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14 June 2004
Volume 422

3.31 pm

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With permission, Mr. Speaker, I shall make a statement on the G8 summit in the United States, which I attended last week. I thank President Bush for his chairmanship of the summit, and the people of Georgia for hosting it. I have placed copies of the Chairman's summary and summit documents in the House Libraries.

At the outset, I am sure the whole House will join me in expressing our condolences to the families of the two British contractors killed in Iraq this morning.

At the G8 summit, we all agreed on the importance of transferring authority in Iraq at the end of the month to a fully sovereign Iraqi Government. We welcomed the formation of the new Iraqi interim Government. The unanimous adoption by the United Nations Security Council of the resolution on Iraq demonstrates the international consensus to support the new Government of Iraq under Prime Minister Alawi and to support the vision of a modern, democratic, federal and stable Iraq.

The new President of Iraq expressed his thanks for the sacrifices made by the coalition forces to free his country from the evils of the Saddam regime. He was absolutely clear that there was no desire among the Iraqi people to go back to the past. He entirely rejected the notion that the people of Iraq were unable to make democracy work or that the insurgents represented anything other than a small minority of Iraqis. He described the reality to us vividly. Those who carry out violent attacks, blowing up water and oil pipelines, leaving of ordinary Iraqis to go without power, are not patriots, he said. They are terrorists whose agenda is to cause chaos. They are determined to stop us succeeding, but we will succeed, with Iraq a better place not just for Iraqis, but for the wider region and the world.

This led on to a discussion of the initiative to help build reform across the broader middle east and north Africa region. We agreed a set of proposals to help bring greater democracy, freedom and stability to the whole of that region, working in support of those in the region who want to make progress towards modernisation and reform. Reform must of course come from within. The G8 responded positively to ideas from regional leaders, most notably at the Arab League summit in Tunis, where Arab leaders expressed their determination
"firmly to establish the basis for democracy"
in the middle east.

We met a number of leaders from the region—from Afghanistan, Algeria, Bahrain,Iraq, Jordan, Yemen and Turkey. We agreed with them a comprehensive and detailed plan of support to give momentum to the initiative. We set out concrete measures to address the illiteracy, poverty and under-development of the region, to make the most of the region's entrepreneurial and cultural traditions on which it could thrive. We established what is called the Forum for the Future, which will bring together Foreign and Economic Ministers from the G8 and countries in the region. The inaugural meeting will be held in the autumn.

We also discussed the middle east peace process. We agreed that the basis for progress is still the road map, which sets out the path to the two-state solution. We agreed that the Quartet should meet in the region before the end of this month, and that it should now come up with a specific set of actions to restore momentum on the road map. These should cover political reform of the Palestinian Administration, a security plan and an economic plan. Taken together, all these various initiatives amount to a vision of a middle east that is no longer a source of instability and extremism, but of increasingly more democratic states which respect different religious faiths and human rights and can live peacefully within the world community.

On the final day of the summit we concentrated on Africa, and leaders from Ghana, Nigeria, Senegal, South Africa, Algeria and Uganda joined us. African issues are now a well-established part of the G8 agenda. We agreed a number of new measures. We have to ensure that where there is a conflict in Africa, we have the peacekeeping ability to back up and support a political settlement. So the G8 made a commitment to ensure that up to 75,000 peacekeeping troops will be trained and ready to be deployed on peacekeeping operations by 2010. The UK intends to train, directly or indirectly, some 17,000 African troops in that period.

We discussed the grave humanitarian and political crisis in Sudan, which my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for International Development visited last week. The UK is the second largest donor to Sudan, giving £36.5 million this year alone. The G8 pledged assistance in ending the conflict and bringing humanitarian assistance to those in need, and we agreed to work together to help the UN lead the international effort to avert a major humanitarian disaster.

We also agreed a new initiative to extend AIDS vaccine research, confirmed the polio eradication target and agreed on new measures to help to break the vicious cycle of famine and food insecurity in the horn of Africa. The heavily indebted poor countries initiative has given welcome relief from the crushing burden of debt that has held back so many of the poorest countries. We have already agreed some $70 billion of debt relief for 27 countries, 23 of which are in Africa. We reaffirmed our commitment to implement and to finance that initiative fully. We agreed to work with all parties concerned to extend the initiative from the end of this year to the end of 2006. That agreement then opens the door for another 10 countries to benefit from more than $30 billion of debt relief. That will free up vital resources that can be spent on health and education and the eradication of poverty.

This series of initiatives confirms the growing importance of Africa for all of us in the G8. The UK alone will spend some £1 billion in Africa next financial year. A major part of the agenda for our G8 summit next year will be the work of the Commission for Africa that we have established. The commission will report back next spring with a series of agreed recommendations for action, and we will then work with the rest of the G8 to take them forward.

