The following Statement was made in the House of Commons on Wednesday 16 June.
“With permission, Mr Speaker, I will make a Statement on the G7 summit I chaired in Carbis Bay and the NATO summit in Brussels.
Let me first thank the people of Cornwall, Carbis Bay and St Ives for welcoming the representatives of the world’s most powerful democracies to their home, an enchanting setting for the first gathering of G7 leaders in two years, the first since the pandemic began, and President Biden’s first overseas visit since taking office. Our aim was to demonstrate how the world’s democracies are ready and able to address the world’s toughest problems, offering solutions and backing them up with concrete action.
The G7 will combine our strengths and expertise to defeat Covid, minimise the risk of another pandemic, and build back better, fairer and greener for the benefit of all. Alongside our partners, the G7 is now engaged in the biggest and fastest vaccination programme in history, which is designed to protect the whole world by the end of next year. My fellow leaders agreed to supply developing countries with another billion doses—either directly or through other channels—of which 100 million will come from the UK.
The world’s most popular vaccine was developed here, and the express purpose of the deal between the British Government, Oxford University and AstraZeneca was to create an inoculation that would be easy to store, quick to distribute and available at cost price, or zero profit, in order to protect as many people as possible. The results are becoming clearer every day: over 500 million Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccines have been administered in 168 countries so far, accounting for 96% of the doses distributed to developing nations by COVAX, the global alliance that the UK helped to establish. With every passing hour, people are being protected across the world, and lives saved, by the formidable expertise that the UK was able to assemble.
But all the efforts of this country and many others, no matter how generous and far-sighted, would be futile in the face of another lethal virus that might escape our efforts, so the G7 has agreed to support a Global Pandemic Radar to spot new pathogens before they begin to spread, allowing immediate containment. In case a new virus gets through anyway, our scientists will embark on a mission to develop the ability to create new vaccines, treatments and tests in just 100 days, compared with the 300 required for Covid.
Even as we persevere against this virus, my fellow leaders share my determination to look beyond today’s crisis and build back better, greener and fairer. If we can learn anything from this tragedy, we have at least been given a chance to break with the past, do things better and do them differently. This time, as our economies rebound, we must avoid the mistakes we made after the financial crash of 2008 and ensure that everyone benefits from the recovery. The surest way to our future prosperity is to design fair and open rules and standards for the new frontiers of the global economy, so the G7 will devise a fairer tax system for global corporations, reversing the race to the bottom, and will strive to ensure that new technology serves as a force for prosperity and hope, strengthening freedom and openness.
My fellow leaders will act as one against an increasing injustice—the denial of an education to millions of girls across the world—by working to get another 40 million girls into school by 2025. I am happy to say that the G7 agreed to provide more than half of the $5 billion sought by the Global Partnership for Education to transform the prospects of millions of children in developing countries, and £430 million will come from the UK.
Our duty to future generations compels us to protect our planet from catastrophic climate change. Every country in the G7 has promised to achieve net zero by 2050, wiping out our contribution to global warming from that date onwards. To achieve that target, we will halve our carbon emissions by 2030 compared with 2010 levels. The G7 resolved to end any government support for unabated coal-fired power generation overseas, and to increase and improve climate finance between now and 2025. We will consecrate 30% of our land and sea to nature, protecting vast areas in all their abundance and diversity of life, giving millions of species the chance to recover from the ravages of recent decades.
It is precisely because safeguarding our planet requires global action that the G7 will offer developing countries a new partnership, the Build Back Better World, to help to construct new, clean and green infrastructure in a way that is transparent and environmentally responsible. There is no contradiction between averting climate change and creating highly skilled and well-paid jobs, both in our country and around the world; we can and will achieve both by means of a green industrial revolution at home and green infrastructure abroad.
