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Column 434My favourite quote came from Gerard Kelly, a Scottish actor of some repute, who said :
"I now try to recycle most things except toilet paper because I couldn't stand the thought of someone else using it first." There are limits on how far recycling can go.
People I have spoken to about the Rio conference were disappointed by it. It was a disappointment to those of us who had hoped that some of the existing global ecological and economic imbalances would be redressed. Immense challenges confront the developed world, and the summit offered us the opportunity to do something meaningful about them. Unfortunately, that opportunity was passed by. The challenges include the facts that the richest 20 per cent. of the world consume 80 per cent. of the world's resources, that an area of tropical forest the size of Britain is destroyed every year and that scientific research has shown that, in the next 40 years, greenhouse gases could raise the earth's temperature by up to 3 deg C. Those facts are frightening. I accept that the summit addressed them, but it failed to reach agreement on a pattern of economic development designed to save us from the environmental catastrophe that we face. At least the summit recognised that the issues of the environment and development cannot be separated, which is welcome. However, surely the priority should be the problem of poverty, which cripples so many in the third world. It was extremely disappointing to note that all the reports that led up to and followed the summit rarely mentioned poverty. I understand why so much attention was focused on the environment, but poverty is the major problem now facing the world. The summit offered little hope to the world's poor. It failed to construct the framework for international, regional and local action to achieve sustainable development in the third world, which is crucial.
Agenda 21 holds out some hope in terms of achieving sustainable development. It produced policy statements on primary health care and sustainable agricultural development, which could serve as useful guidelines for further action. However, the likely benefits from such policies are threatened by the fact that the developed countries have not committed the necessary sums to fund them.
The donor countries pledged a few billion pounds, which falls far short of the estimated extra £40 billion that is required to implement Agenda 21 and the other conventions. The total bill has been estimated at $125 billion. If the developed countries achieved the United Nations contribution target of 0.7 per cent. of GNP for development and assistance, that bill would be met. It appears that that will not happen. Unfortunately, but not surprisingly, the Minister said nothing about when Britain hopes to achieve that funding target.
The UN target figure is not only the best way in which to judge our commitment to aid programmes ; it is also an important indicator of Britain's commitment to Agenda 21, which we should back with new resources. The Prime Minister said in his famous quote from Rio that money is the root of all progress. In terms of development aid that is unquestionably true. The Prime Minister should be held to that commitment and it should be underwritten by deeds. The Government should drag Britain towards achieving the UN aid contribution target of 0.7 per cent. of GNP. I accept that that must be done in stages, but
Column 435when successive Governments have been pressed on this matter they have cited the now sadly familiar refrain about aid increasing when economic circumstances permit.
The charity, Action Aid, carried out a survey on the comparative aid between 1975 and 1990. It compared the growth in GNP with the growth in overseas development aid. The survey is revealing, because it shows that even when our economy has been growing strongly and steadily--that may not happen often--the Government, for one reason or another, have not found the necessary resources to make significant progress towards achieving the UN aid target.
Since 1975, Britain's economy has grown four times faster than our contributions to official development assistance. The 1991 figure shows an upturn in contributions, which is welcome, but that belated increase means that Britain is still contributing only 0.32 per cent. of GNP. Let us compare that figure with that of the other major players within the European Community. Germany and France contribute 0.4 and 0.56 per cent. of GNP respectively. The only two EC countries that exceed the 0.7 per cent. target are the Netherlands with 0.88 per cent. and Denmark with 0.96 per cent.
There is much to be done and the Government should not be complacent about our current contribution of 0.32 per cent. It is important to remember that, in 1979, we contributed 0.5 per cent. of GNP--I hope that Conservative Members will accept that I am not seeking to score political points--but it was allowed to reach the nadir of 0.27 per cent. a year ago. We are lagging well behind our EC partners and we must make progress. Let us hope that our contribution will be increased next year. Let us be charitable to the Government and accept that the economy may be on an upward cycle. If we continue our current level of growth we will reach the 0.7 per cent. aid contribution target by 2000. Any steps towards that are welcome. On the basis of what we have heard today and what we heard from the Prime Minister last week, I doubt whether that rate of increase will be sustained. The poor countries desperately hope that it will be, but, in common with the Opposition, they will not hold their breath in anticipation. They know the Government's record.
Agenda 21 envisages a massive transfer of resources from defence spending to spending on the economic and environmental needs of the third world. The UN has established the Sustainable Development Commission, which will oversee the implementation of Agenda 21. However, without a meaningful commitment, that eminently sensible new office will be starved of resources. It will be unable to carry out its important job of altering the massive resources imbalance in the world.