The other major part of the agenda for the UK presidency of the G8 in 2005 will be climate change. We need to make progress with the ratification of Kyoto, but we also need to look beyond Kyoto and its 2012 time frame.

We held an extensive discussion of the world economy. We agreed on the need for further structural reforms in our economies to accelerate growth. We discussed the current level of oil prices, notably the recent pledge by the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries to increase production.

On trade, there was broad agreement to press ahead with the Doha development round. We called on all parties to take the measures necessary to get the round moving forward. The benefits are clear: substantially reducing trade barriers could boost global income by some $500 billion a year, with most of that going to developing countries.

On non-proliferation, we adopted an action plan that builds on and enhances the existing global nonproliferation regime. We recognised the need to strengthen controls on the transfer of nuclear enrichment and reprocessing technology, and we agreed to have new measures in place before next year's summit.

The G8 was originally created to discuss economic issues. Of course we still do that, but increasingly the focus has moved towards issues of international solidarity. That is because it is clear that in an interdependent world, what blights or enhances one part of the world affects the other parts, too. It is morally right that we extend democracy, cut poverty, remove the causes of conflict and instability, and bring the hope of advancement to all nations; but it is also now clearly in our enlightened self-interest. If global terrorism and the proliferation of chemical, biological and nuclear weapons are the new security threat we face, we recognise that it cannot be defeated by security measures alone. Political freedom and rising prosperity, as much as force of arms, will be our ultimate shield: this year's G8 recognised that reality. We look forward to deepening it under British chairmanship next year.

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I join the Prime Minister in expressing my condolences and those of all Conservative Members to the families of the two British contractors who were killed in Iraq this morning.

I welcome wholeheartedly the unanimous vote of the Security Council on UN resolution 1546. The challenge now is to translate that into tangible results on the ground, so may I ask the Prime Minister about the resolution's likely practical effects? Last month, he said that, while operational control of our troops in Iraq after 30 June must remain with British commanders, final political control over their deployment will be a matter for the Iraqi Government. Does that remain the position? Is it the position for United States forces, too? What are the implications for the new international consensus on security in Iraq? Are there any prospects of other UN members, including Arab states, agreeing to provide troops? What is the latest position in respect of NATO, especially its role in training troops?

The G8 leaders pledged to "work together" on the cancellation of Iraqi debt. How is that to be taken forward in the light of the reported differences between the US and France on the matter? What is the British Government's position?

The G8 also focused on wider middle east questions. I welcome its recognition of the importance of Israeli-Palestinian issues, especially its endorsement of the role of the Quartet. The G8 also agreed what is now called the "Partnership with the Broader Middle East" initiative but neither Egypt nor Saudi Arabia chose to attend the discussion. What progress has been made on encouraging regional leaders to take part in that initiative?

We welcome the new action agreed against the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. The G8 said that it deplored Iran's behaviour over nuclear weapons and urged it to comply with its commitments. The UK has laid great emphasis on the closeness of its links with the Government of Iran. What are the Government doing, in conjunction with their European allies, to persuade the Government of Iran to do what is required of nuclear powers: co-operate fully with the International Atomic Energy Agency?

We also welcome the strengthening of co-operation on global counter-terrorism, with the specific focus on the security of international travel. Significant progress has been made on that since September 11 but is it not extraordinary that, eight years after I, as Home Secretary, attended a major G8 conference in Paris on terrorism, not all the items agreed then have yet been implemented?

We welcome the acceleration of efforts to develop a vaccine for the scourge of HIV, with more than 40 million people suffering from HIV/AIDS. More than half are in sub-Sakai an Africa.

We welcome the formal extension, however limited, of the HIPC debt relief initiative, but does the Prime Minister agree that current procedures on debt relief remain bureaucratic and slow and fail the countries and the people they were designed to help? Do we not need to target aid to reduce poverty and achieve maximum value for every pound that we spend? Is it not the case that British aid is far superior in that respect—and in almost every respect—to European Union aid? Is there not an overwhelming case—[Interruption.] It is rather important for the people who benefit from the aid. Is there not an overwhelming case for giving much more of our aid bilaterally rather than through the EU?

Is it not the case, as the G8 said, that
"trade liberalisation is key to boosting global prosperity"?
What help are the British Government giving to ensure that the Doha round gets back on track in the way that the G8 envisaged?

I wish finally to ask two specific questions about regions in Africa. First, I share the horror that is felt in all parts of the House about the recent developments in Darfur and welcome the extra £15 million in UK assistance that was announced last week. If Government bombing occurs in Darfur, should not the Security Council authorise a no-fly zone to protect the civilian population and consult those states with the capacity to enforce such a restriction to urge them to do so?

