rose to call attention to the Government’s White Paper, Making Governance Work for the Poor, Cm 6876; and to move for Papers.
The noble Baroness said: My Lords, when the great Swedish Prime Minister, Olof Palme, was accused of wanting to abolish the rich, he replied:
“On the contrary, we want to abolish the poor, to abolish poverty”.
That is still the task in international development, and the White Paper Eliminating World Poverty: Making Governance Work for the Poor puts forward the UK commitments for the next five years, in fulfilment of the promises made at Gleneagles. There is a distinguished array of speakers on all sides for this debate, so I shall simply outline the scope of the White Paper and explain why I think it is so important.
The White Paper’s strapline is “Making governance work for the poor”, and it is this focus on the institutional and state basis of a thriving society—on what states and societies must do for themselves—that breaks new ground. Thus, the first substantive sections describe how good governance reduces poverty and how we can co-operate in fostering it. My right honourable friend Hilary Benn is setting up a new £100 million governance and transparency fund to support the institutions of effective democracy, civil society, free media and independent judiciary, and parliamentarians and trade unions in improving the accountability of Governments. He has already enabled Governments like the Tanzanians’ to improve their public finances and investment climate, such that the economy is now growing by 6 per cent a year. I saw for myself in August new enterprises there manufacturing medical drugs—not importing but manufacturing them—and, almost as important, getting them locally accredited and guaranteed with help and support from DfID-funded Crown Agents. The importance of reliable standards in medicines is something that we take for granted. Our governance achieves it.
I applaud particularly the anti-corruption focus. Daniel Kaufmann, the head of governance and anti-corruption at the World Bank, characterises corruption as, mostly, an outcome of governance failure, reminding us of countries which have achieved macro-economic stability but where, because of poor governance, all the benefits are absent from the welfare indicators. I saw in Angola a state with such macro-economic stability, indeed with $14 billion in oil revenues last year, but with chronic malnutrition in 45 per cent—nearly half—of its children, with all that that says about lowered resistance to disease, early death, and less capacity to benefit from education and to work productively. What clearer picture could there be of a state whose governance is failing its citizens?
There is another DfID innovation in the White Paper—support for alternative dispute resolution in obtaining land tenure, particularly for women, in this case in Tajikistan. Access to justice for day-to-day grievances is a crucial part of governance, perhaps nowhere more acutely than in the inadequate systems of land entitlement which pervade the developing world. I hope that DfID will follow this up with more support for justice systems within its country plans.
This new focus on governance also includes the thought, termed an “evolutionary spurt” by the Overseas Development Institute—I declare an interest as a trustee—that bad governance can be caused or exacerbated by the ways in which poor countries interact with global economic or political forces, powerful richer countries and large transnational private enterprises. This wider responsibility for internal poor governance is nowhere more apparent than in security. The next section of the White Paper underlines the essential setting for stable government, and for all development: first and foremost, peace and security—the breathing space that is made by the reduction of conflict for financial security and economic growth—with telling examples of the positive results in education, health and sanitation. I am sure that the whole House supports the Government’s commitment to conflict reduction and to a comprehensive arms trade treaty. It would also be much better for development if there were a ban on cluster bombs. We should not let these arms control measures slide down the agenda.
The White Paper then goes beyond the state to tackle the baleful influence of climate change on poor people and communities. I saw a few months ago what is happening to the Masai cattle herders of western Kenya. Droughts used to come at roughly 10-year intervals and the herders used their savings for the dry years. But over the last 20 years the intervals between drought have dropped to two or three years, and they cannot save enough fodder for their cattle and maize to feed themselves. They do what they can—they cultivate upstream and cut down trees. But this destroys the catchments, so eventually they cannot even water the cattle. The cattle die. Even these resilient and hard-working people face starvation. They have to accept emergency feeding. But old people and those children too big to be carried but too small to walk far cannot get to the emergency feeding posts. Some of those die. You see few old people in Masai villages. The most striking sign of climate change was those absences, and the skeletal thinness of those who remained. Even the invigorating participation of the NGO Practical Action, which is helping these communities to diversify their economies, did not take away that powerful impression.
That starvation and those deaths were caused by the reckless conduct of rich nations. What is more, no one nation can deal with this perverse destruction of natural ecosystems within which the Masai villagers and millions of others all over the developing world make their living. It absolutely requires international action. So, again, the White Paper is right to commit the UK to support all the international effort that we can muster.
The last substantive section proposes a good shake to the whole of the international systems we have devised, to better engineer them towards the objectives set out earlier. I hope that the necessary reforms of the UN system, the World Bank and the IMF will move them all closer to a rights-based approach, without which the conflicts of interest cannot equitably be balanced.
The final section, “What can you do?”, is also novel. It draws the reader, the school student, the volunteer and the citizen into their—and our—relationship with other people. It began with a huge consultation process with over 600 admissions. One of the most attractive and important things about international development is this quality of drawing people in—particularly, but not only, young people. It engages them in politics and shows that politics work. The tens of thousands of people who joined the Make Poverty History march did have effects, although nobody would say that those were enough. Gleneagles did activate change—debt relief, for instance, which made healthcare free in Zambia and got 3.5 million more children and 50,000 more teachers into schools in Nigeria.
There is no doubt that ending acute poverty is within our reach. The world is eight times richer than it was 50 years ago. But we ignore the different forms that the challenges take now at our peril. They are related and the White Paper is right to be cross-cutting. The Government have looked beyond project aid to governance aid through budget support. They have looked beyond subsistence to trade, a task stupidly sabotaged by Doha wrangling.
But we have not mobilised universal concern sufficiently about climate change. We have not paid enough attention to the seeds of ethnic conflicts and the persecution of minorities, or paid it early enough. We have not capitalised enough on the social and economic importance of valuing women and the simple justice of reducing violence against them. We have not grasped the necessity of a rights-based approach to all these problems.
If we can do all this better, there is a second chance for Africa, which is losing out, in the resurgence of Asian markets. The great commitment of this Government to reach the UN target of 0.7 per cent of gross national income for aid, and the modern approach of the White Paper, also evinced by the Government’s support for the International Development (Reporting and Transparency) Act, show that we mean business in tackling the challenges. But we shall also need to join the powerful Asian actors, who are already doing so much for African infrastructure development, in fostering justice and rights if we are all to make the most of the opportunities ahead. I beg to move for Papers.
My Lords, I am grateful to the noble Baroness, Lady Whitaker, for introducing this debate on the White Paper. I feel a little like the English cricketer Pietersen, who, I think, is of African origin. I am not used to batting so high up the team. I shall do my best to complete my speech within the seven minutes allotted.
At a time when the people of sub-Saharan Africa are on average becoming poorer, the White Paper makes me focus on Africa. How does the White Paper measure up as it follows the African Commission? Indeed, to whom is it addressed? To Parliament and the British people. Others may read it, but we are its audience as the authors analyse the situation of people with incomes less than a 10th of our own, many with much less.
This huge disparity creates gaps in perception, of which the White Paper has its share. Young people from VSO go to rural Africa, as do the churches, NGOs, disaster relief agencies and dedicated developers. This small cadre report their findings as they do their best to alleviate poverty, bringing with aid small, welcome but unsustainable increases to gross national products. Those additions need to be repeated year in year out because, as with all revenue funding, there is no return on the money. Yes, there are social and humanitarian benefits but there is no sustainability. The growth in population outstrips increases in incomes, and the number of Africans in poverty climbs, as the graph in the White Paper confirms.
Regrettably, the White Paper falls far short of putting forward a proportionate response, yet it states on page 57:
“The lesson from the last 50 years is that economic growth is the most powerful way of pulling people out of poverty”.
That is interesting, although why DfID thinks that the world started 50 years ago escapes me. However, it states on page 58:
“It is the private sector—from farmers and street traders to foreign investors—that creates growth”.
There is some grammatical error there. I have edited those two sentences into one, by changing the top-down “pulling people out” idea and by widening the approach to business, so that it reads, “Since the onset of the Industrial Revolution, peoples have found their way out of poverty by seizing the market opportunities created by advancing technology”. It follows that there is no difference in principle between the 21st century African campaign and the successful 19th and 20th century British campaigns to develop.
Unfortunately, the White Paper’s tentative lead towards growth through the private sector is followed by the inevitable “but”, and then by a series of lectures on what Governments need to do in countries where there is little or no money for public expenditure. That is a gap in perception that the Chinese will bridge in their own way as they come to Africa as foreign investors to find raw materials; fancy writing a White Paper with no reference to the potential impact of China on Africa.
There are three examples of African development. One is Botswana. Time precludes an analysis of diamonds, tourism and food aid when it does not rain. Botswana is a fine country, but it is statistically unimportant, with two million out of Africa’s 500 million people and a unique economy. It is not a good example from which to generalise. The second example is CDC, of which, when in different times it was a public corporation and proud to be so, I was chief executive. In a small box, DfID mentions CDC and mobile telephones in Africa. CDC’s first investment in a mobile telephone network was in Ghana some 14 years ago. Celltel, which followed, came later. Fourteen years is quite a long time to wait for a pat on the back for spotting such an obvious opportunity. This Government’s policy towards CDC remains opaque. Is CDC part of our bilateral aid effort, or is it a quasi-private sector player? Indeed, when was CDC last in receipt of aid programme finance?
The third example is a shorter DfID lecture on west African energy strategy, which is probably directed at corruption as much as anything else. Yet Nigeria and Cameroon grow oil palms and sugar cane. Oil palm is a leading biodiesel vegetable oil, and it is being imported into the United Kingdom as such. Everyone knows about ethanol from sugar cane, which is grown in most of Africa south of the Equator. The White Paper does not mention the potential for these alternative fuels; instead we have photographs, one of wind turbines and the other of solar panels. I wonder where they are.
We face an evident lack of empathy with the private sector and its vital contribution to market-driven growth. Nowhere is there less consensus between our public and private sectors than in the pursuit of African development. Development economists do not write their papers on private-sector development; they prefer aid, with its top-down structures. They also prefer accountability for public money to the risky world of business and, worse still, to African entrepreneurs. Having told us of the importance of economic growth driven by the private sector, they explain that unfortunately it will not happen. Corruption will prevent it; medical problems will make it too difficult; shaky legal systems with unpredictable results will deter investors. We need to look back to 1750 and judge how these issues look here.
To be a successful developer in Africa, you need both bilateral agreements and the leverage to see that they are maintained. You also need to build a school and a clinic. The Chinese will understand that; DfID probably does, too, but cannot cope with the logic. We need a change in direction: DfID should contract out all the increases in the aid programme to players who understand the private sector. My time is up, so that change of direction will have to be discussed on another occasion.
My Lords, we on these Benches welcome the White Paper, as we have welcomed the role of DfID under the new Labour Government. It is one of new Labour’s great successes. We have welcomed the work of DfID under its successive Secretaries of State, the breadth of its approach to development and the way in which—particularly from my perspective, given my professional background—it has integrated aid and development policy with broader issues of security, conflict prevention, conflict resolution, nation building, and defence and development.