I agree with what the right hon. Member for Tweeddale, Ettrick and Lauderdale (Sir D. Steel) and the hon. Member for Croydon, South (Mr. Ottaway) said about population. The projected population figures make astonishing, frightening reading. The lastest UN projection is a likely population of 8.5 billion by 2025 and 10 billion by 2050--34 per cent. of that increase will occur in Africa. By mid-1992 the world population will be 5.5 billion and it will reach 6 billion by 1998. In the next decade the world population will increase by an average of 97 million a year. We must start to tackle that problem and acknowledge how it relates to the problem of world poverty, but we need aid to do that.
Column 436More resources must be devoted to family planning. At present, 1 per cent. of the British Government's overseas development assistance programme is spent on family planning. That figure must be substantially increased, as a matter of urgency, if we are to have any effect on the world's population explosion. The Government should start to work towards doubling the amount of aid we give by 1995, having a target of 4 to 5 per cent. rather than the present 1 per cent. That should be our target by the year 2000. Only by that means shall we make a serious impact on the problem.
The Overseas Development Administration is firmly committed to a policy of reproductive choice, of voluntary--I accept that, wherever possible, it should be voluntary--quality family planning provision to enable women, in the classic phrase, to have children by choice rather than by chance. Finance is needed to breathe life into that concept. I will not say more about family planning, except to reiterate that it is a crucial issue and cannot be divorced from the whole question of overseas aid in the process of addressing world poverty issues.
Much more could have come out of the Rio summit. We must now do our best to build on the organisations that have been established to carry forward Agenda 21. I hope that the British Government will play a meaningful part. I am pleased that the Prime Minister has made a commitment to call a global summit of non-governmental organisations next year to evaluate the progress made in the first 12 months. Evaluating progress must be a continuing process. Only by that means shall we see the direction in which we are going and the progress being made in the aftermath of Rio. Let us hope that what emerges from it will begin to deal with the terrible problems, including the debt, facing the third world.
Mrs. Cheryl Gillan (Chesham and Amersham) : I wish at the outset to congratulate my hon. Friend the Member for Blackpool, North (Mr. Elletson) on the strength of his excellent speech. I shall certainly be re-examining my holiday arrangements for this year.
As this is the first time I have addressed the House, I hope that hon. Members will bear with me while I pay tribute to my eminent predecessor and to my constituency. Sir Ian Gilmour was once dubbed the philosopher king, and throughout his distinguished political career he considered deeply all his actions and words. For over 30 years, as the hon. Member for Norfolk, Central, and then the new seat of Chesham and Amersham, he looked to championing the weakest in the community. As a politician, he always stuck to his principles. No one is more delighted than I at his elevation to the other place. We wish him well and, personally, I hope for his advice from time to time, but also his understanding when perhaps I take a different view from his. As a former owner of The Spectator and a distinguished author, it is apt that he should have represented the very place in which Milton penned his immortal poem, "Paradise Lost". Milton's cottage nestles in the heart of the Chalfonts, but it is not the least of the many attractions of my picturesque and thriving constituency. From the beauty of the gardens at Chenies Manor to the charms of the old towns of Chesham and Amersham, from top to bottom it is a gem. Set against the backdrop of the Chiltern hills, we boast many successful businesses,
Column 437among which is the oldest independent building society. Chesham Building Society was founded with assets consisting of a piece of green baize, three wooden cash boxes and a deed box. Now, with assets of more than £60 million, it shows how from humble beginnings a successful business can grow. There is a lesson there for us all. From Chesham one can travel through the cool woods of Chesham Bois to the epitome of an English country town, Amersham. With Saxon origins, Amersham was for generations the country seat of the Drakes of Shardeloes. William Drake, who represented the area in the Long Parliament, wrote in 1640 a personal diary chronicling the problems of Parliament and the monarchy on the eve of the English civil war, thus providing one of the best insights into that troubled period in our history.
Those who come to my constituency are struck not only by its beauty but by the friendliness and courtesy of my constituents. We believe that it starts at the beginning, and that is reflected in our excellent schools and educational establishments in Buckinghamshire. We pride ourselves in bringing out the best in all our children, equipping them to be valuable members of society, whatever their aptitudes. Indeed, today--at this moment --I should have been present at the leaving ceremony for some of our girls from Dr. Challoner's high school. I take this opportunity to wish them well in their future careers--except, perhaps, if they choose a career on the Opposition Benches.
Although Chesham and Amersham is idyllic, we have some problems, and of concern to us all is an environmental issue. Our two rivers, the Chess and the Misbourne, have all but disappeared, and I am shortly to meet the National Rivers Authority and the water companies to establish a plan of action. Hopefully, it can be achieved on a domestic basis, but many of the environmental problems that we face can be rectified only by global co- operation and action.