Secondly, what discussions on Zimbabwe took place at the G8? Will the Prime Minister explain why the limited sanctions that are in place do not prevent the pro-Mugabe fund-raising visit to Britain of the governor of the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe? Does that not illustrate the need for an urgent tightening of targeted EU sanctions to include, in the words of the Movement for Democratic Change in Zimbabwe,
"all individuals who play a leading role in perpetuating the illegitimate rule of Mugabe"?
Is that not an excellent illustration of the need for Britain to demonstrate clear and firm leadership, in the G8 and elsewhere, in working with the international community to help to achieve the objectives of peace and stability to which we are all committed?

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On the latter two points, we work closely with the MDC on the measures that we should take in respect of Zimbabwe, although I am afraid that these measures and sanctions, although we have them in place, are of limited effect on the Mugabe regime. We must be realistic about that. It is still important that we give every chance to, and make every effort to try to help, those in south Africa—the southern part of Africa—to put pressure for change on the Mugabe regime, because there is no salvation for the people of Zimbabwe until that regime is changed.

In respect of Darfur, I shall look into the issue of the no-fly zone that the right hon. and learned Gentleman raised. I cannot give him an answer on it now. UK assistance has been increased substantially, and we are also taking a leading role in political efforts to try to ensure that the nascent peace deal that has been worked out at the moment, with the agreement to suspend all hostilities, is actually carried through. It is going to be extremely important for us to keep up every pressure on the various parties to make sure that that happens. We are co-ordinating our approach very closely with the United States and the European Union.

Let me deal one by one with the right hon. and learned Gentleman's earlier points. On the UN Security Council resolution, it is quite clear that political control and sovereign decision making are with the Iraqi Government. That is our position, it is the position of the United States and it was repeated by everyone at the G8. I think that that is necessary, quite apart from anything else, to ensure that the Iraqi people understand that they now have both the power and the responsibility to take those decisions, and that we are there in support. That will help, and indeed is helping, to settle the situation in Iraq—not in the sense that we will not then have these bombings and killings, because these people will carry on, as the Prime Minister of Iraq said today. What is obvious, however, is that people inside Iraq are increasingly seeing those people not as people who are fighting coalition forces but as people who are the enemies of Iraq and its progress.

I do not believe that we will see further troops come through NATO, but I hope that if the new Iraqi Government wish it, we will see assistance with training provided for the Iraqi security forces, including the army.

We should take the issue of Iraqi debt forward through the Paris Club. The difference between us, America and some other countries on the one hand, and France and others on the other, is to do with the percentage of debt that is to be written off. Discussion on that is still going on. We want a high proportion of the debt written off, and at the moment negotiation is taking place under the umbrella that there should be a substantial reduction in debt. How substantial that will be is still a matter of discussion. However, I have no doubt that there will be significant moves forward in that direction.

In respect of the greater middle east initiative, I hope that people do not take it from the absence of Saudi Arabia and Egypt that they are against the initiative. They are not, and that was made clear by both their Governments. It is important to emphasise, however, that this initiative—the desire to bring a greater degree of democracy, human rights and political freedom to people in the middle east—arises from the discussions that those countries themselves are having. We are not seeking to impose a solution from the outside, but seeking to work with reform-minded people in the region. The idea is to get to the point where three things are happening in the middle east: where there is a stable, democratic Iraq, which will obviously be a huge force for good in that region and in the wider world; where there is momentum back in the middle east peace process; and where Governments in the middle east as a whole are moving towards political reforms that will bring about greater participation by people and a greater degree of democracy.

On Iran, we are working with our EU allies to make sure that Iran fully complies with the IAEA recommendations, and we shall continue to do so. I accept that there is more to do on proliferation, but we have come a long way in that regard.

Obviously the British Government have given a considerable lead on HIPC and debt relief over the past few years, I am pleased to say. There are always issues to do with bureaucracy, but we are trying to iron them out. We have now agreed to extend the decision point, which means that by the end of this some $100 billion of debt will have been wiped out. That is having a huge impact in Africa. Let me give just one or two examples. Tanzania has now attained gender parity in primary schools, and has increased the number of children in primary schools by more than 50 per cent. It has built more than 1,000 new schools and more than 31,000 new classrooms. If progress continues on target, it will meet the universal basic education millennium development goal by 2006, nine years early. Uganda has managed to increase its social expenditure by over 40 per cent. as a direct result of the debt relief measures that we have been leading.

I agree that our bilateral aid is very effective. That is why this Government have dramatically increased bilateral aid for the poorest countries in the world. I might point out that after years of aid falling as a proportion of GDP, it has risen under this Government. We will obviously work constructively with our European partners—as I am sure the right hon. And learned Gentleman wishes to do—to improve the workings of the European programme.

