With permission, Mr Speaker, I will make a statement on the G7 summit I chaired in Carbis Bay and the NATO summit in Brussels.
Let me first thank the people of Cornwall, Carbis Bay and St Ives for welcoming the representatives of the world’s most powerful democracies to their home, an enchanting setting for the first gathering of G7 leaders in two years, the first since the pandemic began, and President Biden’s first overseas visit since taking office. Our aim was to demonstrate how the world’s democracies are ready and able to address the world’s toughest problems, offering solutions and backing them up with concrete action.
The G7 will combine our strengths and expertise to defeat covid, minimise the risk of another pandemic, and build back better, fairer and greener for the benefit of all. Alongside our partners, the G7 is now engaged in the biggest and fastest vaccination programme in history, which is designed to protect the whole world by the end of next year. My fellow leaders agreed to supply developing countries with another billion doses—either directly or through other channels—of which 100 million will come from the UK.
The world’s most popular vaccine was developed here, and the express purpose of the deal between the British Government, Oxford University and AstraZeneca was to create an inoculation that would be easy to store, quick to distribute and available at cost price, or zero profit, in order to protect as many people as possible. The results are becoming clearer every day: over 500 million Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccines have been administered in 168 countries so far, accounting for 96% of the doses distributed to developing nations by COVAX, the global alliance that the UK helped to establish. With every passing hour, people are being protected across the world, and lives saved, by the formidable expertise that the UK was able to assemble.
But all the efforts of this country and many others, no matter how generous and far-sighted, would be futile in the face of another lethal virus that might escape our efforts, so the G7 has agreed to support a Global Pandemic Radar to spot new pathogens before they begin to spread, allowing immediate containment. In case a new virus gets through anyway, our scientists will embark on a mission to develop the ability to create new vaccines, treatments and tests in just 100 days, compared with the 300 required for covid.
Even as we persevere against this virus, my fellow leaders share my determination to look beyond today’s crisis and build back better, greener and fairer. If we can learn anything from this tragedy, we have at least been given a chance to break with the past, do things better and do them differently. This time, as our economies rebound, we must avoid the mistakes we made after the financial crash of 2008 and ensure that everyone benefits from the recovery. The surest way to our future prosperity is to design fair and open rules and standards for the new frontiers of the global economy, so the G7 will devise a fairer tax system for global corporations, reversing the race to the bottom, and will strive to ensure that new technology serves as a force for prosperity and hope, strengthening freedom and openness.
My fellow leaders will act as one against an increasing injustice—the denial of an education to millions of girls across the world—by working to get another 40 million girls into school by 2025. I am happy to say that the G7 agreed to provide more than half of the $5 billion sought by the Global Partnership for Education to transform the prospects of millions of children in developing countries, and £430 million will come from the UK.
Our duty to future generations compels us to protect our planet from catastrophic climate change. Every country in the G7 has promised to achieve net zero by 2050, wiping out our contribution to global warming from that date onwards. To achieve that target, we will halve our carbon emissions by 2030 compared with 2010 levels. The G7 resolved to end any Government support for unabated coal-fired power generation overseas, and to increase and improve climate finance between now and 2025. We will consecrate 30% of our land and sea to nature, protecting vast areas in all their abundance and diversity of life, giving millions of species the chance to recover from the ravages of recent decades.
It is precisely because safeguarding our planet requires global action that the G7 will offer developing countries a new partnership, the Build Back Better World, to help to construct new, clean and green infrastructure in a way that is transparent and environmentally responsible. There is no contradiction between averting climate change and creating highly skilled and well-paid jobs, both in our country and around the world; we can and will achieve both by means of a green industrial revolution at home and green infrastructure abroad.
I was honoured to welcome our friends the leaders of India, South Korea, Australia and South Africa as guests in Carbis Bay—virtually, of course, in the case of the Prime Minister of India. On Monday, Scott Morrison and I were delighted to reach a free trade agreement between the UK and Australia, creating fantastic opportunities for both our countries, eliminating tariffs on all British exports—whether Scotch whisky or cars from the midlands —and making it easier for young British people to live and work in Australia. We have also included protections for British farmers over the next 15 years and unprecedented protections and provisions for animal welfare. This House will, of course, be able to scrutinise the agreement once the texts are finalised.
This is exactly how global Britain will help to generate jobs and opportunities at home and level up our whole United Kingdom. Our agreement with Australia is a vital step towards the even greater prize of the UK joining the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a $9 trillion free trade area embracing the fastest growing economies of the world.
Together with the G7, the countries represented at Carbis Bay comprise a “Democratic XI”—free nations living on five continents, spanning different faiths and cultures, but united by a shared belief in liberty, democracy and human rights. Those ideals were encapsulated in the Atlantic charter agreed by Winston Churchill and President Roosevelt in 1941, when Britain was the only surviving democracy in Europe and the very existence of our freedom was in peril. The courage and valour of millions of people ensured that our ideals survived and flourished, and 80 years on, President Biden and I met within sight of HMS Prince of Wales, the Royal Navy’s newest aircraft carrier and the linear successor of the battleship on which the original charter was devised; and we agreed a new Atlantic charter, encompassing the full breadth of British and American co-operation in science and technology, trade and global security.
The surest guarantee of our security is NATO, which protects a billion people in 30 countries, and the summit in Brussels on Monday agreed the wholesale modernisation of the alliance to meet new dangers, including in space and cyber-space, reflecting the priorities of our own integrated review of foreign and defence policy.
Britain has the biggest defence budget in Europe, comfortably exceeding the NATO target of 2% of national income. We have committed our nuclear deterrent and our cyber capabilities to the alliance, and we contribute more troops than any other country to NATO’s deployment to protect Poland and the Baltic states. We do more for the security of our continent than any other European power, showing that we mean it when we say that an attack on any NATO ally shall be considered an attack on all—a pledge that has kept the peace for over 70 years, and which President Biden reaffirmed on behalf of the United States.
Together, these two summits showed the enduring strength of the Atlantic alliance and the bonds we treasure with kindred democracies across the globe. They have provided the best possible foundation for COP26 in Glasgow in November, when the UK will bring the whole world together in a common cause. They demonstrated how global Britain creates jobs at home, while striving in unison with our friends for a greener, safer and fairer world.
I commend this statement to the House.
I thank the Prime Minister for advance sight of his statement.
It was a Labour Government and a Labour Foreign Secretary, Ernest Bevin, who helped found NATO, and it is an alliance that Labour will always value and protect. So we welcome agreement on the NATO 2030 agenda—in particular, strengthening NATO’s cyber-security capability. We also welcome the deepening support for our friends and allies in Ukraine and Georgia, and the recognition of the global security implications of the climate emergency, and for the first time, of the challenges that China poses to global security and stability.