There is, rightly, a box in this paper on Sierra Leone, in relation to which the British Government did help, crucially, to pull Sierra Leone back from a total breakdown of order into what is beginning again to be the rebuilding of a viable state, society and economy. Sadly, that is in sharp contrast to continuing American policy in Africa, where we see again in Somalia military intervention to bring down the first Government for 15 years who have maintained some sort of order, without any apparent concern about how one rebuilds order and confidence among the people.
We also welcome the emphasis in the paper on the importance of education and the role of women. I would have liked to see a more explicit reference to the importance of containing population growth—one of Africa’s major problems. Of course, education and the role of women are crucial to that but the continuation of rapid population growth and many other issues hold back those countries in south Asia and Africa. We welcome the emphasis on the central role of European co-operation and of the European approach. The European consensus on development agreed in 2005 clearly represents the right way forward. At least that is an area in which I am glad that new Labour is willing to be explicitly European; where European leadership in aiming to strengthen global Governments, UN reform and policy on climate change is important in achieving our goals in global co-operation.
I had some problems. First, I have to admit that I find that new Labour’s rhetoric and style, which is most evident in the opening chapter, stick a little in my gullet. I would have loved to edit it to about 50 per cent of its length—it would have lost none of its meaning; there was rhetoric about targets, delivery, over-simplification of problems and claims of novelty. I remember the noble Baroness, Lady Chalker, talking about the importance of good governance in Africa. I have read many UN human development reports— most of them contained rather deeper analysis and were more soberly written than this White Paper—talking about the importance of global good governance. I worry a bit about the build-up of expectations here—a 2015 deadline to eliminate world poverty. That threatens another of the cycles of building up hopes followed by disappointment, of putting in aid and discovering that much of it disappears through corruption, so taking us round this sad cycle again.
Development is a long-term generational process of social and economic transformation. The noble Viscount, Lord Eccles, talked about England in 1750. It took Britain 150 years to go through this painful process of modernisation from the deeply corrupt government, society and economy that we had in the 18th century to the on-the-whole non-corrupt system that we have today. There are echoes here of the American Administration’s proclamation that they are going to bring democracy to the Middle East, as if these things can be done within five or 10 years. They cannot; it takes us a very long time.
I question also the overemphasis on idealism in the report. We have to sell this to our publics and the publics abroad as enlightened self-interest. It matters to Britain that Africa and south Asia should be stable. When Governments and societies collapse, their desperate, poor and intellectuals arrive here. The Somalis in Britain are a very good example of that. It is thus in our interest to help them stabilise their economies and have Governments that make it possible for them to live and develop there. The same is true about health and a range of other issues, including corruption, which overlap on to our shores.
I know that other noble Lords will talk about corruption. There is a very coy reference on page 28 which says that,
“the UK will help Governments to investigate and deal with alleged corruption through the courts—especially where money has flowed through UK jurisdictions”.
Offshore financial centres and the City of London have allowed a great deal of corrupt money from Nigeria and elsewhere to flow through UK jurisdiction. I read some months ago that the current Nigerian Government consider that Switzerland has been more co-operative than the United Kingdom in chasing the Abacha money. I hope that DfID is actively engaged in persuading other departments of Her Majesty’s Government to pay more attention to that.
I welcome the reference to a global arms trade treaty but we also have to recognise again the conflict within Her Majesty’s Government between selling arms to unstable parts of the world and asking for constraint on arms trade. Socio-economic development in the Middle East is very poor. Selling large quantities of British arms to unstable Middle East countries does not help to stabilise or to promote long-term development in that region.
Lastly, I worry about the overload on the United Nations. The responsibility to protect is a splendid principle but UN peacekeeping is now almost at breaking point. There is reference here to the African Union as a partner. The African Union is now, for a weak organisation, immensely overloaded. There are limits to what we can do and we should not pretend that we can do more than we can. Nevertheless, we give an overall welcome both to this report and to the development strategy of Her Majesty’s Government—their commitment to global development strategy and to a multilateral approach.
My Lords, as chair of Christian Aid—I declare that interest in this debate—I am enormously grateful to the noble Baroness for giving us this opportunity today and to the Government for the White Paper.
Every time I am confronted by these issues, I cannot get the words of Jesus out of my mind.
“The poor you will always have with you”.
Those words are not some fatalistic doctrine suggesting that there is nothing we can do; they are words that encourage generosity, but they also encourage us to face reality. Poverty is persistent, deeply embedded in human experience and profoundly resistant to all our endeavours to shift it. It is an evil, inhuman experience demanding that every generation faces it, fights it and seeks to overcome it. None of the weapons that we set up to tackle it is on its own adequate to the task. The debate and the issues it raises require us to be honest. I was particularly grateful to read page 17 of the Government’s White Paper where the orange and red represent what we are not going to achieve. The whole column on sub-Saharan Africa is coloured orange and red—predominantly red. That makes for very depressing reading, but I am hugely grateful for the honesty on those matters.
Aid is important and it is vital to achieve the 0.7 per cent target. However, it will not shift the issue on its own. We talk about development and building the capacity of the people to fight the evil. That is right and important, but it is not enough if it is not accompanied by a profound change in the culture and the structures of power in the world. We think of the large issues that face us: the quality of governance and the building of corporate capacity were mentioned by the noble Viscount, Lord Eccles, in connection with the private sector. That is all very good, but poverty and the history of injustice undermine the capacity of developing societies to meet the obligations of freedom and justice. Poverty feeds corruption and corruption feeds poverty. That cycle is rooted in injustice.
We are also faced with the wider international realities. I was particularly struck by the comments of the noble Baroness, Lady Whitaker, on Kenya. My much publicised visit last summer found similar incidents in the Samburu area. On the drought, local people in the mountain regions told me that there they no longer experience the cool mists of spring. Global warming is an increasingly big issue and raises for us big questions about our common responsibility.
We need all those tools—aid, development, structural change and a commitment to tackle the issues within our responsibility—but, above all, we need to be persistent and consistent. I do not know how many Members of the House have made new year’s resolutions and have now abandoned them, but the poor in our world do not need new sets of resolutions; they need those we have taken on to be fulfilled.
We are told that Africa is a high priority in the Government’s work. They are driving that forward by raising not only the level but the quality of aid; working with the grain of other people’s cultures and the frame of their chosen priorities; building their capacity; and accepting our obligations to work for change and improvement in the international systems of trade and our global duty to the planet. Poverty is a powerful and persistent evil and it requires graft and sheer hard work by everyone working together to begin to shift it from the seat of power.
Secondly, we must have a passion for justice and a commitment to bring hope and hold on to it in people’s lives. I well remember visiting a project with street children in rural Kenya. The local church provided food and sustenance day by day for the predominantly teenage boys living on the street. Out of their own resources, local people are tackling the problems, but they need partnership and help. When asked what they wanted, the reply was clean water in showers, good schooling, people reconnected with their homes and families where possible, and the development of skills. Every step forward brings hope.
I have said previously in this House to Her Majesty's Government and I will say again that we must work with the grain of civil society if we are to succeed in this matter. On the basis of the White Paper, I suspect that we need a fresh discussion with the Government on the partnership between civil society agencies, including the faith communities, on how we unlock the vibrancy of those communities with which we are seeking to work. If I can in any way help with that, as chair of Christian Aid, I would be delighted to do so.
Thirdly, we need to tackle our own lifestyle. Every household needs to ask: where our is food coming from, who is profiting, what is our consumption doing to the world in which we live and are we creating a sense of interdependence?
Poverty will not be tackled primarily by money, programmes of action or even grand schemes and commissions, however important these are; it will be tackled by the profound moral energy and spiritual vision of people here and across the world, joined together in a common task.
If you ask why this topic is rising in importance in our community today, the answer is because of the stirring in the hearts and minds of growing numbers of people—the woman priest in Kenya running the street project, the young man who confronted me in Chelmsford High Street before Christmas requiring me to sign an Oxfam motion about poverty, and, as the noble Baroness, Lady Whitaker, said, the tens of thousands of people on the streets at the G8 summit. It is the people who will shift these matters. We here in Parliament and in government must respond to that growing public energy and concern about these matters in the world. The White Paper opens up opportunity for us, and the noble Baroness, Lady Whitaker, has given us the chance today to put our energies into the debate.
My Lords, once again my noble friend Lady Whitaker has placed the House in her debt by initiating a timely debate on a subject which so often is crowded out by other and sometimes less important business. DfID, too, has earned our gratitude for a thoughtful White Paper which sets out not only the action plan but the context in which it requires to be taken. The right reverend Prelate understandably concentrated his contribution on the social and economic needs, and he did so very movingly. I hope he will forgive me if I confine my contribution to Chapter 4, which speaks of the need for peace and security, and Chapter 8, which calls for revision of the system of global governance.
The world has developed a wide network of intergovernmental institutions such as the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund, which are rarely the subject of television bulletins or, I confess, of conversations in my local. But they exercise enormous power over everyday life in all countries. As Chapter 8 points out, many of them were established in the years following World War II, for a totally different world.
The One World Trust—of which I should declare I am privileged to be president—has been conducting a project to assess the accountability and transparency of a wide range of global institutions in which, for the most part, they very willingly contributed. The trust has received generous encouragement from my right honourable friend the Secretary of State for International Development, who gave the keynote speech at the launch of the first report on 4 December, and even suggested that DfID itself might be subjected to a similar assessment. I do not believe that it would need to fear that experience.
The White Paper points out that if world poverty is to be eliminated, there needs to be agreement on some structural reforms. It speaks of fragmentation and duplication among United Nations agencies, a matter referred to by my noble friend Lady Whitaker. I recently read that 12 United Nations bodies are concerned with oceans and coasts, eight with food and agriculture, seven with forests and six with fresh water. The new Secretary-General has indicated that he proposes to devote some of his time to restructuring that organisation. I hope, and I believe, that he will receive support from the United Kingdom Government.
It is easy to list the situations where the United Nations might be open to criticism—although the criticism, of course, is of the member states which take the decisions, often pursuing their own agenda. The list could be matched by an impressive list of achievements, of selfless and sometimes heroic service in the field. Often, statistics do not tell the whole story. The achievements may be reflected in what does not happen: the populations which do not suffer starvation; the refugees who do not die; the conflicts which do not break out. But the White Paper is right to draw attention to what needs to be done. It calls for a unified United Nations presence in any one country based on a single programme with one leader, one office and one budget.
Perhaps most importantly, while recognising what has been done in conflict prevention, there are tragic examples where the United Nations and national Governments have been spectators when the need was for intervention. Darfur threatens to provide another tragic example. Chapter 4 of the White Paper has a subheading,
“Insecurity and conflict keep people poor”.
If the object is to improve the quality of life for all the world's peoples, that needs to be built on peace and the rule of law—a point made by the noble Lord, Lord Wallace of Saltaire. Certainly conflict keeps people poor. It absorbs a high proportion of the resources that need to be used for eliminating poverty. The cost of relief and reconstruction following the war in Rwanda was estimated at $2 billion.