The Doha round is one of the most important issues that will face us over the next six months. It is imperative that we secure the round that we started. The G8 had a full discussion on this, and I think there is an acceptance of the huge importance of agricultural reform in the developed world if progress is to be made.

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I want to associate my right hon. and hon. Friends with the expressions of condolence with the two British citizens who were killed in Iraq so tragically earlier today.

Still on the subject of Iraq, may I ask whether the Prime Minister acknowledges that despite the welcome progress now being achieved in both the delivery and content of the further UN resolution, it was clear from the summit's discussions that significant international decisions must still arise from the original invasion and its bloody aftermath?

The Prime Minister has confirmed that the NATO proposal floated by President Bush has effectively been shelved, and indeed that President Bush himself went on to describe it as unrealistic. Was it not perhaps a bit unrealistic of him to imagine that a suggestion that had clearly not involved much advance preparation with other countries would find favour?

Given what he has already said, will the Prime Minister give a little more detail of the current thinking on bringing into Iraq troops from other countries, particularly Muslim countries? Is planning in hand with that aim in mind?

As for the tragedy in Sudan, do the British Government consider what is taking place there to be, frankly, nothing more than ethnic cleansing? What steps does the Prime Minister think can be taken beyond the phrasing of the communiqué itself to address what is the most pressing humanitarian tragedy in the world today?

As the Prime Minister knows, many people are frustrated about the lack of progress—painstaking progress—that is being achieved on aid spending, welcome though it is. In the context of the UK and his own Government's spending review for 2005 and beyond, does he intend to set a feasible and achievable timetable for the British Government to meet the UN's 0.7 per cent. GDP target? Has the Chancellor given thought to that?

Can the Prime Minister clarify a slight ambiguity in his reference to Kyoto? He said:
"We need to make progress with the ratification of Kyoto, but we also need to look beyond Kyoto and its 2012 time frame."
Has he effectively given up on the position of the United States in the middle of all of this, or does he retain any residual hope that the Bush Administration can be made to see sense and recognise their international obligations?

Finally, on Iraq, at the European Union summit in a few days' time—I appreciate that there are certain other items on the agenda—will the Prime Minister take any opportunity to explore the EU's contribution to the work of the Quartet in respect of the middle east peace plan?

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The divisions over the original decision about the conflict in Iraq remain, I imagine—of course they do—but what is important is that the international community has come together to support the new resolution. As was pointed out in a very forceful intervention by the new President of Iraq—I wish people could have heard it—the great thing is that they are discussing in Iraq how they are to hold elections. The sheer impact of their having for the first time the ability to come together and discuss a democratic future for Iraq has been tremendous in its power within Iraq and for the Iraqi people. In our meeting he said that, whatever differences there have been, people should recognise that only a tiny number of people in Iraq are anything other than delighted that they have been liberated from Saddam.

It is unfair to describe the original American proposal on NATO as a proposal for NATO troops—the idea was always that they should be helping with training. There may still be disagreement about that, I do not know, but I do not think so, provided that the Iraqi Government wish it to happen.

Whether troops from Muslim countries go to Iraq is primarily a matter for the new Iraqi Government, as they will have to make any such request, but the single best thing—I hope that some proposals for this can be set out in the coming weeks—is for the Iraqis themselves to take over their own security capability. They have plans afoot in the police and the civil defence, as well as in relation to the army. Their view, again as explained by the President of Iraq, is very simple: they do not want any foreign troops on their soil; they know that they need them for the present, but they want to have their own capability to run their own country as soon as possible, and that is what we should help them to do.

On Sudan, the two things that we need are pressure for the political settlement to hold, and indeed to develop, and humanitarian co-ordination. That is why my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for International Development went out to Sudan a short time ago.

We remain committed to the ultimate goals on the UN aid target.

We certainly need to ratify Kyoto. Again, to be fair, the problem is not simply with the Bush Administration. I think I am right in saying that the Senate voted 100 to nothing on the treaty, so there is quite a lot of work to do to get that position to change, and not just with the Administration. However, we strongly support Kyoto and I hope that we can find a way of re-engaging people in a dialogue, to ensure not only that the treaty is ratified but that there is progress on the issue of climate change.

Finally, I do not know whether we will discuss the involvement of Europe as part of the Quartet in the middle east peace process at the forthcoming European Council formally, but I have no doubt that we will do so at the margins.

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The House will welcome the emphasis given to African affairs at the G8 conference, as well as the emphasis that the Prime Minister, the Leader of the Opposition and the Liberal leader have placed on Darfur. Is he aware that Mr. Andrew Natsios, the American Government's top aid official, has predicted that 300,000 people may die in western Sudan as a result of disease and malnutrition? I welcome the Prime Minister's statement and the political effort that he will make, but can he ensure that Darfur does not fall off any radar screen and that the humanitarian tragedy that could come about will be averted?