From the rivers of my constituency I think of another river, the Amazon, and what was achieved at Rio. Just as the environment was not polluted in a single step, so the clean-up process cannot be achieved by one conference in Rio, however successful it may have been. The first environmental conference took place in Helsinki in 1972 and, to put the debate in perspective, the world's population has grown by 1.5 billion since then.
In 1972 there were few environmental policies and little legislation, but the follow-up to that conference heightened public awareness and resulted in reams of legislation, some of which has been implemented in only a patchy fashion. Our environmental problems have increased since that conference, and everything now depends on the follow-up to Rio. That follow -up will depend not just on our Prime Minister or Secretary of State for the Environment but on all our Ministers. Involvement is needed at every level--in the home, in business, in local government, nationally and intergovernmentally. In some cases our Ministers will have to pursue measures which in the first instance work against the objectives that they may be set in their portfolios. That will be hard, but I believe that every Conservative Minister will rise to the challenge.
Internationally, there is an overriding need to take into account the sensitivity of the developing nations. Rio
Column 438made it clear to everyone that developing countries see some measures as imposing on them handicaps which the developed nations did not have at the time when they, in their turn, were developing their industries. That, coupled with the myriad Governments and cultures that environmental issues must embrace, means that the continuing process is complicated and calls for a systematic approach and a realisation that our objectives cannot be met by strong-arm tactics.
We face a situation in which we in the United Kingdom excel. It represents a good opportunity for us to build on the world-leading initiatives of our Prime Minister and to play a key role in bringing the various parties and points of view together. The danger is that the impetus could be lost and the fight for the environment, in all its facets--tropical forests, emissions, agricultural pollution and over-population--will start to bore, or at least be treated as a peripheral issue, rather than as a complex and many-sided problem of the utmost importance.
We must also sow the seeds of an enhanced pan-European approach. I hope that the United Kingdom will follow the line that it has suggested and will take advantage of its presidency to expand the co-operation further to include EFTA and eastern and central European countries. It is vital that our co-operation is extended in that fashion, as we all know that pollution does not need a visa to cross borders.
Identifying problems at an early stage and monitoring and policing the global environment is yet another facet of the debate. My right hon. Friend the Prime Minister's initiative to highlight the role of satellites has been well received. It has spawned several sub-initiatives, and one-- perhaps the most important--is the investigation of the complex problems connected with the digesting of data from satellites. As someone said recently, we receive about three times the contents of the British Library every week and, by the end of this century, we are likely to be receiving that quantity of data every day.
Our national remote sensing centre at Farnborough is a unique venture to introduce private sector management and marketing expertise to facilitate the constructive use of that data by all users, not least those involved in seeking to monitor climate change and the environment. It is an excellent example, in the good Conservative tradition, of a public and private sector partnership, and I encourage the Ministers responsible at the Department of the Environment and the Department for Trade and Industry to visit the centre as part of a follow-up to Rio, and seek to expand and enhance that area of technology in which I believe we can lead the world. It is also important that we try to get the environmental users better organised. Rio has certainly done something to win over industry and, perhaps more cynically, to show it the inevitability of change. The Government must encourage United Kingdom industry to seize the chance of a more efficient use of energy, better emission controls, and a whole raft of subjects connected with using more environmentally friendly technologies. Not only is that an essential component of a modern environmental protection plan, but commercial gain could be made from it for small and large companies. We need to ensure that we produce environmentally efficient goods which tomorrow's consumers will want to buy.
In that area, we may find that our industries discover a good vehicle for joint industrial ventures with developing
Column 439countries. It is particularly clear that my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister's Darwin initiative can support international co-operation.
However, an area of international co-operation that is not making progress is the European Environmental Agency. It was agreed at a summit when Margaret Thatcher was still our Prime Minister, but it is being stopped by just one member of the European Community : France is blocking any agreements on community agencies until it receives assurances that Strasbourg will be the seat of the European Parliament. Can we continue to tolerate that situation when the needs of the environment are so pressing? During Wimbledon week, it would be apt to borrow the immortal words of John McEnroe and say to the French, "You can't be serious". I hope that my right hon. Friends will argue robustly against the French position at every opportunity, and especially when Britain assumes the Community presidency in a few days' time.
Finally, in the tradition of my hon. Friend the Member for Blackpool, North (Mr. Elletson), I return to poetry and to Milton's "Paradise Lost". Sitting in my constituency, Milton described paradise. He wrote :
"Both where the morning sun first warmly smote the open field and where the unpierced shade imbrown'd the noon-tide bowers. Thus was this place a happy rural seat of various views".