I was honoured to welcome our friends the leaders of India, South Korea, Australia and South Africa as guests in Carbis Bay—virtually, of course, in the case of the Prime Minister of India. On Monday, Scott Morrison and I were delighted to reach a free trade agreement between the UK and Australia, creating fantastic opportunities for both our countries, eliminating tariffs on all British exports—whether Scotch whisky or cars from the Midlands—and making it easier for young British people to live and work in Australia. We have also included protections for British farmers over the next 15 years and unprecedented protections and provisions for animal welfare. This House will, of course, be able to scrutinise the agreement once the texts are finalised.
This is exactly how global Britain will help to generate jobs and opportunities at home and level up our whole United Kingdom. Our agreement with Australia is a vital step towards the even greater prize of the UK joining the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a $9 trillion free trade area embracing the fastest growing economies of the world.
Together with the G7, the countries represented at Carbis Bay comprise a “Democratic XI”—free nations living on five continents, spanning different faiths and cultures, but united by a shared belief in liberty, democracy and human rights. Those ideals were encapsulated in the Atlantic charter agreed by Winston Churchill and President Roosevelt in 1941, when Britain was the only surviving democracy in Europe and the very existence of our freedom was in peril. The courage and valour of millions of people ensured that our ideals survived and flourished, and 80 years on, President Biden and I met within sight of HMS “Prince of Wales”, the Royal Navy’s newest aircraft carrier and the linear successor of the battleship on which the original charter was devised; and we agreed a new Atlantic charter, encompassing the full breadth of British and American co-operation in science and technology, trade and global security.
The surest guarantee of our security is NATO, which protects a billion people in 30 countries, and the summit in Brussels on Monday agreed the wholesale modernisation of the alliance to meet new dangers, including in space and cyberspace, reflecting the priorities of our own integrated review of foreign and defence policy.
Britain has the biggest defence budget in Europe, comfortably exceeding the NATO target of 2% of national income. We have committed our nuclear deterrent and our cyber capabilities to the alliance, and we contribute more troops than any other country to NATO’s deployment to protect Poland and the Baltic states. We do more for the security of our continent than any other European power, showing that we mean it when we say that an attack on any NATO ally shall be considered an attack on all—a pledge that has kept the peace for over 70 years, and which President Biden reaffirmed on behalf of the United States.
Together, these two summits showed the enduring strength of the Atlantic alliance and the bonds we treasure with kindred democracies across the globe. They have provided the best possible foundation for COP 26 in Glasgow in November, when the UK will bring the whole world together in a common cause. They demonstrated how global Britain creates jobs at home, while striving in unison with our friends for a greener, safer and fairer world. I commend this Statement to the House.”
My Lords, had we heard the Prime Minister make his Statement in the other place, we would have heard the great joy with which he did so and how wonderful he thought the summit was, but we need to reflect on this. The Prime Minister hosted his first summit as the country basked in some much-needed sunshine and the England team delighted us all with their first group-stage win. The BBC reported that the US President raised Northern Ireland in a side meeting, and finance Ministers discussed global tax arrangements. That is not about 2021; the same issues were raised back at the G8, as it was then, in 1998, but the similarities end there. The differences between the Carbis Bay and Birmingham summits are stark, not just because it is now the G7 meeting.
The hope that we would see agreement on meaningful, concrete plans to tackle the biggest global challenges disappeared as the Prime Minister’s strained relationships with world leaders took centre stage. Not for the first time, the Government overpromised and underdelivered. There is no global vaccination plan and no action agreed on the climate crisis. At every step, Boris Johnson’s broken promises have cost us friends—but they also cost us our influence.
Bringing the pandemic to an end must be the priority. That means an effective, worldwide vaccination programme. While the virus circulates anywhere it is a threat to us all everywhere, so we welcomed and were optimistic about the Prime Minister’s promise to vaccinate the entire world, as he said, by the end of 2022—only to yet again be disappointed as that turned out to be unsubstantiated rhetoric, with no clear plan to deliver it. There is no funding formula, no operational strategy and no information on where the 11 billion doses of the vaccine would come from. We should have seen an immediate increase in global support for health services in developing countries for any plans to be truly effective.
