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The noble Baroness said: In speaking to this amendment, I give notice that I shall be speaking separately to Amendment No. 22. I believe that the Minister is aware of this intention. Amendment No. 21 seeks to classify economic development as an important objective of technical assistance. The Overseas Development and Co-operation Act 1980 sets out the definition of "technical assistance" to include assistance in the field of economic development. The Bill makes no reference to economic development.
Technical assistance is a vital part of British development assistance. It is also the part in which the British people have the most confidence. We believe that technical assistance has provided developing countries with valuable know-how and skills which they would not otherwise have had. We also believe that as one of the world's premier financial centres, the
The British public support technical assistance. A survey of opinion for DfID involving 1,772 people chosen at random showed that just 18 per cent thought that providing financial assistance was the most important way of reducing poverty. In a survey of children, DfID found that the majority of support for development was for technical assistance and training nurses, doctors and engineers rather than just financial aid.
Economic growth is also crucial to development, but in the new definition of "technical assistance" economic development is no longer included. The globalisation White Paper states that economic development goes hand in hand with other development, including the environment. It states on page 16:
Baroness Amos: Amendment No. 21 seeks to retain the definition of "technical assistance" used in the 1980 Act. Clause 5 defines "assistance" for the purpose of the Bill. It reflects our concern that the Secretary of State should not be constrained in terms of the type of assistance that she can offer, or in terms of the areas in which she can operate. To that end we make explicit the Secretary of State's ability to provide know-how in the form of personnel, training or the provision of the results of research and the awarding of scholarships. I reassure the noble Baroness, Lady Rawlings, that such assistance can be provided to encourage economic growth where it contributes to the reduction of poverty.
The definition of "technical assistance" improves on that set down in Section 1 of the Overseas Development and Co-operation Act 1980. The definition in the 1980 Act limits technical assistance to assistance in the fields of economic development, administration and social services. It is not clear why these limits are imposed. The Secretary of State must be able to provide technical assistance in all areas in order to make the most effective contribution possible to the reduction of poverty. The definition in the 1980 Act also imposes limits on the kinds of assistance that can be provided. As the definition of "technical services" in the 1980 Act is inclusory rather than exhaustive, it does not strictly prevent other forms of technical assistance being given, or such assistance being given in different areas but, by specifying the fields and forms, narrows the interpretation of the term.
The effect of Amendment No. 21 is to reintroduce into the Bill the weaknesses of the definition in the 1980 Act. It opens up to doubt the areas in which technical assistance can be provided and the forms of such assistance. I hope that in the light of that explanation the noble Baroness will withdraw the amendment.
Lord Judd: I have given notice that I intend to oppose the Questions that Clause 5 and Clause 6 stand part of the Bill. Opposing the Question that a clause stand part of a Bill is rather like taking a sledgehammer to crush a nut. However, it seems to me that there is a nut here, the contents of which we want to examine. That is why I have taken the step that I have. However, I fervently--almost desperately--hope that my noble friend will provide a response which will result in my not having to pursue this reckless course.
Lord Judd: I draw the attention of my good and noble friend Lord Desai to the fact that the Question that Clause 6 stand part of the Bill is grouped with the Question that Clause 5 stand part of the Bill.
Baroness Amos: Perhaps I can help my noble friends. We have discussed Amendment No. 21. We have not yet discussed Amendment No. 22. That is why we are addressing the Question that Clause 5 stand part of the Bill. When we discuss Amendment No. 22, we shall address the Question that Clause 6 stand part of the Bill.
Lord Judd: I am grateful to the Minister for putting me right. It is clear that we are degrouping. I had not understood that that was going to happen. I am grateful that it has now been clarified. I have made my points. I hope that the noble Baroness will be able to reassure us.
Baroness Amos: I hope that my noble friend will bear with me. I shall speak briefly on whether Clause 5 shall stand part of the Bill. When we discuss the Question whether Clause 6 shall stand part, I shall give some examples which I think will reassure my noble friend.
Clause 5 defines the meaning of assistance for the purposes of the Bill. It provides that assistance can be in any form or of any nature. The Secretary of State is constrained in the Bill to provide assistance only for the overarching aim of reducing poverty and for the two development purposes of furthering sustainable development and promoting the welfare of the people. We believe that the Secretary of State should have available to her the widest possible range of instruments to achieve these narrower purposes.
In the light of that, I hope that my noble friend will feel able to withdraw his objection to the Question whether Clause 5 shall stand part. I shall give a fuller explanation and examples in our discussion on whether Clause 6 shall stand part of the Bill.
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