He was undoubtedly inspired by the environment of Chesham and Amersham--the "happy rural seat" that I am proud to represent in this House.
Mr. Jeremy Corbyn (Islington, North) : I congratulate the hon. Member for Chesham and Amersham (Mrs. Gillan) on her maiden speech and on outlining some of the environmental problems that she sees in her constituency and the rest of the world. May I point out, however, that market forces encourage the high consumption of any commodity, be it water, gas, electricity, coal or whatever, which in turn leads to depletion of those resources. Market forces of themselves do not preserve the environment or the materials whose consumption we seek to reduce. They work in precisely the opposite direction and encourage greater use of them.
In some ways, the success of Rio was the fact that it was held at all. It is essential that all the Governments and agencies of the world recognise that we cannot continue to deplete natural resources and pollute our atmosphere without paying a high price for it. Rio was also the coming together of the north and south, the interface of the world's great problems at present.
For all the honeyed words said by President Bush and others after and during the Rio summit, the reality is that two thirds of the world's population do not enjoy the same standard of life, health care, life expectancy and hope for their children that the other third enjoys. Millions of people around the globe do not enjoy a life expectancy of 60 or 70, but are old at the age of 40. A terrible price is being paid by children throughout the world in infant mortality and death in childhood because of wholly preventable illnesses. That is the reality of the north versus south, which is what the Rio summit was all about.
Column 440We cannot continue with a third of the world's population consuming two thirds or more of the world's natural resources and energy production. The United States alone turns out more than a quarter of all the carbon dioxide produced in the world. We simply cannot continue to sustain the planet in that way. So when President Bush talks about protecting American jobs and the American environment--it is the first time that he has ever talked about protecting jobs--he is really saying that in no sense is he prepared to interfere in the economy of the United States to protect the rest of the world. He fails to realise that damage to the ozone layer and increasing world temperatures affect the United States as much as elsewhere. We must also be wary about talking in grand terms about the transfer of resources from north to south, as though the aid budget were a grand train that transfers resources from the riches to the poorest and helps the poorest develop, because it simply does not. For every £1 in aid that this country gives from all sources to the poorest countries in the world, £4 comes back in either debt repayment or profits of multinational companies. Those same companies and banks are making vast amounts of money through the British tax system in setting aside bad debts of third world countries. So the British banks are making a great deal of money out of writing off debt repayment, or setting aside money for it without doing anything about it and getting a large amount of tax relief as a result. By that process last year, $50 billion more than was transferred from the north to the south was transferred from the south to the banking systems and multinational companies of northern countries. That is wholly unsustainable.
When we speak of the environmental damage that occurs in many countries, such as India, Malaysia and Brazil, we must recognise that often the poorest indigenous people in forest areas pay the price. Last week I had the privilege of meeting a group from the Third World Network based in Penang, Malaysia, who described to me the plight of people in the forest of Sarawak when the logging companies throw them off their land and illegally cut down the trees. The wood ends up in DIY stores of western Europe and north America and as conservatories or extensions. Those people are thrown off their land, which is left as a virtual desert as a result.
The people who have stood up against the rape of their environment have paid a high price. Chico Mendes was a brave man who was murdered. He and his organisation of rubber tapper workers stood up for people who lived and sustained themselves through the forest in Brazil. I do not know who pulled the trigger and killed Chico Mendes--in a sense, it does not matter. What matters is that people like him exert pressure and stand up for the people, and as a result those who take such a stance die.
We must think seriously about the trading relationship between the north and the south if we are to begin to eliminate the abject poverty of those who live in so many parts of the world. What will the future hold if we do not face that reality? It will hold a further transfer of resources from the poorest to the richest and a further deterioration in the living standards of the people of sub-Saharan Africa and Latin America. We cannot countenance that and must look to a world that protects and shares its resources, and seeks a sustainable future. I know that many of those sentiments were expressed in Rio, but my worry is whether there will be practical results from it.
Column 441The hole in the ozone layer was discovered by Dr. Joe Farmer and others at the British Antarctic Survey, all of whom I had the pleasure of meeting. I think that they do a fine job of research. It was not the British Government who promoted the minerals moratorium in the Antarctic ; they pushed through the House the legislation that allowed commercial exploration of the Antarctic. The Madrid protocol put an end to that legislation, and I look forward to an announcement from the Minister this evening on when legislation will be introduced to repeal the Antarctic Minerals Act 1989 and introduce the proposed moratorium.
For all that has been said about the depletion of the ozone layer and the need to phase out the production of CFCs and HCFCs, insufficient action has been taken. There is an urgent need to recognise the serious health problems caused in the southern parts of South America and northern Europe by the continuing destruction of the ozone layer.