On the UK-Australia trade deal, we all want to see Britain taking trading opportunities around the world, but the devil will be in the detail, and we look forward to scrutinising the deal in Parliament, in particular for its impact on British farmers and on food standards.
The G7 summit should have been the most important G7 in a generation—the first of the recovery, the first with a new US President, a chance for Britain to lead the world, as we did at Gleneagles in 2005 or after the global financial crisis in 2009; but whether on global vaccination, the climate emergency, middle east peace or the Northern Ireland protocol, the summit ended up as a wasted opportunity.
The priority for the summit had to be a clear plan to vaccinate the world. That is not just a moral imperative; it is in our self-interest, as the delta variant makes clear. Without global vaccine coverage, this virus will continue to boomerang, bringing more variants and more disruption to these shores. The World Health Organisation has said that 11 billion doses are needed—11 billion doses. The summit promised less than one tenth of that. No new funding, no plan to build a global vaccine capacity and no progress on patent waivers. The headlines of 1 billion doses may be what the Prime Minister wanted, but it is not what the world needed.
The same is true of the climate emergency. This is the single greatest challenge that the world will face in decades to come, but this summit saw no progress on climate finance. The communiqué speaks only of “commitments already made” and of those yet to be made. There was no plan, let alone a Marshall plan, to speed up cuts to global emissions, and there was little in the communiqué beyond existing commitments. This summit was meant to be a stepping stone to COP26, but, if anything, it was a step back.
It was also disappointing that there was nothing to suggest that any progress was made to restart the middle east peace process. A new Government in Israel, combined with a new US President, provides a real opportunity to end the injustice and finally to deliver an independent and sovereign Palestine alongside a safe and secure Israel. Sadly, the resumption of hostilities overnight shows the price of that failure. Did the Prime Minister discuss this with world leaders, including with President Biden?
The summit should also have been an opportunity to resolve, not inflame, tensions over the Northern Ireland protocol. It started with an unprecedented diplomatic rebuke from our closest allies, and it ended with the White House still speaking of “candid” discussions. It was overshadowed by the failure of the Prime Minister to make the deal that he negotiated—he negotiated—work.
The Prime Minister may think that this is all part of a grand diplomatic game, but Northern Ireland is far too serious for that. When a Prime Minister loses the trust of our allies and trashes Britain’s reputation for upholding international law, it is hardly surprising that we are left isolated and unable to lead.
Despite all this, I have no doubt that the Prime Minister will be pleased with the G7 summit, because it delivered everything that he wanted: some good headlines; some nice photos; and even a row with the French over sausages. That just shows how narrow the Prime Minister’s ambition for Britain really is. It is why this was never going to be a Gleneagles-style success, and why the Prime Minister played the role of host but not leader, of tour guide but not statesman. On those terms, this G7 was a success, but on any other, it was a failure.
In a long career of miserabilism and defeatism, the right hon. and learned Gentleman has really excelled himself there. It was a very powerful statement after a long and difficult period in which the world came together and decided to build back better for the world. One thing that he did not mention was the fantastic agreement that we reached to come together to support the whole of the developing world, which I think he should approve of, in allowing them to have access to clean, green technology, financed by the multinational development banks, but bringing in the private sector from around the world. It is a fantastic step forward for the world.
The right hon. and learned Gentleman nickels and dimes what happened on vaccines. I think that it was fantastic that, on top of the 1 billion that we have already given, the world agreed another 1 billion vaccines, when people are racing to vaccinate their own populations. They agreed another 1 billion vaccines from the G7— 100 million more from this country. He is constantly running this country’s efforts down. Of the 1.4 billion COVAX vaccines that have already been distributed, 500 million of them are directly due to the efforts of this country, which has given £1.6 billion to supporting COVAX and another £548 million to supporting Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance.
As for climate change, I do not know what planet the right hon. and learned Gentleman is on. This was an extraordinary achievement by the summit. Not only did all countries commit to net zero by 2050, but we are long way towards getting the £100 billion that we need for climate change financing. He complains about the Northern Ireland protocol, but it is not at all clear what he believes himself. He says that he is not in favour of checks at the border between Great Britain and Northern Ireland. [Interruption.] There should be no border, he says. He is quite right. Then what is his policy? That is exactly what this Government are standing for. I would like to understand what he actually stands for. [Interruption.] We want to get rid of those checks, and if he will support us in doing so, I would be grateful, finally, for his support.
I think the right hon. and learned Gentleman said something positive about the NATO summit. I am glad of that, although it is striking that he is not joined, for once, by the shadow Foreign Secretary, as it is still her view, as far as I can remember, that we should get rid of the nuclear deterrent—our own nuclear deterrent, on which our NATO security guarantee relies. [Interruption.] Maybe that is not her position; maybe she has changed it. As for the trade deal with Australia, the shadow International Trade Secretary has said that she does not think it possible for the UK to export food and drink to Australia because it goes “off”—actually, this country exports £350 million-worth of food and drink. The right hon. and learned Gentleman should congratulate UK exporters, support the free trade deal and stop being so generally down in the mouth about everything.
I welcome my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister’s leadership of the G7 over the weekend and many of its successful outcomes. During the G7, the United States proposed that all the countries adopt a common strategy on China’s disgusting use of forced labour and confront it. I understand that some of the European countries dissented from that approach, so I ask my right hon. Friend: does he stand with President Biden on this issue, not with his dissenters? If so, will my right hon. Friend emphasise that by informing the House when the Government will bring forward their promised export controls to keep goods produced by Uyghur slave labour off our shelves and the promised changes to the Modern Slavery Act 2015? Those things are very important and the Prime Minister can re-emphasise his strong credentials.
I am grateful to my right hon. Friend. We have already put in Magnitsky sanctions against those involved in forced labour in Xinjiang, and we will continue to have very tough import controls on any such produce.
I thank the Prime Minister for advance sight of his statement. I can sense, after a week of ascending to the heady heights of hosting global leaders, just how thrilled the Prime Minister is to be back in this House answering questions from us mere mortals. But even us mere mortals, looking at the G7 from afar, can detect the difference between a welcoming host and an influential leader. Even a raft of carefully crafted photo opportunities in Cornwall could not hide the fact that this Prime Minister and his Government are deeply diminished on the world stage. The UK is the only G7 country cutting overseas aid and the only G7 country being questioned about its commitment to previously signed international treaties; and the UK remains the G7 country with the smallest covid stimulus package.
Although the Prime Minister may have hoped to relaunch global Britain, what was really on show over the last week was Brexit Britain—a more isolated and less influential place. Prior to the summit, the Prime Minister built up the prospects of a new Marshall plan, promoting climate action in developing countries, but what was announced appeared to be a repackaging of previous announcements. I can see the Prime Minister shaking his head, so may I ask him to confirm the exact figure the UK will be contributing to this “Marshall plan” for climate action?