The shadow Secretary of State for International Trade, Emily Thornberry, has written to the Prime Minister on those issues. I hope that the noble Baroness the Leader of the House has had an opportunity to see that letter to the Prime Minister and that he has read it. The 10-point plan my right honourable friend outlined addresses the fundamental problems about how we can produce the volume of vaccines needed, alongside making preparations for the infrastructure to deliver it. It would ensure we were better prepared for any future pandemic. Yes, it is expensive, but the human, social and economic costs of not doing so are far greater.
Ahead of COP 26, the G7 could have set the groundwork for an ambitious green recovery, leading global support across the world to tackle the climate crisis and finding common ground on climate finance. Again, the Prime Minister fell short: nothing was agreed on national determined contributions and there was nothing to support mitigation and adaptation in the world’s poorest countries. The complete failure of the green homes grant here at home and the impact of aid cuts on climate projects undermine our climate credibility and leave us recklessly out of step with our allies in the G7.
The noble Baroness the Leader of the House will be aware that I have repeatedly asked when, or indeed if, there will be a vote in Parliament on aid cuts. I have had no success, even though this is about the Government breaking their own legislation. This time I will be more specific about the effects of those cuts, because the Prime Minister’s Statement, made yesterday, refers to girls’ education. He clearly recognises the importance of the issue. Given that, and following the cut in the aid budget, will the Government now publish the full details of the cuts expected for such girls’ education programmes? This is just in the interests of transparency, so we know the exact impact they will have.
While Northern Ireland may have been missing from the communiqué and the Prime Minister’s Statement to Parliament, it was not missing from the meetings. Let us be clear: the protocol was not imposed on us but negotiated by this Government. Mr Johnson’s claim to
“do whatever it takes to protect the … integrity of the UK”
is meaningless unless the Government step up to find serious solutions to protect the precious Good Friday agreement. In refusing to do that, the Government are not only shirking their responsibility but damaging our reputation with our strongest allies. We have repeatedly suggested that a veterinary agreement which recognises the unique circumstances of Northern Ireland would remove the need for almost all the checks. Ministers must now show some leadership.
President Biden’s proposal for the global minimum corporation tax is a once-in-a-generation opportunity to stop tax avoidance and the undercutting of UK businesses which pay their fair share. This could provide us with billions of pounds in extra tax revenue, yet the Government have spent the last few weeks watering down proposals which could have put an extra £131 million a week into our NHS and other services for the public’s benefit. Can the noble Baroness tell the House why the Government stood in the way of this proposal?
Although Northern Ireland was not mentioned, the Australian trade deal was. We obviously want to see good trade deals, but we also need to see the details and not just the Government patting themselves on the back. I seek two points of clarification on that trade deal. First, there seems to be no mention in the Government’s agreement in principle of environmental or animal welfare standards. The noble Baroness will understand why it is so important to the farming community to ensure that our high production standards are not undermined. Can she provide any assurances on this? Secondly, can she also guarantee that, prior to ratification, Parliament will have full ratification well in advance and a clear and accurate impact assessment?
On a more optimistic note, the NATO summit in Brussels took some welcome steps towards future security in Europe and the north Atlantic. This underlines exactly why the alliance is so important to us. A collective understanding of new security threats, a recommitment to Article 5 deterrence and an emphasis on climate are each integral to global security and stability. We are also pleased that the leaders recognise the challenges that Beijing poses to global security and stability, so can the noble Baroness now detail and provide more information on what strategic actions NATO will agree in relation to China?
In a world of democracy under pressure, and as the US leads allies in facing the challenges posed by China in the Indo-Pacific, the UK’s military leadership in Europe is more important than ever. Having cut the British Army by a further 10,000, however, we are left not only unable to provide regional leadership but out of step with our allies. Again, the UK Government were unable to provide the necessary leadership or direction that we should be in a position to do. With that in mind, does the noble Baroness regret that the Government have broken their election pledge and are now cutting our Armed Forces by 10,000?
In conclusion, it has been 23 years since the Birmingham G8. International co-operation remains our most effective tool for global progress but the Government have to be ambitious, and that is what was really lacking from this summit. We could have enormous influence on the world stage, but that is a choice. We can do that only if we have the leadership to turn our values into action.