I believe that Greenpeace is right to call for the reconvening of the Montreal convention to bring forward the date on which to end the entire production of CFCs and promote safer substitutes. We need fewer lectures from ICI and others that have made a fortune out of the production of CFCs, and even now seek to continue the production of dangerous gases that can only damage our natural environment. We are experiencing a climatic change. It is not something that will happen in the future--it is happening now. Desertification is taking place : the Sahara was not always a desert. In Roman times it was the granary of the empire, and the greed of the Roman empire destroyed that region of grain production, turning it into a desert. The greed of militarisation in this country in the middle ages destroyed our forests. Is the greed of the rest of the world now to destroy the forests of Latin America and Asia?
I think that, in some ways, the outcome of the Rio summit is depressing. It has not given the authority to agencies such as the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development or maintained the operation of the United Nations office that monitors the work of multinational corporations that control 80 per cent. of world trade. Instead, it has agreed a series of proposals--some of which the United States have backed out of--that may help to protect some species and some natural regions, but it has not granted the necessary power to achieve those goals.
At the same time, the same Governments propose policies in which market forces are to be the solution of all economic problems. They also maintain nuclear weapons bases around the world, with a world order based on injustice and unfairness, and held together by military power and control.
I think that the issue that we are debating and the debate are important. But if we do not want to face the prospect in 10 years' time of millions of environmental refugees knocking on the door of western Europe and north America to try to get safe haven, we must react with more urgency and take more positive action than that which has resulted from the Rio summit. We must talk seriously about redistributing resources and wealth, and promoting a sustainable world economy. Those issues will not wait.
Column 4427.15 pm
Mr. Geoffrey Clifton-Brown (Circencester and Tewkesbury) : I begin by paying tribute to the maiden speeches of two of my hon. Friends, the Members for Blackpool, North (Mr. Elletson) and for Chesham and Amersham (Mrs. Gillan). They both made eloquent and fluent speeches, and doubtless we can look forward to many others.
The reason that many commentators have said that the Rio summit was not a success was that the expectations were too high. But the conventions on climate change and biodiversity, which are legally binding, together with the principles for sustainable development and the management of forests, which were not legally binding, are to be greatly welcomed. I congratulate my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister on his achievements.
We have heard much this evening about Agenda 21. It is to be regretted that the framework for action carrying us into the next century did not include a clear and unequivocal intention to curb the alarming growth in world population. The reasons for that are well known and, unlike my hon. Friend the Member for Croydon, South (Mr. Ottaway), I have no hesitation in condemning the attitude of the Catholic Church towards contraception.
No less a person than the Reverend Primate, the Archbishop of Canterbury, appealed on 18 May to the Roman Catholic Church to change its doctrinal opposition to birth control. On 22 April, Prince Charles, in his keynote address to the Brundtland commission, said of the population explosion :
"I don't in all logic see how any society can hope to improve its lot when population growth exceeds economic growth."
UNICEF concluded :
"the responsible planning of births is one of the most effective and least expensive ways of improving the quality of life on earth--both now and in the future".
We hear much about global warming, which is not something that will happen in future, but is happening now. As the hon. Member for Islington, North (Mr. Corbyn) said, desertification and the elimination of some species are occurring now. Some 21,000 sq km of soil in India have been eroded in the past year alone--the equivalent to taking all the top soil off one of this country's larger counties.
The root cause of environmental damage is twofold : poverty, and excessive growth in world populations. The world population growth is now about 90 million per annum. If we place that in a historical context, the world population was about half a billion at the time of Christ, 2 billion in 1920, and 4 billion in 1960, and it is about 5 billion today. But much more worrying is the fact that the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development predicts that the figure will roughly double over the next 50 years. We must take those statistics extremely seriously. I am sorry that, in the run-up to the Rio summit, Agenda 21 did not make more declarations on that subject.
Population growth can be tackled only if the countries in which it is taking place have the will to do so. We can give them aid and advice, but in the end it is up to them. We must take the issue seriously ; otherwise future populations in those countries will suffer even greater poverty than their parents suffer today. If the countries whose people live at subsistence level are to come close to
Column 443meeting the food needs of those people, they will have to increase their agricultural production to levels approaching those of the Americans. That is unimaginable.
It is estimated that 60 per cent. of world deforestation is caused not by logging but by land hunger. It is to be deprecated that third-world countries, often merely to keep corrupt Governments in power, have to plunder their forests not for food but to shore up those Governments.
Some efforts have been made to tackle population growth. Britain's contribution to the overseas family planning programme amounts to 1 per cent. of our overseas development budget. It is to be noted, however, that that percentage has halved since the 1970s, so I urge the ODA to consider doubling it in the next five years. I hope that the Prime Minister's announcement that some new funding will be provided for the environment means that it will be channelled in that direction.
