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Lord McIntosh of Haringey: My Lords, I am very sorry that the noble Lord, Lord Pilkington, has thought fit to ask that question. I shall answer it. The error occurred because a fax sent from the Department of Culture, Media and Sport, which concerned the subject of the press release and included the name of the new director, was sent to Dr Borg himself. It was sent to him in error instead of the person to whom it was intended to be sent. It was sent to no one else. Subsequent to that, the name of the new director became known to museum staff and the press.

Lord Bramall: My Lords, as someone who has worked very closely with the present director, Dr Borg, when he was director-general of the Imperial War Museum--I had the highest opinion of him--does the Minister agree that, whatever interpretation is put on this rather odd sequence of events, it reflects the

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extremely cavalier way in which this very distinguished public servant has been treated by the trustees and, to some extent, by the department?

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: My Lords, I certainly agree with the noble and gallant Lord on the distinguished service given by Dr Borg. During his time as the director of the V&A he has overseen a number of successes. Recent highlights include the development of new audiences through critically acclaimed exhibitions such as the art of the Sikh kingdom last year, the introduction of an experimental contemporary programme, the opening of the new Canon photography gallery, the 31 million refurbishment of the British galleries, which will be completed and the galleries reopened by November of this year, along with others. So far as concerns that point, I go along entirely with the noble and gallant Lord, Lord Bramall. However, my answer has made it clear that Dr Borg has not been treated in a cavalier manner.

Lord Peyton of Yeovil: My Lords, is not the noble Lord in danger of defending the indefensible here? A great deal of ill feeling, disappointment and hurt have been generated by this series of events. Does the noble Lord agree that, in the circumstances, it would be sensible if Ministers, when appointing chairmen--in this case it was the Prime Minister--were to be careful and to advise the chairmen whom they appoint to behave towards those who serve them in a manner reflecting a high degree of courtesy and concern?

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: My Lords, I wholly reject both the implicit and the explicit criticisms made in the question put by the noble Lord, Lord Peyton.

Viscount Falkland: My Lords, can the Minister tell us why it took so long to decide this appointment? Surely the little spat taking place in the Chamber this afternoon might not have taken place had it not been for the fact that it took eight months to reach a decision. Can the Minister confirm whether it was the decision itself or the approval of the decision which took so long?

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: My Lords, no delay occurred in the approval of the decision. The recruitment process was conducted entirely properly. Interviews for the post were held in two stages: the first interviews of seven candidates were conducted in December; second interviews of four of those candidates were conducted in January 2001. This process was carried out after public advertisement of the post and the appointment of recruitment consultants. This is not a quick process, but it is a correct process.

Lord Elton: My Lords, I have taken an interest in the process since before the events just described by the Minister because I, too, am a friend of Dr Borg. May I ask how it was that the intention that his contract should not be renewed beyond his 60th birthday

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became public knowledge so very far in advance of that event? Has this not in fact reduced his ability to run the establishment even more effectively than the noble Lord has already rightly outlined?

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: My Lords, there was no question of Dr Borg's contract of appointment being renewed beyond his 60th birthday. His five-year contract expired in autumn 2000. At that time he was informed that his contract would be extended until January 2002, which would coincide with his 60th birthday. That had to become public knowledge because action had to be taken to recruit his successor.

Debt Relief and Poverty Reduction

2.52 p.m.

The Earl of Sandwich asked Her Majesty's Government:

    How they will ensure that civil society organisations can monitor and evaluate progress in poverty reduction strategies in the poorest countries.

Baroness Amos: My Lords, the enhanced Heavily Indebted Poor Countries initiative (HIPC) makes a direct link between debt relief and poverty reduction. As a result, all countries that are eligible for World Bank or IMF concessional adjustment lending are producing national poverty reduction strategies. These strategies are being developed by national governments in wide consultation with civil society. Progress will be judged through the normal processes of democratic accountability.

The Earl of Sandwich: My Lords, I think we all agree that civil society has to be supported and I welcome the emphasis on that in the Government's White Paper. However, these are very large aid and debt relief funds coming into the different countries. How can non-governmental organisations, especially the smaller ones, be expected to be equipped to monitor their government's progress as regards poverty strategies; and how can we expect those governments to tolerate their doing so?

Baroness Amos: My Lords, there are three different initiatives which will assist that process. First, we are mainstreaming work on poverty reduction and the monitoring of governments engaged in poverty reduction strategies through our work with the international financial institutions, governments and civil society. As part of that, we are working on a proposal with the World Bank to develop the capacity of southern civil society to engage governments in budgetary processes so that they will be able to monitor what their governments are doing with the money. We also contribute to the Paris 21 initiative, which aims to co-ordinate work on capacity building for poverty monitoring from a country-led perspective. As part of that, we are building the capacity of civil society to demand and use poverty

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information. The UN Development Group is producing new country reports focused on international development targets. The aim is to provide key information and indicators. Yesterday, at the international conference on child poverty, the first of the reports--on Tanzania--was launched.

Baroness Rawlings: My Lords, why has further lending or debt relief been extended to countries such as Zimbabwe, Nigeria and Zambia, which have not satisfied the criteria of economic and political reform?

Baroness Amos: My Lords, Zambia qualified for debt relief under the HIPC initiative in December last year. It secured new IMF/World Bank lending last year following the sale of the copper mine and renewed commitments to privatisation and macro-economic stabilisation. In all HIPC cases, including that of Zambia, debt relief at the decision point is on "flow" terms. That means that it can be suspended if the Government of Zambia fail to maintain an economic programme designed to restore growth and reduce poverty. Zimbabwe is not eligible for HIPC assistance and is not receiving any new lending or debt relief. In August last year, Nigeria entered into a one-year standby agreement with the IMF. This paves the way for a debt rescheduling agreement, not debt reduction.

Baroness Whitaker: My Lords, with reference to civil society, how can the Government ensure that northern NGOs do not dominate over southern NGOs, thus further disempowering them?

Baroness Amos: My Lords, we have what is called a civil society challenge fund: 11 million pounds has been allocated to the fund in the coming year. The criterion for funding is that UK-based non-profit making groups must have established links with civil society groups overseas. Those links must be more than merely a channel for transferring money; they must demonstrably add value in terms of the activity to be funded. As I mentioned in my reply to the noble Earl, the Paris 21 initiative aims to build the capacity of civil society to demand and use poverty information.

The Lord Bishop of Lichfield: My Lords, some of the poorest people in the world live under dictatorships. Will the Minister help us in thinking about how such people may be able to participate in programmes of aid and debt relief, which depend on economic reform, good governance and strong civil society?

Baroness Amos: My Lords, I entirely agree that it is difficult to deliver aid which benefits the poor in countries where the government are not committed to poverty reduction. We recognise that, and we have been trying to look at ways in which we can reduce poverty in such difficult circumstances. Debt relief is provided only to countries that have a programme of economic management funded by the IMF. That must be focused on economic growth and poverty

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reduction. For HIPC countries which are in conflict or which have a governance problem, the Chancellor of the Exchequer pledged that from 1st December last year all debt payments to the UK will be held in trust and will be returned to fund poverty reduction programmes when the country is able to enter the HIPC process.

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