Select Committee on International Development Appendices to the Minutes of Evidence


Memorandum submitted by the Board for Social Responsibility, The Church of England Archbishops' Council

  For many years the Church of England has been concerned at the persistence of extreme global poverty. The Board for Social Responsibility therefore welcomes the White Paper's focus on poverty reduction, but is concerned that the gap between rich and poor is growing rather than shrinking. According to the World Bank's Development Report 2000-01, the average income in the richest 20 countries is 37 times the average in the poorest 20-a gap that has doubled in the past 40 years. While the Board supports the Government's efforts to reduce poverty by half by 2015, it is aware that this target could be reached without necessarily seeing a reduction of the numbers living in poverty in sub-Saharan Africa.

  The Board has not yet had an opportunity to consider key policy commitments contained within the White Paper in detail, and is therefore not in a position to make a more substantial response to your inquiry. However, you may like to know that the Board has commissioned a collection of essays entitled, Development Matters: Christian Perspectives on Globalisation, which has been designed to be read alongside the White Paper offering comments from a Christian perspective on many of the issues raised in it. It is intended that Development Matters: Christian Perspectives on Globalisation will form the basis for a major debate at the General Synod when it meets in July this year.

  Although I can not predict the outcome of this debate it is likely that many speakers will endorse the point made by the Bishop of Guildford in a debate in the House of Lords last month. I quote:

    "The moral duty that we hold for the poorest must be met by a concerted reform of the imbalance of trade and opportunity in our world. I hope that the Government will not yield to the notion that the liberalisation of trade is a substitute for giving the poorest communities opportunities to produce their own food and to be protected from the imbalances of present trading relationships. Free trade cannot be allowed to mean the unfettered right of the strongest to dictate the terms of economic relationships between rich and poor. Trade can be truly free only if it is conducted between partners among whom power and opportunity is shared. The jury is out on whether the present structures of globalisation and the liberalisation of trade will deliver for the poorest of our world. But we look forward to working with the Government in the pursuance of those objectives". (Hansard, 12 December 2000, column 247)

Charles Reed, Board for Social Responsibility

The Church of England Archbishops' Council

January 2001

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