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Clare Short: I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman for giving way again, because this is so important. We all agree that there cannot be sector-wide or budgetary support unless a country has a reforming Government. However, reforming Governments with reforming intent often have very weak capacity. If, by working through those Governments, we can strengthen their entire public management systems, we achieve sustainability and scale.
I hope that the hon. Gentleman agrees that when that is possible, it is the best way. When it is not possible, one has to find second-best instruments; but when there is a better way of working in other countries, we may leverage the reform effort in countries that perform less well by showing what can be achieved. Working in that way achieves scale and sustainability. Working through the systems of a Government means reaching everybody and engendering sustainable reform that will continue indefinitely.
I believe that the aid direct scheme proposed by my hon. Friend the Member for South-West Devon could be one of the most explosively good ideas that we could offer Britain. We could twin people in Britain who care about overseas development--and there are a lot of them--in the same way as Jersey does. The island of Jersey has a very small programme. In one of its projects, it contacted a village in Nigeria, near Ibadan, which did not have a potable, reliable water supply. The Jersey Estates put up some money but then asked the people of Jersey whether a team would like to go to the village in Nigeria, assess its needs, come back and order the necessary pumps, pipes and equipment, go back to Nigeria and, with the help of the villagers, build that pump and train the people there to maintain it. Jersey offered the villagers a maintenance service and provided spare parts, where necessary, over a long period.
If we could get a lot of such projects going, with a little assistance from the Department for International Development, people would be able to help others in a practical and sensible way. It would also transform people's attitude to aid. This is all about introducing people, showing them how to do things and helping them do those things over a long period. That could have an explosive effect on producing a culture in this country of wanting to help at the grass roots. It cannot be done in isolation; it must be done together with the bigger projects such as SWAPs, but it contains the kernel of a very important idea.
This is a moral issue which we cannot ignore. All parties in the House now have, through the Bill and other means, a focus on development which I believe will be at the centre of the problems of the 21st century. The real problem of the 21st century will be human migration. Unless we can find a means by which these developing countries can offer a decent life to their people, they will migrate, which will result in friction. The task before us is urgent and needs to be undertaken now.
Mr. Tony Worthington (Clydebank and Milngavie): I am very pleased to follow the hon. Member for Hertford and Stortford (Mr. Wells), the Chairman of the Select Committee on International Development. I do not know whether this is his last chance to speak in a debate in the House on this subject, but, even if it is not, it would be appropriate to pay tribute to his chairmanship of the Committee. I have been privileged to serve on the Committee and have greatly enjoyed doing so.
We must look at migration and at reducing poverty through that focus. The Department for International Development is conducting some research on the issue, and I hope that it will continue to do so in the next Parliament. It will need to be considered not only in a development context but across Departments.
I am very pleased to be here for an international development debate--I thought that my career might end before we had one. I do not think that anyone in the Chamber can remember the last one. That shows how much attention the House has devoted to the subject over the years.
The Secretary of State has introduced a Bill that will reduce her powers. My right hon. Friend has almost unlimited powers to use the money voted to her in whatever way is thought appropriate at the time. However, the Government are saying that is not good enough because it has led to some pretty crummy projects, and to corruption and perversions of British aid, such as the Pergau dam affair.
Mr. Rowe: I am grateful to my hon. Friend for giving way. I call him my hon. Friend because we have served together on the International Development Committee with great pleasure. My point is that what he said is not altogether surprising because, after all, one of the Secretary of State's priorities is good governance.
Mr. Worthington: I will return to that point later. It is a fundamental misunderstanding for the hon. Member for South-West Devon (Mr. Streeter) to say that the Bill reduces the focus on good governance--quite the reverse.
I pay tribute to the Secretary of State with regard to the setting up of DFID and the work that it has done. It was epitomised, for me, by the conference that took place a week last Monday. Those attending included the president of the World Bank, the new head of IMF, the head of the United Nations Development Programme, the head of the United Nations Children's Fund--UNICEF--the Prime Minister of Italy, who is the current chair of the G8, the Secretary-General of the Commonwealth, the head of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development and the head of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development. They were there because the Department for International Development wanted a conference on how to reduce child poverty worldwide. The conference was attended not by substitutes, but by top people who recognised the Government's leadership in world development. Wherever one goes in the world, DFID is recognised and respected.
One always worries whether a new policy might go wrong. I was afraid that DFID--a small Department--might be marginalised and that its impact would be reduced when it was cut away from the Foreign Office. Quite the reverse has happened. Wherever I have seen it operate, DFID has a status of its own. The Foreign Office has piled in alongside it, or behind it according to circumstances. The Select Committee recently saw wonderful team work in Vietnam and Cambodia. There was no question that the impact was greater.
Ms Oona King: I, too, serve on the Select Committee, and I agree with my hon. Friend. Does he recall that Nelson Mandela also attended last week's conference, joining us by live satellite link? Nelson Mandela has joined the Labour party because, he says, Labour has consistently focused on international development, both as a Government and in many years in opposition.
Mr. Worthington: I am grateful to my hon. Friend. I had intended to say that Nelson Mandela was there, but thought that some smart Alec would say that he was not since he appeared on video. I forgot to mention that we had enjoyed his words and inspiration.
I must ask whether the reduction of poverty is the same as the increase of wealth. Should we include a clause committing the Secretary of State to concentrating on the poorest people in the poorest countries? I know that in some circumstances, it will be important to direct resources towards poor people in medium-level countries, but the Bill gives great latitude. Should we include a test of whether DFID has concentrated on the deepest poverty in the most difficult places? It may be too difficult to do so.