My Lords, I suspect that, for many people, the sight of the G7 leaders going about their business in a professional and businesslike manner in Cornwall was a great relief after the chaos of the Trump years. The 25-page long White House communiqué, which covers most of the world’s most pressing problems is, at first sight, extremely impressive. Any lingering concerns are not so much to do with the institution—to coin a phrase, “the G7 is back”—but over whether the specific pledges made are substantial enough to meet the challenges the communiqué identifies.
Before coming to the G7, the Prime Minister made great play in his Statement of signing the New Atlantic Charter with President Biden. As noble Lords will be aware, the first Atlantic Charter, signed in 1941, led to the formation of the United Nations. Could the noble Baroness inform the House of any single, specific initiative—large or small—she believes or hopes will flow from the new charter? If she is unable to do so, could she explain why the charter should be seen as anything other than a mere PR stunt?
On the summit itself, the Government very sensibly chose to steer their deliberations by commissioning the noble Lord, Lord Stern of Brentford, to set out the scale of ambition they should adopt. His report, G7 Leadership for Sustainable, Resilient and Inclusive Economic Recovery and Growth, sets out a definitive agenda for action on all the key issues the summit addressed. The communiqué simply thanks the noble Lord, Lord Stern, for his efforts, but sadly fails to rise to the challenges he sets. Take just three examples.
First, on Covid vaccines, the noble Lord points to the urgent need to close the £20 billion funding gap for COVAX. The summit committed to only a small fraction of that. Will the UK Government not only redouble their commitment to make vaccines available to those in the rest of the world who need them most and can afford them least, but commit to diverting surplus vaccines in the UK, and do so in the speediest possible fashion?
Secondly, on climate change the noble Lord, Lord Stern, makes the case for a doubling of climate finance and for a commitment to go beyond the $100 billion target to help developing countries to decarbonise. Such a commitment is lacking in the communiqué. Does the noble Baroness accept that, by cutting overseas development assistance, the Government significantly undermined the prospect of getting the necessary funding into developing countries, and in doing so, have made it much less likely they will agree to ambitious decarbonisation targets at COP 26?
Thirdly, on girls’ education, the communiqué commits to the target of getting 40 million more girls into school by 2026, which is terrific. Can the noble Baroness therefore explain why the Government have cut their bilateral support for girls’ education in the poorest countries by 40%? Can she explain whether the funds the Government have announced for the Global Partnership for Education are new money or simply a new announcement of old money?
The communiqué covers an extremely wide range of issues, but one final issue leapt out of the page for me. The text praises the
“incredible contribution of caregivers in our societies … and the importance of improving decent working conditions for these caregivers”.
What improved provision do the Government have in mind? Will they, as a start, commit to improving the provision of respite care so that carers, who are increasingly at the end of their tether as Covid restrictions continue to affect them, will get at least some relief from the very onerous daily burdens they carry?
The Prime Minister includes in his Statement reference to the trade deal with Australia. Will the noble Baroness confirm that the absolute maximum benefit this trade deal could conceivably deliver equates to one penny per person per week? Does she accept that the cost of this derisory benefit will be overwhelmed by the damage the deal threatens to do to our livestock industry—particularly in upland areas—and that the potential increased access to Australia for young people is frankly risible compared to their reduced access to live, work and study in Europe as a result of Brexit?
The Statement very wisely ignores the unseemly row on the margins of the summit around the operation of the Northern Ireland protocol and perhaps that is a matter for another day. But may I remind the noble Baroness that the single most important ingredient for conducting summits and international affairs successfully is trust? Through his unwillingness to stick to international law and his track record of breaking his promises, this Prime Minister has squandered it. Until it is rebuilt, our influence on the world stage will remain seriously impaired.
