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Post-2015 Development Goals

Volume 565: debated on Thursday 4 July 2013

[Relevant documents: Post-2015 Development Goals, Eighth Report of the International Development Committee, Session 2012-13, HC 657, and the Government response, Session 2012-13, HC 1065.]

Motion made, and Question proposed, That the sitting be now adjourned.—(Lynne Featherstone.)

As you know, Mr Havard, we are having two debates this afternoon: this one, and then one on the Department for International Development’s engagement in Pakistan. They will be approximately equal in length, depending on hon. Members’ contributions.

The Select Committee on International Development took the view that it was important that we engage in the process of the post-2015 development goals, and we took evidence from a fairly wide variety of sources. We reflected first on the achievement of the millennium development goals for 2015, and thereafter on what we needed to take forward. When the MDGs were set up in 2001, they were rather slow in gathering momentum. Some people suggested that they were hatched in a basement of the United Nations, which is probably slightly unfair, but they certainly were not the product of wide consultation. Nevertheless, over time, the MDGs became a definite focus of development policy for the UK and many others. It is interesting that in its annual report, for example, our own DFID would put against the country programmes a series of traffic lights indicating how well a country was doing in relation to those goals. In time, a lot of developing countries took ownership of their responsibility for securing development goals.

However, we must also reflect that the goals were somewhat mixed in their intentions and expression, and slightly different in substance. Although they were helpful in driving the agenda, we clearly were not going to hit them, and many countries—particularly the weakest ones; the ones that the UK is most engaged in—are off course for achieving them. It would be unacceptable to arrive at 2015 and say, “Well, that was an interesting exercise. Here are the overall performance indicators of who got how far towards them,” and have that be the end of it. We recognised that we had to ensure that the job was not left unfinished and that we moved forward. The UN then appointed a high-level panel with our own Prime Minister as a co-chair, which reported a few weeks ago.

The first thing that we were concerned to address, whatever the new process did, was much wider ownership of it through thorough consultation and engagement. I think that we can honestly say that the process has been much more inclusive than the original one. However, we also wanted it to address some of the shortcomings of the original goals, such as the fact that a goal of halving absolute poverty by 2015 could leave the other half of people in absolute poverty. Also, if absolute poverty is $2 a day, it is much easier to raise somebody to that level from $1.90 than from $1, so there is a tendency to concentrate on lifting those people just below the margin. Ironically, that means that the poorest of the poor could be left further behind. That did not always happen, but it could be the consequence, and we were anxious to ensure that such unintended consequences were not incorporated into the next round of goals.

It is also important to recall that there are huge inequalities. The question of how well we have done globally on achieving various MDGs can disguise the fact that some countries are nowhere near, whereas countries such as China and India have made the biggest progress and account for the highest proportion of the success. Even within countries, it may be possible to show that targets have been broadly met, yet some communities may have fallen completely behind. Again, we were anxious to ensure that things were much more inclusive in the future and that the disparities within communities were addressed. We also thought that, ultimately, having a livelihood—perhaps a job, but some means of earning a living—is the best way out of poverty, and that that needed to be incorporated into the goals.

In that context, we were pleased that the high-level panel was appointed, and we were extremely pleased that our Prime Minister was given such a prominent role within it. That was testimony to the UK Government’s commitment to development; we will deliver 0.7% of gross national income this year, unlike many countries. The quality and focus of what we do is also highly respected. It is essential that we acknowledge that that has been achieved through strong cross-party support, and this is an achievement of which our country can be justifiably proud.

I make a side comment on the justification for that decision for those who choose to criticise it. Any of us who engage in countries where poverty is severe and endemic understand completely that however difficult our problems in the United Kingdom, they in no way compare with the absolute poverty that exists in parts of sub-Saharan Africa and south Asia. We should be absolutely clear that as long as we have the capacity to work in partnership to help to lift those people out of absolute poverty, we should be unashamed in our commitment to doing so.

Is it not true that if we can help countries to lift themselves out of poverty, particularly through developing businesses that will pay tax as part of the formal sector, we can also benefit from trade opportunities, particularly in countries such as those in Africa?

My hon. Friend is absolutely right. In countries that have lifted themselves out of absolute poverty, whatever role aid has played—one likes to think that delivering health and education infrastructure contributes to that—ultimately it was their own economic uplift, taking people with it, that turned those countries around, although that has not solved all their problems. China still has 200 million people living in absolute poverty, while India has 400 million, but they have lifted huge numbers of people out of poverty, which is a fantastic achievement that has more to do with the dynamics of those countries’ economies than with aid, although I contend that aid certainly helped them achieve that, particularly when it was targeted and focused.

Good and valuable as the 2015 MDGs have been, they left many people behind, and in many cases, they did not deliver a clear and identifiable qualitative benefit. For example, the process of enrolling children in primary education says nothing about whether they actually learn anything, and we often found that enrolment did not lead to completion. Even when it did, the quality of the education was so poor in some cases that it was questionable whether much benefit was achieved. Nevertheless, having that driver meant that something was done that would not otherwise have happened. There was variation, because in some cases the quality of education did make a material difference and the children stuck at it.

We were anxious to contribute to the debate about what we should do next. We wanted to say first that we could not arrive at 2015 without moving forward to what happens next, and that the process had to be conducted in such a way that there was ownership around the globe right from the outset. Goals had to be drawn up together, not imposed from above.

Since we published our report, the high-level panel has reported, and I hope that it is appropriate for me to comment on the panel’s report because I hope that it reflects our contribution a little. It is a long report that includes a lot of information, but two specific aspects are the five “transformative shifts” and the 12 proposed goals, which have sub-goals attached. To be absolutely clear, the high-level panel has not sought to finish the job. Its objective was to set the framework and push out ideas about what the principles should be, and the second part of the process will turn that into clear, quantifiable, realistic goals that can take us forward for the next 15 years.

I welcome the five shifts, the first of which is to leave no one behind, which addresses one of the fundamental failings of the 2015 MDGs. The second shift—putting sustainable development at the core of things—which we also recommended, is absolutely essential. The dilemma is that we live in a rich part of the world—a very rich part of the world compared with where the poorest people live—but people in poorer parts of the world aspire to the kind of living standards that we enjoy. If they are to do that in the same way that we did, we are short of the resources of two planets.

We cannot turn around and say to those people, “Thank you very much. We are very rich, and we are sorry, but there are too many of you and you are too far behind. You can no longer have that aspiration.” That would be intolerable—indeed, it would not be accepted—so what we have to say is, “How do we work together to enable you to aspire towards our level of living standards in ways that are compatible with sustaining life on the planet?” It is therefore welcome that sustainable development is involved in one of the five transformative shifts.

