, when a Private Member’s Bill arrives in your Lordships’ House from another place, the noble Lord who picks it up here appears to do so on a rather fitful basis. The very opposite was demonstrated today by the noble Lord, Lord Purvis, who exhibited passion and commitment to the cause in what was a first-rate speech.

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It was hugely significant when, in 2013, this country met the ODA target for the first time. Even prior to that, British aid was a success story, and I believe that the Bill offers the chance to ensure that it continues to change the lives of millions for the better. We should remember that that aid is delivered through the Department for International Development. I take this opportunity to pay due credit to my former colleague in another place, Clare Short, who, when she shadowed the noble Baroness, Lady Chalker, prior to the 1997 election, ensured that the Labour Party included in its manifesto the establishment of a separate department, and then, famously and commendably, went on to serve with distinction for six years as its first Secretary of State. It was Clare Short who insisted that British aid should target those countries where people are most in need of it and where it can have the greatest impact. That is exemplified by the fact that 30% of our ODA is directed towards fragile and conflict-affected countries or regions, a policy that I very much hope will continue.

There are high returns to be had from what have been termed smart investments: the channelling of aid to projects where there will be real, sustainable outcomes. That involves investment in family planning and sexual and reproductive health and rights. As a member of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Population, Development and Reproductive Health, that is the subject on which I want to concentrate my remarks.

The millennium development goal that has lagged behind the most in the current international development agenda is MDG 5 on maternal health. Women’s and girls’ health must be at the forefront of the post-2015 development goal agenda. The greatest proportion of ill health among women and infants is concentrated in places where health systems are weak and provision is unavailable or inadequate. Statistics for 2014 show that sexual and reproductive health services still fall well short of needs in developing regions. An estimated 225 million women who want to avoid a pregnancy are not using an effective method of contraception. Increases in contraceptive use have barely kept up with growing populations. According to the World Health Organization, of the 125 million women who give birth each year, 54 million make fewer than the minimum of four antenatal visits recommended by the WHO; 43 million do not deliver their babies in a health facility; 21 million need, but do not receive, care for major obstetric complications; 33 million have newborns who need, but again do not receive, care for postnatal health complications; and 1.5 million are living with HIV, more than one-third of whom are not receiving the antiretroviral care they need to prevent transmission of the virus to their newborns and to protect their own health.

If all women who want to avoid a pregnancy used modern contraceptives and all pregnant women and their newborns received care at the standards recommended by the WHO, the results would be dramatic, not least in terms of the transmission of HIV from mothers to newborns, which would be nearly eliminated, achieving a 93% reduction to fewer than 10,000 cases annually. According to the United Nations Population Fund, fully meeting the need for modern contraceptive services would cost $9.4 billion

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a year, while treating the major curable sexually transmitted infections for all women of reproductive age would cost $1.7 billion.

These investments, if made together, would bring the total cost of sexual and reproductive healthcare to something like $40 billion annually. That figure represents more than a doubling of the current cost of those services, yet it amounts to only $25 per woman of reproductive age annually, or $7 per person in the developing world. Not only would the additional investments have major health benefits, they would be cost-effective because helping women to choose the number and timing of their pregnancies makes healthcare more affordable overall. With far fewer unintended pregnancies, the cost of improving pregnancy and newborn care and preventing mother-to-child transmission of HIV becomes much lower than it would otherwise be.

Investments in sexual and reproductive health are critical for saving lives and reducing ill health among women and their children. Spending $1 for contraceptive services reduces the cost of pregnancy-related care, including care for women living with HIV, by $1.47, so over years there are real savings to be made, although the health dividends are multiplied when taking into account the wider long-term benefits for women, their partners, their families and their communities. These include increases in women’s education and earnings, increases in household savings and assets, increases in children’s schooling, increases in GDP growth and a reduction in just one thing—poverty.