I thank the noble Baroness and noble Lord for their comments and questions. They both rightly asked about vaccinations and, as they will know, G7 leaders committed to providing at least a further 1 billion doses to the poorest countries to help vaccinate the world by the end of 2022 through dose sharing and finance. The G7 will share at least half of these by the end of 2021. We have committed to providing at least 100 million surplus Covid vaccine doses to the rest of the world within the next year and 5 million will be shared by the end of September, with another 30 million by the end of 2021.
The noble Baroness is right that sharing supply, boosting manufacturing and funding the COVAX scheme all have critical roles. That is why G7 leaders talked about, and want to take concrete actions to overcome, bottlenecks and want to boost manufacturing so that we can increase the supply. The vaccines we will be providing will be across all our supply: AstraZeneca, Pfizer, Janssen and Moderna. We will be working with leaders to continue to ramp up that effort.
Both the noble Baroness and the noble Lord rightly raised climate change and the work done on that. Commitments were made at the summit. Most G7 countries will be reducing emissions by more than half by 2030, compared to 2010 levels. All countries will formally commit to their specific reductions when submitting their nationally determined contributions under the Paris Agreement. Each country will also set up policy plans and milestones on how they plan to meet these, as we have done with our carbon budget.
Both the noble Lord and the noble Baroness talked about the climate finance commitment and, of course, we were the first G7 member to substantially increase our commitment. At the summit, Canada committed to doubling its climate finance through to 2025 and France, Germany, Japan and the US also agreed to increase their commitments, so there was welcome progress.
Both the noble Baroness and noble Lord talked about girls’ education, which is a priority for this Government. At the G7 summit, the Prime Minister announced that we will be pledging £430 million to the Global Partnership for Education for the next five years, which is our largest pledge ever and an uplift of 15%. At the summit the G7 collectively pledged at least $2.7 billion towards the Global Partnership for Education and we will continue to encourage partners around the world to contribute to that fund.
Both the noble Lord and the noble Baroness asked about the Northern Ireland protocol. We are working to support the Good Friday agreement and urgently need to find solutions to support the peace process and minimise disruption. There was discussion of the protocol with our European partners at the summit. Those discussions will continue because we all want to ensure that we get to a satisfactory resolution.
The noble Baroness seemed to suggest that there had not been much movement on, for instance, global tax, over the last few years. But at the G7 we saw a major breakthrough on the issue that has been under discussion for over five years, particularly back in the historic two-pillar international agreement on global tax reform, to address the tax challenges we face. We are very hopeful that this agreement will provide a strong basis for securing a more detailed and comprehensive agreement among the G20 and OECD in July.
On the Australia trade deal, I am sure that the noble Lord will be delighted to know that the UK-Australia trade relationship was worth £13.9 billion last year and is set to grow under this deal. I assure him that British farmers will be protected by a cap on tariff-free imports for 15 years, using tariff-rate quotas and safeguards. To the noble Baroness I say that, when the agreement is published, there will be a chapter on animal welfare, because we have been very clear that we will not compromise on our high standards. I can also confirm that, of course, formal scrutiny of the ratification process will take place once we have laid the final agreement—this will be once we have undergone legal checks—and the impact assessment will be published with it.
The noble Lord asked about the Atlantic charter. It recognises that the values that the US and UK share remain the same as they were in 1941, including defending democracy, reaffirming the importance of collective security and building a fair and sustainable global trading system. There was a very constructive relationship between the Prime Minister and President Biden, and it was a very successful summit.
We now come to the 20 minutes allocated for Back-Bench questions. I ask that questions and answers be brief so that I can call the maximum number of speakers.
My Lords, the UK-US relationship has been the cornerstone of our shared prosperity and security for over a century and should remain so. Therefore, I warmly welcome the New Atlantic Charter. The original charter was a catalyst for promoting free trade through the creation of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade. Given that the pandemic has hit the world’s poorest hardest, with an estimated 150 million people pushed back into extreme poverty, while the world’s richest have seen their fortunes increase by over 25%, how can this new charter emulate its predecessor by re-energising free trade, which benefits the poorest people in the poorest countries, and steer us away from protectionism, which favours the rich in the richest countries?