A further shift, which is relevant to my hon. Friend’s intervention, is transforming economies for jobs and inclusive growth, because ultimately that is fundamental to sustainable poverty elimination. Another shift is to build peace, and effective, open and accountable institutions for all. That is not just a pious declaration, because we know that the greatest poverty persists where there is conflict or in post-conflict situations. Ending conflict and moving people out of conflict are absolutely essential if we are to eliminate absolute poverty. The final shift is to forge a new global partnership, which I think means that every country should sign up to the new agenda, including those in the developed world, so that this is not an “us and them” scenario, but a global compact.

From those shifts, the high-level panel has proposed an outline of 12 goals, the first of which is to end poverty. The second is to empower girls and women, and achieve gender equality. As I have said on many platforms, I believe that that is one of the core necessities for poverty reduction and development. In too many poor countries, the exclusion of women, and indeed how they are treated, holds back their entire society. In my Committee’s recent report on violence against women and girls, we make the point that if women are treated as chattels, if they are beaten and mutilated and if they are denied rights to livelihood, legal representation and land, the whole society is denied the benefits of a proper partnership for growth and development. We feel strongly that that is an absolutely central issue.

The third goal is to provide quality education and lifelong learning in recognition of the fact that when primary and secondary systems have failed, people have to be given opportunities as adults. We must ensure that we deliver quality education. The fourth goal is to ensure healthy lives and basic health provision, while the fifth is to ensure food security and good nutrition. Again, a report that the Committee has just published identifies the changing patterns of what is needed if we are not just to feed the world, but to feed the world nutritiously. Too often we find that whole generations are stunted and blighted for life because of their poor diet.

The sixth goal—to achieve universal access to water and sanitation—is a huge challenge, but absolutely essential, while the seventh, which is to secure sustainable energy, has the potential for a great deal of global co-operation. I have already mentioned the aim of the eighth goal, which is to create jobs, sustainable livelihoods and equitable growth. The ninth goal is to manage natural resource assets sustainably, the 10th is to ensure good governance and effective institutions, and the 11th is to ensure stable and peaceful societies. The 12th goal is to create a global enabling environment and catalyse long-term finance. Those goals are just suggestions, because the point is that the process has to continue.

The Committee welcomes the fact that the high-level panel read our report. I am not suggesting that all members of the panel read it, but quite a few of them did. We know that for certain because two participants—or three, if the Prime Minister’s appearance before the Liaison Committee can be counted—gave evidence to us. I certainly hope that the Prime Minister and his advisers read the report, and I am sure that Michael Anderson, the distinguished and experienced civil servant who leads for us on these issues, has done so. We are pleased that a lot of the issues on which we tried to focus appear to have been taken forward, and we will continue to feed into the process.

There is a danger that setting an objective to eliminate absolute poverty by 2030 would lead to the conclusion that, if we succeed in doing that, it is job done, meaning that aid and development are no longer required. Raising people out of poverty means that they have an income equivalent to $2 a day, which is hardly a dream of untold wealth—we are talking about people who are still extremely poor.

As an aside, because it is exercising the Committee in another inquiry, it is said that countries graduate from low income to middle income at about $1,200 or $1,300 per capita a year, but countries such as the UK are approaching income of $40,000 per capita a year. I am not sure that I would regard a country in which the per capita income is $1,500 or $2,000 a year as anything like a rich country, or one that can solve absolute poverty in its own territory without co-operation and partnership with outside agencies. It seems to me that we can continue to provide such assistance for as long as the need persists.

I am pleased to have had a couple of opportunities to talk to the president of the World Bank, Dr Kim, who has made two things clear: we really must work to try to eliminate absolute poverty; and we should recognise that we need to raise the game beyond that and look to improving living standards way above the basic minimum that defines absolute poverty. He is clear that that means that we must engage with those middle-income countries that may be out of the bottom level of poverty but still have huge pockets of very severe poverty that require global shared responsibility and cannot just be left to be dealt with by the country’s own resources. I am speaking with countries such as India in mind. I think that our Committee will return to that matter over the next few months, and I hope that we will make further recommendations on how the Government should change their relationship with India and countries of a comparable ilk.

I am glad to have had the opportunity to present the Committee’s report to the Chamber, and I hope that we have made a useful contribution on where we think the focus should be. We absolutely support the case for ensuring that we have replacement development goals as soon as possible after 2015—in other words, by no later than 2016—and that those goals are sufficiently developed and refined so as to avoid the pitfalls of the first goals. The goals should enable us to deliver a clear strategy to address the fundamental problems of poverty and hardship over 15 years.

My only plea is regarding whether even 12 goals represents too many. We certainly do not want to have so many targets that people can pick and choose, or lose sight of them. One of the reasons why I like the five fundamental shifts is because, right at the core, they cover several fundamental issues on which we all agree, while the details are slightly more negotiable. In that context, the broad approach of the high-level panel is highly welcome, and we very much look forward to seeing how the process works.

At the beginning of my right hon. Friend’s speech, I think he said that there has been a lack of progress in a number of the countries with which the UK is most engaged. Will he give us a few details on why that might be the case?

It is somewhat due to our decision to concentrate a high proportion of our bilateral aid programmes on countries that have emerged from conflict. The objective analysis shows that countries that have recently been in conflict, or are still in conflict, have the highest rates of poverty and the greatest resistance to poverty reduction, partly because they have dysfunctional Governments, corruption and a lack of law and order. I stress that that does not lead to the conclusion that it is too difficult to go there. We have taken a conscious decision of saying, “It is very difficult, but we will go there. It will be harder, but we believe that our engagement will ultimately help them to get out of this bind.” For example, Professor Paul Collier makes the point that the effects of preventing a war are difficult to quantify. He is clear, however, that the consequences for poverty and hardship of failing to prevent a war will be phenomenal and set back a country for a whole generation, so it is a reverse process.

We have gone to the most difficult places with a view to helping them to get out of conflict situations and to build up their capacity to function. That is difficult, however, because we are talking about countries such as Yemen, Somalia, Rwanda, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Pakistan and Afghanistan—those are the countries on our list. I make no apology about saying that it is right that we are there and it is good that we address those problems. We are making progress, but we have to be honest with people, because things are a darn sight more difficult in such countries. We could much more easily spend all our aid in India and China, where we know it would have transformative results, but that would leave the others out of the equation, and that is what we must not do and it is what the post-MDG settlement must not do. Instead, we must say that no one should be in absolute poverty by the end of the next phase in 2030.

I am indeed, Mr Havard. Thank you for calling me, and I thank our Chairman, my right hon. Friend the Member for Gordon (Sir Malcolm Bruce), who referred to cross-party work on the issue, which is exemplified on our Committee.