I welcome the fact that all the main parties are committed to allocating the resources needed to improve the lives of people in the developing world. The Bill will perform a vital role in that task and I congratulate Mr Moore and the noble Lord, Lord Purvis, on their determination to make that happen.

12.22 pm

Lord Steel of Aikwood (LD): My Lords, I am proud of the fact that both the authors of the Bill, in the other place and here, are my constituency successors—Michael Moore in the House of Commons and my noble friend Lord Purvis in the Scottish Parliament. Perhaps there is something about the air in the Scottish Borders that conveys a sense of proportion. I am proud because during all the time when I was the MP there, particularly during the three elections that I was party leader, I emphasised the target of 0.7% and insisted that it went into the party manifesto. However, I simply articulated it, whereas my colleagues have had the satisfaction of not only seeing it happen but now entrenching it in legislation, and I fully support that.

A few weeks ago, I was asked to speak at a dinner in south-east London to raise money for the Ebola crisis. It was a very successful event that raised £30,000. It was in the hall of a mosque. The proceedings began with an imam reading some verses from the Koran, which of course I did not understand. However, when someone got up and gave a translation of it, I was very struck by the similarity between that passage from the Koran and the passage with which we are all familiar from St Matthew’s Gospel, which I was brought up on as a son of the manse, particularly during my father’s time in Kenya. We remember how people asked:

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“Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, and fed thee? or thirsty, and gave thee drink? When saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in? or naked, and clothed thee? Or when saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee?”,

and received the answer:

“Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me”.

The point that I want to make at the start of the Bill is that there is a moral imperative that we are fulfilling today. The verses from the Koran that were read on that occasion were chapter 76, verses 9 and 10:

“And they feed, for love of Him, the poor, the orphan, and the prisoner, Saying, ‘We feed you for Allah’s pleasure only’”.

It is astonishing that, in a world where there is so much conflict between Christian and Muslim in different areas, these passages are the same in the holy books of both religions.

I stress again that there is a moral imperative, but there is also the imperative of enlightened self-interest. It cannot be right that so many people are fleeing from poverty and conflict in different parts of the world to Europe, and we must try to put that right. There is therefore self-interest in ensuring that this target is reached. A year or so ago my noble friend Lord Chidgey and I were in Malawi, working with the DfID representatives there, and we were full of admiration for what they were doing. I know that those same people will be dealing with the flood crisis that has hit that poor country so dramatically in this past week.

Yet, in some places, I have to say that DfID is sometimes accused of being interested only in rather grandiose projects—I have written to the Minister on the subject before. I was very struck by the invention of the community cooker in the Kibera slum in Nairobi; it is not photogenic but it is a wonderful community project that deserves support, yet it has not been given support by DfID. I was delighted to get an e-mail from Nairobi only yesterday saying that, where DfID had failed, the Prince’s Trust had moved in to support a project that involves the burning of rubbish and the provision of hot water and cooking facilities in the shanty towns of that great city.

We all have our own recollections and experience of seeing people working on the ground in poor countries. My own abiding memory is of talking with a woman doctor who was alone in a very poorly equipped hospital in the north of Malawi some years ago. We came to a young boy lying in a cot with a very swollen head, and she said to me, “I’m going to have to operate on this boy tomorrow, and I’ve never done anything like it”. I said, “How do you manage?”. She said, “I phoned a colleague at home who’s a specialist and they told me what I should be doing, but I’m just hoping it will go all right”. The great thing about the Bill is that it sends a message of support and comfort to all those people who work so diligently in most parts of the world, and that is another reason why I think we should support it.

12.27 pm

Baroness Tonge (Ind LD): My Lords, I note with amusement that I am the first of a very long list of a positive feast of noble Baronesses who are going to speak to your Lordships next in this debate; I feel very proud of that, and I hope that you enjoy us.

