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World Bank

Volume 461: debated on Wednesday 13 June 2007

5. What recent proposals he has made for reforming the World Bank; and if he will make a statement. (142240)

The World Bank plays an important part in tackling global poverty. It has many strengths but must reform if it is to respond to a changing world. Its priorities should be: providing more long-term, predictable funding for developing countries; finding better ways in which to assist middle-income countries; helping to tackle climate change; giving developing countries a greater say in its decisions; and continuing to change its use of conditionality.

I thank the Secretary of State for his answer and I agree with him. However, does he agree—[Interruption.]

In the light of the nomination by the United States of Robert Zoelleck to be the next president of the World Bank, does the Secretary of State agree that as long as the Americans have the gift of the presidency as their prerogative, the poor of the world will have little confidence that the bank’s overriding objective is to reduce poverty rather than to further the influence of the US or any other developed nation?

I agree with the hon. Gentleman that it would be better if we had a different system for agreeing the president of the World Bank and the person in charge of the International Monetary Fund. That is the position of the UK Government, but we can make a change only if there is a consensus to make a change, and there is not. Having met Robert Zoelleck, the nominee, on Monday this week, I must say that my discussion with him gives me a great deal of confidence that he has the interests of the World Bank at heart and understands the nature of the challenge he faces if his appointment is confirmed by the World Bank board next week. We intend to work with whoever is ultimately appointed to ensure that the World Bank continues to play a really important role in overcoming global poverty.