My support for my Chairman is purely professional. My right hon. Friend touched on the importance of job creation, which the Committee considered a crucial development challenge. Employment was included in the original MDG framework, but it was perhaps not sufficiently prominent and it failed to capture the public’s imagination in a way that people in the poorest and most vulnerable circumstances in developing countries say that it should have done. For them, it is an absolute priority: once they have food, water and, interestingly enough, roads, they really want jobs. They want roads so that they can get access to market.

I apologise for arriving in the Chamber a bit late. On the subject of roads, does my hon. Friend agree that one of the most important things that the Department for International Development is doing in places such as the Democratic Republic of the Congo is supporting rural road infrastructure? As we saw in, I think, 2011, a road was built to a place that had been cut off for 20 years. Rather than it taking five days for people to get to market, only 60 km of new road meant that they could do so in two hours, which enabled them to bring their produce in, sell it and enjoy their livelihoods.

That is an excellent example of the importance of roads. Another relates to Ethiopia, which the Committee also visited. Roads have been built into areas that were originally little more than bush, and, as a result, a health centre and a school can then be built. There is a degree of “villagisation”, whereby families who had perhaps been eking out a living separately in the bush can come together, form a community and support one another. My hon. Friend is absolutely right: roads are essential.

Jobs, too, are essential. Africa is a young continent, but one where, unless we focus on job creation, we will face an increasing employment challenge for youngsters aged up to 25, as the generations, which are now often in school, develop from childhood. One challenge is that we have focused so much—quite rightly—on primary education: there are now probably millions of children with some form of primary education, but with very limited opportunities for secondary and, certainly, tertiary education.

As we develop the new goals, we must consider how we can provide high-quality, targeted tertiary education, vocational skills and professional training, so that we can ensure that there are the business leaders, the technical skills and the young people to run with the vision of developing industries in their communities. If we do not get those skills and do not focus on developing them, we will miss a massive opportunity to help the people in those communities—young people with massive aspirations—to help themselves.

We should consider how to transport some of our skills and strategic understanding of how to develop business and build technical skills. We have to harness those things and consider also how we can harness the energies of people who have perhaps not thought of being involved in development work before. I cite my personal experience of doing business training in Rwanda; I hope to do the same this summer in Burundi.

I do not have a medical or teaching background, but I have a business background, so I went to do some business training. That showed me that every individual who is interested in supporting the developing world has something to offer—people might be interested in going out there to help to support countries that are, as our Chairman said, far less well off than ours. In further education and business development, we need to consider how people who might have taken early retirement but want to give something back can have the opportunity to do so.

I digress slightly, but may I mention the global poverty action fund? We need to re-examine whether it is focused correctly. A minimum of £250,000 is a huge amount of money—for example, an aspiring group of people in this country seeking to help to build a medical or teaching centre may not need to raise such a sum—so will the Minister look at that again? Furthermore, the fund is open for applications for an extremely limited time, often only several weeks—I believe that the current window closes on 9 July, after only a few weeks—but we want to encourage people who might have run businesses in this country to consider applying to the fund to see how they can share skills.

Returning to jobs as a means to end aid dependency, one thing that we need to do is ensure that local authorities in developing countries can maximise any opportunities for inward investment from countries throughout the world. The BRIC countries—Brazil, Russia, India, China—are looking to invest in Africa, and we must ensure that, when new factories and developments are built, the indigenous population and their local authorities have an opportunity to benefit. Local councils should be able to negotiate with contractors, developers and industrialists to ensure that the local community benefits properly. Those are sophisticated skills, but the UK can support them and we need to ensure that the new MDGs are focused on them.

We also need to consider a more holistic approach to job creation, ensuring that there is a suitable environment for business development in those countries. Thus, water is necessary not only for the development of individual, family and village life, but for businesses. Water and sanitation are critical, and unless people have access to sanitation they cannot run a decent business. Land title is essential, as is access to finance and the ability to run a business strategically. There is a huge opportunity for us to examine how local authorities in those countries can work with local business people, so that we in turn can support them and maximise the opportunities for local job creation.

We must look at the issue holistically. We start young people here considering jobs and job opportunities between the ages of 12 and 14, before they start to study for their GCSEs, and we need to do the same for children in Africa and other countries, and consider secondary and early-years education to see what education, skills and training can be invested in those young people to link directly into job opportunities in their countries and local communities. We need an holistic approach to job creation and the reduction of aid dependency through new jobs in the developing world.

It is a pleasure, Mr Havard, to serve under your chairmanship. I want to declare a non-declarable interest. I am chairman of the all-party group on Ethiopia, which keeps me very busy and is extremely rewarding. I thank my right hon. Friend the Member for Gordon (Sir Malcolm Bruce) and congratulate him on how he introduced the debate. I pay tribute to him and the Select Committee on their report. I am not a member of the Committee, but I chair the Select Committee on Northern Ireland Affairs so I know how much work goes into inquiries and putting reports together. Select Committee reports are often influential and I have absolutely no doubt that this one will be.

It is probably fair to say that when I was elected to this place 16 years ago, international development, overseas aid or whatever it was called at the time had a profile largely because of the work of Baroness Chalker, who was Linda Chalker at the time. It is also fair to say that it has taken off during the past 16 years and its profile has increased. I am happy to pay tribute to the work carried out by Tony Blair in that respect, and by Clare Short, who worked with him and with whom I recently shared a platform .

It is a pleasure that the Government, under the Prime Minister’s particular leadership, have taken forward the international development agenda and, as my right hon. Friend said, taken on co-chairmanship of the new panel that is responsible for delivering achievement of the millennium development goals beyond 2015. The issue is talked about throughout the world. It has its own place in Parliaments and is extremely important. The G8 always discusses the matter and I am pleased that it has been recognised as one of the most important issues in the world today. I would put it up there with the environment as the two most important issues facing the world today.

I am pleased that the Government have at last moved us to a figure of 0.7% of GDP on aid, although I am the first to say that it is outcomes rather than what one spends that matters. I have in the past been a little sceptical about setting targets, and the Conservative party went into the last election saying that it would get rid of many targets. They can be manipulated, as my right hon. Friend said—he did not use the word “manipulate”—and may take us down a path that is easy but does not achieve much.

I approve of the setting of millennium development goals because that focuses the Government and the world on what we should start to achieve. The 0.7% figure is a target that we have achieved, but we must measure properly. As my right hon. Friend highlighted, it is easy to make important the things that we can measure while forgetting things that are not easy to measure, but are more important.