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I warmly welcome the Bill. The Pearson commission set this target in 1968 and it has taken us a long time to get there. I am pleased to say that it was official Liberal Democrat policy and in our manifesto from 1992, five years before I became international development spokesperson for my party in the other place. For me, as for my noble friend Lord Steel, it is the right and moral thing to do. It will increase the GNP of poorer counties, if we want to be hard-headed about it, and provide more markets for our trade. Eventually it will mean that we need to give less aid and, dare I say it, reduce the need for migration by people fleeing war and poverty in their own country for a better life here. That is what I would do if that were my family—UKIP, please note.

There are three main reasons for giving aid. We can all tell stories about the need for it. We know, too, of the success of our Government’s initiative, which I must highlight, on sexual and reproductive health and rights, beginning with the family planning summit in 2012. The very welcome extra pledges there have already seen 8.4 million more women and their spouses able to plan their families and have fewer and healthier children—the first step towards a country’s rise in prosperity, as more women and girls receive education and enter the workforce. There are endless examples of good outcomes.

Despite my enthusiasm, though, I worry about the delivery of aid and the accountability of those responsible for spending our money, and I hope that the Minister will give us some reassurances today. To illustrate this, I must say, as other noble Lords have said, that I am very concerned about the failure of Sierra Leone to cope with the Ebola epidemic. We intervened and stopped that war in 2001-02. Aid projects there have expanded and I know that, in the initial years after that war, DfID was not responsible for many health projects there, as it was mainly about security and nation-building. But according to DfID’s Operational Plan 2011-2015, we are going to be doing a lot of health projects. Those finish this year, so I want to know: have they been blown off course by Ebola, and what happened before that? What sort of things were we working on? Why were no health systems set up which would have given Sierra Leone a way of coping with the epidemic, as happened in other affected west African countries? Will the Minister please tell us whether we can learn from Sierra Leone?

I have also been concerned about the short-termism of various projects which then fail when our commitment ends and we pull out. I have heard this from Governments and NGOs all over the world. We must somehow address this problem.

I am sorry to tell the Minister that it is all questions from now on. Can she tell us about the forthcoming third international conference on financing for development, to be held in Addis Ababa in July? I had a Written Answer to my recent question but I am not going to read it out because I do not want to embarrass the civil servants, as it was complete gobbledegook. I would like the Minister to tell us about what will happen at that conference.

Can we guarantee that our aid money will go where it is needed and not be diverted to middle-income countries, as happens with a lot of EU aid? I know

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that Clause 5 is there to give us accountability and audit. But how are we to deal with corruption in the future? This delivery of aid and the proper expenditure of money are so important if we are to keep people on side. Having mentioned the EU, we have a lot of money going into multilateral aid with the European Union. That always seems to be very slow and cumbersome, and not to be as accountable as our own aid. Perhaps the Minister could address this now or in a letter.

Despite all these questions, I am delighted that this Bill has been introduced—let me crow—thanks to the influence of Liberal Democrats in this Government. That is a rare compliment from me.

12.32 pm

Baroness Jenkin of Kennington (Con): My Lords, we have a long debate today, with many well informed speakers—as we so often do in this Chamber—most of whom will be saying similar things, and things that we have said in previous debates; so the temptation is simply to say, “I support the Bill. Britain and DfID lead the world, and we hope that where we lead, others will follow”, and sit down. But I must, of course, make the case.

As one of the founders and the current co-chair of the Conservative Friends of International Development, it will come as no surprise that I support the Bill. I am proud of that group’s reach and activities, including events at conference in partnership with a number of NGOs. We have had meetings with, among others, Bill Gates, Bob Geldof and, more recently, Mariella Frostrup—who, with Bill Cash, so successfully steered the International Development (Gender Equality) Act through the Commons. Like the noble Baroness, I am also proud of this Government’s approach to the issue and successes in this Parliament, building as they have on the previous Government’s achievements.