There is a further dimension. Resources needed for food and development are diverted into the purchase of armaments. It has been calculated that countries in receipt of development aid spend about £75 billion annually on military expenditure. Indonesia is in debt to the United Kingdom to the extent of $1.408 billion, more than half of which represents defence contracts, some of them for Hawk jets which have been used to destroy Papuan villages. So emerges a vicious cycle. Poverty leads to resentment and conflict; conflict leads to further poverty. In paragraph 4.9, the White Paper points out that investment in the prevention of conflicts is far more cost-effective than a post-conflict rebuilding programme. That means, for example, investment in a system for gathering and co-ordinating early intelligence and a swift reaction capacity.
It is good to read in paragraph 4.8 that the United Kingdom supports projects to assist developing states to take weapons such as small arms out of circulation, to reform and professionalise armed forces and to improve legal systems. Perhaps when she replies my noble friend can tell us a little more about that.
Perhaps the most urgent peacekeeping reform would be to expedite the reaction of the international community to a humanitarian crisis. The reaction to 9/11 was very swift, but for Rwanda, which suffered the equivalent of 10 9/11s every day for 100 days, the will to action was, sadly, less in evidence.
The expression “joined-up government” is rarely heard these days, but DfID has sought to create seamless policies across departmental divides. As we all share one aim—to create a better world—that sounds like common sense.
My Lords, I, too, thank the noble Baroness, Lady Whitaker, for making this debate possible. Normally, I would want to do as the noble and learned Lord, Lord Archer of Sandwell, did and focus on Chapter 4, “Promoting peace and security”. I have worked with DfID on Global Conflict Prevention Pool strategy in the past and pay tribute to the work that is done. The chapter is very good.
However, the debate has turned out to be perhaps more timely for considering Chapter 3, the chapter on corruption. I declare an interest as an adviser to Transparency International UK on prevention of corruption in the official arms trade. Chapter 3 of the report, “Supporting good governance internationally”, makes superb reading, and I congratulate DfID on the very clear undertakings that the United Kingdom makes on those pages. In paragraph 3.3 we are going to,
“Encourage responsible behaviour by companies. Tackle corruption by closing … loopholes that allow people to get away with illicit gains”,
“Promote better governance by helping build accountability within states”.
Paragraph 3.5 talks about the OECD’s Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises and notes the difficulty that some countries, including the UK, have had responding to allegations of bad conduct. It declares that,
“we are committed to following up specific cases more effectively in the future.”
Yet, as your Lordships will be aware, on the Thursday evening before the Recess, the noble and learned Lord the Attorney-General came to this House to announce the discontinuance of the investigation by the Serious Fraud Office into BAE Systems over payments relating to the Al Yamamah programme. The words that were used by the Attorney-General seemed to undermine the excellent anti-corruption proposals that are in this DfID report. He said that,
“it has been necessary to balance the need to maintain the rule of law against the wider public interest”.—[Official Report, 14/12/06; col. 1715.]
That is the argument that will doubtless be welcomed by corrupt leaders around the world. In the light of this decision, it is difficult to read the declarations on page 39 of the report without a great degree of cynicism. I was particularly struck by the assertion that the UK will:
“Make UK business aware of the risks of bribery overseas”.
The reports that appeared, predominantly in the Financial Times, about concerns in the City of London over the effects of the Attorney-General’s statement seem to indicate that business is rather more aware of the risks than perhaps Her Majesty’s Government are. The Financial Times of 23 December reported that the chief executive of Hermes, which manages the BT pension fund, had written to the Prime Minister warning that the decision threatened the UK’s reputation as a leading financial centre. There were criticisms from other fund managers such as F&C Asset Management, and even from Morley Fund Management, which is actually a significant BAE Systems shareholder. It appears that business needs no warnings from the Government; the boot is on the other foot.
I ask the Minister to explain when she winds up the debate whether DfID now has a strategy to restore the credibility of the UK in this key area. The wrong message is already being taken up abroad. In Ghana, the Accra Mail of 18 December—in an article entitled “BAE Systems: Whose corruption?”—was quick to point out the double standards. The correspondent concluded by saying to Mr Blair:
“Thank you for showing us the way to good governance”.
Yet this DfID report, as I said, is admirable. Corruption is insidious and undermines good governance, and can destabilise countries. It cannot be in our national interest, or that of any democracy, to rebalance the rule of law. It is not in the long-term commercial interest of the City or of the aerospace and defence industry. If allegations are made and not investigated, the reputation of any company, be it BAE Systems or other UK aerospace companies, is diminished. In a world that is moving towards higher standards, which is what we are after, business will not come to companies with tarnished reputations. I note that investment companies are now concerned about the ethical dimension of their portfolio and take note when they are investing of the reputation of companies in this respect.
In respect of our debate today, the real question is how we can take forward the report’s very positive proposals in a world that will now be so much more sceptical about our good faith. The report says that the UK will set up a dedicated overseas corruption unit by the end of 2006, staffed by City of London and Metropolitan police with support from DfID and others, to investigate allegations of bribery and money laundering. This was first announced in the middle of last year, in June 2006. I hope the Minister can tell us how that is progressing. With such a unit, who will decide whether investigations should continue if someone else in government judges that the national interest is affected?
Another recommendation expresses an expectation that UK businesses will report attempted bribery overseas to UK embassies so that they can be investigated by partner governments. Does that include Saudi Arabia, or is it exempt? Is there a list of countries where such procedures do not apply? How many such reports have been made over the past five years? The report seeks to help others meet OECD bribery convention standards at a time when the UK itself is being questioned by the OECD. Paragraph 3.12 says that the UK is committed to tackling corruption, bribery and money laundering. That includes making sure that we rigorously enforce relevant UK laws so that people who pay bribes are prosecuted. I am afraid that the world will now find that difficult to believe. I hope that we will hear how this damage to our international reputation is to be repaired.
My Lords, it is good to have the opportunity to debate today the Government’s recent White Paper, Making Governance Work for the Poor. I applaud the noble Baroness, Lady Whitaker, who worked so tirelessly and effectively on development issues and on human rights, for providing an occasion for this debate and for introducing it so eloquently. It is all too easy to allow dramatic and tragic events in the Middle East to distract our attention from events elsewhere in the world, in sub-Saharan Africa in particular, which may not be so dramatic but which are certainly no less tragic, and which are ones over which our own contributions by way of resources and policy input may well have a greater capacity to change things for the better than they do in the Middle East.
I will begin by giving credit where credit is due. This White Paper represents a serious and laudable attempt to look at the problems of the developing world and of eliminating world poverty in the round. It does not simply focus on one aspect, such as increasing official development aid, writing off debt, providing clean water or educational programmes. It seems to have learnt the lesson that these issues cannot be dealt with in separate boxes, with one government department or international organisation addressing issues of economic development, while another deals—in the past, not always consistently or coherently—with issues of security and the responsibility to protect. I quote from the White Paper:
“Security is a precondition for development”.
It is surely right to say that. There are great swathes of Africa where no serious development efforts can be undertaken because of the lack of security. In future, that lesson needs not only to repeated, but to be applied effectively, which is still far from being the case if we look at Darfur or Somalia.
Having said that, I have a word, too, of criticism. This White Paper gets full marks for aspiration, but often those aspirations are just a long wish-list of desirable objectives, with no attempt made to prioritise between them, to recognise that there are bound to be trade-offs between them, or that sometimes, indeed, there may be conflicts between them and choices that have to be made. Suggesting to developing countries that they can have everything on their wish list may turn into a cruel deception. I would also criticise some weasel words here and there. One that struck me most was the following:
“The UK will contribute directly to UN-mandated missions by providing UK troops and assets, subject to other commitments”.
You would not, at first sight, guess that those last four words simply took away everything that preceded them, or that the UK is one of the smallest troop contributors to UN peacekeeping operations.
The White Paper has this to say about fighting corruption:
“The need for greater co-operation in combating corruption”,
“the UK will work internationally to tackle bribery, corruption and money-laundering”.
I imagine that the authors might well wish to pass over these remarks in embarrassed silence after the decision to discontinue the Serious Fraud Office’s inquiry into British Aerospace’s contracts in Saudi Arabia. I do not intend to stray into the rights and wrongs of that particular decision, which may, in any case, be sub judice. How on earth can any British Minister or official lecture third world Governments about corruption if we are not prepared to apply these lessons to ourselves? What will they say to their third world interlocutor when they plead national security interests as a reason for not rooting out corruption? Perhaps the Leader of the House could tell us how the Government intend to limit the wider damage from that decision.
The White Paper has a good deal of welcome things to say about UN reform. No one doubts that the UN reform summit of September 2005 fell a good way short of a resounding success, but even for those things it did decide—the UN Peacebuilding Commission, the Human Rights Council and Responsibility to Protect—which have subsequently begun to be implemented, my understanding is that the situation on these is far from encouraging. The Peacebuilding Commission seems to have got off to a somewhat faltering start and has yet to show any serious concrete results from its first meetings. The Human Rights Council has so far disappointed those who saw its creation and its replacement of the discredited Human Rights Commission as a major step forward. The recent decision to send a team of inquiry to Darfur was welcome, but one swallow does not make a summer. Moreover, the earlier sessions of the council seem to have been excessively directed to the scoring of political points. The whole revolutionary concept of Responsibility to Protect seems to be at risk of being ground to dust by inertia over Darfur. If these three landmark reforms are left to the tender mercies of the spoilers in New York and Geneva, there will be little enough left of the reform campaign of 2003-06. It would be a help if the noble Baroness could give us the Government’s take on these issues and say what they are doing to push things forward.
Then there were the proposals of the Secretary-General that were not decided in 2005 because of disagreements between the member states. There were plenty of them. The truncation of the Peacebuilding Commission so that it could not deal with conflict prevention was one. The proposal that where a regional peace operation such as that being undertaken by the African Union in Darfur was mandated in agreement with or at the behest of the Security Council, it should be financed on UN-assessed contributions, surely would be a major boon in the circumstances of Darfur. I would like to hear how the whole reform package in the UN is going to be taken forward.
On climate change, about which the White Paper has a good deal to say, and rightly so, what are the next steps in the post-Kyoto timetable, which needs to be in place long before the protocol itself expires in 2012? How do we see the German G8 presidency driving this subject forward? How are we going to ensure that the EU, also under German presidency for the first half of 2007, continues to give a lead in international negotiations? In the context of today’s debate, how do we propose to transfer technology to developing countries so that as they continue to grow economically, as they must, they require fewer energy inputs per unit of production and thus contribute to this global problem lower levels of emissions than they would otherwise? Do we have practical ideas for achieving that and are they shared by other donors? How much support do we have for the project to create a fully fledged UN agency to address climate change, as the Prime Minister proposed in his Georgetown speech last April?
That is enough said, I would suggest, to show that UN reform needs to be an integral and prominent part of our development agenda. It needs to be looked at as a continuing process, not as a finite event linked to some such development as the arrival in office of a new Secretary-General. Indeed, it may depend for its success more on the arrival in office in two years’ time of a new US President. It is something to which we should be committed for the long haul and on a basis that overrides party divisions and survives changes of government.
My Lords, our appreciation is indeed due to my noble friend Lady Whitaker. Apart from my past professional work with VSO and Oxfam, I declare an interest as a member of the Friends of Oxfam and a trustee of Saferworld. The Government are to be congratulated on the work of DfID. The quality of the White Paper illustrates the calibre of the department. There is strong and effective ministerial leadership, supported by able and committed civil servants at all levels.