No one who has been to Africa—that is the area I focus on most—and seen how people live there can come back and complain about the fact that we are trying to help those people and those countries. It is devastating to see the effect of starvation, disease, poverty and, linked to them, lack of education and health care. People tell me that pensioners in this country suffer fuel poverty—indeed they do and they need help—but our country is rich enough to do both things. A lot of Government spending is wasted, and we could channel more money into helping people such as our own pensioners who often live in fuel poverty, while also helping people who live in third-world countries.

There was an example of that just last week. We spend £11 billion or £11.5 billion in aid, but in one day last week the potential cost of HS2 went up by almost that amount. That is what I mean when I talk about being able to help our own people who need it and people abroad who are dying of diseases and malnutrition. A world of plenty that throws food away as we do should be ashamed of that, and I am pleased that we are, at last, tackling the problem as seriously as we should.

I support emergency aid and relief, and I have seen examples of such provision being necessary in Ethiopia, where, every year, about 6 million people rely on food donations.

I commend my hon. Friend on his work as chair of the all-party group on Ethiopia. Does he accept that the crisis that brought the world’s attention to starvation was in Ethiopia more than 25 years ago, and that in more recent years it has had the resources as a result of partnership to tackle its own food problems, partly by building roads and partly through better planning? That is a demonstrable manifestation of how aid works. It works well when Governments have the will and partners have the resources to put it together to make it happen.

My right hon. Friend is absolutely right. I was talking to Bob Geldof at the Irish embassy a while ago and when he asked me what got me interested in Ethiopia I said, “You did.” He did an enormous and unbelievable amount of work and if any one person put the issue on the agenda it was him. I should have mentioned him earlier. Some people say that that work set Ethiopia back because it is a wonderful place for tourists to visit but they will not do so because of the poverty—there is probably something in that—but we cannot ignore what goes on there and that people were starving to death. Although things have moved on considerably in Ethiopia, each and every year about 6 million people there still do not have food security and are dependent on assistance. I am certainly in favour of emergency relief and of development aid, which is important in helping countries develop infrastructure, irrigation systems and other things that will help them move towards self-sufficiency over a period of time.

My right hon. Friend is also right to talk about trade and employment, which will enable people to become better off. Over the last few years, each time I have gone to Ethiopia I have noticed renewed confidence in its economy and in business, which appear to have moved on a little since each previous visit. That is encouraging, but I do not want to overstate the situation and an awful lot remains to be done. To move forward properly, Ethiopia must free up its telecoms business, its banking and financial services sector and the ownership of land. An awful lot needs to be done, but there is progress.

Many countries need confidence in democracy and the private sector to enable them to move forward a little quicker, but many of them have brief histories. Ethiopia has a long history of about 2,000 years that we know about, but it does not have a long history of democracy and that is how we must view it in some ways. Everything is relative. We still get elections wrong in this country, even today, so we should not be too judgmental about other countries.

In response to my intervention, my right hon. Friend put his finger on the difficult problem of measuring and chasing certain aspects of progress. Often the poorest people—those who are most desperate—live in the sort of countries that it is difficult to get aid to in one form or another, and where it is difficult to help them towards development, with Somalia being the most obvious example. However, we have to work and do our best—almost by going under the radar—to get aid, assistance and help to people who we do not know or have contact with, but who are the most desperate of all. Doing so is difficult, but anything worth doing is never easy. I hope that we will continue trying to help such people and continue trying to work with countries in Africa and the heads of those countries, as we are doing, to take them towards peace. Again, as my Friend the right hon. Member for Gordon said, we cannot measure this, but I hope we can help them to avoid conflict in the first place. That is far better than going in to sort it out, which is not always possible.

I do not want to speak for much longer; I know that another debate is coming up. Again, I congratulate the Members involved on compiling the report. To me, this area is one of the main reasons that I entered politics in the first place. I will be in the House tomorrow, supporting the European Union (Referendum) Bill, and I am a complete free marketeer. I am considered to sit on the right wing of the Conservative party, even though such terms are nonsense, because most people would follow me in what I will say and do tomorrow. However, when it comes to international development, we have a moral duty to do what needs to be done. In addition, we should not forget that the better off we can make countries throughout the world, the more secure that makes this country, and the more opportunities it gives us in this country. From a purely selfish point of view, there is a benefit to what we are doing. To my mind, however, that is not the main reason for doing it; the main reason is that it is humane, and it is the right thing to do.

It is a pleasure to serve under your chairmanship, Mr Havard. You will be glad to hear that I will not speak about HS2—not this week anyway. It is also a pleasure to follow my hon. Friend the Member for Tewkesbury (Mr Robertson), and to be in the same room as him and the Minister of State, Department for International Development, my right hon. Friend the Member for Rutland and Melton (Mr Duncan). They will not remember this, but I certainly do: they were the two Members of Parliament who interviewed me for the candidates’ list about 12 years ago. They may regret their decision, but I do not.

This is an incredibly important debate, and it is a pleasure that the Minister with responsibility for the millennium development goals and post-2015 MDGs will respond. The goals represent one of the best things to come out of the United Nations and the world community in the past 30 or 40 years. They are probably the most significant thing since the declaration, back in 1970 or 1971 after the Pearson report, that developed countries should aim to give 0.5% of GNI as development assistance. I am glad to say that this country will achieve that for the first time this year.

The MDGs have been important because they have been accessible and achievable. Not all have been achieved, and certainly not in all countries, but many of them have been achieved in some of the countries to which they apply. Without going through them all, I want to mention the drastic falls that we have seen, for instance, in malaria, in deaths from malaria, and in maternal and child mortality.

It is important that the post-2015 MDGs build on the success of the MDGs. They should not pretend to be hugely different, and they should learn from areas in which there was not quite so much success.

I shall concentrate on four issues. The first is young people and, particularly, job creation, although my hon. Friend the Member for Congleton (Fiona Bruce) spoke eloquently about that, so I shall not spend too long on the subject. It is estimated that 150 million people are unemployed in the world outside the developed countries, and 60 million of those are young. Women are particularly affected, and some 1.49 billion people are in vulnerable employment. I suggest that those are underestimates, frankly, but they are the figures that we have. It is vital that the new post-2015 MDGs take that situation fully into account.

Although there was an MDG concentrating on that issue, it was probably the least successful one. Over the past 10 or 15 years, vast numbers of people have been pulled out of poverty in countries such as China, but that has not been seen as much in other countries that suffer from acute poverty. The main reason was the lack of job creation, which is why we have to concentrate on that. It is all very well to say that some of those countries will now have great opportunities, because mineral wealth or oil and gas are being discovered, but those industries do not create huge numbers of jobs. The key is that revenue from that natural wealth is put into real investment that creates jobs. Agriculture in particular, and especially small-scale agriculture, has a huge role in creating jobs.