There is a great unmet need for contraception. Depending on one's sources, there are between 100 million and 300 million families in need of some form of family planning, as the leading article in The Times said today. Like my hon. Friend the Member for Croydon, South, I emphasise the words "family planning", not "family control", because the latter has unfortunate connotations. If we could provide the resources to meet the need for contraception, we could reduce the alarming growth in world population by about 30 per cent.--a goal surely worth trying to achieve.
In some countries, contraception has had notable success in reducing the rate of population growth. In Bangladesh, where contraceptives have been made freely available, there has been a significant fall in the birth rate. Thailand is a particularly interesting example ; in an effort to encourage birth control, the Government provided the resources for family planning and mounted a mass media campaign, resulting in 68 per cent. of the population using contraception. The average family size fell from just over six in 1969 to about two today.
The leading article in The Times uses wizardry of figures to try to prove that the tremendous fall in the average family size throughout the world from about nine to about six shows that great work has already been done, but we need to bring the number down from six to nearer two to tackle the problem. In the developed western world, where average family sizes have shrunk to just over two children, populations have stabilised and some have even gone into marginal decline.
Due to the complexity of population movements and of the subject of human fertility, there is an urgent need for comprehensive, integrated population policies based on careful assessment of population and development factors, of which education is a key one. It is a proven fact that educating women-- thereby stopping them going straight out from their families and starting more families--in the third world and delaying the birth of their children means that those children are brought up, educated and fed better, and average family sizes are smaller. It is vital, therefore, to encourage people in the third world to be better educated about these subjects--
Column 444been agreed. The task now is to turn the vagueness in the agreements into certainty and to turn clearly worded agreements into reality. Monitoring and ensuring that stated goals are reached within and across international boundaries will be essential if the United Nations Earth summit is to be more than just historical words. I should like to hear from the Government more explanation of what mechanism they propose for reporting back to the House on progress on set environmental goals and targets. I should like to hear the Government's thinking on the role, status and powers of the United Nations Sustainable Development Commission. Without some sort of system and accountability, fine words will not be enough. I hope that the Rio conference was a watershed, creating awareness at governmental level and building invaluable contacts and communications networks which will lead to a continuing process of international environmental action. It should not now be necessary to hold regular major conferences if Governments interact and follow through these initiatives at a lower level.
When they happen, future Earth summits should be launch pads for new agreements based on solid, real results. The test for our Government is what they do for the environment in this country and the co-operation that they promote internationally.
There must be disappointment that the United Kingdom cannot even reach its own standard of 0.3 per cent. of GNP spent on aid, let alone the United Nations target of 0.7 per cent. The Scottish National party looks on the United Nations aid target as a starting point. Given the urgency of third- world poverty we should aim at 1 per cent. of GNP as soon as possible.
It is to be regretted that short-term electoral considerations seem to have dominated the United States approach to assisting developing nations and to pollution. Although I welcome many of the European initiatives on environmental protection, the problem created by the United States attitude can be seen in the fact that the European Community carbon tax plans are conditional on the United States taking similar measures--yet the EC produces only 8 per cent. of the world's carbon dioxide emissions while the United States is responsible for one quarter of them. The United States has left a massive gap in the Rio agreement and I hope that a settled presidency will lead to the Americans' essential participation and leadership. I also hope that our Government will encourage them in that as much as possible.
Part of the frustration felt by Scots is that until Scotland is independent we can neither safeguard our environment nor put effective pressure on the international community for such action. Scotland possesses many of Europe's environmental treasures, yet there was no Scottish Office representation or participation at the Rio conference. Scotland's voice was not heard, yet we have a lot to offer the world. We know what it is like to be treated as the world's nuclear and toxic dustbin and we have campaigned to prevent developed or developing nations from exporting their environmental problems. We have immense renewable green energy resources and we would be at the forefront of development of green energy technology, providing much-needed jobs and expertise to help other nations to develop. We know that a Scottish Parliament could provide the political will and
Column 445finance, and that Scottish universities, colleges and industry can provide the technology to implement such positive programmes. I look in vain for any similar United Kingdom Government plans for Scotland. There are none, so an opportunity is being wasted. This whole subject is an international problem based on national action, and it is crucial that environmental problems be solved in situ rather than being exported elsewhere.
Local environmental success must not be at the expense of creating environmental damage elsewhere. For example, green campaigners blocked the operation of a nuclear reactor in the north Rhine-Westphalia area, only to see its spent nuclear fuel sent to Scotland to become a Scottish problem. Campaigns against ozone-damaging chemicals here must not be the harbinger of sales of stockpiles to third world countries. We wish to see an international ban on the transportation of both nuclear and toxic wastes, which will force developed countries to deal with their own problems rather than dumping them on to developing countries, using cash bribes. The twin aims of policy must be to create codes of environmental practice in developed countries while increasing aid and the transfer of environmentally friendly technology to help under-developed nations regulate their growing industries.