Fulfilment of the purposes for which DfID exists requires a matrix of involvement: the Treasury, the Department of Trade, the departments covering education, science, the environment and defence, all have key roles to play. In civil society, the universities, the professions, industry and commerce, the trade unions and the banks are all part of the equation, as well as NGOs and community groups. Good accountable government is essential to development, but even more importantly the character of governance as a whole is what matters, and governance goes far wider than government alone. It is about an effective interplay between government and civil society. Human resources are critical to it all. In generating those resources, partnerships between civil society here in the United Kingdom and civil society in the developing countries have a significant part to play. It is good to see that in the White Paper the Government recognise this and indeed are encouraging it with responsible funding.
At the state level, in order to ensure the provision of adequate social infrastructure, DfID is right to see the importance of long-term, predictable funding provided by budget support. But focus on delivery is also essential, and for that the part played by civil society is crucially important. Specific situations require specific approaches. Failure to understand this has negated too much development work in the past.
Universities in the United Kingdom are busy building partnerships across the world, but these partnerships should not only be with the more affluent areas. A huge contribution is to be made by building them with fellow institutions in the poorer parts of the world, and incidentally the benefits will certainly not just be one way. To fail to make such a contribution would be seriously to undermine the cause of good governance.
I hope I do not detect in the White Paper a whiff of retreat into unilateralism. Unco-ordinated, let alone competitive unilateralism, can play havoc with the evolution of sound governance. The challenge is to ensure that co-ordinated multilateralism is made more effective, and here DfID rightly argues for more searching scrutiny and accountability of multilateral programmes. In the UN system, I believe it was historically a mistake for the United Nations Development Programme to become in effect just another operational agency when it should have been the policy co-ordinating body to which other UN agencies had to give account.
Good global governance is at least as important as good national governance for the way forward. We need fairer trade, we must have the debt relief for which the Chancellor has made such Herculean efforts, we need more imaginative international financial institutions, and above all we urgently need a redistribution of power. Whether it be the World Bank, the IMF or OECD, the representatives of the disadvantaged must become a meaningful part of the governance procedure. They must play a full part in setting the agendas and not just be allowed in effect to respond to the agendas of the rich. The White Paper signals that DfID at least understands this, but it must be pursued with vigour. It has immense significance for global security. Frustration and alienation are playing into the hands of the extremists. Talk of level playing fields can be provocative. In the real world, people and nations have to be helped to stand up and to get fit before they are even able to begin playing.
With climate change, the poorest are already suffering acutely from coastal flooding, submerging islands and appalling drought. On this, the sentiments of the White Paper must rapidly be turned into muscular policies. Similarly, in the private sector, social and environmental accountability must be made immediate priorities. Frankly, the Companies Bill, despite a few gestures, was a badly missed opportunity.
The Arms Trade Treaty, on which the Government have been giving such commendable leadership, is another imperative. Our American cousins just have to be persuaded. Conflict and its consequences too often ruin development prospects. Repeatedly it is the poorest who pay the highest price for conflict. It is therefore reassuring to see the White Paper’s commitment to conflict prevention and conflict resolution. Reconciliation, I suggest, is a concept we need to rehabilitate. What we now require without delay from DfID is the strategy and the resources.
On AIDS and HIV, DfID’s policy position is commendable, but again what we really must have is the strategy and resources for the long-term financing necessary to provide infrastructural support for those living with AIDS.
We frequently speak of the rule of law. The rule of law costs money—legal education, courts, judges, lawyers, civilian police, social workers, administrators and the rest. If we really believe in the rule of law, we have to put our money where our rhetoric demands. But we also have to live by example. The noble Lords, Lord Garden and Lord Hannay, are absolutely right about this. Our own commitment to the rule of law, nationally and internationally, must be consistent and transparent, and this must apply to corruption as much as to anything else.
My Lords, I add my name to the growing list of noble Lords congratulating the noble Baroness, Lady Whitaker, on bringing this debate to us. The quality of this debate has so far been very good, and I hope it will continue to be so.
The goal of Eliminating Poverty: Making Governance Work for the Poor is one that many institutions clearly support, many Governments aspire to and many noble Lords have a commitment to. The challenge is to move from aspiration to achievement, from a wish list to a checklist of actual progress. This report provides an overview of many of the issues and challenges facing the international development community, but there is a strong tendency to overestimate achievement. This may meet a political agenda but frankly does nothing to alter the scale of the problems that still have to be addressed and tackled. Realism about actual progress in the international development community should not be mistaken for pessimism. Only by being realistic can we truly make inroads into eliminating world poverty.
I will pick up just a few of the points raised in the report, although time dictates that not much can be said. The section “Winning the Fight Against Corruption” in Chapter 2 has so far proven to be a popular element of the report. The description of the harm that corruption does to poor people, particularly women, is stark and accurate. The case for and route to achieving reform is clear, but it will be a long-term programme. Many speakers so far have underlined the fact that the programme has clearly been undermined by recent developments in the United Kingdom.
The report, for example, is hopeful that Nigeria is,
“turning the corner on corruption”.
This is not a view generally shared by the people in Nigeria with whom I have contact. Just before Christmas the World Bank released its delayed report on its monitoring of how the repatriated Abacha funds were used. This was the great hope; we had repatriation of stolen resources from Switzerland back to the people of Nigeria. Corrupt leaders squirreled away these funds in Swiss banks on an unprecedented scale. The World Bank confirms criticism of what amounts to a total lack of audit trail for the $500 million returned, and points out that some of the adopted procedures are counterproductive to the return of stolen assets to the people.
A Nigerian court said only yesterday that the dispute between President Obasanjo and Vice-President Abubakar raises grave constitutional issues. This court has called for the Supreme Court to decide whether Mr Abubakar should be sacked. Were he to lose his job he would also lose his immunity from prosecution and would be liable to investigation over allegations about the misuse of public funds. Yet only last month, Mr Abubakar announced his plans to run for the presidency in April’s election. I suspect progress is not as fast in Nigeria as the White Paper would have hoped.
In Ekiti State, the governor has been impeached after MPs found him and his deputy guilty of corruption. Nigeria’s anti-corruption watchdog, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, accuses the governor of diverting state funds into his personal accounts. Corruption is clearly still rampant in Nigeria. That the EFCC states that almost all of Nigeria’s 36 state governors are corrupt emphasises just how far Nigeria still has to travel before it even gets to the corner, never mind turning it.
Transparency International’s assessment of sub-Saharan Africa—very much in keeping with the charts so eloquently described to us earlier—points out that the combination of abundant natural resources, a history of autocratic and unaccountable governments and a record of conflict and crisis has posed particular challenges to governance and the fight against corruption. Meanwhile the development challenges are huge. Sub-Saharan Africa is the only region in the world where poverty has increased in the past 25 years. Half the continent’s population of 840 million are still living on less than a dollar a day, and 32 of the world’s 38 highly indebted poor countries are in Africa.
Progress is being made in democracy and human rights in some countries but corruption remains one of the biggest challenges throughout Africa. The seeds of systematic reform are being sown in some African countries, and others will follow in due course. To make governance work for the poor, the challenge for DfID and for us is to direct resources and co-ordinate like-minded institutions into nurturing the seeds of reform until they grow, vigorous and healthy, into unassailable established codes of practice and behaviour acceptable everywhere—most importantly, acceptable to the poor of Africa. We should not deceive ourselves of the magnitude of the challenge, nor the determination needed to meet it.
My Lords, DfID’s White Paper is brimming over with good news about significant aid increases, long-term commitments, improved systems and expanding opportunities. It would be a Scrooge who could not welcome the Government’s good intentions. In particular, the aid lobby has welcomed the renewed effort to reach the UN’s 0.7 per cent target, which has been such a long saga of previous broken promises. The doubling of spending on water and sanitation, which I know the noble Baroness has a special interest in, is an essential element in the drive towards greater poverty reduction and the other MDGs. I also personally welcome the Government’s statements about development education and support for stronger school links and volunteering.
I have reservations about the equally important commitment to good governance and civil society. These are concepts which, the world being what it is, sound good in a document but can evaporate on the ground. Like the noble Lord, Lord Garden, I am concerned about the rule of law and the currency of transparency, which has been undermined and devalued by the SFO Al Yamamah debacle. Had the White Paper been published in December, the House of Commons would have reacted much less positively. We can imagine that discussion would have centred on the issue raised from the beginning by Transparency International: that it is always other countries which are supposed to lack transparency and not the United Kingdom. BAE gets by because it can argue that it is merely following local practice. Certain Saudi princes come under the microscope but not the named UK companies, when in fact it takes two sides to make any contract. There is graft of 3 to 5 per cent and there is graft of 30 to 50 per cent; these are two very different sets of figures. I personally regret that the SFO has been taken off the case because sooner or later the issue will return to haunt both the British and Saudi Governments, and they will have to deal with it. When will Her Majesty’s Government reply to the OECD working group on this matter?
The Al Yamamah affair has a bearing on all our policies and transactions. Countries in Africa are bound to take a dim view of our own transparency and to be less likely to co-operate with calls for good governance. The whole principle of NePAD is at stake here. It is the old case of pot and kettle; what right has what pot to call what kettle black?
Small as it is, DfID’s £100 million governance and transparency fund is a brave beginning. I genuinely wish it well if it can find meaningful channels of support. I repeat a warning from Christian Aid, with which I have had a long association:
“The Government’s agenda seems far more focused on what developing countries have to do and how the UK will support them, rather than on tackling the role played by rich countries and northern companies in facilitating corruption. For example, while stating its intention to help developing countries track assets it is unconvincing on [its] own commitment to take strong action to trace and repatriate illicitly acquired funds and assets already in the UK”.
I agree with the noble Lord, Lord Wallace, on that. The Government’s experience with the World Bank’s anti-corruption framework leads me to think that they see the bank’s approach as a slippery slope and not necessarily a path to development.
The key partners of DfID are, of course, potentially not Governments but civil society organisations, including not only NGOs but community groups, trade unions, professional associations and academic institutions. The number of CSOs in developing countries is growing fast and more and more of them recognise that advocacy is a way of bringing their own Government to account. Generally, the results are disappointing. I am among those who, perhaps like the noble Lord, Lord Judd, would like to see much more political activity within the CSOs, but in Africa and many other parts of the world there are severe constraints on their activity. There also remains a suspicion of overseas funding, even in parts of politically more mature countries such as India. West Bengal has been especially sensitive and, at times, hostile to foreign NGOs.
However, more countries are having success by targeting their activity. In Mozambique, for example, many NGOs base their advocacy on the PARPA, the Government’s poverty reduction country programme, and the level and awareness of corruption and the need for transparency in government has certainly had an effect there. There are similar advances in Uganda.
The Overseas Development Institute has recently focused on the subject of policy engagement for poverty reduction and how civil society can be more effective. It shows how some states have started their own civil society initiative, such as Bulgaria’s Coalition 2000. It argues that policy-makers and donors could help by working to ensure that political freedoms are in place, making policy processes more transparent and diversifying their support to the CSO sector beyond NGOs. I am sure, and I hope that, knowing DfID’s co-operation with the ODI over many years, it is taking these ideas very seriously.