Before I talk about the World Bank, I must declare an interest, as I have just been elected chairman of the parliamentary network on the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund. The hon. Member for York Central (Hugh Bayley) was once the chairman of that network, and he played a great role in setting it up a few years ago. The World Bank has two goals: first, to eliminate absolute poverty by 2030—by which it means people on $1.25 a day or less—and, secondly, to concentrate on the bottom 40% of the income range. That is vital, because this is all about reducing income inequality while increasing the incomes of those who need the most. That is where employment and job creation comes in and, in that area, we must take account of the role and potential of young people. As Nik Hartley, the chief executive of Restless Development, said:

“We should take the lead in ensuring young people are not bit players but central to the leadership of and governance of the new development framework. They will be the job creators or the unemployed, the new democratic leaders or drivers of revolution and rebellion”.

The task of the present generation is to meet development challenges without compromising the interests of future generations.

My hon. Friend the Member for Congleton mentioned many drivers of job creation, such as land title and access to finance. It is good that DFID is heavily involved in both those areas. I have mentioned this issue before in the House, but I will do so again today, because through an excellent programme in Rwanda, which I believe is coming to an end, DFID financed the creation of title deeds into pretty much every single part of the country. There are 10 million individual plots at a cost of about £40 million. It is one of the best development projects I have seen funded by DFID—in fact, it is one of the best of all, so I congratulate the Department. I encourage it to look at other countries in which that particular programme could be rolled out. I am glad to say that the software used was created in the UK and that the implementation was done by a company from the United Kingdom. I know that DFID takes access to finance very seriously and is involved in work on that in many countries throughout the world.

My second point is about maintaining the gains. I am chair of the all-party group on malaria and neglected tropical diseases, and we are delighted at the progress that has been made on tackling malaria. Over a decade, the number of deaths has come down from about 1 million a year to probably no more than 600,000 a year through the mass introduction and distribution of long-lasting, insecticide-treated bed nets, through rapid diagnostic tests, and, of course, through the latest drugs that are based on combination therapies with artemisinin.

However, malaria can rapidly come back if we do not continue to control it, as we are doing, for instance, with indoor residual spray. We saw in Zanzibar in the 1960s that malaria had almost been eliminated, but the foot was taken off the pedal, so within 10 or 20 years, it was a scourge again right across the islands of Unguja and Pemba. We have seen that in other countries as well, including, even more recently, in Zambia, where malaria staged a bit of a comeback two or three years ago. It is therefore vital that we continue programmes tackling malaria, HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis and neglected tropical diseases. In the case of neglected tropical diseases, the mass drug distribution programmes that have been so successful have been financed by a public-private partnership between the pharmaceutical companies, which have provided the drugs free of charge, and aid agencies, such as DFID together with the Gates Foundation.

That brings me on to my third subject—health systems. We often, and rightly, want to tackle individual diseases, be that polio, pneumonia, malaria, HIV/AIDS or TB, but this is actually often about tackling many of those things together through health systems. On a recent visit to Tanzania, I was delighted to see that rather than there being a silo mentality on individual diseases, that country, with support from DFID through the London school of hygiene and tropical medicine and the Liverpool school of tropical medicine, was taking the approach of working on things together—as a system—to tackle these diseases at once.

Finally, I would like to talk about the environment and environmental sustainability. I understand that there was a great deal of discussion about whether to have separate environmental goals and developmental goals. We in the Committee believed that it was not possible to separate the two. We cannot go for tackling the problems of development but ignore the environment or put it in another box, as the two go together.

I am very much enjoying my hon. Friend’s speech, which I know comes from a great deal of first-hand knowledge. I can offer an example of first-hand understanding of where development has affected a local environment very seriously: the introduction of large-scale fishing in Lake Victoria in Tanzania. The introduction of the Nile perch, and factory farming of the fish in Lake Victoria, has resulted in the eradication of smaller fish that all the families living around the shores of the lake ate—and survived on. That has created a difficult sustainability challenge for the whole area.

I am most grateful for that intervention, because that point is absolutely true. While we are on the subject of fish, there has also been a problem in recent years of very large trawlers of European Union origin—I will not mention the particular country—coming down the east coast of Africa and, under arrangements agreed by the European Union at the highest level, hoovering up large quantities of fish, but without much benefit going to the individual countries off whose shores they are fishing.

In tackling these vital environmental challenges, we must not overburden developing countries with global environmental issues that they had no real part in causing in the first place. To a large extent, it is up to us to take the lead on that, so I am glad to say that the UK Government are doing so.

It is vital that the four areas that I have set out—there are many others, which I am sure the Minister and the hon. Member for Bethnal Green and Bow (Rushanara Ali) will address—are covered by the post-2015 MDGs. They are: job creation, particularly for young people; ensuring that we preserve the gains that have been so painstakingly achieved in the past decade and a half; ensuring the environmental sustainability of those gains, so that we do not achieve short-term gains that cannot be maintained in the long term because they are simply not environmentally sustainable; and the development of health systems. This week, we are proud of the 65th anniversary of our national health service, which has led to great improvements in public and general health in this country. That is the kind of system that we should want to provide such gains in health in developing countries.

It is a pleasure to serve under your chairmanship, Mr Havard. I thank the Chair of the International Development Committee, the right hon. Member for Gordon (Sir Malcolm Bruce), for opening the debate and for making, as ever, a powerful speech on the need for our continued commitment to tackling poverty and inequality in developing countries. I welcome his comments on the contribution of successive Governments, particularly the previous Labour Government, and thank him for his contribution and for working with us on this very important issue.

The millennium development goals, when they were established, provided huge momentum in addressing some of the most pressing challenges facing developing countries. Admirable progress has been made. Examples of that are the significant reductions in extreme poverty and infant mortality; access to primary education for children; improvements in the living conditions of slum dwellers; and major advances in the fight against disease, including HIV and others. Although we are often restless about the fact that more progress has not been made, it is important to take stock and recognise that the starting point was not a great one. We should be proud of those achievements that have been made, but we should remain restless about the setbacks. That is the context in which the Select Committee report has been written—it is vital.

The critical gap in what we are doing—the area where we fall behind—is inequalities between and within countries, which are growing, particularly following the financial crisis, as budgets come under pressure. The brunt of that has been borne, and the pressure has been faced, by some of the most vulnerable people, particularly women and those living in conflict-affected areas, as hon. Members mentioned.