DfID has not only led the way in reaching the target but is widely regarded as a world leader. As other noble Lords have said, this year and last year have been—or will be—critical years. I pay tribute to Andrew Mitchell, the first Conservative Secretary of State for International Development in this Parliament, and to Justine Greening, the current one, as well as to their teams. I was pleased to see the Minister of State on the steps earlier. I pay tribute to these Ministers in particular for their continuing focus on women and girls, especially in term of education, as well as for the inspirational Girl Summit last year. I am grateful to them also for recognising one of my own priorities—which the noble Baroness, Lady Tonge, and the noble Lord, Lord Watson, have also mentioned—which is the importance of sexual and reproductive health and the UK’s support for women in this area so that they can space their families, which in turn leads to education, more economic activity and lifting individuals and countries out of poverty.

Despite substantial inequalities within countries, and of course globally, we should celebrate the fact that the planet is increasingly prosperous and richer than ever before. We know the results and what our aid achieves. As we have heard, our aid budget saves millions of lives every year. Our support for immunisation

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saves a child’s life every two minutes, and we can vaccinate children against some killer diseases for less than the cost of a cup of coffee. We have helped 10.2 million children to go to school and provided 43 million with access to clean water, better sanitation and improved hygiene. Every time we turn on the tap, flush the loo or have a shower we should remember the billions of people who still do not have access to these things.

We also lead the way in responding to humanitarian emergencies. I take this opportunity to recognise the courage and dedication not only of the department’s staff in the field but of the many NGOs which are so committed and caring. They put themselves in danger every day, and I declare my interest as a proud board member of UNICEF UK. As a patron of Restless Development I also pay tribute to the 1,700 young volunteers in Sierra Leone who have been mobilised to spread the relevant health messages about Ebola to around 3 million people, saving lives while putting their own health at risk.

Like many others I support the Bill, but not without some reservation and some concerns. I am particularly tempted by the idea of a sunset clause. However, I know that passing the Bill unamended provides our only opportunity to deliver the promise which all three parties made to the British people in their manifestos at the last general election, as well as our promise to the millions of people around the world whose lives are improved by our support. Many of the changes made in recent years to improve transparency, governance and value for money have been for the better and dramatically improved how aid money is spent. Other noble Lords have already referred to Clause 5 and explained how it will help ensure that this continues.

When we talk about taxpayers’ money, how much are we actually talking about? How much does 0.7% represent for the average taxpayer? The ONE campaign—I am delighted to see that a number of its representatives are present in the Gallery—has calculated that a person on an income of £25,000 pays £5,465 in tax, of which a little more than £50 a year goes to the aid budget. The annual contribution made by someone on average earnings is around £58 a year. Is that really so unreasonable? The developing countries of today will one day be the economic powerhouses of the world. They will remember that the aid which helped their children to go to school and was invested in their communities was delivered under the British flag. When travelling in poor countries, it always lifts my heart to see the flag declaring our support for one project or another. As a trading nation, let us enthusiastically support countries across the world develop their economies and their entrepreneurial flair so that in the not too distant future, we will be in a position to do business in places that would astonish our parents and grandparents.

In the words of the OECD:

“The UK is a recognised leader in development. This is the result of clear vision, consistent political leadership … the UK is seen as a model by other donors”.

The passing of this Bill will consolidate that position, and I urge noble Lords to resist the temptation to amend it.

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12.37 pm

Baroness Kinnock of Holyhead (Lab): My Lords, at the outset I pay tribute to the noble Lord, Lord Purvis, and to my noble friend Lady Royall for their introduction to this debate. I also recognise, as others have done, the commitment shown by DfID to the principles raised in the debate today and, indeed, the role played by successive Labour Governments.

The reality is that we are living in an age of unprecedented human development, and we celebrate the fact that millions of people are leading a better, more fulfilled and healthy life than their parents did. On every continent, children’s lives are being saved. More are surviving infancy and are being vaccinated against deadly diseases. More are going to school and, as UNICEF and Save the Children confirm, child well-being generally has made real progress. Those who claim that “aid doesn’t work” should, to take just one of countless instances, try saying that to a mother in Africa whose children sleep safely under anti-malarial bed nets directly provided by aid. Aid does work and, as others have said, it is the smart thing to do. Hundreds of children’s lives are saved every day by these nets, paid for by aid. With that reality in mind, the argument has to be that we should do more and do better so that we succeed in underpinning what all noble Lords in this Chamber ultimately seek, which is shared prosperity and security.