On fragile states, I was cheered to see that the Secretary of State said last month:
“DfID is committed to working not only in countries which are performing well, but also in fragile states and to finding ways of working more effectively in these states”.
The International Development Committee said recently:
“We were particularly pleased that DFID recognised the need to increase support to the private sector in difficult environments”.
Are these nice words, or are the Government really going to reverse their policy on fragile states?
Save the Children thinks otherwise. It says that of DfID’s aid to low-income countries over the past three years, only 16 per cent went to conflict-affected fragile states. A high proportion of children of primary school age living in these countries do not have access to education—that is, 38 million out of 77 million worldwide. Save the Children calculates that these countries will need $5.8 billion more a year if we are going to meet the MDGs in primary education.
This suggests that the Government, while they express good intentions, are not yet in a position to target some developing countries with new policies on good governance. As the noble Baroness, Lady Whitaker, mentioned, Angola is an example of a post-conflict country where DfID is actually reducing its funding because of the difficult environment, and it will not therefore be helping the poor or the civil society organisations, which are all crying out for support. Perhaps they will have to wait for another White Paper.
My Lords, I welcome my noble friend’s initiative. I acknowledge her point about the widespread consultation but I am not quite so enthusiastic about the White Paper. I do not give it very high marks for intellectual coherence and I share many of the views of the noble Viscount, Lord Eccles, about the lack of economic literacy or numeracy in the report as a whole.
Meeting the millennium development goals is a question, statistically, of gross national product increases per head in real terms. The White Paper quite widely makes the most elementary undergraduate mistake of confusing overall growth rates of gross domestic product with growth rates per head and so, quite often, one does not know whether the authors intend one or the other. For example, on page 19 it refers to Tanzania growing at 6 per cent per year. The world development indicators of the World Bank since 2000 show that the figure is 1.2 per cent per capita. I would give this series of undergraduate essays strung together as a White Paper a mark of “beta two” individually and “beta minus two” overall. I am putting this slightly provocatively because I think it is necessary to get an economic grip on what the thread of the argument is supposed to be. The White Paper reiterates our commitment to the millennium development goals when, as has been said, there is no chance of meeting them in Africa.
The World Bank research study refers to the dollar-a-day benchmark—which, of course, purely in exchange rate terms, is logically $365 a year—whereas we are using now $700 dollars a year at purchasing power parity. The report states that for Africa and Latin America under the current assumptions, both absolute poverty and poverty incidence cannot be halved within less than 30 years. So, if Bob Geldof thinks differently, he is misleading people quite grossly. With some income redistribution the scenario improves markedly in some parts of the world, but for Africa under the current assumptions, poverty incidence will still take more than 30 years to be halved.
This connects very much to the question of population growth, although it is very hard to see this analysis in the White Paper. A recent analysis by the European Defence Agency was circulated to a meeting of the sub-committee on Foreign Affairs, Defence and Development Policy of the European Union Committee and was debated recently. It states:
“High fertility should see Africa’s population”—
which is pencilled-in in red and orange traffic lights, as the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Chelmsford has pointed out; there is, of course, a quite different trend in India and China—
“growing faster than anywhere else—up by 48% to 1.3 billion by 2025—despite AIDS. The average African’s age is projected to be 22. Desertification may increasingly concentrate this young population in urban centres (11 African mega-cities of 5 million plus by 2025)—many of them without hope of employment. The implications for despair, humanitarian disaster and migratory pressures are obvious”.
I echo the EDA’s analysis that demographic development is very important. Population growth will far exceed what is compatible with increased living standards and meeting the millennium goals. Reducing the offspring rate per woman from five, six or seven to nearer the replacement rate will not happen through some magical virtuous circle of the diminution of the rate of population growth and the rate of growth of the GDP, as I think current DfID doctrine implies it somehow can. Of course if you can first catch your hare and manage an increase in the growth of GDP, that may be true, but that is not where we are, as all the UNDP and World Bank projections are showing. We need to be more courageous in putting that problem on the agenda.
I ask the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Chelmsford—perhaps it is a bit undignified to put a question in this form, but I am inclined to put it in some form or other—where is the policy of Christian Aid on population growth? We have now heard that all the Churches have a strong policy on ecology, but surely there must be some more honest analysis coming from Christian Aid and the Churches about population growth. I suspect we all understand some of the reasons why that analysis is not there, but I want to put that challenge in public. The issue should be addressed. It has become something of a taboo, but the appalling conditions, low expectations of life and infant mortality require that challenge to be met.
I have a question for the Minister. I have given notice to her office that I would like her to write to me on this question, as she cannot be expected to swap statistics here and now. The GDP growth rate per head in real terms in Africa means that halving the number of people on less than a dollar a day by 2015 is unattainable, but what figure is implied by that? We cannot see how far we are falling behind unless we know what the figure is. I hope my noble friend will write to me and say what it is, and how DfID is proposing to monitor on a wall chart what the numbers actually are, so that there will be no misunderstanding between us about the statistics.
My Lords, I, too, thank the noble Baroness for initiating this debate on this important subject. I declare two interests. I have been asked by the Prime Minister and the Secretaries of State for International Development and Health to report to them on what more we could be doing to use UK experience and expertise in health to support health improvement in developing countries. I shall be reporting to them in a few weeks’ time. I am also part of the team carrying out the DfID capability review. I do not intend to pre-empt either of those processes in my remarks today. There are, however, many areas covered by this important and wide-ranging White Paper, and I want to speak about three of them: two where I have some experience and know their importance, and one about which I know relatively little, but which I believe could be even more important.
The White Paper rightly addresses the importance of governance within each country. It also discusses the importance of good global governance, as it calls it. I have seen the importance of that all over the developing world. There are too many donors, sometimes with different priorities, and organisations doing different and sometimes conflicting things, making very burdensome demands on countries. There are too many isolated projects, when joining up with others would have greater impact. I suspect we have all heard of those examples of countries being visited 100 times or more in a year by different donors or inspection teams, all asking different questions. I was also told the story of a former Mozambique Minister of Health who, on taking up office, said that he thought he was the Minister responsible for health in the country, but instead he found he was the Minister for health projects run by foreigners.
This unco-ordinated system means that aid is not being used effectively. It also means that developing countries are faced with unreasonable demands. They have to use precious resources to manage and co-ordinate donors. I have met, and indeed been berated by, Ministers in many African countries, who find their efforts hampered by the complexity of international aid. They have to collect different sets of information for different donors to monitor progress when they should be collecting the information they need to run their own affairs. Monitoring is important, but there needs to be a single discussion, a single process and a single conversation between the donors and the developing countries.
Some donors are beginning to address that, and I applaud the UK Government for their leadership in that respect. More importantly, I have heard Ministers in developing countries do so. They have adopted a country-led approach, give budget support rather than support for individual projects and are working to reform the global architecture. However, the reality on the ground is that the situation is not changing fast enough. What practical steps are the Government taking to accelerate progress here internationally?
My second point is about how the Government are leveraging support in the UK for their policy. That has two elements. There is a statement by the Prime Minister in the preface to the White Paper that this is about a whole government effort. Then there is the description in the last chapter of how we can all contribute as individuals. While I have just argued that development needs to be done professionally, it need not be exclusively an area for development professionals. Noble Lords will know of many examples, some led by Members of your Lordships’ House, of voluntary work carried out by organisations and individuals who are making a real difference in developing countries. There are many examples of government departments other than DfID, not least health and education, where important international work is undertaken.
That work needs to be carried out in some overall framework so we do not see duplication and misguided effort, but at the same time we need to ensure that such co-ordination does not crush initiative and creativity. These voluntary efforts are important, and can build person-to-person contact across the world. They, too, contribute to international development and to “soft” diplomacy. How in practical terms, then, are the Government leveraging and supporting such individual efforts and making sure this is truly a Government-wide and UK-wide approach?
Finally, I turn to finance and the economy. This is an enormous and vital topic. As the White Paper says, growth is the best way to reduce poverty. The lack of capital and investment is one of the greatest problems developing countries face. There is enormous entrepreneurial activity, and scope for much more, in developing countries. Take the example of phones, mentioned by the noble Viscount, Lord Eccles. Celtel was supported by CDC, very wisely, but the spread of phones was led by farmers and fishermen, not just by big business. They saw the opportunity. I also agree with the noble Viscount that China will have a profound impact. I understand that the UK is the biggest donor in Africa, but China invests more in Africa than the total aid given by all countries. It will be profoundly affecting the future of the continent. There is much to be said here on economic issues, and I have a great deal of sympathy with the recent comments of the noble Lord, Lord Lea, about the need to see more development in that area.
I shall touch on the economic subject of micro-credit, an area where I have much less experience than in the others I have mentioned. There is now evidence that giving women small loans for economic purposes, perhaps to buy a sewing machine or some farming tools, leads to improvements in their families’ health, rather than doing anything directly on health. There is also ample evidence, far beyond health, of the central role that supporting women—with education, organisation or loans—has on development in all its aspects. What are the Government doing in practical terms to support this entrepreneurialism, and how much priority will be given to it?
In these few minutes I have spoken of the central importance of improving the top-down aid system and of widening the scope of development to include us all, not just the development professionals, but also of the vital need to support bottom-up development, engaging the entrepreneurialism of the people in developing countries. The White Paper touches on all of them, but it does so necessarily in a broad-brush way. My concern is with the detail and the pace of change. I look forward to the Minister’s response.
My Lords, I too thank the noble Baroness, Lady Whitaker, for initiating this debate so eloquently. I also congratulate the Government, especially DfID, on producing what I take to be an extremely imaginative and interesting White Paper. If I may part company with what my noble friend Lord Lea of Crondall was saying, it is far more than a collection of undergraduate, or even postgraduate, essays. Having been a university professor for nearly 40 years, I reassure the House that it is far better even than an outstanding PhD dissertation that deserves to be published by the best university press.
I have just two minor criticisms of the report, and I will then get on to the big issues. It would be helpful if pictures in such reports could be identified in future with their country of origin. It would also be helpful if the pictures did not include simply people in destitution or Africans going round being cheerful, but also people in positions of power, doctors at hospitals, and universities. Africa is not just one sad story of failure and underachievement.
I want to highlight four or five important issues. Some of them were covered in the report while others were, sadly, ignored. The first and most important to remember is that countries cannot develop unless they are stable; they cannot be stable unless their Governments are legitimate and enjoy the support of the people; they cannot enjoy that support if large sections of the people are excluded or marginalised. This has been the constant problem in all the poor, conflict-stricken countries. Large sections of people are excluded or marginalised in the name of creating a homogeneous nation-state that should be unitary and not pluralist. Take almost every country that your Lordships are discussing here, and the problem is always one particular ethnic community wanting to control the state and impose a unitary framework upon it.