We must ensure that the post-2015 goals respond to the challenges in developing countries that we can observe and predict—those that are already occurring, but which we believe will grow in the decades to come. As the report asserts, the new framework should be ambitious and be aimed at eliminating extreme poverty, but I hope that the high-level panel will also have, as has been referenced already, a strong focus on tackling inequality. As the right hon. Member for Gordon said, we cannot accept that tackling extreme poverty is good enough. In the 21st century, we cannot live in a world where it is acceptable for people to live on just over a few dollars a day or where a few thousand dollars per capita a year gives a country middle-income status.

I therefore hope that the Prime Minister, with the support of his Ministers and coalition partners, will be ambitious and bold in his role, showing international leadership, which is desperately needed at a time of growing challenges and conflicts in many parts of the world, including middle-income countries.

Lessons need to be learned from what we could have done differently in the past. In particular, we need to understand the drivers of conflict, such as injustice and inequality, but also the failure—referred to by the hon. Members for Tewkesbury (Mr Robertson), for Stafford (Jeremy Lefroy) and for Congleton (Fiona Bruce)—to respond to the aspirations of young people who want jobs. They also want skills and not only primary education, but tertiary education, to enable them to make their own contribution to their countries.

We should consider what has happened in the Arab spring. Furthermore, the United Nations Development Programme has pointed out that if there had been more understanding and closer measurement of inequality, we might have been better placed to predict that some of those other, earlier conflicts were likely to arise. I hope that we can learn some of the lessons from that.

I fully agree with everything that the hon. Lady is saying. Does she agree that it is vital that the post-2015 goals refer to a major role for secondary and tertiary education? The original MDGs concentrated, rightly, on primary education, but we need to move beyond that.

I agree. Of the MDGs, the education goal has the best prospect of being achieved, so it is important that we continue the push to lift people out of poverty and also into secondary and tertiary education, as well as primary. As the hon. Gentleman knows, our previous Prime Minister—I will not name him, because everyone knows who he is due to his great contribution to the MDG agenda—has been leading the way on the global campaign for education.

The hon. Gentleman’s point about tertiary and secondary education and skills is critical. We could learn a lot ourselves about investing in young people’s skills, as well as in developing countries. Innovations are coming from developing countries, and we could learn a thing or two from the successes, which could not have happened without investment and the support of our taxpayers over 15 to 20 years. It is critical to continue to help countries and focus on education. In the end, economic development will be driven by decent education and decent opportunities, not to mention other indicators such as health care and so on.

I want to highlight some of the achievements, of which we as a country can be proud, produced by the investment over a couple of decades: 3 million people have been lifted out of poverty. Britain has led the way on debt relief, and people, particularly those in Jubilee 2000, campaigned to ensure that Labour Government had the impetus and the backing to make it happen. Campaigners, international and domestic NGOs, UK community organisations and faith-based organisations are critical not only in applying pressure to our Government and other Governments to ensure that they do not lose sight of what is at stake in failing to continue to work towards achieving the MDGs, but in ensuring that the next round of discussions, as right hon. and hon. Members have mentioned, builds on what we have achieved, and that where there have been setbacks, lessons are learned.

Critically, developing countries should be partners in coming up with goals over the next period, so that they are at the heart of the decision-making process and do not feel that goals are being imposed on them. They and their populations have a far better understanding of how to tackle poverty and reduce inequality. We must be humble in recognising the many national NGOs in developing countries across the world, whether we are talking about the role of technology and innovation in tackling development and health challenges in South Africa, or the role of microfinance, led by Professor Yunus, Fazle Abed and many others, in India, Bangladesh and other countries.

There are innovators and great thinkers and doers in developing countries, who need to be in the driving seat of helping to set the future goals. International leadership is needed not only from western leaders, but from the leaders of developing countries and the emerging economies that increasingly call the shots on some major issues. They can and must play a vital role in tackling poverty and inequality, and in dealing with the major challenge of climate change, which could undermine the achievements of which we are proud, not to mention set back the progress we seek to make through future investments.

I shall briefly focus on some of the challenges we face. The key challenge has been well documented in this and previous reports. We need to think about the fact that there will be more poverty in middle-income countries than in developing countries. The high-level panel needs to put that at the heart of the debate about where we go in future. Any attempt to tackle the challenges of poverty must come up with an approach, a narrative and a response that find a way to get to the poorest in the growing economies of middle-income countries such as India, China and Indonesia, as well as Africa, which is also growing economically.

I wholly endorse what the hon. Lady has just said. The International Development Committee is conducting an inquiry on precisely how we can alter the mechanisms by which we deliver. Although it is right to focus on the poorest people in the poorest countries, we should not leave behind equally poor people in less poor countries. That probably requires some change in the DFID model from what we have been doing perfectly correctly over the past 15 years.

I look forward to the next instalment from the Committee, the right hon. Gentleman and his team. We need to settle the question of how we respond to some of the domestic criticisms on giving aid to big emerging economies, such as India, where hundreds of millions of people still face deep poverty. Many other nations are in that position. We need a political response and an approach that explains why such aid matters. We must also look at how the international community brings in nations that are doing well, such as India and China, to be genuine partners in development, so that we can contribute together to tackle poverty in middle-income countries. Only then will we be able to address the political criticisms and critiques that we face in our country—that also happens in other countries—and settle the question of how we should respond to the challenges.

If we do not address poverty in middle-income countries, we will set ourselves up for future problems—and even very wealthy countries have recently faced conflict. It is far better to anticipate difficulties and consider how we might respond as part of the development agenda process, so I hope the Minister will shed more light on her ideas about how we might do that.

In the remaining time, I shall focus on economic growth and development. Right hon. and hon. Members have mentioned the importance of employment, economic growth and the role of the private sector. Opposition Members very much support building self-sufficiency and creating opportunities for people to become independent and be able to look after themselves, which is at the heart of what people want. We need to ensure that the allocation of DFID resources through private sector programmes is transparent and properly monitored, just as we would expect with NGOs, and that public money is not used in an ideological manner. We must look at where the impact is, whether the outcomes are those that we sought—creating opportunity, jobs and economic development—and whether the programmes are pro-poor.

The hon. Lady is right to raise that pertinent point. The Committee is examining different ways to advance funds—not purely through grants, but perhaps repayable loans or joint investments—in ways that ensure that an appropriate return for our taxpayers, which can then be reinvested, is gleaned from the funds invested.

I thank the hon. Lady for her comments, and I hope that the Committee will interrogate the CDC about its role in de-risking investment opportunities for companies, because that is one reason it was set up. Too often, people have been concerned that it replicates what the private sector can do and does not act as much of a catalyst to enable innovative finance to go into those countries. I hope, therefore, that that will be looked into, as well as some of the private sector funds that DFID has recently set up. The Opposition want any investments that are made to create genuine economic opportunities and taxpayers’ money to be properly spent.

