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Lord Whitty: My Lords, I agree with my noble friend Lord Hardy that when "serious"—however that is defined—damage is caused or threatened, to give six months leeway is not appropriate in any circumstances. In any case, there is a slight

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misunderstanding here. If the aim of the amendment is to try to move to a more voluntary system of reducing or avoiding serious damage, it would not achieve that.

Clause 27 as drafted will come into operation only when a damaging licence has already been revoked. It deals with the consequential issue of compensation. It also assumes that that revocation will have occurred only when the damage has actually been done, whereas, on occasion, revocation will occur where damage is threatened, in order to prevent such damage. As my noble friend Lord Hardy said, were we to allow another six months, it is even more certain that the damage would either not be avoided or would have even worse effect.

The clause will have no effect until after July 2012. We hope to have dealt by then with many, if not most, of the problems associated with damaging licences. We also envisage that, by then, the most significant licences will have transferred from being permanent to being time-limited and subject to the sustainability criteria for the longer term. In those circumstances, with a time-limited licence, the clause would not apply. As I said in the debate on the previous amendment, the fact that the clause would not apply should be seen as an incentive to transfer from a permanent licence to a time-limited licence.

The clause would be used only as a last resort and only after 2012, if remaining permanent licensees were causing serious damage or if it could be shown that they would cause serious damage. The noble Baroness challenged me to define "serious". She cannot be serious—in the sense that the term "serious" is used throughout legislation, and, should further elaboration be used, it is always provided in guidance. That will be the case here. There will be different circumstances and different sorts of serious damage that cannot be defined in the Bill, but examples of the kind of damage that we are talking about can be given in guidance.

I hope that, with the description of the limited circumstances in which it would arise and no compensation paid beyond 2012, the noble Baroness will be reassured that it is not a threat to most licensees in any circumstances. If there is a problem with permanent licensees after 2012, it is right that the Environment Agency should have the right to intervene without incurring claims for compensation. Allowing another six months before the revocation became effective would aggravate the situation, rather than resolving it.

Baroness Byford: My Lords, I thank the Minister for his response. In a minute, I shall return to the point made by the noble Lord, Lord Hardy of Wath. By not defining "serious" or not giving some guidance, the Government raise the question of how judgments are to be made if there is no definition of anything. I hope that I can tempt the noble Baroness, Lady Miller of Chilthorne Domer, to add it to her list of definitions, if we manage, at some stage, to get some guidance on it.

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The Minister said that the clause would not come into effect until 2012. I accept that, but we are dealing with the Bill now. We are not dealing with what might happen in 2012. We are dealing with the Bill as it is today. If the Government wanted to, they could introduce a sunset amendment to make sure that we had time to find out exactly what sort of definition we wanted. I am not exactly thrilled by the Minister's answer, however kindly he put it. I was serious about "serious", and I hope that, in the mean time, we will have a chance to revisit the matter.

I must say to the noble Lord, Lord Hardy of Wath, that, earlier this afternoon, we considered the whole question of the need to protect the environment. I have said clearly that we would not support any damage being done. It is a question of where the balance lies. If some damage is being done and is seen to be done, it should be stopped straightaway. That is why the degree of seriousness is important. If the damage is acutely serious, it must be dealt with straightaway. There would be no question that my amendment would detract from that. If it is serious but could be put right in, say, a month or two months—

Lord Hardy of Wath: My Lords, I thank the noble Baroness for giving way. She said one month or two months; the amendment states a minimum of six months. That suggests that for a minimum of six months damage would continue or the consequences of damage would be even further extended.

Baroness O'Cathain: My Lords, perhaps I may just suggest to the noble Lord that there are issues here concerning the environment which one could not actually see. If the damage was not very serious—as alluded to by my noble friend—there could be a period in which it would not be seen in less than six months. For example, there could be a seasonal effect. We just cannot be hung up on these phrases, but certainly, at the beginning of today's discussions, we were all of one mind about the problems of the environment and the necessity to keep that central in our minds.