I should like to draw attention briefly to the possibilities inherent in linking a build-up of the Scottish forestry industry and much-needed measures to combat the destruction of tropical rain forests. The problems of tropical rain forest destruction are well known, but there can be a home -grown Scottish contribution to help in this crisis. In addition to conforming to international standards on the environment and aid to developing countries, Scotland can become self-sufficient in timber through a sustainable forestry programme designed to stop imports of tropical woods from endangered areas. We know that we can grow hardwoods of native species here and not import tropical wood grown as a cash crop in areas of the world that are being denuded by the developing world's poverty and the greed of exploitation. Selling unprocessed wood does not benefit developing nations, since they receive only 9 per cent. of the value of timber when they sell it as logs, but could receive 35 per cent. if they sold it as a finished product. Therefore, they should be encouraged to have smaller and more skilled industries and be given incentives not to destroy one of their best resources. Fruits and latex from an area of tropical forests provide three times the income of cattle ranching for McDonalds in the same area and six times the income of just chopping down the timber. Therefore, with proper development, communities in the developing world can make more money and have a stable and sustainable future by not cutting down their forests. We can also contribute by a major programme to recycle paper, possibly at the proposed plant at Gartcosh. We have developed industries in Scotland and the north of England that need home-grown timber. That demand can be met until 2020, but after that our production will go into decline because private planting has dropped since tax breaks ended and the Forestry Commission has virtually
Column 446stopped any acquisition of new land. Therefore, we desperately need a national perspective on future forestry needs.
If we became self-sufficient, we would double forest and woodland cover in Scotland in the next 10 years, from 12 to 24 per cent. of our land, with the possibility of creating tens of thousands of jobs, especially by adding value to the timber produced. Doubling forested areas need not mean mono- cultural landscapes with hills of endless pine trees. We can create broadleaved woodlands, Scots pine forests, and continuous canopy and encourage species diversity to replace some of the native woodland that we have lost--for example, in the north-east and the borders, we have lost up to 40 per cent. of our forests. Work and progress in our country can play a positive part in helping other countries in the less developed parts of the world. We need a multi-skilled population to encourage afforestation, like Norwegian best practice, where sheep farmers also learn to be foresters. The necessary education can be provided through a university of the highlands, twinned with Tromso in Norway, based in Inverness but with collegiate sites all over the north. Scotland can make a positive contribution to curbing deforestation and cutting emissions of carbon dioxide. We can pledge environmental commitment and have shown the Government some positive practical initiatives. The question is whether the Government can make the same commitment. Clearly, they cannot and that is a wasted opportunity for Scotland and the wider world.
Mr. Nirj Joseph Deva (Brentford and Isleworth) : In this, my maiden speech, I stand here honoured and privileged to be speaking in the mother of Parliaments. Coming here, as I do, from a political family in Sri Lanka, I was imbued as a child with the values and ethics of the British parliamentary tradition. As you may know, Mr. Deputy Speaker, Sri Lanka has a long and distinguished record of parliamentary democracy, which continues uninterrupted to this day under the able stewardship of President Premadasa.
I am proud to be British. I am proud of the British institutions and values that have now transcended national borders, leaving the legacy of the rule of law, parliamentary democracy, the British legal system, constitutional government and the English language as the common framework of governance for 1.5 billion people in 48 nation states. I pay tribute to the historic figures in these Houses of Parliament who toiled to inculcate those fundamental values and encouraged them to spread across the world.
My presence here today as the second Asian Conservative Member of Parliament is a direct consequence of the efforts and endeavours of parliamentary predecessors in the propagation of this valued system of parliamentary democracy across so many countries and cultures, which has resulted in encouraging many millions of former colonial citizens to leave their newly independent countries to seek their future in the mother country here in Britain. I consider this an act of confidence and faith in our British institutions. It is also, undoubtedly, an act of patriotism towards Britain and her future by those who have newly arrived here. They have clearly demonstrated their faith in our system by voting with their feet.
Column 447Coming here, as we have done, is not enough. We, too, have our duties and responsibilities to the country that we have adopted as our own, and many of us recognise this. We must work with the rest of the community, not against it. We must work to build a sustainable partnership that will last for generations to come, and we will build that one nation that our Prime Minister has called for, based on talent, merit and opportunity and in which class, colour and religion will have no part to play.