I have two other points to make. The first is about the impact of conflict on women in particular, and on children. We see all too well that that is another major issue that risks setting back any progress made on development. For example, in the Burmese state of Rakhine, which I visited recently, progress is being made, but the treatment of certain minorities and of women in those groups is setting back progress. We need to ensure that human rights and women’s empowerment are at the heart of development, and I welcome the references made to that by the high-level panel and by the Committee.

Secondly, we need to recognise that world demographics are rapidly changing. Increasing populations, and a growing middle class in India, China, Indonesia and many other countries, present major opportunities, but also pose major challenges due to the pressures on natural resources. As is pointed out in the report, the high-level panel discussion must integrate sustainable development goals into the post-millennium development goals framework. Segmented, siloed approaches will not do for the next phase of what we are trying to achieve and for what we need the international community to work towards addressing.

I have a series of questions to pose to the Minister. In focusing on what happens with the post-2015 goals, what will the Government do to drive home the message of economic opportunity through job creation, apprenticeships and tertiary education?

The Minister will be aware that a major additional support for developing countries is remittance income, which eclipses development aid from the whole world put together. Recent changes, led from the US, are affecting the UK, with banking facilities to remittance companies and money transfer companies being removed by Barclays bank. Therefore, hundreds of billions of pounds are at risk of not getting to developing countries, and the cost of sending that money might increase. In countries such as Somalia, which is a post-conflict state, family members are not getting money into their loved ones’ pockets. We are talking about very poor people who do not receive development aid, and I would be interested to hear the Minister’s response on that point.

The UK Government need to work with the US Government, and the high-level panel ought to look at additional income sources going into developing countries. If the route by which the income gets to its destination is damaged, an even greater challenge is posed to international development budgets, in addition to the tasks at hand of reducing poverty, improving health incomes and tackling educational inequalities. What is the Minister going to do about that issue, which will affect hundreds of thousands of people just in the UK, never mind in other countries? I would be happy to brief her after the debate, if she would like that.

I shall conclude, because I am conscious that we have another debate coming up. I very much hope that the post-2015 development goals have an ambitious focus on working with developing countries, NGOs, and local organisations and populations, both here and in developing countries. The Opposition believe that we must put social justice, tackling inequality, and promoting human rights and labour standards at the heart of the post-2015 goals. If we do not do that, the international community should not be surprised, for example, that in countries such as Bangladesh we witness more than 1,100 people unnecessarily losing their lives in industrial accidents that could have been prevented had labour standards and human rights standards been properly applied. The high-level panel and the international community must ensure that human rights, labour standards and women’s rights are at the heart of everything that is proposed, alongside the economic and social goals.

I hope that our Government—DFID Ministers working with other Ministers and the Prime Minister—will include the rights framework in those proposals, as well as social justice and inclusive pro-poor economic growth. That would address the points that have been made about creating opportunities and building self-sufficiency and independence in people’s lives, so that over time our assistance will be less necessary. Our assistance will always be necessary when there are humanitarian challenges, but development assistance will be less needed over time if we get our act together and ensure that we genuinely help to lift people out of poverty, and give them the opportunity to generate income, set up businesses and create a way of life that builds self-sufficiency.

That is what people in countries where we provide assistance want. We, as taxpayers, want to ensure that we do not put on our televisions and see images of poverty and inequality—year in, year out. We want results. I hope that is what will be focused on, building on the MDGs and the contributions already made to developing countries by the international community.

It is a pleasure to serve under your chairmanship, Mr Havard.

I once again thank the International Development Committee for its report, to which the Government replied on 14 March. I congratulate the Committee on securing a debate on this important topic, and my right hon. Friend the Member for Gordon (Sir Malcolm Bruce) on an excellent pre-emptor to the high-level panel discussions. We have heard many excellent contributions from Members this afternoon, and I will try to get through as many points as I can, but my time is somewhat limited.

Since the International Development Committee’s report and the Government’s response, we have seen the high-level panel’s report on post-2015 development. I hope that all those who have seen the report will join me in saying that the Prime Minister and the panel have set the bar high for the next two years of discussion. They have laid out a truly ambitious vision for eradicating extreme poverty within a generation, tackling the difficult but necessary issues head on.

I want to take a moment to talk about the high-level panel’s report, because I believe, and the Government believe, that the vision it sets out for what the new agenda might look like marks a step change. I hope that the International Development Committee is pleased that many of its recommendations are reflected in the report.

The five transformative shifts that drive the new development framework are key. First and foremost is the commitment to leave no one behind, which goes to the heart of the issue that many Members raised, and to keep faith with the original promise of the millennium development goals and finish the job by eradicating extreme poverty in a generation.

A number of Members raised issues of equity and equality, and there is a commitment to ensuring that every single goal is achieved for everyone, in every social and income group, regardless of gender, ethnicity, disability, where someone lives, what religion they practise, or whether they are in extreme poverty. That is a radical departure from the previous MDGs, and is the shift that will make the most significant difference, because countries will not score unless they have done hard work for the hardest to reach, the most marginalised, the most difficult and the poorest extremes.

Secondly, the panel called for sustainable development to be at the core of the new framework. Several Members have raised the issue of integrating the millennium development goals with the sustainable development goals. Although the streams are separate—the open working group is working on the sustainable development goals—that second transformative shift will put sustainable development clearly at the core of the new framework.

That recognises the fundamental link between the environmental, social and economic pillars of sustainable development. For example, we can deliver food security for all only if there is an efficient and sustainable use of natural resources. It is absolutely clear that we need to bring together the review of the millennium development goals and the Rio+20 follow-up to deliver a single development framework, as the Committee recommended in its report.

Thirdly, we need to transform economies to provide jobs and inclusive growth, which was mentioned by several hon. Members. Clearly, we need to lift people out of poverty through economic development and growth, to unleash the dynamism that gives everyone economic opportunities, and to harness investment and the private sector as the drivers of development. As has been said, we need inclusive and pro-poor growth, and it is important that those things are interwoven. The hon. Member for Bethnal Green and Bow (Rushanara Ali) raised some concerns about the involvement of organisations and companies, such as CDC or ones in the private sector. It is vital that all who work in or profit from such organisations, share those profits and ensure that everyone benefits from such growth.

Fourthly, although this has been less mentioned in the debate, we need to build peace and to build effective, open and accountable institutions for all. As the Prime Minister has said,

“Freedom from fear, conflict and violence is the most fundamental human right”.

Human rights have been mentioned in the debate. Without accountable Governments, safety, freedom of speech, free political choice, the rule of law and all the elements of good governance and peace, how can we eradicate poverty?