The tendency has been to focus too much on income levels instead of key indicators such as health, education and the general provision of basic services. Of course we should recognise that progress has been patchy, but we must also assert that countries such as Congo and Zimbabwe are not the norm. Generally, there has been substantial progress. We must emphasise that people’s lives are longer and better because aid has enabled them to have access to income, education, social protection and better government.

For many years, the UK has been recognised as one of the world’s best and most effective donors, but we know that there is a steep hill to climb if we are to meet the MDG goals which were agreed in 2000. The achievement of full and productive employment with decent work for all, and the ambition to halve the proportion of people who suffer from hunger, has eluded us. More children are in school, but millions are not. The majority of the 58 million children not in school are girls. Gender inequality remains a major propellant of poverty and women’s marginalisation, and a basic cause of under-development.

In 1970, the UK Government committed to spending 0.7% of GNI on development, but it took 43 years for that promise to be delivered. The Bill we are debating today has not been rushed. It is simply a reflection of the generation-old commitment made by one of the world’s richest countries to the world’s poorest people.

The Bill is vital because it is the final opportunity to deliver the 2010 manifesto promises of our three parties, as well as the coalition agreement. In addition, it sends a signal to other developed countries that they, too, must meet their aid targets. Demonstrating our commitment by legislating is a wise, timely and excellent initiative. It will serve to protect the aid budget and increase predictability and accountability. It will also

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confirm our support for the 97.5% of MPs who were elected on manifestos that supported legislation or have adopted the policy in this Parliament.

Honouring our pledges is the right thing to do because we share an interest in joining together in a world that is stable and secure, with an educated and healthy population. We should applaud the cross-party commitment to keeping our promises to the world’s poorest people. If we take steps to pass the Bill in the remaining time of this Parliament, it will send a strong signal in 2015, which is such an important year for development. All three parties made a commitment in 2010 to enshrine the aid level of 0.7% of GNI, but it has taken five years to put that consensus into practice. It is now time to show that we can and will work together for the greater good.

12.43 pm

Baroness Williams of Crosby (LD): My Lords, I echo the words of the noble Baroness, Lady Kinnock, in paying tribute to all three parties for what they have done about aid. In particular, I add one name: that of the noble Baroness, Lady Chalker, who I believe persuaded the Conservative Party to become a great champion of aid and changed a great many attitudes by the work she did. She deserves our tribute for that.

I will deal with just two issues, because obviously time is short. The first is the issue of partnership, which was raised by the noble Viscount, Lord Astor, and my noble friend Lady Falkner. One of the ways in which we can most effectively use the Bill is by recognising that there should be in middle-income countries a commitment of partnership towards what is sometimes called in churches, “the option for the poor”. I am thinking about a country such as India, which has now moved statistically into the middle-income group, but which, as many of us know, has huge inequalities and vast areas of poverty, as is also true of China. We need to mobilise, perhaps through the Commonwealth, the concept of joint responsibility; of more partnership between the countries that receive aid for their fellow citizens and those like us who contribute it.

I will give as an example one instance with which I happen to be associated, and which I declare as an interest: namely, the huge efforts being made for continuing and lasting assistance through economic development, for example in northern India. I have in mind a charity called Seva Mandir, which attracted very large sums of money from wealthy and middle-income Indian groups for the sustaining of the concept of rebuilding the old Rajasthan forest, including huge efforts to reforest and to involve children at school in looking after saplings that are handed out to them, which they then become responsible for—the tree almost becoming a kind of pet.