On covid recovery, President Biden openly encouraged other leaders to embrace the economic logic of an investment-led recovery, instead of returning to the failed policy of austerity cuts. Does the Prime Minister agree with that economic logic? Will he therefore explain why the UK has the smallest covid stimulus package of any G7 country? Finally on the NATO summit, will the Prime Minister detail what concrete proposals were agreed to apply appropriate pressure to protect the human rights of the persecuted Uyghur Muslim minority in China?
On the Uyghurs in China, no concrete measures were discussed at NATO, but as I said in my answer to my right hon. Friend the Member for Chingford and Woodford Green (Sir Iain Duncan Smith), we in this country remain implacably committed to opposing the forced labour there and to sanctioning those who profit from the forced labour in Xinjiang.
The right hon. Gentleman’s characterisation of the summit is as erroneous as that of the right hon. and learned Member for Holborn and St Pancras (Keir Starmer). It was a fantastically successful summit in bringing the world together on vaccination and on tackling climate change. The UK’s own contribution, which the right hon. Gentleman deprecates, is massive. I think the people of this country will think it astonishing that at a time when we have been through a pandemic, and have spent £407 billion looking after jobs and livelihoods in this country, we are still able—[Interruption.] I will give him the figure: we are still able to supply £11.6 billion to help the developing world to tackle the consequences of climate change. The right hon. Gentleman should be proud of that and not run his country down.
My right hon. Friend’s significant success at the G7 last weekend has sadly been dented by the fact that Britain is the only G7 country cutting vital aid and is doing so in the middle of a global pandemic. That decision is not only doing grave damage to the reputation of global Britain; it will also lead to more than 100,000 avoidable deaths, principally among women and children. Will he reflect on the fact that many of us, in all parts of the parliamentary party, are urging him to reverse these terrible humanitarian cuts, and that we are not, as he suggested in Prime Minister’s questions last week, lefty propagandists, but his political friends, allies and supporters, who want him to think again?
I have the utmost respect for my right hon. Friend’s record in overseas aid, but I have to say that the changes that we have made to official development assistance have not been raised with me by anybody at the G7; nor have they by any recipient country —and I have talked to many of them. That is because they know that the United Kingdom remains one of the biggest donors in the world—second in the G7—and, in spite of all the difficulties that we have been going through, we are contributing £10 billion this year to supporting countries around the world. We have also just increased our spending on female education. That was one thing that people did raise with me, and they did so to congratulate the UK Government on what we were doing. People in this country should be very proud of the contributions that they are making.
[Inaudible] the Prime Minister waxed lyrical about the fight against climate change, but only after stepping off his private jet; he made the case for investing in girls’ education around the world, yet he is cutting the amount we spend on it by 40% this year; he talked up the importance of international agreements while reneging on the one he signed; and he advocated the importance of democracy while introducing plans to make it harder for people to vote in this country. When will the Prime Minister realise that his approach of “Do as I say, not as I do” is ruinous to Britain’s reputation on the world stage?
The Liberal Democrats should get their facts right. We are not cutting spending on girls’ education, to pick one of the points made by the right hon. Gentleman; we are actually increasing it by at least 15%. We are spending £432 million on the Global Partnership for Education.
Look at what this country is doing on tackling climate change, with the commitment to net zero. That was actually made after we were in coalition with the right hon. Gentleman. Freed from the shackles of Lib Dem hypocrisy, we were able to get on with some serious work and commit, under my premiership—freed from the uselessness of the Lib Dems—£11.6 billion to help the people of the world to tackle climate change. He should realise that for people listening to him who really care about tackling climate change and allowing the world to build back cleaner, greener and better, he is making it harder not just to vote, but to vote Lib Dem.
Does my right hon. Friend recall President Macron insisting that nothing in the Northern Ireland protocol is negotiable even though he admits that it contains what he calls inconsistencies? If the peace and stability of Northern Ireland is being undermined by the application of the protocol, then it is obvious that the protocol itself must be renegotiated: how could anyone seriously consider otherwise? Will my right hon. Friend urge the EU not to give precedence to the protocol over the peace process and the Good Friday agreement, and will he remind it of the 2017 joint report, which included the aspiration that the then backstop would be removed via negotiations and what it calls “specific solutions”? Will he pursue that policy?
The problem at the moment is the application of the protocol. The protocol makes it very clear that there should be no distortions of trade and that the Good Friday peace process, above all, must be upheld, but it is being applied in such a way as to destabilise that peace process and applied in a highly asymmetrical way. All we are asking for is a pragmatic approach. I hope very much that we will get that, but if we cannot get that, then I will certainly take the steps that my hon. Friend describes.
Monday’s Australian trade deal announcement revealed the Prime Minister’s fear of democratic accountability. He has withheld details of the agreement and prevented Parliament from doing our proper job of scrutiny at the proper time. Yet, from day one, Australian farmers will be able to export over 60 times more beef before UK tariffs kick in—that is no tariff whatsoever on up to 35,000 tonnes of potentially low-welfare beef. So, from day one, will he at least commit to an annual assessment of the economic impact of his deal on Welsh beef and lamb farmers?
I will repeat the point I have made to many Opposition Members. This is an opportunity for UK farming and indeed for Welsh farmers. The right hon. Lady speaks with apprehension about 35,000 tonnes of Australian beef. We already import about 300,000 tonnes of EU beef. Australian farmers observe very, very high animal welfare standards, and they will only get completely tariff-free access after 15 years. After 15 years, we are going to give people in Australia the same rights of access as we give the 27 other EU countries.
The recent agreements on cyber defence policy and technological co-operation announced at the NATO summit in Brussels will mean that the alliance remains as strong as ever when faced with new threats. Will my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister confirm that he remains utterly committed to NATO as the foundation of our collective security?
Yes. NATO has protected the world, and particularly the European continent, for 72 years, and it was clear from the conversation around the table that it will continue to do so for decades to come.
Reports emanating from the summit suggest that Monsieur Macron does not seem to understand the constitutional parameters of the United Kingdom, given that he thought that we were part of a different country. Will the Prime Minister take steps to ensure that all our partners know what those parameters are? Will he also take great care in the next few days and weeks not to jeopardise devolution even further in Northern Ireland, as it has been put in jeopardy in the past few days as a result of Sinn Féin’s actions?
I thank the hon. Gentleman. We want to strengthen Northern Ireland and strengthen Northern Ireland’s place within the United Kingdom, and that is what we are going to be doing.
I congratulate my right hon. Friend on the success of the G7, which I think did Britain proud. May I ask him about the NATO summit and whether there were any discussions about the role for the alliance in the maintenance and protection of energy security and, in particular, about the need to reduce dependence on Russia? Specifically, were there any discussions about the strategic vulnerability being introduced to Europe by the Germans’ selfish obsession with the Nord Stream 2 project? If such a discussion did not occur, will he please ensure that it does?