In making my maiden speech, I must thank all the people of Brentford and Isleworth who chose to elect me as their new Member of Parliament in this fourth historic victory for the Conservative party. I take this opportunity to congratulate my hon. Friend the Member for Blackpool, North (Mr. Elletson), who made an amusing speech, and my hon. Friend the Member for Chesham and Amersham (Mrs. Gillan), who made a thoughtful speech.
I succeed Sir Barney Hayhoe, now Lord Hayhoe. I hope that I can serve my constituents as well as my distinguished predecessor and friend did. I am sure that the House would wish to join me in congratulating him on his elevation and in wishing him the very best in his new role. Barney Hayhoe served the people of Brentford and Isleworth magnificently for 21 years and is regarded with the greatest affection and respect. His is an example to emulate and I shall be more than satisfied if I am able to retain even a modicum of the affection felt by my constituents and colleagues for Barney Hayhoe over two decades. Barney Hayhoe and I share many common attributes. We are both engineers--a rare breed in this august House. We are also both Catholics. There are also, however, notable differences : for instance, I have a beard.
I am sure that some of my colleagues may be wondering where exactly the constituency of Brentford and Isleworth is, but are too polite to ask. Some of its earliest constituents were the Romans, who found it most appealing. Today, I am sure that many, if not all, of my colleagues have unknowingly driven over or travelled under the constituency on their way to Heathrow airport or the west country. I am delighted to invite my colleagues, when they have time, to leave the M4 and break their journey in this beautiful and historic part of west London. I invite them to take a stroll along its scenic river front, or through some of its many attractive parks--Osterley, Gunnersbury, Syon, Chiswick and Grove, to name but a few--or perhaps to visit one of its many historic buildings and landmarks in Chiswick or Hounslow.
The safe future of the environment, its open spaces and other sites, are vital to my constituents, and I shall guard them most assiduously.
Mine is a multi-racial and cosmopolitan constituency, in which all communities live side by side in harmony. We are an example to the rest of the country.
We are a constituency blessed with modern offices, light industrial estates, some of the most prestigious high-tech companies, a qualified work force and neighbouring Heathrow airport through which 40 million people pass into London each year.
I shall make it my concern to protect our local environment from excessive noise, traffic and air pollution, so that a proper balance is struck between the quality of life in the locality and the economic well-being of my constituents and that of London. I contribute to the debate as an engineer and an environmental scientist. As users of the planet's resources, we are all responsible for its continued evolution so as to
Column 448protect the interest of those yet to be born. We are merely the stewards of our planet. That stewardship must be handled with responsibility and balance. We must not destroy economic growth in the developing countries now for an illusory gain in a nebulous future.
Is it not a fact that science has ways of overcoming many problems? As a scientist, I look particularly to the scientific community to give a lead in developing the measures and techniques which will reduce pollution while enabling sustainable growth.
I congratulate my right hon. Friends the Prime Minister and the Minister for Overseas Development on their role in the success of the landmark Rio summit. The Prime Minister's signing of the international convention on climate change and the biodiversity treaty show that we mean business and that we intend to tackle the issues realistically and sensibly.
It is important to remind people that last year we were the fifth largest world aid donor in volume terms, and that this financial year we have increased aid to the developing countries by 8 per cent. in real terms to £1.8 billion.
We have every reason to be proud of our track record, as British aid is recognised internationally for its effectiveness. Our commitment has always been to ensure that aid goes to the countries most in need, and the development assistance committee of the Organisation for Economic Co- operation and Development has commended us on that.
It is in the same spirit that we should look at the Prime Minister's announcement that we plan to make substantial extra resources available to assist biodiversity, energy efficiency, planning and sustainable agriculture in developing countries. The Prime Minister's Darwin initiative and his commitment to the environment should please those moaning minnies who say that we have not done enough.
Pollution, in whatever form, must be tackled. I accept the principle that the polluter must pay, but it is also important to understand that the general environment fund which has been set up cannot simply be an open- ended commitment by the developed countries to the developing countries. An open-ended commitment without the requisite checks and balances would, as history has shown, lead inevitably to inefficiencies, waste, mismanagement and corruption. Rather, I would encourage the fund to be used in a manner where a partnership is struck between the donor and the beneficiary. Such partnerships need to evolve so that feasibility studies, robust monitoring, cost controls and real benefits are identified during the progress of the fund's expenditure on environmental improvements. Environmental protection is not a zero sum game. Whole new industries and technologies will evolve, employing millions of people world wide to implement the measures required to protect our planet. That, in turn, will lead to economic growth in new sectors, both in the developing countries and in the developed countries working in partnership through the transfer of technology and information. It is an exciting future, a challenge to the whole of mankind as the global village approaches the millenium.