We should be encouraging those countries to create plural and multi-ethnic political structures, sharing power with federal units at not only the political but the economic and cultural levels. Here, I am afraid that our foreign policy gets in the way. It is sad that the report has no reference at all to how foreign policy can complicate situations. Unfortunately, for the last three or four years the American Government in particular—with some support, sadly, from our own—have been heavily preoccupied with Islamic terrorism. That has generated suspicion of any attempt in developing countries to accommodate religious groups. In fact, there is constant pressure not to accommodate such groups but to keep them out as much as possible, with the result that many developing countries seem to think that they will enjoy high marks in the western press and from western Governments the more religious people that they kill, hunt or arrest. Every day we hear stories of Governments doing precisely that, and expecting the American Government to cheer them and pat them on the back.
As a result, we have large numbers of religious groups mistakenly taken to be terrorists or fundamentalists who sulk and feel alienated, feeling that there is no place for them in the country. Equally importantly, mullahs and religious hierarchies have their own economic interests, which good political sense would seem to require that we should be able to accommodate. One of my most important points is therefore that the war on terrorism, by equating all Islamic religious groups with terrorists and putting pressure on developing countries not to accommodate them in any way, is a disastrous attempt to secure economic development in any form.
By and large, our concern should be to leave these countries alone to resolve their conflicts and to enable political settlements through their societies’ normal processes of negotiation. Of course, they are sometimes stretched beyond the limits of their resources, in which case our concern should be to hold the ring, and encourage negotiations but not try to impose this or that individual or group. Such Governments do not last; the alienated groups then turn to warlords, and things become disastrous.
My second point—it has already been made by the noble Lords, Lord Hannay of Chiswick and Lord Garden—is about having a tighter regime of control on the activities not only of our public enterprises but of multinationals. It is known that several multinationals have been funding militias. They play one local group off against another. Sometimes they are even known to encourage military coups, or to support those coups that have been successful. Their activities need to be strictly monitored, and any allegations of interference in the affairs of the country—as well as attempts to give bribes—must be investigated.
Thirdly, just as we acted firmly and quickly to monitor the bank accounts and financial dealings of groups suspected of supporting terrorists, we must do the same with government leaders of developing countries. They should not be allowed to siphon off large sums of money abroad. There must be tight control on how the bank transactions take place, and those suspected of such things should not be allowed to find shelter in our country, or in any other western society. Nor should their families be educated in any of our schools and universities with money obtained in that way.
Lastly, I turn to the question of aid. It is vital to building up the economic capacities of developing countries, but it is true that it can be appropriated by the rich and powerful and may not reach its intended audience. I therefore suggest that we might bear three or four things in mind. First of all, aid should be clearly targeted at specific programmes—mainly education, health and the training of managers. Secondly, as far as possible we should be working with local NGOs that have some experience of working on the ground. Thirdly, as has already been said, we ought to be able to set up and work through local networks of Grameen-like banks—the kind for which Professor Yunus was recently awarded the Nobel prize—in a suitably Africanised form. In Bangladesh it has run into difficulties, which I would not want to go into. It cannot be tried out in the same way in India or in many of the Middle Eastern countries, so the idea of a local bank lending money to women and encouraging them to set up their own small enterprises has to be suitably indigenised.
As far as possible, rather than aid being privatised—as the noble Viscount, Lord Eccles, suggested—we ought to be thinking in terms of fostering civil society and encouraging it to take on the burden. For example, schools in our country can link up with schools in African countries. Hospitals, universities and institutes of management could be doing the same thing so that, over time, we begin to build up technical resources in developing countries. Once money goes into developing technical resources, we need not worry too much about corrupt Governments, because when people are suitably trained corrupt Governments are able to do little about this. We ought to be relying more heavily within our own country on institutions, universities, schools and others. We should give money to them and encourage them to link up with their counterparts to build them up.
My Lords, I echo the many tributes to the noble Baroness, Lady Whitaker, for introducing the debate so well, and for setting the scene so comprehensively. When you are batting as far down the order as I am, you are expected neither to bat as long nor to score as many as the opening batsmen. Listening to the noble Viscount, Lord Eccles, and the noble Lord, Lord Wallace—the opening batsmen in this debate—I found myself much more appreciative of and in sympathy with the latter’s contribution, but the noble Viscount did score a number of boundaries on the on-side, particularly in two areas.
First, there is the missing elephant, an African elephant that is also a Chinese one: the role of China in Africa. Go to most African countries and you will see a mausoleum, a parliament building or a sports stadium—or in Addis Ababa, a whole ring road—produced by Chinese labour as a gift from the People’s Republic of China. You will also see the Chinese active in other areas, and we must see the significance of that both in terms of what it might do for the advantage of Africa and because China is in many cases getting a more sympathetic hearing in Africa than our own Government. Yet I believe that the position taken by Her Majesty’s Government in this White Paper and through DfID’s activities is right and that we should support it. I am not commenting on the attitudes of the Government of China.
Another area where the noble Viscount, Lord Eccles, hit a boundary was the role of the private sector. At least, that is the observation from both expatriate and indigenous members of the private sector in Africa, who do not feel that DfID particularly understands how they can help and be part of the process. I do not know whether that is a justified criticism, but I add it as a comment to the debate.
I also find myself in favour with the contribution of the noble Lord, Lord Judd. I sympathise entirely with civil servants in their task. We have a high quality Civil Service in this country—albeit that the Home Office and some departments have been criticised—but I particularly commend and am grateful for the civil servants in DfID. They have the quality of the Civil Service in general and bring a commitment to the task. I speak and declare an interest as the United Kingdom representative of the International Labour Organisation, a specialist UN agency. I have been involved in the negotiations of a partnership agreement. The noble Lord, Lord Crisp, made the valid point that projects are not really a way to carry out development work. The partnership approach much pioneered by successive UK Secretaries of State is much more effective for agencies doing the work and countries receiving the assistance.
We recently negotiated a £20 million partnership agreement with the UK Government, to be implemented over a coming period. The UK civil servants who negotiated that were rigorous and demanding and did an excellent job on behalf of Her Majesty’s Government. I do not know whether all my colleagues in the headquarters division of the ILO, who negotiated with them, would share that appreciation, given that they were put through some very tough tests and questions. Of course, the scrutiny continues. There is conditionality on money being paid, and the objectives that have been set have to be reached. I have no criticism of any of that. It seems to me the right way to do development business on behalf of the people in the developing world and the British taxpayer.
I have slight concern about how those things that we rightly try to do are perceived in the countries in which we try to do them. I come back to the perception from an African viewpoint. I was at a meeting where President Mugabe got a standing ovation for a considerable attack on the position not only of the United Kingdom but of what we might call the northern hemisphere in general. The ovation was given by an audience who were not wholly sympathetic to the points that he made. He is a speaker of some force, which no doubt played a part, but sometimes there is a sense that we are telling people in the developing world what to do while we ourselves are not doing it. I shall not comment on corruption but a number of noble Lords made very apposite points on that.
Another area where I think that we are sending mixed signals is the Government’s policy, as I understand it, to vote against any increase in the budget of an individual UN agency that goes beyond zero real growth. That, of course, is not understood by many developing countries and the majority of governing bodies of agencies, which see an increased requirement for techno-cooperation and the fact that in a small minority of countries, but mainly developed countries, there is a taking back from the multilateral system of funding in favour of the DfID approach. There is nothing wrong with the DfID approach but if you do it at what appears to be the expense of the UN system, you seem to apply the conditionality of reform by starvation. The UK could gain more in its persuasive attempts to reform the UN—I immediately accept that there is much room for reform there—if it did not have such a rigid attitude in its budgetary approach to agencies. Clearly, agencies differ; their priorities differ. I support the UN reform of more coherence that the UK Government want to see. I was a member of the Royal Commission on the social dimensions of globalisation, which reported in 2004. We highlighted the need for coherence and cohesion between United Nations agencies, the bank, the fund and, indeed, the WTO. The present danger concerns structural reform within agencies. Do we get rid of or merge agencies? That may well get in the way of achieving better policy requirements. I particularly support the view that the UNDP could have a co-ordinating or leadership role. However, conflict could arise where it provides services that it is at the same time commissioning other agencies to provide.
On the basis that I have not spoken for my full allotted time, but have been at the crease longer than the average English tail-ender in cricket matches over the past few months, I leave your Lordships to ponder my remarks.
My Lords, I, too, thank the noble Baroness, Lady Whitaker, for securing this debate and for all her work in this area. It is a very welcome paper, building on the work which led up to Gleneagles and the 2005 Make Poverty History campaigns. At Gleneagles, significant pledges were made, not least to get all who needed it on to ARV treatment by 2010. In return the G8 countries demanded pledges from African countries on tackling poverty, corruption, bad governance and conflict.
As others have said, this is a wide-ranging and very thoughtful paper, though the noble Lord, Lord Hannay, gives it an A, while the noble Lord, Lord Lea, gives it a low B and the noble Lord, Lord Parekh, thinks that it can be published as a thesis. It covers the foundations of development through good governance, peace and security, financial security, addressing climate change, trade, education, the treatment of HIV and improvement of health systems, reform of international organisations and so on. The wonderful photos bring home what we are talking about—the lives of children, women and men. As the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Chelmsford rightly pointed out, the huge amount which needs to be achieved is very starkly shown in the MDGs chart.
The White Paper is in many ways very general; it does not spell out anywhere in great detail how this vision is to be delivered. In this excellent debate many noble Lords asked for further work and details in various areas, including the noble Lord, Lord Crisp, on micro-finance, the noble Viscount, Lord Eccles, on the private sector and the noble Lord, Lord Brett, and others on China and Africa, which the International Development Select Committee is looking at this afternoon. It was decided, however, that governance should be the overriding theme of the paper, as in DfID’s view that underpinned all development. Considerable space is given to that. DfID’s heart must have sunk, given all that it had invested in the improved governance agenda, when, as other noble Lords have said, the noble and learned Lord the Attorney-General announced in this House the need to,
“balance the need to maintain the rule of law against the wider public interest”.—[Official Report, 14/12/06; col. 1712.]
in relation to the SFO, BAE and Saudi Arabia.
My noble friends Lord Garden and Lord Wallace of Saltaire and the noble Lords, Lord Hannay and Lord Judd, the noble Earl, Lord Sandwich, and others pointed out with great cogency just how the noble and learned Lord the Attorney-General’s Statement on BAE undermines much of what the paper stands for. Whatever the Attorney-General has said about this case setting no precedent and showing no green light to anyone must be viewed with considerable scepticism.
The foreword to the paper by the Prime Minister states:
“This will need an effort right across Government, to put our pledges into practice”,
in which he included the promotion of better governance across the world. Yet when the Prime Minister’s views were apparently sought in regard to BAE, what happened to this laudable aim?
Hilary Benn says in his introduction to the document that,
“we will be resolute in the fight against corruption”.
When he opened the debate on the paper in the Commons on 26 October he stated that,
“one thing is clear beyond doubt—without good governance we will not be able to defeat poverty, or climate change, or war, or famine. That is why we put good governance at the heart of this White Paper”.
“Good governance is about ensuring the rule of law”.