I thank my noble friend. When the Prime Minister and the President met in Cornwall, they agreed that the revitalised charter was a fitting testament to the sheer breadth and depth of co-operation between our countries. They have resolved to take this co-operation further by expanding trade and progressing towards a UK-US free trade agreement and of course, as he rightly said, by continuing to promote the benefits of free trade more globally.
My Lords, I congratulate the organisers of the G7 summit on their practical arrangements and welcome the outcome of the NATO summit. The major democracies really have found their collective voice again, even if the opportunity for the UK to send a signal in Cornwall that we were working in unison with our friends on the big global issues was spoiled by the Prime Minister engaging in a very public row with European leaders. Bearing in mind that the hallmark of a really successful G7 is that its conclusions get implemented, could the noble Baroness tell us which organisation will be responsible for delivering what I think is the most innovative idea of the summit, the Build Back Better World partnership, to unlock billions in private investment for green infrastructure in poorer countries?
I thank the noble Lord and assure him that the proposition will now be worked up by a designated task force that will consult with developing countries and other key partners and will report back to leaders on progress in the autumn.
My Lords, there is much to welcome in the communiqué post the NATO conference. The continental European nations in particular are seeming to wake up to the wide-ranging threat posed by Russia and the challenge presented by China. The revitalised Atlantic charter, new strategic concept and higher level of ambition set by the NATO 2030 agenda are crucial for our future security. Does the Minister agree that these aims call inevitably for an increase in European nations’ national defence expenditure and NATO common funding? Does she also agree that the UK should continue to lead by example and commit to increase defence spending to 3% of GDP to ensure that these new commitments, agreed by the Prime Minister, are met?
At the NATO summit, leaders did indeed recommit to NATO’s defence investment pledge target of investing 2% of GDP in defence—10 allies meet that target now, and 20 are on track to meet it by 2024. Since 2014, defence investment by non-US allies has increased for seven consecutive years, with a real increase of 4.1% in 2021. So there is still work to do, but we are getting there.
Unlike the UK-hosted Gleneagles summit, which had the communiqué reference to the 0.7% target and the UK encouraging all other G8 members to meet it, and unlike the Lough Erne summit, where the Prime Minister’s official documentation and public statements encouraged other G8 members to meet the 0.7% target, this year there was no mention of any Minister encouraging any G7 country to meet that target. Will the Leader, as a member of the Cabinet, take the opportunity now, at the Dispatch Box, to encourage her G7 counterparts to meet the 0.7% UN target?
I am certainly happy to reiterate at the Dispatch Box that the UK is a world-leading aid donor. We have the third-largest budget in the G7 and will spend at least £10 billion in aid this year. We remain one of the highest contributors to overseas development in the G7, as a share of GNI and pound for pound.
The original vision of the G7 was a fireside chat, where the world’s most powerful men and women addressed the world’s most pressing problems—and there are certainly many of those. Sometimes these meetings can miss the mark, but I was proud of this one. However, as usual, the devil is in the detail and the execution. Therefore, I will ask about the language on climate change: what is their plan to bring China, India and Brazil to the table ahead of the COP and to boost global partnerships for education? What about the drastic cuts to other funds for girls in education? In Carbis Bay, we saw a welcome return to multinationalism, including a consensus on how to manage China, but there is way more work to be done. I am sure that, like me, the Minister was proud of Britain’s hosting of the G7, but will she agree that we have our work cut out to ensure that we can be proud of its legacy?
As the noble Baroness will be aware, China is one of the biggest producers of greenhouse gases and accounts for more than half of the global demand for coal—so we want to work with China in the run-up to COP to raise its ambition on climate change and find a path to limiting warming to 1.5 degrees at COP 26.
I congratulate the Prime Minister on the Cornish weather and on managing not to insult or annoy Canada. The biggest challenge to the G7 was clearly the accelerating pandemic, which has now taken 3.5 million lives across the world, with more dying this year already than in all of last year. The shaming fact is that only 0.3% of vaccine supply currently goes to low-income countries. Some 11 billion doses are needed now—so I am afraid that the G7 failed the challenge. Its aspiration to supply 870 million doses by the end of next year, and our talk of contributing 100 million, is painfully inadequate in both quantity and speed. I am afraid that Gordon Brown is right. Will the Minister please convey to the Cabinet the feeling of very many of us in this House that it would be good if we raised our game on vaccine supply before the G20 meeting in Venice?