I do not think I am giving anything away by telling my right hon. Friend that there were certainly discussions about the vital importance of all of us getting to net zero and avoiding a dependence on hydrocarbons, whether it is strategically unwise or not.
The failure of the G7 to reach an agreement on ending investment in all fossil fuels speaks volumes about the Prime Minister’s true climate leadership. Today he mentions coal but again ignores oil and gas. That is not a green industrial revolution; that is business as usual. The International Energy Agency said last month that there must be no new oil, gas or coal developments if the world is to reach net zero, so with the success of COP26 now hanging in the balance, will he heed the call from 101 Nobel laureates for a global fossil fuel non-proliferation treaty, and will he pursue that with G7 leaders and others before the climate summit, or is he happy for that to be judged a colossal failure of his leadership too?
When we consider how much some of these countries are dependent on coal, I think it was groundbreaking for the summit to agree not to support any more overseas coal. The commitments on net zero and on making progress by 2030 are outstanding, and it can be done. The hon. Lady’s mood of gloom and pessimism is not shared by the people of this country. We know that in 2012, 40% of our power came from coal. Now, thanks to this Conservative Government and the actions we have taken to reduce dependence on coal, it is down to less than 2% and falling the whole time. The whole world knows that, and they are following the UK’s example.
It is absolutely right that I congratulate the Prime Minister and all those involved in hosting the G7 summit in my constituency over the weekend. It was an absolutely fantastic event and we in Cornwall feel very proud of the part that we played. I also want to thank the police, who were quite incredible and who travelled from all over the country to help out. I also have an apology for the Prime Minister, because the truth is that we are very proud of the Carbis Bay declaration and I may well mention it once or twice in the years to come. We are proud of the declaration because of the commitments to covid vaccines, to the education of 40 million extra girls, to the global climate change response and to a fairer economic recovery and job creation. Will my friend the Prime Minister commit to further opportunities for Parliament to understand the details of the Carbis Bay declaration as they become available?
Yes. The Carbis Bay declaration is the foundation of the treaty that this country has been helping to prepare, and which we have been pioneering, against any future pandemic. The crucial elements are zoonotic research hubs, the pathogen surveillance network, and the undertaking to share data to prevent barriers between our countries in the export of personal protective equipment, medicines, vaccines and other things. It is the foundation to ensure that the time between a new variant arriving and a new vaccine should be kept down to 100 days, and to ensure that we spread know-how and manufacturing capacity around the world. This is the foundation of a new global approach to tackling pandemics. The UK has been absolutely instrumental in setting this up, to say nothing of the funding that we have put in, and I believe that the Carbis Bay declaration will be seen as a very important step towards the treaty later this year.
I thank the Prime Minister for his update on the G7 summit. However, I find myself in the curious position of agreeing with one of my Kirkcaldy and Cowdenbeath predecessors, who commented on the commitments secured, with the Prime Minister in the chair, as an “unforgivable moral failure”.
The agreement is simply not good enough: 11 billion vaccines are needed and 1 billion have been promised; $50 billion of funding is needed, but only $5 billion has been promised. The World Health Organisation has said that covid-19 is moving faster than the vaccines, and the G7 commitment is simply not enough. For the aspiration of global Britain is fast becoming a global embarrassment, more indicative of a Del Boy Britain. Will the Prime Minister now show real leadership, and redouble efforts to secure the suspension of intellectual property protections, and further international efforts to prevent new variants from developing? I appeal to his self-interest that none of us are safe until everyone is safe.
I am afraid the hon. Gentleman is running down the UK’s efforts, as well as what the summit achieved, which is 1 billion more vaccines, on top of the 1 billion that G7 countries have already committed to distributing around the world. This is only six months after these vaccines were invented—it is an astonishing thing! He attacks the performance of Britain and the people of the UK, but let me remind him that we in this country are responsible for one-third of the 1.5 billion vaccines that have been distributed around the world. When will he get that into his head? That is a fantastic record, on top of the 1.6 billion that we have been contributing to that COVAX roll-out. I think the people of this country should be immensely proud of the Carbis Bay declaration and the vaccines contribution that we are making. We are working as fast and as hard as we can, while still getting vaccines into the arms of our own people in this country, and that is absolutely right.
Communiqués from the G7 and NATO summits speak of increasing challenges and threats from China, be they military build- up, cyber-attacks, human rights abuses, or the belt and road initiative. Will my right hon. Friend reassure the House that the common values and commitment that we and our partners have to democracy and the rules-based international order will result in the G7 and NATO tackling the malign actions of the Chinese Communist party, whatever form those take?
Yes. Nobody at either the G7 or NATO wants to get into a new cold war with China, but on the other hand they see that the opportunities we have to trade more and engage with China must be matched by firmness in our collective dealings with it, particularly when it comes to the Uyghurs, as colleagues have mentioned several times, and when it comes to navigation in the South China sea, and the freedoms and rights of the people of Hong Kong.
The Northern Ireland protocol was a key theme on the margins of the G7 summit. The Biden Administration have made it clear that they want to see the Good Friday agreement upheld, and that while there is no immediate prospect of a US free trade agreement, a UK-EU veterinary agreement would not compromise that trade deal in any event. The Prime Minister has already said that he wants to get rid of checks across the Irish sea. Why is he so stubbornly resisting that ready-made solution, even on a temporary basis, to reduce those checks, ease tensions in Northern Ireland, and indeed help all UK food exporters?
I hope it will not have escaped the hon. Gentleman’s attention that we have just signed a free trade agreement with Australia, and we intend to do many more.
The Prime Minister knows that treaties can occasionally be negotiated and not quite make it through the House of Commons. In the interests of ensuring that we deliver what we need to deliver at COP26, building on the impressive work in the G7 and NATO statements, as well as on trade deals such as that with Australia, will he commit to ensuring that this House is informed well in advance of COP agreements, so that we can assist, advise, and perhaps even ensure that those agreements pass easily and smoothly through the House, and encourage others to do the same?
I will do my best to oblige my hon. Friend, although my experience of the matter over the past few years is that this House is a great legislator but not an ideal negotiator.
The G7 announcement of 1 billion additional vaccine doses for developing countries was, of course, welcome, but the Prime Minister knows that the head of the World Health Organisation says that we need 11 billion doses in total if we are to vaccinate 70% of the world population. Where does the right hon. Gentleman think that the rest of those doses will come from, so that everyone can be safe because everyone is vaccinated?
One of the most important things that we agreed at the G7, along with the Carbis Bay principles that I have outlined and that will form part of the health treaty, was that we should work together to increase vaccine manufacturing capacity and fill-and-finish facilities around the world, particularly in sub-Saharan Africa. I have to tell the right hon. Gentleman that it has only been a few months since these vaccines were invented; we are going as fast as we can, but our ambition is to vaccinate the world by the end of next year.
