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Mr. Key: The House has heard a number of firsts in the debate. My hon. Friend the Member for Bridgwater (Mr. Liddell-Grainger) may have been unavoidably detained, but he was a loyal attender in Standing Committee. He has scored a first. As far as I am aware of, he is the first person to have mentioned the export of works of art in the debate. I congratulate him. We should not forget that the Bill is also about the export of works of art.

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The hon. Member for Aberdeen, North (Mr. Savidge) scored another first. He is a doughty man of Surrey, a good grammar school boy and he has made many contributions in the debate. However, it is absolutely astonishing that he should pop into the Chamber to say that he has been watching us on telly and to make a derogatory speech before popping back to watch us on telly again. If he is out there, let me tell him, "We are still at it. How's the tea break?" That was a first, and I congratulate the hon. Gentleman on his sheer audacity.

However, the hon. Gentleman hit a nail on the head when he talked about unreasonable instructions and interventions. The point is that technical and minor provisions in the Bill matter most. There have been some brave words spoken on both sides, but those brave words might lead to lawyers' paradises if we are not careful. [Interruption.] Ah, I welcome the hon. Member for Aberdeen, North back to the Chamber. I am envious of his opportunity to take a tea break or whatever it may have been that detained him in his room.

The problem of defining the small print and the detail has been repeatedly mentioned. It is always a pleasure to hear from the hon. Member for Newcastle-under-Lyme (Paul Farrelly). I used to read him assiduously when he was business editor of The Independent on Sunday and The Observer. I have a feeling that his case was a continuation of previous investigations. The hon. Member for Wimbledon (Roger Casale) put his finger on the button when he said that the problem was getting the balance right between the ideals and aspirations, and what is practical and workable.

The Minister must explain why sustainable development is not mentioned in the Bill when it was included in the draft version. I am going to throw him a lifeline: I suspect that the DTI has been framed by other Departments. The right hon. Member for Coatbridge and Chryston (Mr. Clarke) and I, as former Ministers, recognise when a Minister has been framed. I suspect that the Minister and his officials were told to remove the reference to sustainable development before other Departments realised that they, too, had a problem. It is tempting for the Opposition to row in with those who want to cause serious trouble, but I shall resist that if the Minister gives a credible explanation of why it is not mentioned.

It is important that the Minister recognises our disappointment in Committee when he did not give us a word of explanation for that decision, even though I made a gentle request for it when I said:

If the Minister can give us a convincing answer to that, I will be the first to be pleased because I recognise the Government's difficulty.

The hon. Member for Moray (Angus Robertson), who has, I think, also caught an early plane back to the north, made an interesting point about the Swedish system. There are problems with it, because that system did not stop Sweden exporting fighter aircraft to South Africa as part of a multinational arms deal, so I am not sure that it has much to commend it.

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The hon. Member for Ceredigion (Mr. Thomas) was a little wide of the mark, however, when he said in last night's debate that the answer lies in Brundtland. He stated:

My goodness, if that is a legally watertight definition that the Government are expected to include in the Bill, I am in the wrong profession; I should definitely have been a lawyer. The Brundtland definition is full of aspiration and miles away from practicality. If the Government are being urged to adopt that, I have great sympathy with them.

In last night's debate on Second Reading of the International Development Bill, I read with great interest the explanatory notes that had been prepared by the Department for International Development. Paragraph 19 states:

Clause 1(3) of that Bill states:

It sounds as though the Secretary of State for International Development has had a chat with the Chancellor of the Exchequer, as prudence was cited in the definition as an important reason why Ministers should or should not act. I can see why people believe that such a broad definition is not acceptable.

3.30 pm

Moreover, in reply to yesterday's debate, the Under-Secretary of State for International Development, the hon. Member for Leeds, Central (Hilary Benn)—whose credentials on the issue are surely impeccable—said:

of sustainable development—

As I said, the Opposition are offering the Minister a lifeline. We do not wish to oppose new clause 1 or to support amendments that would tie his hands to a definition of sustainable development from which only lawyers could benefit and which would detract from the

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judgment of the relevant Secretary of State. The matter now rests very much with the Minister. The House is owed an explanation of why the Government left out the paragraph on sustainable development from the table to the schedule, and I hope that the Minister will be able to put us right.

Nigel Griffiths: One of the great pleasures of being a Minister is the opportunity to listen and respond to the many thoughtful and well-informed speeches made by colleagues who take a great interest in the issues under debate. We have heard a number of such speeches today. We have also heard comments expressing our constituents' concerns about these issues. I shall address some of the issues that have been raised in the debate, almost in the order in which they were raised.

Some hon. Members mentioned the time factor in the tabling of some of our amendments. I think that I have explained fairly clearly that, in Committee, certain aspects of the structure were unclear. Hon. Members suggested that the schedule should be applied to clauses 4 and 5. Taking those concerns on board with the Government's own concerns about the Bill's structure creating the risk of a loophole in the control powers, we concluded that it was necessary to amend the Bill as we are proposing in new clause 1.

There is no question of the Government trying to rush through amendments at short notice. I wrote to members of the Standing Committee to explain that the new clause had been tabled partly in response to concerns that were expressed in Committee. I believe that the new clause is a necessary simplification and clarification of the Bill.

I thank the hon. Member for Salisbury (Mr. Key) for his kind offer of a lifeline. I shall not be taking him up on that offer, but I will allow him to save the lifeline for the Conservative party, which will have more need of it than I do. I also did not license the parachute that he mentioned in his opening remarks.

I want to make one thing very clear on sustainable development. This Government have done more than any previous Government to promote the interests of the third world, both by spearheading the international campaign to relieve third-world debt—which has had a tremendous impact—and by providing a lead in writing off debts. We have led the drive to ensure that the people of the third world have a right to health, education and freedom from poverty. It is with that in mind that I should like to deal with some of the comments that just do not stand up.

It is not true that sustainable development is not fully covered in the Bill. It is clearly included in the criteria against which applications are considered. It is not true that the Government cannot refuse an export licence on grounds that are not included in the schedule. I hope that my colleagues are reassured on that point. It is not true that sustainable development could not be a factor in a judicial review. My hon. Friend the Member for Manchester, Central (Mr. Lloyd), for whom I have great respect, put to me the direct question: would the use of sustainable development as a basis for the refusal of a licence stand up to judicial review? The answer is yes, it would.

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There are legal opinions on this issue, but I do not have to remind the House, which is replete with lawyers, that an opinion is exactly that. An opinion is not a legal fact, otherwise cases would never reach court.

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