That means that whole communities become committed to rebuilding their own economies, and do so by involving children and young people—and not least, by the by, do so by exchanges of young people from this country and elsewhere, who work alongside their Indian colleagues for months at a time in that effort. The concept of using the growing knowledge of our own schoolchildren and university students in

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taking part in the physical rebuilding of many of the poorest communities is one which will help to give us a lasting international sense.

The second thing I will mention quickly was raised by the noble and right reverend Lord, Lord Williams of Oystermouth, which is the huge and growing challenge of anarchy in certain parts of the world. We need to recognise that bodies such as ISIL build upon a sense of hopelessness among young people. Again, the Commonwealth could do much more here to associate attempts to rebuild economies that are in desperate plight, and sometimes states that have broken down, by associating us together in a constructive—one might almost say a Marshall plan—approach in some of those desperate countries. South Sudan is one example; tragically, Nigeria is increasingly becoming another.

I have long felt that we do not use the resources we have in the Commonwealth to present good alternatives to some of the areas under the greatest pressure of all. That pressure reminds one, sadly, of the famous lines from the great Irish poet Mr Yeats, who said, as noble Lords may remember:

“The best lack all conviction, while the worstAre full of passionate intensity”.

The noble and right reverend Lord, Lord Williams of Oystermouth, was absolutely right in saying that we need to work much more widely between departments —and I include in that the FCO, the Ministry of Defence and others—in offering constructive alternatives to the terrible spread of anarchy in our world, and that we should address that as part of our objective of building up the link between ourselves and these other countries.

Finally, it is very important that we recognise that countries which are themselves poor often have an amazing amount to contribute, and we do not recognise that contribution if we are too patriarchal and imperial in our approaches. Therefore, let us say, here and now, that we will use aid not only to credit ourselves for acts of generosity and imagination but to elicit from other countries, including poor countries, the huge contribution they themselves can make once there is a sense of hope for them to build on.

12.48 pm

Baroness Flather (CB): My Lords, this is an unusual debate, because a lot of the speeches have filled me with a warm glow—we do not get that very often. I thank the noble Lord, Lord Purvis of Tweed. He made a wonderful speech, which made clear what we were aiming for. I felt proud, and many noble Lords have already said that they felt proud today. It is a cause for pride that we are the only country among the G8 countries that has accepted this 0.7% target for aid, and the only one that has met it. I think that we need to be proud.

There has been some talk about tying ourselves up, but surely every Act of Parliament ties Parliament up in some way—and, if we do not like it, another time we can change it. I thought that that was normal practice. It does not mean that you do not do something because you are tying the future of the country; you are not tying the country's future because, if it is not

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working and if we get very poor, no doubt we will come here again and say, “We can’t do it”. So let us not go down that route at all.

I shall say a very few things. First, people have said that aid should be spent properly. Well, naturally it should be spent properly—and, if it is not spent properly, we should change the people who are in charge. This is almost not necessary to say, that aid should be properly directed and targeted and spent. That goes without saying.

Quite a lot of things are being said about India, which is my country of origin. I go there every year and I see what is going on. Yes, things have improved for some people. Even those who are not now starving are really not in a very good place. People who have, say, a salary of 10,000 or 12,000 rupees a month find it very difficult to keep a family because of inflation. So let us not get carried away and say that a huge number of people are doing very well. In fact, half of India is on the poverty line—and I do not know where people draw the poverty line, but in India it is pretty low.

When Christine Lagarde gave her Richard Dimbleby lecture, she said that Indian billionaires could wipe out India’s poverty just like that, if they wanted to. One of the most upsetting and hurtful things to me is that they do not give. India has now passed a law that 2% of net profits of a company must be put into corporate social responsibility. What is going to happen? A lot of Indian companies will create something, and then it will disappear or be for their own benefit. This has been going on for a long time. For tax reasons, they have created foundations from which they redraw the money for themselves. It is really appalling.