Baroness Byford: My Lords, perhaps I might finish what I was trying to say. This is my difficulty with the definition of "serious". If the damage was what I would call a serious issue that, let us say, could be dealt with within a month, or that the Environment Agency was happy that it was dealt with in the immediacy and then took time to correct the rest of it during the following months, that is the thought behind this amendment. It is not saying to whoever it might be, "You have got six months and you needn't do anything about it at all". I think that the noble Lord has slightly interpreted my amendment in that way. It certainly is not, in any way, meant to do that.

That is why I come back to the need to define "serious". I believe that it is a serious problem, but I obviously do not intend to divide the House at this time of night. That would be very serious. I think that

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it is something which needs to be addressed; for us to be able to look and say, "How can we best help preserve our wildlife and everything else that goes on, yet not cut the ground underneath people but give them the opportunity to put something right if it is being dealt with in a way which the Environment Agency considers is suitable". That is my dilemma and why I moved this amendment. I hope that the Government might give further thought to it before we meet at Third Reading. If no more noble Lords have any comments to make, I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

[Amendment No. 35 not moved.]

Baroness Farrington of Ribbleton: My Lords, perhaps we may complete Amendment No. 36 because some of the speakers for the Unstarred Question debate are not in the Chamber. We are unable to start until 7.30 p.m. if they are not here.

Baroness Miller of Chilthorne Domer moved Amendment No. 36:


    Before Clause 28, insert the following new clause—


"GENERAL PROVISIONS WITH RESPECT TO WATER
In section 6(2)(b) of the Environment Act 1995 (c. 25), at end insert "in particular the efficient use of water by all abstractors"."

The noble Baroness said: My Lords, Amendment No. 36 is grouped with the response of the Government to this amendment—that is, Amendment No. 160—and our new Amendment No. 160A. It does not appear on the grouping list but, with the leave of the House, it would be helpful to discuss it with the other two amendments.

Lord Whitty: My Lords, with the leave of the House and the agreement of the noble Baroness, it would be helpful if we could degroup Amendments Nos. 160, 160A and 160B. There is an amendment in her name to my amendment and an amendment also, of which I was not fully aware earlier today, tabled by the noble Baroness, to my amendment. When I come to deal with the amendment tabled by the noble Baroness, it would be better to move to something in the area which is covered by those three amendments rather than pursue this one. But it would be better to do that in its place when we reach it on another day.

Baroness Miller of Chilthorne Domer: My Lords, in view of the confusion as regards amendments and the grouping list, I consider that we would be better served to leave this group for another time.

Baroness Farrington of Ribbleton: My Lords, I beg to move that consideration on Report be now adjourned.

Moved accordingly, and, on Question, Motion agreed to.

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Developing Countries: Poverty

7.30 p.m.

Baroness Whitaker rose to ask Her Majesty's Government how they can help the developing countries in poverty which lack strong funding relationships with donor countries or international institutions.

The noble Baroness said: My Lords, when I went to Niger, it was the second poorest country in the world. Its per capita income was 200 dollars. The adult female literacy rate, a strong indicator of the basis of development, was just over 8 per cent. Yet it receives only 25 dollars in development aid per person per year. France, the main donor, dropped its aid to Niger from over 115 million dollars in 1997 to under 40 million dollars in 2001.

Mali's income is 360 dollars and its aid 36 dollars per person per year—a bit better, but that is mainly in aid tied to French products, and Mali is democratic and pretty low on corruption. As Paul Collier and David Dollar say in a very interesting book on aid allocation, which I shall refer to again, Mali's ability to save and invest, evident from its reasonable standard of governance, which I also saw personally, may be undermined by its poverty, which is so great that foreign investment is deterred. Surely that is a good case for aid to encourage economic growth.

Last autumn I went with UNICEF to Laos, not quite so far down the aid agenda, but with a particular problem in that there are unexploded American bombs and landmines throughout. US ordnance-clearing aid, I was told, equates in about a year only to what was spent in one day on aerial bombardment. Total development aid went down by a quarter over the years 1999 to 2001 and, as I saw, the paucity of any kind of paid work meant that hundreds of its young people were sucked into exploited labour and prostitution in neighbouring Thailand. UNICEF, which took me there, does a magnificent job in helping to recover and train these children, but the inability of the Laos Government on its own to create economic growth and employment means that trafficking happens over and over again, often to the same children.