The G7 meeting was exactly the face that modern Britain should present to the world: competent and confident. In terms of the substance, the UK commitment to share 100 million vaccines with less developed countries is an extremely welcome first step. Can my right hon. Friend guarantee that the 70 million doses that will be delivered through 2022 will be in addition to our existing aid budget.
Yes, I can.
I kept on thinking, all weekend, “Thank God Biden beat Trump.” I think that the Prime Minister is nodding.
Following the Carbis Bay declaration, may I urge the Prime Minister to come to Wales to sign a Cardiff Bay declaration? That declaration would include radical extra investment in Wales to do the levelling up that I think he intends, so that every person—whether they live in the valleys of south Wales, in the posher parts of Cardiff or Swansea, or wherever—has an equal chance of getting to work, an equal chance of putting food on the table for their kids, an equal chance of getting on in life and, frankly, an equal chance of having an NHS that is really able to protect them. The problems that we have in Wales are exactly the same as those in England. We need significant extra investment, and the only way we can achieve it is by real, hard co-operation between the Government in Westminster and the Government in Wales.
Yes, of course; we have massively increased support for the NHS, for instance, all of which is passported through to Wales. Funding has massively increased, and of course we work very closely with the Government—the Administration—in Cardiff. I think that it would be helpful in delivering great infrastructure for Wales, whether that is improving the A55 or the M4, if there were some consistency of approach. With the M4 bypass, for instance, and the Brynglas tunnels, I think it was crazy to spend £144 million of taxpayers’ money on a study without actually doing the bypass itself. I am very happy to work with the Welsh Labour Government if they get their act together.
No fewer than five representatives of the European Union at the G7 tried to hijack the agenda to undermine the people of Northern Ireland with their one-sided and unfair view of the protocol. Will the Prime Minister, who chaired the event well, make sure that goods can flow freely in the UK internal market, given that there are legal ways of doing this unilaterally? Does not the Good Friday agreement require the EU and the UK to respect the needs and wishes of both communities?
My right hon. Friend is completely right. It was the EU that shocked people in Northern Ireland by invoking article 16 of the protocol in January and trying to put a barrier on the movement of vaccines between the EU and the UK. We would never have dreamed of doing something like that, but it was that action that undermined people’s faith in the protocol.
The recent violence and the loss of innocent life in Gaza and Israel underline the importance of restarting the middle east peace process. Britain has historical and continuing responsibilities in this region, so can the Prime Minister tell us what steps he took at the weekend to raise and progress the restarting of the important peace process in the middle east?
As I raise continuously with friends and partners around the world, we remain committed, as do our friends in the EU and in Washington, to a two-state solution for the middle east.
May I first congratulate my right hon. Friend on successfully hosting the G7 after the trauma the world has just been through? He will recognise that the discussion of NATO 2030 at the NATO summit was one of the most forward thinking and important assessments NATO has undertaken in many a decade: reinforced unity; a broader approach to security; safeguarding the rules-based international order. Does he agree that our position on cyber and space defence not only makes us still one of the biggest contributors to NATO, but one of the integral partners of the alliance?
Yes. I thank my right hon. Friend because NATO’s project 2030, set out by Jens Stoltenberg at the summit, is completely in accordance with, and almost an echo of, the integrated review set out by the Government, with its emphasis on cyber and space defences.
I have listened to the right hon. Gentleman’s statement this afternoon. One of the things I am proud of is visiting my schools in Vauxhall and speaking to young people. Last week, he said that girls’ education is the best way that we can lift countries out of poverty and lead the global recovery. I heard his response to the right hon. Member for Sutton Coldfield (Mr Mitchell) on the fact that the G7 leaders did not mention the global aid cut. If that is the case, does the Prime Minister agree that his actions show a gaping hole between his words and actions? Will he respect this House by bringing that vote to Parliament and bringing that decision here?
Again, what I did hear from leaders around the world was massive, overwhelming support for the objective, which the hon. Member supports, of girls’ education. The G7 committed $2.75 billion, I think, towards the Global Partnership for Education, with the UK increasing our commitment by 15% in spite of the pandemic. I hope the message she will give to pupils in Vauxhall is that we are absolutely committed to that end.
I congratulate the Prime Minister and his whole team on delivering such a wonderful G7 summit. I welcome the announcement on the replenishment of the Global Partnership for Education. As our economy recovers and we return to the promised 0.7%, will he put at the forefront of his work in his time in Government ensuring that we really boost the efforts to educate every child in the world through UNICEF, Education Cannot Wait, the Global Partnership for Education and, of course, our wonderful UK Girls’ Education Challenge?
I thank my hon. Friend for her support for female education. I remember discussing it with her many, many times. I know how much she cares about it. The programme we are embarked on will mean 40 million more girls in school by 2025 and 20 million more girls reading over the next five years. We are going to do even more than I was saying to an hon. Lady on the Opposition Benches, when President Kenyatta of Kenya comes here in July for the Global Partnership for Education.
I congratulate the Prime Minister on his recent wedding and the delightful G7 family photos. What is his current thinking on granting amnesty to illegal immigrants? Did he have a chance to discuss that with President Biden, because they did it first there in 1986? The Prime Minister told me here on day two of the job that he was minded to go down the regularisation route, but he was thwarted by predecessors. Was that just an unscripted blurt-out flashback to the 2012, pre-PM, pre-red wall version of himself, or is he a man of his word?
We remain committed to a generous and open approach to immigration. This country already does regularise the position of those who have been here for a long time and have not fallen foul of the law. What we will not do is go back to a complete free-for-all and abandon control of our borders to Brussels, which the right hon. and learned Member for Holborn and St Pancras (Keir Starmer) voted for 43 times in the last five years. I dare say that the hon. Member did, too.
I welcome the new climate commitments made by G7 countries to almost halve their carbon emissions by 2030, which will pave the way towards a green and global recovery. Does the Prime Minister agree that it is essential that we build on the historic climate change commitments made at the G7 with even stronger global commitments at the upcoming COP26 conference?
My hon. Friend is completely right. This was a good waymark and we made some good steps forward on the road to COP26. There is still a long way to go, but there is a great deal of enthusiasm from other countries because they can see that it creates high-wage, high-skill jobs as well as solving climate change.
The G7 did agree action on tax-dodging corporations, but it was watered down after the Prime Minister refused to back President Biden’s original proposal for a 21% minimum global corporation tax rate, which would have delivered £15 billion a year to Britain—enough to fund a proper covid catch-up in education and support for covid-excluded businesses that are now facing extended restrictions. Why did the Prime Minister put global corporation shareholders above British children and British businesses?