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I think I can give my hon. Friend that assurance. The G8 issued a specific statement on Darfur and the crisis in Sudan. We and the United States—and, I believe, the European Union—will keep a very strong focus on this indeed.

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At the G8 summit in Georgia, did the Prime Minister apologise to the other Heads of Government for giving them false information to justify the original attack on Iraq?

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No, I did not.

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My right hon. Friend mentioned non-proliferation. How seriously is the G8 taking that issue, and will he give us details of the action plan that was referred to?

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The main part of the action is to ensure that in respect of civil nuclear power we are not exporting equipment, or allowing equipment to be traded, to countries where we think there may be a risk of its being used to create a nuclear weapons capability. We have also agreed certain measures to ensure that we can interdict properly the supply of materials that could, for example, be used in the enrichment process. We have learned quite a lot from trying to re-engage Libya and Iran with the international community on this issue.

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Did the Prime Minister have a chance to talk with the President about the original intelligence information that he received before advising the House to go to war? Will he tell us a little about the intelligence information that he had about the way in which Saddam Hussein abused human rights in his own country, and the number of people whose death that led to?

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The answer to the first question is that no, we did not have a discussion about that. In respect of the second question, we have already found the mass graves of some 300,000 people in Iraq—although most people regard that as only a fraction of the number of people who died. There were several million refugees from Iraq, and the new Prime Minister of Iraq fled to this country, where he was subject to an assassination attempt by Saddam's Government. The single best way of dealing with the issue is if the people of Iraq are allowed to speak about exactly what life was like, and what it is like to have their freedom now.

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I welcome the Quartet's continued commitment to the road map. What assistance does my right hon. Friend expect the Government to be able to give to the Palestinian Administration to ensure that they can take part effectively in the negotiations, with more resources and strength?

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Although it is too early to tell, I think that there is a possibility of making progress in the middle east again. I know that it sounds very much like a matter of process that the Quartet is to hold a further meeting, but after that meeting it is to produce an action plan to tie in with the disengagement from the Gaza strip and part of the west bank that the Israeli Government are proposing. We shall help with those proposals on the political, the economic and the security side. Although, as I say, at present things still look very bleak in the middle east, none the less an awful lot of work is going on underneath the surface, and I hope within the next few weeks to have more to say about that, perhaps of a more optimistic nature.

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Did the Prime Minister take advantage of the opportunity to tell our partners in the European Union that are also in the G8 that in view of the well-forecast outburst of majority Eurosceptic opinion, Britain will not be able to sign the draft constitution?

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I have to say no to that question as well.

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In Question 9 to the Foreign Secretary tomorrow, I shall ask about the position of Tariq Aziz. Some very wicked people were put on trial at Nuremberg, and whatever anybody may think, surely there is a right to trial. What is the position in relation to the International Red Cross, which is apparently saying that unless certain individuals are charged before 30 June, they should go free? What do the British Government think about that?

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Our thinking is that in the end it has to be for the Iraqis to decide what process they want to adhere to. We are working closely with them in the formation of the Iraqi tribunal to ensure that it respects the rights of any of those people. It is important that if any of them goes on trial in Iraq, that is done in a way that the international community accepts is a valid constitutional and legal process.

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It is a legal limbo.

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It is necessarily, I am afraid, a somewhat anomalous situation at the moment, but following 30 June it will be important to recognise that the Iraqi Government will have control of that process. I think that there is a clear view among the Iraqi leadership that it is important to demonstrate to the world, in a sense, how different the legal and constitutional process will be under them than it would have been under Saddam.

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Is not the G8 an increasingly incongruous group that excludes the world's second biggest economy—China—and the world's fifth biggest economy and largest democracy, which is India? Are there plans to review membership under British chairmanship?

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The hon. Gentleman is right, in the sense that that is anomalous, which is why there are attempts to involve China and India—and, indeed, others—in how we draw up the agenda for our discussion. The difficulty, which is a bit like that with the United Nations Security Council, is that although everyone can agree in principle to reform, the question then is agreeing in practice which countries will come in and which will not. On that point, we do not yet have consensus, let us say.

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Did my right hon. Friend have the opportunity to tell President Bush that while terrorism is undoubtedly the greatest danger facing us all, it is important that when prisoners are held—in Baghdad or particularly in Guantanamo—they are not subject to torture or to the other forms of abuse that were apparently authorised at the most senior levels of the US Administration, not only because it is wrong in itself and in conflict with our principles, but, no less, because it is a tremendous propaganda weapon for the terrorist?