Should we bother about gaps in aid? After all, economic growth is what lifts countries out of poverty and foreign direct investment and remittances from migrants both do more for economic growth than aid does. But it is of course aid which helps ensure the basis to attract that investment, a healthy and literate population with a modicum of good governance and a minimum of corruption. The findings of Collier and Dollar show that poor countries are held back by a governance gap rather than a financing gap. DfID has produced a very interesting booklet called Promoting Institutional and Organisational Growth to disseminate just that expertise.

I do not need to rehearse the links often described in your Lordships' House between extreme poverty, armed conflict with its preponderance of civilian casualties, unmanageable large movements of

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refugees, mainly to other poor countries, destabilising them, as in Cote d'Ivoire, people smuggling and trafficking, and organised crime. It is in the interest of the most narrowly conceived external policy to reduce extreme poverty.

There seem to be three major reasons why some needy countries miss out disproportionately. I am most grateful to Peter Grant of DfID for his illuminating discussion of these. First, proportionate assistance to a large, poor country could skew the budget of any donor. Bangladesh receives only nine dollars per head per year in development aid as a result. One must ask: is the World Bank's cap on absolute sums right?

Secondly, one of the world's big multilateral players, the European Commission, does not target poverty. Less than 50 per cent of its development assistance goes to low income countries. The EC favours its own back door, East and Central Europe and North Africa. Thus it does not take a global view even of the situation of Europe. I congratulate my noble friend on the Government's pressure for the Convention on the Future of Europe to make poverty eradication the principal objective of EU development policy. Can she say what progress is being made?

The third reason is history. For instance, the UK aids the Commonwealth; the French do most in their former empire. There is a point in that. If there are links and networks, donors have a better chance of making aid well-informed and making it work. But of course it is partial.

Indeed, some bilateral donors who do not act from a post-imperial sense of responsibility appear to take the eradication of poverty less seriously than other objectives. The USA still goes in for tied aid which hugely benefits its own producers at the expense of best value and local procurement for the recipients; or it furthers political objectives, as in the Middle East and, indeed, in central and eastern Europe. Let us hope that President Bush's most welcome commitment to the relief of HIV/AIDS in Africa is a new departure.

In any case, history can do little for countries with no conqueror, such as Ethiopia; or for those whose conqueror was impoverished by its own imperial efforts, such as Angola. It is all a bit of a lottery. And that lottery is also compounded, for when countries have sclerotic or corrupt governments it is hard to know how to make aid work. Or when their intellectual and professional resource leaves or is driven out or annihilated, as in parts of south-east Asia, their capacity for nation building is weak.

Riches in the form of natural resources can actually be a curse in that the greed they inspire can destabilise an immature polity. Poor countries are prone to war and rich countries do not like to pour money into arsenal economies. The strategic importance of a country may make its "aidability" strangely fluid. There was quite an increase in US aid to Guinea when a seat on the Security Council came its way.

NGOs do wonderful work in these areas but their resources are tiny compared to governments.

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Do the UN, the World Bank, the IMF, regional development banks, the EC and donor governments need to work together more to share out aid better? That would be better done on a rights basis in any case, but that is for another debate. Would it not be better to have more representatives of developing countries in the multilateral organisations? The Government—DfID—have appreciated that there should be a proper means of funding the attendance and advocacy capacity at the WTO of countries too poor to do it themselves. Should this be extended to G8, the IMF, the World Bank and other decision-making bodies?

My right honourable friend the Chancellor proposed a doubling of aid to developing countries, innovatively financed by an international financing facility. This gained ground at Evian. How should it be distributed?

Finally, a few other things that the international and regional institutions might focus on: the striking results from concentrated aid in poor countries with good management; the enormous importance of trade for growth and the consequent message that multilateral organisations might link-in aid more with efforts on macro and sectoral policies to improve market access; their firmer independence from big power political influence, following Joseph Stiglitz's interesting account of the need to reform.

I have not offered developed solutions. My purpose is to air a problem so that more expert heads can do a bit of brainstorming over the best way forward. I therefore look forward very much to hearing the distinguished speakers to follow and to the response of my noble friend the Secretary of State.

7.39 p.m.