That is a great one from the Labour party, because they actually opposed the increase in corporation tax at the Budget. They should try to remember what they have been doing over the last few months. It was a great achievement, after a long time, to get the western world—the G7—to agree to find a way of taxing the multinational giants that make profits in one country and then hook them somewhere else. That was a fantastic thing, and we now have a minimum global corporation tax of 15%—I forgot to mention it in my opening remarks—which was another great step forward at the G7 summit.
As we reflect on the many successes of the G7 summit, the Prime Minister will know that the growing importance of soft power is very much recognised by the G7, yet there remains a £10 million shortfall between the Government’s generous package to see the British Council through the pandemic and what it needs to maintain its international network of offices, as defined by country directors in post abroad. If the gap is not bridged, the result will be the largest single set of closures in the British Council’s proud 90-year history. Given that the Prime Minister has told me personally that he gets it and that the £10 million can be given as a loan, and given that our competitors’ cultural institutes are actually expanding their physical footprint, will he now ensure that Government Departments also get it in time for the ministerial statement due shortly?
I am grateful to my hon. Friend and thank him for his continuing campaigning on this issue. We are giving the British Council more support now, because I know it has been very tough for them during the pandemic. On the gap of £10 million that he identifies and the crucial part that he thinks that will play, I will see what further I can do.
The Prime Minister will know that the £100 billion every year for climate change transformation in developing countries is the same £100 billion that was announced 12 years ago, in 2009. He will also know that the £11.6 billion that he has announced today is over five years, and he actually announced it two years ago at the United Nations General Assembly. This is not new money, and nor is the UK’s contribution of £11.6 billion over five years enough to be our part of the £100 billion every year that was promised by the G7. If there is going to be credibility in the developing world to play its part at COP26 later this year, will the Prime Minister now give us some details and make sure that the rest of the G7 give those same details about real spending, not recycling?
The hon. Gentleman should study what all the G7 countries said, because several of them made very big commitments indeed—the Canadians, the EU—to financing the tackling of climate change. He says that £11.6 billion is not enough. I think that the people of this country will think that, in a very tough time, with huge pressure on our resources, to spend £11.6 billion over the next few years to help other countries tackle climate change is a huge commitment. He deprecates. I remember how people reacted in the UN when I announced that commitment. They were ecstatic and they are quite right.
We still have 30 people who would like to ask questions to the Prime Minister, and around 20 minutes in which to do it. That is probably not possible. But the idea of a statement is that people ask questions; it is not a time for making a speech. If people ask short questions, it will be possible for the Prime Minister to give short answers and then all will be well, because we have a lot of business to get through this afternoon.
I congratulate the Prime Minister on a successful weekend in Cornwall and on a very successful summit. Away from the doom and gloom of the Opposition, it is staggering that global Britain was on display this weekend in striking new trade deals. Could he perhaps reassure the House that, when we look at trade deals, they are the floor, not the ceiling of the economic growth that this country will be able to strike now and in the future, as we reach for the comprehensive and progressive agreement for trans-Pacific partnership?
My hon. Friend is completely right, particularly about the CPTPP.
With coronavirus, none of us are safe until everyone is safe. The world needs over 11 billion vaccine doses to end the pandemic, but the G7 vaccine offer falls well short and leaves billions of people without protection. To ramp up vaccine production needs a temporary waiver on intellectual property, so that all countries can access the technology. President Biden supports that, more than 100 other countries support that, but this Prime Minister is one of the people blocking it. So is not the Prime Minister putting the interests of profit-hungry pharmaceutical companies ahead of the lives of millions of people?
For the hon. Gentleman to talk about profit-hungry pharmaceutical companies, in view of the efforts made by AstraZeneca to distribute 500 million vaccines around the world at cost, is utterly disgraceful, and he should withdraw his remarks.
I hugely welcome the Prime Minister’s focus on gender equality at the G7, and I note that the Leader of the Opposition, in his opening statement, did not mention girls or women once. Can the Prime Minister, who set some very ambitious targets on girls’ education and ending violence against women and girls, come back to the House before 2026 to reassure us that progress is being made on that very important topic?
Of course, Mr Speaker; the project will be scarcely off my lips.
I am not sure whether you are more surprised at the Prime Minister consistently giving you a promotion or a sex change, Madam Deputy Speaker, but we will leave it to you to decide that for yourself.
While there are still billions of people across the world unvaccinated, all of us who have been vaccinated remain at risk that a new vaccine-resistant strain could evolve and undo all the work that has been done here and in other wealthy countries. So will the Prime Minister give a simple commitment to the principle that no one can claim to have defeated the coronavirus until the whole of humanity is adequately protected?
Of course, Madam Deputy Speaker.
May I congratulate the Prime Minister on what was achieved at the G7 summit in Cornwall? The west had become a little risk-averse of late, and if the summit achieved anything, it was a recognition that the world is on a worrying trajectory, with new threats, new technology, new power bases posing complex, long-term challenges to our security, our trade, our freedoms and indeed our standards. The rise of China economically, technologically and militarily means that this will be their century, and the need for a new Atlantic charter underlines how frail our global order has become.
Would the Prime Minister agree that the actions that we, the west, choose to take over the next few years in addressing the long international to-do list will determine how the next few decades play out?
Yes indeed. I thank my right hon. Friend. These are crucial times, and it was great to see the summit accomplishing so much, so fast.
Might I just start by noting that the Prime Minister seems a little irritable this afternoon? I know that it is difficult when friendships break down, but I have every faith he will find reconciliation in due course.
The International Monetary Fund concluded that there would be $9 trillion economic boost if the world’s covid vaccines are provided. We have heard multiple times that while the 860 million at the G7 is welcome, that is not enough. Could the Prime Minister explain to the House why we could not go further at the G7? What were the blockages to getting above 860 million vaccines?
We have gone above 860 million vaccines. On top of the 1 billion the G7 is already doing, we pledged a further 1 billion vaccines.
Did the Prime Minister talk to Chancellor Merkel and Prime Minister Suga about the tremendous success of social care reforms in Japan and Germany? Did he talk to Prime Minister Trudeau about the brilliant innovation in care home villages in Canada? Did he talk to President Biden about the amazing things that older people are doing, including the most powerful job in the world? Did he return to Downing Street refreshed and resolute, and say to his neighbour, “No more international conferences until we fix the crisis at home: it is time to back Boris and get social care done”?
I thank my right hon. Friend for his continued support. I did actually talk to Angela Merkel about social care, and I will tell him what she said at another time.
There was widespread disappointment that the G7 did not commit to additional climate finance beyond what has already been agreed. What steps will the Prime Minister take between now and COP26 to ensure that that summit does deal effectively with the challenge of loss and damage in the countries most at risk?
We will continue with our efforts —we are 80% of the way there—and we will blow away the clouds of despondency that seem to hang over some Members here today. I think it was a highly successful summit, and we are going to get there.