We often forget that freedom of belief—freedom of thought and belief, to hold a religion or not to hold any religion—goes alongside freedom of speech. That is not always remembered, but it should be.

Well, it is remembered by the Government. We hold that dear, and we work closely not just with people in terms of respecting their religions in their countries, but with our own faith groups and faith NGOs throughout the world. We cannot really do development, if we do not work in partnership with the faiths of the countries in which we work. That is the only way forward.

The issues of women, and of women in conflict, have been raised. In relation to providing peace and stability, DFID—the UK Government—have put women and girls right at the heart of all our development work. With respect to lifting families out of poverty, if a woman is empowered with education, has children later, has some power over her own life and has economic empowerment, her children and the community will be better off. As the international champion in the fight against violence against women and girls, our fight is obviously against violence against women—how can we have development when half the population basically cannot go outside their own door?—but there are also campaigns on female genital mutilation, which is a symbol of women’s oppression.

Finally, the panel has called for a new global partnership and has set out the principles of that new partnership and the spirit of co-operation needed between Governments, civil society, businesses, international agencies and people living in poverty themselves to make the post-2015 vision a reality. We have all learned that there is no one answer and that no one body or person can deliver across all the areas that are needed in this world, which we will achieve only through genuine and sincere partnership.

One big jump made by the high-level panel report is its use of illustrative examples of how the transformative shifts could be made into goals themselves. I am obviously biased: I am very keen on the stand-alone gender goal, which I think is imperative. However, there could be goals on poverty, hunger, education, equality, jobs, economic growth, good governance, peace and stability. Hon. Members have spoken compellingly about the importance of all those issues, and I hope they are happy with the concrete, measurable and compelling goals and targets that have been suggested.

The report was a remarkable piece of work. I did not expect it to be as good and succinct as it is. This is the beginning of the process, and the next two years will demand a huge amount of work if we are to bring that seminal piece of work to a concrete conclusion that we can all deliver. As has been said, the early MDGs were phenomenal drivers for good, but they did not always achieve what they set out to do. Like other Members, I have visited schools, including one in Zambia that has 100% attendance, but a 96% failure rate. We have learned from the first MDGs, so I am very hopeful that we will do better with the post-2015 ones.

I want to highlight three of the Committee’s recommendations that are particularly important. The first is on the rights of women, which I have already touched on. The more times that that can be raised by more bodies, the more capital it will gain until we reach universal agreement that part of, if not all, the answer is the empowerment of women. The second recommendation is that the post-2015 development agenda reflects the needs of the poorest, about which I could not agree more. As has been said, we need to listen to the voices of the poorest, and that is what the high-level panel did. For the first time, from surveys such as the My World survey, and mobiles, the internet and old-fashioned clipboards and pencils, schoolgirls in Rwanda and urban workers in Brazil have all been heard. The third recommendation highlighted the importance of keeping up the hard work, and I absolutely concur with it.

[Mr James Gray in the Chair]

I want to touch on some of the points raised in the debate. I absolutely agree with my right hon. Friend the Member for Gordon that we should take the MDGs as a starting point for the post-2015 goals. He highlighted the important lesson that halving poverty sometimes has the perverse incentive whereby we do not try to reach the very poorest. It is because that is important that the high-level panel has called for disaggregated data for all groups to ensure that the most vulnerable people are not left behind.

My right hon. Friend raised the issue of fragile states. He rightly identified the real issue that countries emerging from, or still in, conflict can be left behind in relation to development. The high-level panel report recognised that conflict plays a critical role in relation to security. It has addressed that through the stand-alone illustrative goal of ensuring stable and peaceful societies, for which targets in the framework include those on violent deaths, access to justice and the behaviour of security forces. The Government will work hard to ensure that that important recommendation is reflected in the final framework.

Several hon. Members raised the issue of young people and mentioned the burgeoning number of young people in some countries. The panel has called for a jobs target with a specific indicator for youth employment.

Secondary and tertiary education has also been raised. We have found from the evidence that the most benefit for economic development comes through primary and lower secondary education, but as countries develop, people need to stay in secondary and tertiary education and, even more importantly, to have jobs at the end, so that those who have been through tertiary education are not left with nothing and with nowhere to go, except to leave those countries that so greatly need them.

Everyone has praised the 0.7% level, about which there is cross-party consensus. My hon. Friend the Member for Tewkesbury (Mr Robertson) spoke about his experience in Ethiopia. I have felt the same when I have been there. Each time I go, I see that it has opened itself to the world a little more. I also admire its control over its own development, because it has its own best interests at heart. As I have said, growth should be inclusive and pro-poor.

I could not agree more with my hon. Friend the Member for Stafford (Jeremy Lefroy) when he spoke about strengthening health systems. In the nine months that I have been in post, I have found that if Government public health systems are not there and everyone—whether an NGO, a non-state actor or whoever—does their separate bit, however well-intentioned, it is very piecemeal. It is only with the stability of a national health system, as it were, that services can be combined, as I have seen in the very poor state of Marsabit, where the Government of Kenya have done so in relation to nutrition programmes, vaccination programmes, transition of HIV, and so on.

I am running out of time, but I want to thank my hon. Friend for his kind words about DFID’s work on titles in Rwanda. Land ownership and land titling is hugely important.

Lastly, let me reassure the House that the Government’s commitment to this vital agenda will go on. The agenda, which will shape the UK’s work on development in the coming decades, will continue over the next two years of discussions and negotiations. Thank you, Mr Gray, for the opportunity to speak on this important topic. I thank all Members who have spoken.

Order. Before we move on to the next debate on Pakistan, it is perfectly in order for the right hon. Member for Gordon to wind up this debate.

I will be very brief indeed. I thank everybody who has contributed; it has been a good debate. I wish that more people had taken part, because this is a very important issue. I am grateful to the shadow Minister for her constructive and inclusive comments, and that is the way we have to work on this particular agenda. She is right to say that we must explain to those critics in this country why what we are doing is in our national interest as well as—in the words of the hon. Member for Tewkesbury (Mr Robertson)—our moral responsibility. The high-level panel has made an extremely good start, but there is obviously a process that continues from here.

I say to the Prime Minister what I said to him in the Liaison Committee and in our own evidence that I hope he will maintain ownership of this process, even though the work of the high-level panel has finished. It is absolutely right that he was a co-chair, but we urge him to continue to take an interest in the matter, because his interest will help to drive it to the right conclusions. I thank everyone who has participated, and I thank the Minister for her comments. I can assure the Chamber that we as a Committee will continue, I hope, to feed in useful suggestions based on the evidence that we receive.