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I cannot comment on the level of authorisation, and my hon. Friend will know that there is a dispute about that. But I can say absolutely and unequivocally that so far as this country is concerned—I believe that this is the position of the United States Administration—the Geneva conventions should apply in full to any situation such as this, and that we have to make sure that anybody who is in our custody is treated properly and fairly and in accordance with basic human decency.

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Everything that the Prime Minister said about Africa is very welcome, but the crux is whether there will be sufficient development aid to enable Africa to meet the millennium development goals by 2015. During the G8 discussions, was he able to persuade any other G8 Heads to sign up to the UK's proposals for the international financing facility?

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We did have a discussion on the international financing facility. There is no agreement on it as yet, but I hope that during the year we can take forward such proposals, because, as the hon. Gentleman rightly implies, that would help in reaching the millennium development goals. There is another thing that is important to add. The African leaders made the point very forcefully that alongside the narrow question of development assistance, they want to see conflict prevention, better governance and action on HIV/AIDS and other health issues.

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My right hon. Friend has put on the record in the House today the shared consensus view of a modern, democratic and federal Iraq. In his discussions, did he also consider the evidence from my hon. Friend the Member for Cynon Valley (Ann Clwyd) of emerging secular governance at a local level? Is it not true that the growth of such local democracy can give us confidence that the Iraqi people are themselves able to choose their own Government, and do we not need a clear timetable for them to do so?

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My hon. Friend is absolutely right. It is worth pointing out that there have been some 40 local elections in Iraq up to now, although they have not received much publicity. It is interesting to note that the parties elected have almost always been secular parties, so the fear that people would want some form of religious fundamentalism seems to have been deeply misplaced. The Iraqi President said most forcefully—indeed, other Arab leaders around the table echoed this point—that sometimes there is a sense in parts of the western debate that the Arab world is unable to cope with the responsibility of democracy. He simply pointed out how wrong that was, as did the President of Afghanistan, who said that more than 3 million people have registered to vote in the Afghan elections since September. Obviously, it is hoped that that figure can be increased to the 10 million required.

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The right hon. Gentleman has spoken of the importance that he attaches to extending the rule of law and the principles of good government elsewhere in the middle east and in Africa. Did he suggest to President Bush that he might set a good example by extending to the detainees in Guantanamo bay the protection and privileges afforded by United States domestic law?

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It is important that we ensure that those who are detained in Guantanamo bay are detained properly and in accordance with proper conditions. That is one of the reasons why we are in discussion with the American Government about how we resolve not merely the position of those British citizens who are still detained, but that of others, too. I hope that, in the not too distant future, it will be resolved satisfactorily

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In discussions about Darfur, was there acceptance that international law needs to be reformed in order better to reflect contemporary realities and to enable early intervention to avert humanitarian—and, indeed, security—disasters? Will the Government pursue that vigorously within the United Nations?

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Both points are well taken and I think that one of the major discussions that we must have in the international community—we can help to stimulate it with the G8 chairmanship next year—is how to ensure that we spot the problems sooner, co-ordinate the action better and ensure that the politics and the humanitarian aid are put on the same path. Sudan is another classic example of where the international community could see the problem building, but did not have the necessary r machinery to take action swiftly enough.

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On climate change, when the UK has the presidency of the G8, what strategy will the Prime Minister adopt to deal with fast-rising carbon emissions—resulting from fossil fuel generation—from China and, indeed, with emissions stemming from the international aviation sector?

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We need to pursue both issues by trying to make sure that we encourage greater fuel efficiency, greater energy efficiency and emissions trading. We must build on what is in the Kyoto protocol. Even if it is ratified, it will amount only to keeping emissions more or less steady—perhaps with a 1 or 2 per cent. reduction—whereas it is estimated that by the year 2050 we need a 60 per cent. reduction in greenhouse gas emissions. That is why I say that we have to take this further. One area where we are able to work with countries such as China and with America is in the development of science and technology as a means of trying to deal with this issue.

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My right hon. Friend told us that democratic reform in the middle east must come from within. With that very important qualification, will he tell us when he expects to see a democratic Saudi Arabia?

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I do not know is the answer, and it is the answer that my hon. Friend would expect me to give. What I do know is that there is recognition by the Saudi Government and the House of Saud of the need for reform, but the reform process must be managed in such a way that it leads to the betterment of Saudi Arabia, its people and the region, and there are obvious pitfalls that have to be avoided.

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In rightly paying tribute to the two British contractors so tragically killed earlier today in Iraq, will the Prime Minister also reflect on the personnel of Médecins sans Frontières in Afghanistan, who also lost their lives not so long ago, and the serious security situation there in the run-up to the critically important elections in September? In discussions with the Afghan leadership and others in Savannah, did the NATO countries produce any proposals to increase NATO forces in Afghanistan and enhance the training of Afghan personnel?