In the Prime Minister’s statement, he refers to the G7 combining our strength to defeat covid. Would it not be more accurate to say that we need to make sure we can vaccinate the world to protect people, but then we need to learn to live with what will be an endemic virus? Does he share my concern about the things that are going on in Government at the moment, with the warnings about the restrictions coming back in the autumn and the winter as cases rise, and can he rule out that taking place? That would reassure many colleagues on both sides of the House.
I thank my right hon. Friend. I did see something this morning about some paper or other that means absolutely nothing to me. Our objective is to go forward with the road map and bring back the freedoms we love.
The original Atlantic charter made a commitment to banish from the world “fear and want”—curiously missing from the redraft—but the Prime Minister’s ambition to vaccinate the world by the end of 2022 is the right one. The IMF’s assessment of the deal done on Monday, however, is that two thirds of the grant financing needed to vaccinate the world is still missing—that is $23 billion. The question for the Prime Minister is: where is that money going to come from and when?
I think that the G7 and the west are making huge progress. These vaccines were only invented six months ago, or a little bit longer. We are making incredible progress in distributing them now. The ambition that we reconfirmed in Carbis Bay was to vaccinate the world by the end of next year, and that is a pretty rapid pace.
Can I welcome the plans set out by the G7 leaders to invest in global testing and slash the time needed to develop new vaccines? The Prime Minister mentioned just a moment ago that it is little over six months since scientists in Cheshire at the life science industries and AstraZeneca developed these new vaccines. I am sure he will want to join me in congratulating them on the work they have done not just here in the UK, but around the world. Does my right hon. Friend agree with me that strengthening global co-operation on health and investing in new technologies is the only way to ensure that we never get a repeat of this health crisis?
Of course I congratulate AstraZeneca in Cheshire and everywhere else where it is established in the UK and around the world. It has done an outstanding job. My hon. Friend is absolutely right to stress the importance of international co-operation, and we must never ever again see countries blockading vaccines and the movement of vaccines from one part of the world to another.
A new EU-UK food and plant safety agreement would not only alleviate Northern Ireland friction, but remove non-tariff barriers for Welsh exporters created by the current Brexit deal. As the hon. Member for North Down (Stephen Farry) said, the US President guaranteed at the G7 that such alignment would not jeopardise a UK-US trade deal. The Prime Minister could actually have his slice of cake and eat it, if he sees sense. Can he clarify whether reports of reduced checks in the trade deal with Australia, as he mentioned in his reply to the hon. Member for North Down, would prevent such alignment with the EU?
Plainly, the free trade deals with the CPTPP, Australia and countries around the world that we are doing and will continue to do make a nonsense of the proposal that the hon. Gentleman outlines.
Our hosting of the G7 and the reaffirmation of our indestructible partnership with our cousins across the pond—also seen through NATO—sets the scene for a brighter and far more aspirational future for the whole of the UK. Does the Prime Minister agree and can he explain, perhaps in writing if he does not have time now, what this means for the people of Dudley North and the rest of the country?
The people of Dudley North and the rest of the country will benefit massively from a new age of co-operation between our democracies; from the security that we are establishing, but also from our global commitment to work together to build back greener, so that we generate hundreds of thousands—millions—of high-wage, high-skilled jobs in Dudley, in the west midlands and around the whole of the UK.
The Prime Minister said that no countries have raised concerns about the aid cuts. Well, I can give him a list as long as my arm of organisations and projects that are going to be devastated by these cuts. Does he not understand that as the only G7 country cutting aid, the UK is undermining any claim to be a soft power superpower and, more importantly, putting thousands and thousands of lives at risk?
I congratulate my right hon. Friend on a very successful G7 and on his leadership of the meeting; so much was agreed. Will he confirm that global Britain will continue to champion and promote the provision of girls’ education right across the world?
I thank my right hon. Friend, and I know how much he cares about this; I remember campaigning with him on this myself. We have supported at least 15.6 million children in the last five years or so to get an education—8.1 million of them were girls. We are going to be spending, as I said, more than £400 million getting girls an education over the next five years.
Every day, we are hearing of more and more horrific experiences of violence against women and the wider Uyghur Muslim community, including the disappearance of children in the Xinjiang region of China. The scale of these atrocities has not been met by the Prime Minister’s report of the G7 and, therefore, what discussions did he have about extending economic and trade sanctions, about using his powers under the Magnitsky measures, and about calling for a special meeting at the UN to find a mechanism to hold those responsible for these crimes to account?
We did discuss many times over the last few days what has happened in Xinjiang, the suffering of the Uyghurs and particularly the crimes against women that the hon. Lady describes. The difficulty with the UN Security Council approach, as she will understand, is that China is a member.
Cornwall was proud to host the G7. Will the Prime Minister join me in thanking all those who worked so hard to make it a success, including our police, who came from all over the country, Cornwall Council and public health officials, many businesses and volunteers, and the people of Cornwall, who with good humour welcomed the world, despite the inevitable disruption? I know that he is as keen as I am that the G7 leaves a lasting legacy in Cornwall, and I was pleased to show him our ambitions for Spaceport Cornwall. Will he join me in working on and putting the full weight of Government behind enabling us to achieve the ambition of launching satellites from the UK this time next year?
My hon. Friend has been a fantastic campaigner for the Cornish spaceport. I was amazed to see what they have already done and the way it is inspiring young people in Cornwall, and I look forward to working with him on getting a launch before too long.
When we left the EU, we were told that the economic hit would be made up by free trade agreements with the EU and the United States. As the sausage dispute and the rebuke from President Biden show, however, we are miles away from those agreements at the moment. Will the Prime Minister understand that whichever way he goes on the dispute in Northern Ireland, it will inflame the tensions with those two parties again? Is this not quite some dispute, to alienate our two closest trading partners?
We have a free trade deal with the EU. It is a fantastic deal, and our trade with the US is growing the whole time.
The Prime Minister will have enjoyed formal and less formal dialogue with EU leaders at the G7. May I ask him whether any empathy was expressed for the trade frictions that we are currently experiencing with the Northern Ireland protocol at the behest of a third party? Was there any sense that the EU might acquiesce to unilateral action by this country because of the frankly bonkers situation in which the UK cannot sell sausages to the UK?
My hon. Friend puts the matter very succinctly. There are many ways in which we are seeing the disproportionate and unnecessary application of the protocol. I think our partners understand that, and we are hoping for some pragmatic solutions before too long.
We will manage to get everybody who is on the list in. I thank people for being succinct and the Prime Minister for also being brief. It is wonderful.
The Prime Minister delivered his statement on the Australian trade deal in his usual sunny, optimistic manner. Like all his statements, however, once we look at the detail, it comes with a nasty after-smell, the source of which will be familiar to many British farmers. May I ask him in detail how this deal will affect the livelihoods of farmers in my constituency of North Durham and across County Durham—particularly hill farmers, who not only produce good-quality British food, but are the custodians of some of the most beautiful land in this country?