Was the Secretary of State for International Development consulted about the decision regarding BAE, and if not, why not? After all, the Prime Minister, the Foreign Secretary and the Secretary of State for Defence were. The noble Baroness may say that the case held no relevance to DfID, but DfID’s White Paper makes it extremely clear that it does. As the Secretary of State further stated in the Commons:
“Governance is … an international issue. Bad governance can be caused or made worse by the actions of rich countries and their companies. For every bribe taken, there has to be a bribe giver; for every stolen dollar that is spirited out of a developing country, there has to be a bank account somewhere for it to go into. That means that we have to be more effective in stopping bribery and, where money is stolen, in finding it and giving it back”.—[Official Report, Commons, 26/10/06; cols. 1737-39.]
The document itself states that the UK will adopt a new “quality of governance” assessment to guide the way in which the UK gives aid, that they will launch a new £100 million governance and transparency fund, and that they will work internationally to tackle bribery, corruption and money laundering. We have heard from the noble Lords, Lord Chidgey and Lord Parekh, how much the UK needs to do in this area.
We read on page 28:
“Corruption hurts poor people, and it harms women in particular. When health staff demand bribes for medicines, teachers for enrolling children in school, or local government officials for providing water connections, it keeps people poor”.
The paper states that corruption damages economic growth by increasing the cost of doing business, it siphons off resources that should go into public services, and it undermines the accountability of political leaders and officials to their citizens. We agree. The paper goes on to say:
“We are committed to following up specific cases more effectively in future”.
That is what DfID thought in July 2006. Who will now do that?
The paper mentions the Africa All-Party Parliamentary Group’s report on corruption, The Other Side of the Coin, which many noble Lords were involved in and which recommends working to reduce the risk of UK businesses being involved in bribery in developing countries. The paper says that the Government will implement almost all of the report’s recommendations. Will the noble Baroness tell us what the Government intend to miss out? Might it be following through on SFO investigations into bribery by British companies when threatened by another state? When this paper came out in July, Christian Aid noted that it over-focused on corruption only within developing countries. As the organisation put it, it takes two to tango. Indeed.
I feel for DfID, the noble Baroness, Lady Whitaker, and the noble Baroness the Leader of the House, given their track records. This is an excellent paper but it is only words. Those words have been overshadowed, perhaps eclipsed, by the actions of the Attorney-General, the Prime Minister, the Secretary of State for Defence and the Foreign Secretary. Those actions show us more clearly than does this paper where the Government stand on the rule of law, good governance and fighting corruption.
DfID worked on this paper for the best part of a year. The Secretary of State made a number of key speeches early last year as part of taking the paper forward. NGOs and many others were consulted widely. The paper could have been a predictable manifesto of what DfID wanted to do, but instead it was decided to have this strong theme of good governance as underpinning all development. That was bold and welcome. I wish the department the very best in seeking to implement it, first and foremost within its own Government.
My Lords, I too would like to add my congratulations to noble Baroness, Lady Whitaker, for securing this debate on the DfID White Paper and for her tireless championing of international development issues. It has been a most interesting discussion, with thoughtful and knowledgeable observations made from all sides. I am sure your Lordships will agree that these have only shored up the premise that this is very much a British agenda with strong, cross-party support and not one of party politics.
As my honourable friend Andrew Mitchell MP stated in another place in response to the Statement on the White Paper, we on these Benches are,
“as determined as the Government to ensure that the British contribution to lifting the living standards of the poorest, combating disease and illiteracy, promoting good governance … is effective and successful. We may have differences of opinion about how best to deliver some of the noble aims and objectives set out in the White Paper, but those aims and objectives have our wholehearted support”.—[Official Report, Commons, 13/7/06; col. 1494.]
We are only two days away from being exactly six months on from the White Paper’s introduction. I hope that in her reply the noble Baroness the Leader of the House will be able to update us on the progress of as many as possible of the 152 commitments the department undertook in the five chapters of this publication, particularly in the light of past criticism from the Financial Times that DfID tries to pursue some schemes that are too grandiose.
There are so many specific questions I could make in relation to the proposals of the White Paper but I will limit them here to six short ones. What measures has DfID taken in conjunction with the FCO to push for a reduction in the number of UN agencies? The noble Lords, Lord Hannay and Lord Wallace of Saltaire, both pressed for changes in the United Nations. Do Her Majesty’s Government think the African Peer Review mechanism has overcome its difficulties? If not, should it be the key part of the proposed quality of governance assessment? Will such assessments be undertaken independently of the department? What criteria will Her Majesty’s Government use to establish in which countries they will act under the Responsibility to Protect programme; and do they admit that there remain concerns about aid channelled through the EU, in terms of reaching the poorest first? These are just a few examples. However, within the limited time I wish to highlight three main omissions in the publication.
The first is gender inequality. As Amartya Sen reminds us, women often bear the greatest cost of poverty and indeed AIDS. Female empowerment and projects that help improve the standards of living for women and girls can play a significant role in helping alleviate poverty. The right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Chelmsford rightly suggested the importance of water. Improved access to water will make certain that the hours that were spent collecting buckets from far-off wells can be spent in schools.
I totally agree with the noble Lord, Lord Crisp, that the success of women-based projects in helping development can be seen too by the numerous small-business ventures, especially those supported by the micro-credit schemes of the Nobel prize-winning Muhammad Yunus, head of Grameen Bank.
Secondly, there is a lack of recognition of the growing role of China—as mentioned by my noble friend Lord Eccles in his remarkable speech and by the noble Lord, Lord Crisp—and India within international development, both regionally and globally. The geopolitical landscape is changing and poses new challenges for not only DfID, but almost all government departments in one form or another. Some may argue that it is hard to justify why we still provide funding to China when it can afford to provide aid itself to other countries. It had a trade surplus of £15 billion last October alone. The paradox is that millions of people in western China remain very poor. We cannot forget too that there are more poor people in India than in the whole of the African continent. I would be interested to hear the thoughts of the noble Baroness the Leader of the House on this issue.
Thirdly, I share the concerns of several noble Lords that the private sector appears to be defined in a limited way in the White Paper. There is a role for business, in terms of not just the creation of employment and growth but social justice. Not all multinational businesses are the demons that they are made out to be. Corporate social responsibility is being taken seriously. Multinationals, studied by the economist Jagdish Bhagwati, tend to pay between 40 per cent and 100 per cent above local wages, and working conditions tend to be higher than in local competitors. Multinational companies’ most overlooked benefit is that they bring people from countries all over the world closer together, helping greater understanding between cultures, and transferring capital, resources and skills across borders. They can help to drive social change and female emancipation.
Even though this is an internationally based debate, many of your Lordships have stressed that we cannot discuss good governance and poverty without also looking to our own record. In the context that poverty is relative, we on these Benches are concerned about how short-term government thinking has been on poverty-related issues in the United Kingdom. The narrow focus on a wholly inadequate poverty target, followed by complacent trumpeting of supposedly major reductions in poverty, has obscured the scale of the problems that have yet to be tackled. The cost in human terms is immense, with family breakdown imposing immense direct costs on the taxpayer that this country can ill afford. Over 70 per cent of young offenders come from broken homes, an overwhelming majority have serious substance addictions, and almost all received little or no education. Poverty is not just an issue of money but of the quality of the social structure of people’s lives. This could be included in a measure of good governance both here and abroad.
There can be no doubt that there is still a long way to go. Each day, one in six human beings has to live on less than $1 a day. Pregnancy and childbirth claim a woman’s life every minute. Some 5,000 children die each day due to lack of water and sanitation. Some 3 million people are killed by AIDS each year. Those are just a few of the saddening facts that have been highlighted today. While we must not lose sight of the hill that we have to climb, we cannot forget to take the overview or to look at the big picture. Never before have so many people been liberated from extreme poverty so quickly. The number of people subsisting on $1 a day has declined from 16 per cent of the world’s population in the 1970s to 6 per cent today. In 1820, 84 per cent of the world’s population lived in absolute poverty. Today, this is down to one-fifth.
Meanwhile, commentators such as Allister Heath suggest that there is growing evidence that as countries become richer they eventually also become greener, cleaner and healthier; or as the noble Lord, Lord Crisp, so clearly said, growth is the best way to reduce poverty. The interconnected nature of the pathways to poverty necessitates an interconnected response. We cannot forget that there is hope, as long as we can remove the barriers that hold back prosperity, but at the same time empower people and countries to remove the shackles that lock poverty in, both nationally and internationally.
My Lords, as usual in our international development debates, we have had a debate of high quality. I thank my noble friend Lady Whitaker for opening the debate and giving such a comprehensive introduction to it. I am also grateful to noble Lords for their contributions and their general welcome for the White Paper, although of course I listened very carefully to the criticisms. I entirely take the point made by my noble friend Lord Parekh about the importance of showing positive images of what is going on in developing countries and not just negative ones.
Making Governance Work for the Poor is the Government’s third White Paper on international development. It builds on the commitments in the 1997 and 2000 White Papers, and it sets out how we will deliver the promises that we made at Gleneagles. It explores some of the big challenges facing us at the start of the 21st century, such as climate change, corruption and conflict. We are all aware of the significant development challenges facing our world: poverty, child and maternal mortality, the impact of HIV and AIDS, and lack of access to water and sanitation. There are also, of course, challenges in how we live together in the modern world—issues of religion, faith, culture, community and security; issues at the heart of the remarks made by my noble friend Lord Parekh.
I say to the noble Baroness, Lady Rawlings—who not so long ago was extremely critical, in the Queen’s Speech debate, of the impact and effectiveness of aid—that I welcome her change of heart today and support for the DfID agenda. I understand why the Conservative Party now considers that it is not a party political issue. It does not want to be reminded of its track record, when we saw a decline in the aid budget over 18 years. I remind the noble Baroness that it is this Government who have had a target for eliminating child poverty in Britain. I cannot remember any Conservative Government ever setting such a target.
In the six months since the White Paper was published, we have already made very good progress. We have issued the first bonds for the international finance facility for immunisation, which has the potential to save 5 million lives by 2015. We have set up the new Overseas Anti-Corruption Unit, with more police to investigate bribery and money laundering. I will come back to that later. We are finalising our new country governance analysis, which will help to promote good governance.
Good governance is at the heart of DfID’s work to reduce poverty. It is about effective states—states that create the conditions in which economies can flourish, that listen to their people, that have the capacity to deliver what they promise and that are held to account. The noble Baroness, Lady Rawlings, asked about our new governance analysis in the countries in which we will work. We will ask our partners three simple questions. First, are you committed to reducing poverty? Secondly, do you uphold human rights and international obligations? Thirdly, are you committed to fighting corruption and promoting good governance? Depending on the answers that we get, we will take decisions about how we will work with that country and what kind of aid we will give.
A number of noble Lords raised the issue of corruption, including the noble Lord, Lord Chidgey, who focused on Nigeria, and the noble Lords, Lord Garden and Lord Hannay of Chiswick. The noble Earl, Lord Sandwich, my noble friend Lord Parekh and the noble Baroness, Lady Northover, also raised the issue, expressing their concerns in the context of the SFO’s decision on BAE Systems. I say to the noble Earl that we recognise that there are two sides to every contract. There seems to have been a kind of collective amnesia here today about the areas that we have put in place to tackle corruption. I remind noble Lords that we set up the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative following the publication of the White Paper. Noble Lords were very particular about asking what is happening in the UK itself. We are making progress on combating corruption through better information. The implementation of the third EU money laundering directive will require financial institutions and other regulated businesses to notify the authorities if they suspect that money laundering is taking place.