The Earl of Sandwich: My Lords, the noble Baroness has certainly aired the problem. My congratulations to her for asking one of the most fundamental, almost unanswerable, questions: why can we not help the very poor? I expect the Government to admit that they cannot, because plainly we will not meet the millennium development goals. Many of the poorest—the figure used to be as high as 40 per cent—are out of reach of government services. So the simplest answer is: we cannot help those we cannot reach if we are using a government structure. But there is another version of this argument which I heard, perhaps surprisingly, through the organisation CARE International—that is, we cannot help the helpless. Unless there is a sustainable project, aid will be useless. It will be like pouring money into sand.

I know CARE International has successfully planted trees in Niger in very difficult conditions, but only because local people look after the trees and keep the goats off. This is now the fashionable concept of sustainability, which of course requires a process of evaluation. It guides governments and NGOs alike; it pleases auditors, trustees and donors. Yet it can also be a useful means of avoiding our obligations to reach the very poorest. Can one imagine poverty reduction today without rapid rural appraisals, household surveys, livelihood monitoring or coping mechanisms?

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There is a complex apparatus of aid which, while suiting donors and some governments, encumbers the poorest countries most.

We donors meet in various disguises, as the G8, the EU, the DAC/Paris Club, World Bank, IMF, or via one of the UN agencies. When the host countries admit that they cannot cope with the jargon, let alone the policies, we send out technical experts and call it capacity-building. They are the new aid bureaucracy. They are expert in transparency, debt relief, good governance, conflict resolution, and so the list goes on—laudable ambitions, trumpeted by the international financial institutions on our behalf.

At the same time, these countries are being saddled with poverty reduction strategy papers—the new form of structural adjustment which is the latest straitjacket of development because governments have little choice if they are to receive aid such as IDA lending or, still more, budgetary support. The influence of donors through this process cannot be exaggerated. Some 26 countries have already published the PRSPs and another 20 have published interim papers. Over half the countries regarded as the poorest are benefiting from IDA lending.

In the past, donors have been frustrated by host government departments, especially the red tape involved. In the end, such departments were bypassed. The more powerful aid agencies like UNICEF set up their own separate projects with their own identity, infrastructure, even territory. Any new funding—we have the example of HIV/AIDS today—risks introducing such an empire of aid-giving, sometimes regardless of, and even in competition with, the existing, usually rather fragile primary healthcare structure.

I admire the commitment of many individuals in the UN and the larger NGOs. I count friends among them. But I have come to recognise how well our own society is served by these well paid aid workers, consultants and experts, not to mention the drug companies and the manufacturers, while the local communities they were assisting have often, in the end, been left to fend for themselves.

This is where aid funding has gone wrong. And DfID, to its credit, has recognised the limitations of such assistance. In countries where it has developed a strong aid partnership, it has moved towards programme aid and budgetary support so as to reinforce government services. Where possible, it has strengthened the capacity of the local NGOs and the more rigorous areas of civil society, such as the judicial system in countries like Rwanda and Uganda. Yet it cannot extend this support to the poorest countries or those communities in conflict, as in Nepal, Sudan, or even parts of India, which still contain some of the world's very poorest. Using NGOs will not be enough to reach the very poor, except for limited operations, and in some areas where they are well integrated in local civil society.

One main advantage of the PRSP process, which I readily accept, is that it requires the participation of civil society. Preliminary research by the Overseas

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Development Institute shows how intricate the detail of the process has become. It is difficult to monitor the extent and degree of public participation, but that is a task that has to be done.

One way of reaching the very poorest, which has been explored by Christian Aid in an internal discussion paper, may be through decentralisation and devolution using the PRSP process. Much could be achieved through a discussion about effective participation of civil society in local decision-making alongside elected representatives. As I frequently do, I am thinking of African countries in that context. Some research has been done into participation in countries such as Bolivia, Uganda and Malawi. It would be interesting to know from the noble Baroness whether the Government have explored the issue in the context of aid funding within the PRSPs.

One country with a light touch, where I believe that these ideas could be explored, is Mozambique, where the department is working at various levels. With donor encouragement, Mozambique has embarked very confidently on its own PRSP, know as the PARPA. It is designed to ensure that civil society is fully involved, that local NGOs are supported, and that an emerging democracy ensures accountability, transparency and improved fiscal arrangements as well as good governance—whatever that word means precisely.