I thank the noble Lord for his comments. He is right that this is a huge global challenge and we all need to work together to deliver on it. However, I point out that the Oxford vaccine is a very important way of helping tackle this pandemic. Of course, we part-funded it, and it is being produced at cost to low and middle-income countries and at scale through manufacturing partnerships across the world. This is already ensuring that more than half a billion doses of the vaccine are available across the world. Of course, we have to ensure that we continue to roll it out, but it is also worth remembering the huge contribution that we have already made through the Oxford vaccine.
My Lords, I am not sure which specific question my noble friend the Leader of the Opposition wanted the Minister to answer, but there is one that she put to her that I would like to repeat, to give the Leader of the House the opportunity to answer it at the Dispatch Box today. From the beginning of discussions on global corporation tax, other countries in the G7 indicated support for an initial rate of 21%, so why do the Government seek to weaken it? Could the noble Baroness please answer that question? At the same time, can she make clear what the Government will do to strengthen global tax systems as a matter of urgency to stop the continuing tax dodging of firms such as Amazon and Google?
As I said, this was a major breakthrough, and different countries of course have different views on what the minimum rate will be. Compromise is necessary to reach the final agreement among the 130 members of the OECD inclusive framework, but we think that the position agreed at the G7 is one that the OECD and G20 can coalesce around.
My Lords, I join in the congratulations to the Prime Minister, not least on his theatrical prowess, because yesterday he gave a very good performance of Dr Pangloss in the other place. I return to the point so ably made by the noble Lord, Lord West. Do the Government really appreciate that the ambitions contained in the integrated review and the agreement in Brussels for the “wholesale modernisation” of NATO will require a much larger defence budget than at present, including even the £16 billion promised by this Government over the next four years?
As I said, it was a very successful summit. I said in response to an earlier question that non-US allies within NATO are increasing their defence spending. The decisions and agreements made at NATO aligned very much with the integrated review, so we will certainly play a leading role, as we always do, in helping to move this forward.
My Lords, I give a warm welcome to the aim to expand the G7 into a D11—a new grouping of democracies. Will that consist purely of heads of nation states or will it continue to include the two chief EU figures, as hitherto? I particularly welcome the Prime Minister’s aim to move on from the outdated “special relationship” phrase, which was used so much with the USA. Does my noble friend recall the observation of our noble friend Lord Hague a decade ago that our links with America should be “solid but not slavish”? Does she agree that a revised US connection should be based more on partnership than on simple followership? Should we not have our noble friend Lord Hague’s wise adage very much in mind?
The Government’s aim in inviting Australia, India, South Korea and South Africa to the G7 summit was to increase co-operation among democratic like-minded partners on global issues, reflecting our shared value of openness. We do not see this grouping of 11 democracies as fixed, limited or replacing the G7, but it was a symbol of our desire with others to strengthen like-minded international co-operation. We look forward to the US-hosted Summit for Democracy, which will take place later this year.
On my noble friend’s point about America, he is absolutely right. The original Atlantic Charter demonstrates that the UK-US relationship has been one of partnership rather than followership for decades. We look forward to that continuing.
My Lords, at a time when Africa accounts for more than 20% of the world’s population but has less than 3% of global GDP, and less than 2% of the continent is vaccinated, what reassurances can be taken from the G7 summit that more urgent focus will be given to administering the vaccine programme, addressing conflict resolution and peacekeeping, and assisting with family planning in Africa?
At the summit, the G7 leaders announced plans to deepen the G7’s current partnership with developing countries and deliver a new deal for Africa, including magnifying support from the IMF for countries most in need. The increased funding for COVAX will help with the vaccine rollout within countries in Africa.