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Yes, and I hope that, at the NATO summit next month, we will be able to set those plans out. As the President of Afghanistan said, huge progress has been made in the country—there is no doubt about that with 2.5 million people returning, 30 per cent. economic growth last year and 20 per cent. this year—but there is a continuing problem with remnants of the Taliban or al-Qaeda who carry out attacks on aid workers and others who are trying to help the country. The security situation is less serious but is not totally dissimilar in its nature to what is happening in Iraq. I believe that NATO has to do more and that we need to extend the provincial reconstruction teams throughout the whole of the country to make sure that good security exists not just in Kabul, but outside it as well. I hope that we will be able to make significant progress on that at the NATO summit and that I will be able to report back to the House accordingly.

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I thank my right hon. Friend for the positive tone of his report of the G8 summit. Does he agree that terrorism masked as religious zealotry, whether in the middle east or elsewhere, or thinly veiled xenophobia here or elsewhere in Europe will, far from providing solutions to many of these problems, combine to create further problems?

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I am sure that my hon. Friend is right. A clear link exists between the terrorism that we see in Afghanistan and in Iraq. It is terrorism whose purpose is to produce chaos that denies political progress. That is why we must be resolute in dealing with it, wherever it takes place. In the end, the people who are engaged in those terrorist acts are determined to try to make real some theory about a clash of religious cultures or civilisations, whereas it is obvious that the vast majority of people—whether in the middle east or in this country—want to live side by side in peace.

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Does the Prime Minister agree that the road map to peace in the middle east is a somewhat dog-eared document? In fact, the dog appears to have eaten part of it after Israel's unilateral and brutal action in Gaza. Will the Prime Minister tell us why he will not consider a suspension of the EU-Israel association agreement until progress is made, as recommended by the Foreign Affairs Committee?

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I shall tell the hon. Lady why. I do not agree with her about the road map. It is not that it is dog-eared because it has been pored over too much: it has been pored over too little. Before the road map can work, the precondition for it—the first phase—is that security measures be taken on the Palestinian side and mirrored on the Israeli side. We have not reached that point yet, because the Palestinian side does not, unfortunately, have the capability to take those measures. That is why it is important that the Quartet is able to help to build the infrastructure on the Palestinian side to make sure that it can do—and be seen to do—its level best to prevent terrorism.

I also say to the hon. Lady that I always think that it is wrong if people mention only one side of the pain in the conflict. We have made our criticisms of Israeli policy in relation to the reprisals that have occurred, but she could also have mentioned, for example, the shooting dead by terrorists of a pregnant woman and her three children for no other reason than that they were Israelis. We must understand that pain is caused on both sides and we should not start threatening suspension of association agreements but help to get a viable security and political plan in place that can make a difference.

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Will my right hon. Friend accept that he has widespread support in the House on two issues with regard to Africa—not only for what the Government have said but for what they have done? For example, the statement on Darfur last week by my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for International Development was seen as excellent and proactive.

Given what my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister said at the press conference on debt, is he committed to the debt write-offs for Africa that we have rightly been considering for some time? Will he continue to take that view as he chairs the G8 and at the next meeting of the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank?

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Yes, we will do our best to make progress on the debt write-offs, which we obviously support. It is important to see that progress in the context of the Commission for Africa, and we hope that it will also deal with the other issues. I should have said earlier that the issue on which the African leaders expressed the strongest views was trade and access to markets. The aid and assistance they receive is fine, but they feel that they could do so much more if they had access to our markets. That is the other issue on which we must concentrate strongly. I also agree with my right hon. Friend in respect of the Sudan.

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What discussions did the Prime Minister have about the present situation in Kosovo"

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We did not specifically discuss Kosovo, although I discussed it in the margins of the G8. We continue to work to ensure that there is some forward plan for Kosovo that has some chance of acceptance. We watch what is happening there at present with some concern, but the European Union in particular is focused on ensuring that our efforts are successful. Although the issue was not discussed round the table, it was certainly discussed in the margins.

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I very much welcome efforts to revive the road map, but what steps will be taken to prevent them from being undermined by Iran and Syria through their continued practical support for terrorist groups dedicated to the destruction not just of the peace initiative but of the state of Israel?

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That, of course, is one very important part of the road map. One of the important things is that people actually read the road map; it is a lot spoken about but often not much studied. The road map makes it clear that a vital precondition of getting into the right security dialogue, which is what phase 1 of the road map is about, is that all support for terrorist groups from countries in the region stops. We have to make that very, very clear to them and I hope that part of the Quartet plan will be specifically to put pressure on countries surrounding Israel and in the middle east to ensure that that happens; otherwise it will be very difficult to build confidence in Israel that the plan has a chance of success.