We have mentioned corruption—well, corruption is endemic in India and Africa. One of the biggest problems that they face is corruption, because nothing can get done if three-quarters or more of the people—everybody who has the opportunity—take something out. That is something to be watched. Something else that needs to be watched is the Commonwealth. We talk about it as if it was some kind of a dream, because it is not real. The two things that are most important are having no corruption and having rule of law. No country can have democracy or do well without the rule of law, and almost every country now has judges who are under the control of the Government. That is an extremely serious and worrying aspect and, if we can do anything about it, we should do it.

Quite a lot has been said about women, yet not enough. Women are half of the world’s population and they are certainly the poorest of the poor. Why? It is because men hold all that is going—they have control of money and over the bodies and lives of women. It is not as though the women are individual human beings, as we imagine. They are not; they are part of a man’s chattel. That has not changed, and we need to do far more than we are doing for women. And we need to do far more for that elephant in the room—I know that that is a cliché but it fits in this case—family planning. The world is drowning under the increase in population. However much aid we give, however is it going to meet the needs of the increasing population? Unless we do something about it, we are not going to reach any targets.

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My Nigerian friend says that, since men are so lazy, if it had been only a little more difficult to create a baby, they would not have done it. But, unfortunately, it is ever so easy. They will have children and they are proud of it. They say, “I am father of 10 children”. “Do you ever feed them?” No, they do not feed them —they just create them.

12.54 pm

Baroness Hodgson of Abinger (Con): My Lords, we have heard many excellent contributions, starting with the wonderfully comprehensive introduction by the noble Lord, Lord Purvis, which was followed by many other outstanding contributions. I, too, am delighted to speak today and am proud of our Government’s commitment to deliver 0.7% of our gross national income as official development assistance—the first G8 country to do so. As a DfID spokeswoman said:

“Investing in overseas development is creating a world that is healthier, more stable and increasingly prosperous. This is something Britain can be proud of”.

Tackling poverty overseas means tackling the root causes of numerous global challenges, such as disease, drugs, migration, terrorism and climate change, which are ultimately interconnected with us in Britain and the developed world. Aid assists with long-term economic growth and stability, helping to build new economies and potential trading partners for the future. Through working in fragile and post-conflict states, UK aid is also helping to protect the national security of our country. Many of these points have already been made, but, when visiting countries, I have seen the difference that our aid can make in so many ways.

We have heard the relevant figures for what DfID aid has achieved in giving people access to clean water and better sanitation, supporting children to go to school, ensuring safe births and reaching people with emergency food assistance. Where humanitarian disasters occur, the UK is a world leader, whether responding to Ebola in Sierra Leone, the people of Iraq fleeing from ISIL, the humanitarian crisis in Syria or those affected by the typhoon in the Philippines. These are truly impressive achievements and mean the difference between life and death for so many.

While a few may question the necessity for this Bill, legislating to oblige this country to maintain the current level of investment will ensure that we continue to build on this progress. There is no doubt that some people resent public money being diverted overseas, especially in times of austerity when cuts have had to be made at home. However, as the Prime Minister said:

“We are the kind of people who believe in doing what is right. We accept the moral case for keeping our promises to the world’s poorest—even when we face challenges at home”.

As we have heard, we should not forget that the commitment to spend 0.7% is an international agreement, originally set by the United Nations, and that we are one of five countries that have achieved this.

As has been highlighted, our Government have a responsibility to British taxpayers to make sure that we get the best value for every pound that we spend. During the past five years, tough steps have had to be taken, cutting the number of countries that receive aid, tightening financial controls, cutting administrative

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costs and focusing on value for money. Transparency is key to building and maintaining public support. DfID was ranked the top bilateral donor in the 2014 Aid Transparency Index, with the department’s online development tracker allowing users to trace the delivery of aid from donor to beneficiary. By driving value for money and improved transparency, it ensures that UK aid goes where it is most needed and where it will deliver the very best results for taxpayers’ money.