My Lords, it was reported that the Association of Southeast Asian Nations had observer status at the summit. Was this regarded as a successful new initiative and is it likely to be repeated? It seemed to me to be very welcome.
I welcome the strong wording in the G7 communiqué about establishing the Democracy 11, and the strong wording in the outcome of the NATO summit about defending the borders of free nations in the east of Europe from Russian expansionism. Will the Government therefore guarantee that any current support available for conflict prevention, peacebuilding and institution building in those eastern European nations will be maintained, despite the cuts to the budget for official development assistance in the UK?
As I have said in response to previous questions, we remain and will remain a world-leading aid donor. Officials are currently looking through the implementation plans for our spending and I am sure that the noble Lord’s comments will be taken into account.
My Lords, we very much welcome the G7 meeting here in Cornwall, where I speak at the moment, and we thank those who came for the good weather. Like the noble Lord, Lord Ricketts, what I really welcome is the concept of the Build Back Better World initiative. However, it seems potentially far too complex as it is explained at the moment. As we know from the Marshall plan after the Second World War, the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, the belt and road initiative and the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, having simple single funders for these programmes works best. Will that be the case for B3W?
The new approach is intended to give developing countries access to more, better and faster finance while accelerating the global shift to renewable energy and sustainable technology, and it is intended to expand the current investment offer by bringing in private finance for clean and green infrastructure in developing countries, to ensure that they have autonomy over their climate investments and ensure financial sustainability and access to cutting-edge technology and financing projects. As I said, a designated taskforce will look at the details, consult developing countries and other partners and report back on progress in the autumn.
My Lords, I welcome as a first step the proposal on the 100 million surplus doses that the UK is now committed to. As we know, low-income countries desperately need more vaccines, and quickly. The PM confirmed yesterday that those vaccines will be donated on top of the existing aid budget, which is great news, but does that mean that they will be funded on top of the 0.5% of GNI or on top of the £10 billion of aid already committed? The former would be very welcome, and I hope the first step on a road back to 0.7%, but the latter would mean that these vaccines were paid for by the surplus of mistakenly overcutting our life-saving aid programmes. Can my noble friend clarify that point?
The next speaker, the noble Lord, Lord Mackenzie, has withdrawn, so I call the noble Lord, Lord Browne of Ladyton.
My Lords, this has been an extraordinary week of summits. Two questions on the ambitions of the integrated review arise from the concluding statements. First, the US and the EU at their summit committed to co-ordinate policies and actions and to establish a US-EU high-level dialogue on and with Russia. With whom does the UK plan to pursue its interests vis-à-vis Russia? Will it be along with the US-EU framework or bilaterally with Russia? Secondly, Presidents Biden and Putin reaffirmed the principle that a nuclear war cannot be won and must never be fought. Does the UK support that principle, and will it say so?
I do not think that any of us want a nuclear war—I certainly do not —so I am certainly happy to put that on the record. We will work with partners globally, internationally and through all fora, including NATO, in relation to Russia.
My Lords, I congratulate the organisers of the summit, including the police and other authorities, in ensuring not only its success but its safety.
The Foreign Secretary said yesterday in relation to the JCPOA that Iran must return to full compliance—and it is not just the stockpile of enriched uranium, which is 16 times the permitted limit, but the operation of centrifuges and production of uranium metal that is of deep concern. The opening paragraph of the statement says that the aim of the G7 summit
“was to demonstrate how the world’s democracies are ready and able to address the world’s toughest problems, offering solutions and backing them up with concrete action”.—[Official Report, Commons, 16/6/21; col. 283.]
What are the solutions and concrete actions in relation to Iran?
The G7 leaders reaffirmed their commitment to ensuring that Iran will never develop a nuclear weapon, and they welcome the substantive discussions between the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action participants and separately with the United States to accomplish a return of the United States and Iran to their commitments. The leaders agreed that a restored and fully implemented plan of action could also pave the way to further address wider regional and security concerns, and condemned Iran’s support for proxy forces and non-state armed actors, including through financing training and the proliferation of missile technology and weapons.