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Is not democracy stronger when it grows from inside a nation? If the G8 feel that they need to give a nudge to the middle east to develop it, what will they do to build up the infrastructure and the democratic will that are required? Democracy, as the Prime Minister will be pleased to hear, is not just about elections; it is about the whole running of civil society.

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It is, of course, about those things, but the greater middle east initiative is not simply about democracy; it is also about fostering business investment and proper commercial and legal systems in the countries concerned. It is true that, ultimately, it is for people within to decide that they want democracy, but occasionally that can be helped from the outside and that is what we seek to do.

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In relation to all those matters, but especially to the environment and world trade, which is now negotiated between trading blocs and large nations, did my right hon. Friend give any thought to how desperately seriously our influence would be undermined if we were no longer seen to be a committed member of the European Union?

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I always give thought to that proposition and I believe that it is obviously right—the stronger and more influential we are in Europe, the easier it is to ensure that Europe speaks with one voice on those issues. Of course, the change in EU policy in relation to the trade round is a very important part of getting the trade round started again; it does not stop with Europe but it certainly must include Europe.

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I welcome the presence at the summit of the seven Arab leaders, in particular with respect to Yemen; I know that the Prime Minister met the President of Yemen. The country has fought against terrorism but is still desperately poor. What financial support are the G8 proposing to give countries such as Yemen, and will my right hon. Friend ensure that that important initiative is continued and enhanced under the British chairmanship.

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We will continue it and, I hope, build on it. A meeting of the Forum for the Future will take place in the middle east in the autumn. The idea will be that specific requests are made to us for help and assistance, some of which may be financial and some may be practical and political. It is worth pointing out that the one thing that is clear in the middle east today is that countries, whatever their background and history, recognise that extremist fanaticism based on a perversion of the true faith of Islam is the threat that they face in common and that they need to tackle it by a mixture of political and democratic reform, as well as economic reform. We should be prepared to help them in that, as the one thing I am sure of is that, whatever security measures we take, we will not be able to deal with the problem unless we also deal with its root causes.

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On the problems of Africa, was there any discussion at the G8 about increasing commitments to the global health fund and about specific assistance to the World Health Organisation, to ensure that its target of having 3 million people on a antiretroviral drugs by 2005, which is only next year, is met?

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Yes, there was a discussion about that and we have recommitted ourselves to ensuring it. There was also recognition that we need better co-ordination of the global effort on HIV/AIDS, as many of the countries facing that crisis often have a range of different donors and the aid is not co-ordinated as it should be. We have agreed to take that forward in our chairmanship.

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On the question of world stability and the connection with nuclear non-proliferation, does my right hon. Friend agree that there is a need for those countries in the G8 group that have nuclear weapons to reduce their arsenals? If there is failure in this respect, it could encourage those countries that have not yet got nuclear weapons to strive further to obtain nuclear weaponry. Will he say whether the discussions were extended to include a call for a bail on further nuclear testing and whether that would extend to the American testing of nuclear bunker-busting weapons?

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This country is certainly a signatory to the relevant conventions, and we abide by them. There is a sense in which all of us want to see multilateral reductions in nuclear weapons, but I do not think that it is the existence of those nuclear weapons in the hands of the developed world that is the primary driver of this issue. I think that it has more to do with the regional position of particular countries, but it is a very serious question. It is important that we look particularly at how we can strengthen the International Atomic Energy Agency and the work that it does.

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I welcome what my right hon. Friend has said about Iraqi debt relief, but will he impress as strongly as he can on both the French and Russian Governments the need to ensure that the level of debt relief is significant? At the moment, Iraq is burdened by about £120 billion worth of debt so, if the relief is significant, it will make a real difference to normal men, women and children in Iraq.

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My hon. Friend is absolutely right. Everyone understands that it is important that we make progress, as the debts run up by Iraq were enormous and tragic. With its oil production, it is potentially a wealthy country. However, we are working hard on this issue with the other countries in the Paris Club.

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Is the Prime Minister aware that the only way he can hand out money to Sudan—some £36 million—to Tanzania and to many other African countries and the 27 that he referred to is if we are running the economy and are not skint? That is the opposite of what it was many years ago when the Tory party was in power.

On the road map to peace, however, when the Prime Minister bumped into Chirac and Schröder at the G8, did he happen to talk about the road map to peace inside the European Union? First it was a constitution, then it went missing and then they brought it back again. Can I suggest that when he goes across there in the next couple of days, one of things that could be got out of the way—some things are difficult to shift—is that constitution? Tell them to bury it in the long grass—chuck it in the political dustbin. It is causing embarrassment. If they cannot get a road map to peace in the European Union, how can these big-wigs talk about peace in the middle east?

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I will certainly bear that in mind.