Across the developing world, women and girls continue to bear a disproportionate burden of poverty and, as we have heard, are the poorest of the poor. By putting them at the heart of development through working to help girls get through secondary school and tackling violence against women and girls, DfID enables them to have greater choice in their lives. The Girl Summit last July demonstrated the UK’s commitment to eliminating FGM and early and forced marriage for ever. The UK’s ending sexual violence in conflict initiative has led the way to force the world to take notice of this crime, with 155 nations having signed the declaration at the UN.

This is a very significant year for development. The UK has led the global debate on what should replace the millennium development goals when they expire. Although the number of people living in extreme poverty has halved since 1990, globally 1 billion people still struggle to survive on less than $1.25 a day. Therefore, this Bill is crucial. It sends a signal to those in developing countries that we are committed to keeping our promise to them and to other developed countries that they, too, must keep their promises and follow our lead. I am pleased to support the Bill.

1 pm

Lord Davies of Stamford (Lab): My Lords, I endorse the very fine tributes given by the noble Lords, Lord Fowler and Lord Tugendhat, to Leon Brittan. Being from a slightly different generation, I was not as close to him as they were, but I always regarded him as a friend and I have, and will always have, the greatest affection and admiration for him.

The last thing that I want to do today is to make a party-political point. However, and I put it no more strongly than this, I am genuinely mystified that this measure—the Government support it, I believe, with complete sincerity—was not only in their manifesto, as it was in all our manifestos, but in their first Queen’s Speech and they have done nothing about it at all until the last few months of the Parliament. Even then, it came forward not as a government measure but as a Private Member’s Bill, with all the constraints that that entails. I am just mystified to know why that has happened and, when the Minister sums up, I would love her to explain to us why we find ourselves in that position today.

I pay tribute to my noble friend Lord Lipsey and to the noble Lord, Lord Tugendhat, for having had the courage to go somewhat against the current this morning in arguing against the Bill. There is no question at all but that it presents some remarkable anomalies and some problematic aspects and I think that we would be failing in our duty if we did not engage with them thoroughly.

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It is not normal practice to decide arbitrarily to spend a certain amount of money in a certain area without knowing what you are going to purchase. That is not the way that budgeting or financial governance is taught in any business school or, indeed, in any graduate school of public administration. As has been said, there is a real danger of distortion when you hypothecate certain elements in public spending. I might add to that a point that has already been made this morning: if you do that often enough, it becomes impossible to pursue any stabilisation policy. If the economy grows above trend, you suddenly find that, because GDP goes up, you are required to increase government spending and may be adding to overheating in the economy. That would be very perverse.

What worries me most about the Bill is almost the inevitability that if you place on a bureaucracy and on a Minister the obligation to spend a certain amount of money by a certain deadline, you will induce the operation of the law of diminishing returns and the productivity of that spending will fall. That worries me considerably.

However, unlike my noble friend Lord Lipsey and the noble Lord, Lord Tugendhat, and despite all those reservations and very genuine concerns, I support the Bill. It is essential to do something. First and foremost is the need to make a contribution to relieve the appalling human suffering that exists in the third world today. Some of the examples given by the noble Lord, Lord Chidgey, were deeply moving. Secondly, as an earnest of our sincerity, we need to do something about the worrying levels of inequality in the world today. Thirdly, as a subsidiary consideration, we need to take action for the sake of the credibility of the British political system. If all three major parties have committed themselves to doing something and they do not do it by the end of the Parliament, that will undermine public credibility in our whole system. Therefore, I support the Bill, despite all the reservations that I have set out.

However, I want to propose three safeguards. First, we must strengthen the audit controls that we have in place, particularly because there will almost certainly be a greater degree of mis-spending than in the past. I have no confidence at all—indeed, I think that the Economic Affairs Committee had no confidence at all; it said as much—in the DfID statement that in the last year for which it had figures, which I think was 2011-12, only £1 million of its budget was mis-spent or wasted, having been subject to fraud, corruption or what have you. That is completely non-credible and I think that DfID is deceiving itself. Whether by strengthening Clause 5, if we have the opportunity to do that, or by some other means, we need greatly to improve our financial controls.