Farmers in County Durham will have the opportunity to export their wonderful produce tariff-free to a market that is growing the whole time, and that includes the comprehensive and progressive agreement for trans-Pacific partnership. It is a huge opportunity for British produce—beef, dairy, the lot—and I hope that he will champion it.
I welcome the commitment in the G7’s open societies statement to promoting the human rights of women and girls. As co-chair of the all-party group on women, peace and security, may I ask my right hon. Friend to keep in mind that this is vital for the future of Afghanistan, where women and children are under threat at present?
May I wish my hon. Friend a happy birthday? I confirm that we see the education of girls and young women as one of the great achievements of the UK presence in Afghanistan over the last two decades. We do not want that to be jeopardised now, which is why we are working with our friends in the G7 and NATO to make sure that we leave a lasting legacy.
The Prime Minister talks proudly about our commitment to NATO. That, of course, depends on having a strong military in the United Kingdom. Does he regret his decision to break his election promise and cut the armed forces by 10,000?
We are investing another £24 billion in our defence, with the biggest increase in spending since the end of the cold war, and we are one of the few countries in NATO to contribute more than 2% of our GDP to NATO. We are the party that believes in our armed services. It was only recently that the Labour party was campaigning to put into office a man who wanted to abolish the armed forces.
My right hon. Friend was right on Monday when he said:
“The peace and stability brought by Nato has underpinned global prosperity for over 70 years”.
Can he assure me that levelling up our military as part of the new NATO 2030 agenda will encompass the potential of our forces across the whole country, including the excellent Royal Marines at the Chivenor barracks in my North Devon constituency—where I believe his grandfather was stationed for a time—so that NATO will continue to be the bedrock of global defence for future generations?
My grandfather was indeed stationed at Chivenor. I thank the Royal Marines at Chivenor, who did such an outstanding job of looking after us all during the G7 summit. They will transform into the future commando force that will contribute to a more agile and active NATO alliance.
At the G7, the Prime Minister and other leaders reasserted their intention to honour the 2009 promise of $100 billion in climate finance annually to support developing nations, but sufficient concrete financial commitments to make up the shortfall did not materialise. Does he agree that the commitment must be met by the UN General Assembly in September at the very latest, if we are not to risk failure at COP26 in November?
UNGA is, indeed, a very important way station, but this was a great start.
Given our shared belief that without the US and NATO there can be no security for the UK and Europe, does my right hon. Friend recall the strain on Anglo-American relations caused by Huawei’s infiltration of our critical national infrastructure? Will he therefore ensure that companies with dodgy and dubious links to the Chinese and Russian regimes will be firmly and fully shut out from building or operating our vital data and power pipelines in future?
My right hon. Friend knows a great deal about what he speaks of. That is why we have passed the recent legislation to ensure that we protect this country from the loss of intellectual property and the sale of crucial national security businesses to unreliable partners overseas.
Virtually no rationale or assessment has been put forward for the UK Government cuts to international aid that have been confirmed so far. The lack of responsibility taken for the damage that they will do is astounding, especially as the 0.7% commitment was in the Tory manifesto. How does the Prime Minister think that that squares with global Britain? How does he justify these shameful cuts to his G7 counterparts?
I repeat that countries around the world are in awe of this country’s continued contributions. They know that we are spending £10 billion during a very difficult time; they also know, because they have long memories, that we are spending more now than the Labour party ever did under Gordon Brown or Tony Blair.
The G7 set out plans to lift women out of poverty and build back a more equal world by putting 40 million more girls into school in the next five years—another example of global Britain as a force for good. Does my right hon. Friend agree that investing in women, particularly girls’ education, is one of the most efficient ways to create economic growth in developing countries? Can he confirm that the UK will continue to lead the way on girls’ education moving forward?
My hon. Friend is completely right. I think that investing in girls’ education—12 years of quality education for every girl—is probably the single best, most efficient policy that we can support around the world. That is why we are putting another £430 million into the Global Partnership for Education, with more to come in July.
Earlier this month, three civilians were tragically killed in a Turkish drone attack on a refugee camp in northern Iraq—all part of a sustained military action from the Turkish state against the Kurds that has been ongoing since April. We have also learned this month that the Turkish chief prosecutor has sought to expand the indictments seeking to shut down the country’s leading pro- Kurdish political party. This is a disgraceful attack on a minority community. Will the Prime Minister condemn the actions of the Turkish Government and call on our NATO partner to stop these attacks on Kurdish communities?
The situation in north-western Iraq is extremely complex. We must accept that the Kurdish fighters have done an extraordinary job against Isis and against the forces of Bashar al-Assad, but there is clearly a long-standing difficulty in their relations with Turkish forces, who themselves are bearing the brunt of a huge crisis of refugee flows. I will none the less study the incident that the hon. Gentleman describes.
I absolutely applaud the Prime Minister’s determination to provide 12 years of quality education for girls. It is something that he has done for many years, but with the FCDO budget being slashed—by 60% to UNICEF, and 80% to family planning, which stops a lot of girls going to school—how does he think that that will be achieved?
We are increasing our funding for girls’ education to £430 million, which is about a 15% increase and an outstanding thing for this country to do in very, very difficult times. By the way, may I congratulate my hon. Friend because I think that her proposal for banning under-age weddings, which she brought to me, is now being carried forward. I thank and congratulate her on her work in that matter.
I thank the Prime Minister for his statement today. Will he outline the steps taken to inform the members of the G7 summit of the constitutional position of Northern Ireland, which seems to have gotten confused? I refer in particular to American President Biden and French President Macron. Will follow-up instructions and information be sent to help them grasp the fact that Northern Ireland was, is—in this centenary year—and will continue to be an integral part of the United Kingdom?
Yes, I think it is important that everybody understands that, although the media accounts of what took place differ very much from what actually happened at the summit where this was not really much of a topic of discussion. None the less, I think people do understand that Northern Ireland is an integral part of the United Kingdom for economic and all other purposes.
I applaud the Prime Minister for the time that he has spent at the Dispatch Box this afternoon in which he has spoken of the importance of increasing vaccine coverage around the world. I very much welcome the 100 million doses of covid vaccine that he has committed to countries with less-developed healthcare systems than our own. Supporting the poorest in this way does needs finance from both us and our partners, so may I ask him once again to look at our budget for this most valuable of causes?
My hon. Friend is absolutely right that overseas spending should be one of the great focuses of UK spending in the next few years. I repeat what I said earlier about the 70 million doses next year. That will not come out of the existing ODA budget, but clearly funding vaccine technology around the world is one of those things in which this country excels and we will be doing a lot more of it.
I thank the Prime Minister and everybody who took part in this session for doing so with alacrity. I shall now suspend the House for three minutes, so that arrangements can be made for the next item of business.