We are looking at better co-ordination. The Department for International Development will provide £6 million over three years to the International Corruption Group, which brings together the experience of the Serious Fraud Office and the Serious Organised Crime Agency with new capacity in the Metropolitan Police and the City of London Police. The City of London Police will have the capacity to investigate cases of foreign bribery by UK businesses and nationals operating in developing countries. The Metropolitan Police will have the capacity to recover the proceeds of money laundering by politically exposed persons through the UK’s financial systems. Assets recovered will be returned to their country of origin.
We are extremely serious about tackling corruption, because there is now good evidence that corruption holds back development in the countries we work with across Africa and Asia, taking away money that should be spent on education and health, and hitting the poorest hard. We are aiming to build on the results that the Metropolitan Police have shown can be achieved. We put a stop on £1.8 million that an ex-state governor of Nigeria had tried to hide away in the UK. Last month, the High Court ordered the return of about £800,000 to Nigeria, and action is continuing to recover the rest.
On BAE, as much as noble Lords who have spoken on this issue may dislike it, I reiterate that the decision to discontinue the BAE investigation was taken independently of government by the director of the Serious Fraud Office. He very properly took into account the risks to national security of carrying on with the case and concluded that it was not in the public interest to go ahead. I assure noble Lords that the decision related to the particular circumstances of that case. It does not set any sort of precedent. Other SFO investigations into international corruption are continuing, and the Government’s wish to tackle international corruption is clearly reflected in the new law introduced by the Anti-Terrorism, Crime and Security Act 2001 and the OECD convention to which we signed up in 1997, as well as in the steps that we have taken to increase the administrative and enforcement capacity to deal with international corruption.
Peace and security is vital for development, and my noble and learned friend Lord Archer is right to say that conflict keeps people poor. We have helped to build peace and security in Rwanda and Mozambique, and we are doing the same in Sierra Leone and Liberia as well as in Afghanistan and Iraq. I pay tribute to our Armed Forces who are serving with courage and professionalism in those difficult environments. I would also like us to remember the other UK government staff who are working hard to secure our goals in a difficult operating environment.
The White Paper commits us to increasing our efforts in fragile states and to invest more in at least 10 countries where security is a major issue. The noble Lord, Lord Hannay of Chiswick, raised the question of Darfur. I totally agree that the situation is unacceptable. The total number of displaced people stands at 1.9 million, and 3.6 million people depend on food aid. It really is a test of the UN’s responsibility to protect agenda. We are co-operating with the African Union and the UN to establish a credible peacekeeping force as that is the best way to build and maintain peace alongside a fully implemented Darfur peace agreement. We are urging all parties to stop the fighting, resume political dialogue, implement the peace agreement and accept an AU-UN force. The noble Lord, Lord Wallace of Saltaire, mentioned the fact that the AU is overloaded. We are well aware of that. That is why we have given substantial funding to the AU to enable it to carry out its peacekeeping tasks effectively.
On the wider peace and security agenda, we will help with reintegrating ex-combatants, support access to justice and continue to monitor human rights. I assure the noble Lords, Lord Wallace of Saltaire and Lord Garden, my noble and learned friend Lord Archer of Sandwell and my noble friend Lord Judd that we are committed to reducing the spread of small arms, including through an international arms treaty.
On the issue of the arms trade, in December we secured a UN resolution to begin a process leading to negotiations on a treaty. We will work with others to deal with the misuse of inappropriate exports of small arms and light weapons. We also aim to ensure that, when assessing export licences, UK arms exports do not undermine development, for example by increasing the risk of conflict. I say to the noble Lord, Lord Wallace of Saltaire, that when the strategic arms export licensing laws are reviewed this year, we will examine how well our brokering controls are working and whether they need to be strengthened.
The noble Earl, Lord Sandwich, mentioned our work in fragile states. We will work in fragile states where we are furthest from meeting the millennium development goals, and where appropriate we will work through the Governments of those states with poverty reduction budget support. Otherwise we will support those Governments through trust funds or through the UN or NGOs.
My noble and learned friend Lord Archer of Sandwell mentioned the importance of a better co-ordinated humanitarian system. The United Kingdom has led the development of the Central Emergency Response Fund and will provide £14 million a year to its budget. My right honourable friend Hilary Benn is to be congratulated on taking the lead in pushing that reform through the UN. We recognise that many NGOs and the Red Cross movement have a vital role to play in the humanitarian response, but all actors need to work together and to be accountable. We are working for the creation of a humanitarian report and better performance measurement for humanitarian response.
The noble Viscount, Lord Eccles, likened the current push for development on the African continent to the industrial revolution. I remind him that the context is very different, especially when we look at the issues of environment and climate change, the impact of globalisation and, of course, mass communications. Economic growth is the single most powerful way of pulling people out of poverty. The noble Lord, Lord Crisp, was quite right to emphasise that. Above all, it is the private sector—from farmers and street traders to foreign investors—that creates growth. But Governments have to create the conditions for growth. Aid can also help, and trade is vital. We will continue to press for a trade agreement that enables developing countries to earn their way out of poverty.
On the issue of micro-credit, raised by the noble Lord, Lord Crisp, we are supporting micro-credit schemes in many parts of the world, including Asia and Africa, and I am happy to write to the noble Lord with more detail. But to make a real long-term difference to reducing poverty, economic growth has to be sustainable. I say to my noble friend Lord Lea of Crondall that we need an average growth rate of about 7 per cent in sub-Saharan Africa to achieve the millennium development goals. I am happy to write to him with the further details he has requested. It is a big thing to ask of countries that are very poor. That is where our approach is different, and here I challenge the comments of the noble Lord, Lord Wallace of Saltaire, about our approach. It is not just about governance; the concept of governance is not new. It is an integrated approach that is about economic development, trade, aid and governance.
A number of noble Lords mentioned China, including the noble Viscount, Lord Eccles, the noble Lord, Lord Crisp, and, in looking at Asia generally, my noble friend Lady Whitaker. Of course we recognise the power of China in Africa. We welcome the commitment highlighted in China’s Africa policy paper to working to help to realise the millennium development goals and the importance that the Chinese attach to the African Union and to NePAD. We also recognise the importance of engagement with China on international development and have encouraged like-minded countries and African countries to engage in taking the lead with the Chinese. We think that the Chinese should be interested in good governance in Africa, partly because a well governed country will be a more stable place in which to do business.
As someone who has tried over many years to encourage British business to invest more on the African continent, perhaps I may say that it is not always an easy thing to do. Companies do not necessarily want to invest in countries that they see as unstable. Companies often have a view of the African continent that is based on their understanding of what is happening in one country, not recognising the size and diversity of the continent. That is why we need to focus on a partnership in creating the right conditions for investment. That is why initiatives such as the investment climate facility—which came out of the Commission for Africa report and is a business-led initiative that I had the privilege of helping to launch last year at the World Economic Forum meeting on Africa in Cape Town—are so important. The UK Government have pledged support for that initiative, but it is business that will drive it. We need to look at issues such as the customs duties that countries levy. We need to look at the fact that countries on the African continent are unable to trade with each other in a positive way because of the impact of what happens at their borders. It all seems relatively straightforward and simple to us as part of the European Union but the regional organisations are only beginning to develop such facilities on the African continent.
We want to ensure that everyone has access to decent healthcare, education, water and sanitation, and the safety net of social security when times are hard. We will make long-term commitments through our 10-year plan so that countries can plan ahead. We have promised to provide £8.5 billion for education in poorer countries over the next 10 years. I say to my noble friend Lord Parekh with respect to helping schools to work with each other that my right honourable friends Gordon Brown and Hilary Benn announced an increase in funding to promote global school partnerships. It is £7 million over three years. A World Classroom booklet published at the beginning of this year will go to all schools on how to set up such partnerships.
We have also committed £1.5 billion to fighting AIDS over the period 2005-08. My noble friend Lord Judd asked about a strategy on HIV/AIDS. The UK’s strategy is set out in Taking Action and reaffirmed in the White Paper. It includes the following priorities: closing the funding gap, improving the international response and strengthening political leadership.
We have already doubled our spending on water and sanitation to £95 million a year by this year and we will double it again, to £200 million a year, by 2010. We will significantly increase our spending on social security over the next three years.
Providing basic services is vital but it is not enough; we need to deal with global challenges such as climate change, which was referred to by my noble friend Lady Whitaker and the noble Lord, Lord Hannay of Chiswick. Many poor countries are already struggling to cope with climate change and extreme weather. Unless the world acts together to solve the problem, the situation can only get worse. That is why we have made tackling climate change a top priority. It means giving developing countries access to clean technologies so that they can reduce their greenhouse gas emissions without damaging their economic growth.
A number of speakers spoke about the importance of joining up work across government. I cannot endorse that enough. We are taking an integrated approach. A number of speakers—for example, my noble friend Lady Whitaker, the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Chelmsford and the noble Lords, Lord Hannay of Chiswick and Lord Crisp—also stressed the importance of improving the effectiveness of aid. We are taking a leading role in promoting good donor practice. Perhaps I may write and set out exactly what we are doing as I do not have time to go into the detail now.
To make progress on issues such as climate change and donor harmonisation, we need to work together. The White Paper sets out ways in which individuals can make a difference. It also sets out the role that the private sector and NGOs can play in this process. I agree with the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Chelmsford about the need to revisit the relationship between government and civil society. I welcome the right reverend Prelate’s commitment as chair of Christian Aid to engage in that discussion.
The White Paper also commits us to work across government and explains how we are promoting an international system that can meet the challenges of the 21st century. A number of noble Lords mentioned the international system, including my noble friend Lady Whitaker and my noble and learned friend Lord Archer of Sandwell, who mentioned the work of the One World Trust. My noble friend is quite right that there is too much overlap as organisations have grown in the past 60 years. My noble friend Lord Judd and the noble Lord, Lord Hannay of Chiswick, have wide experience in this area, as does my noble friend Lord Brett, who also spoke on this issue.
We will continue to push for reform in the UN. We want European aid to be more effective. The noble Lord, Lord Wallace of Saltaire, expressed concern about overloading the international system. He is quite right. We as global citizens have huge expectations of the UN and other international organisations. The millennium development goals were set by the world community. The responsibility to protect agenda was set following a push by the world community at the UN. So we need to help the UN and work with it to achieve these objectives. That is why we have put the millennium development goals at the heart of our development agenda.
I conclude by saying that we have made good progress towards achieving a fairer world, but we need to do a great deal more. A number of speeches mentioned the idealism surrounding the elimination of world poverty, the need for realism, and the importance of recognising enlightened self-interest in the context of international migration. I think we need some idealism, given the scale of the challenge, but we also need to be realistic. It is a global challenge. We all need to work together to meet it, and that is what the White Paper is about.
My Lords, this has been a penetrating and lively debate, even at times controversial. I should like to thank all noble Lords who have given of their wisdom and experience. The White Paper has had a very wide-ranging and thorough analysis, mostly positive, all pretty well informed from different perspectives. I trust it will be useful to DfID and I beg leave to withdraw the Motion for Papers.
Motion for Papers, by leave, withdrawn.