So far, so good. However, there are strong vested interests in those countries. One is the presence of foreign companies, notably the shareholders in Mozambique in MOZAL and the South Africa rail link through the Maputo corridor. That will inevitably reinforce power in Maputo at the expense of the north, which is a classic divide in many countries. Human rights NGOs, rural development agencies and a few opposition politicians will have a hard time representing minorities and communities, some of which will run counter to government doctrine.

Mozambique is a country crying out for a stronger media and civil society to protect the new constitution and the interests of ordinary people and prevent a return to conflict. The building of an aid bureaucracy, unless it can reinforce local civil society and local government in parallel, outside the capital, may be identified with the centre and so prevent a new society from emerging.

Finally, I fully agree with objective 1e, which the noble Baroness mentioned, that EU aid to the low income countries should increase to 70 per cent by 2006. However, we are still a very long way from that. I congratulate the noble Baroness on her new departmental report, which is readable and gives an honest account of such objectives, thereby helping parliamentarians.

7.48 p.m.

Lord Hannay of Chiswick: My Lords, the Question on the Order Paper draws attention to a very real, but not much noticed or remedied problem—the plight of the considerable number of developing countries, many of them small in size or population, which

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simply slip through the net of support for lack of strong funding relationships with donor counties or international institutions. Some of those countries have found themselves neglected because they do not fit into the pattern of post-colonial relationships with former metropolitan powers, which are still quite influential; others because of the lack of a strong, purposeful regional grouping to which they can belong and from which they can draw help and advice; and others—but here the attribution of cause and effect is not easy or uncontroversial—because their poverty has led to a breakdown of civil society, of law and order and, in some cases, of any vestige of central government at all. In those cases, the international community has despaired of being able to pursue any development policies beyond simple humanitarian relief. I know that there is an argument that says that some of these countries have got there because of conflict. I do not wish to attribute precisely the cause and the effect. The outcome is, alas, all too clear.

Examples of those phenomena are not hard to find, particularly, but not exclusively, in Africa. Afghanistan, before Al'Qaeda and the Taliban put them back on the development community's map, was one of them. Somalia was, and remains, another—as does Liberia. Rwanda and Burundi before their experience with genocidal strife were precisely in that situation. All these were countries where the main donors had largely given up or had never been that much interested in the first place. But look at the consequences, not just in terms of human suffering and loss of life, but also of regional destabilisation—in Central Asia, in the Great Lakes region of Africa, in West Africa and in the Horn of Africa, for example; and look too at the cost to aid programmes of redressing this neglect when eventually we all got round to doing something about it; and look too at the havens that have been and still are being provided for terrorism. That is surely enough to show that the cost of failure and neglect is very real and that it falls not only on the countries concerned but also on the wider international community.

Of course I am not suggesting that nothing has been done, or at least attempted, to deal with the problems of these countries. The United Nations, with the various initiatives directed at the LLDCs—the least less developed counties—has tried; so has the Commonwealth with the focus on its smaller, less viable members; and NePAD—the new African initiative which was debated in this House a couple of weeks ago—is also trying to address the same problem. But what I fear we do have to accept, if we are being honest with ourselves, is that none of these initiatives and efforts has been particularly effective; and none has even begun to get to grips and to eliminate the problem. So we do, surely, need to think again; to analyse carefully why efforts so far have failed in these sorts of countries; and to consider whether we cannot find new remedies.

One problem, I fear, is the tendency of all aid administrations, and many development economists too, to concentrate their attention and efforts on the larger problems and the larger countries. There are

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perfectly respectable arguments for doing so. It is not difficult to demonstrate that concentration of really substantial resources on a limited number of recipients brings better results than what would be pejoratively described as a scattergun approach. But such concentration comes at a cost, as we have seen, and a cost that can be very heavy. I would welcome some comment from the Secretary of State, whose presence to reply to this debate I warmly welcome, on this unavoidable tension and on how DfID sees ways of resolving it.

Where should we be looking for remedies? Clearly in the trade field, where the World Trade Organisation's Doha development round is in full but not altogether promising swing already. It may seem a bit quixotic to think of some of these neglected countries benefiting from international trade at all; but, if we take that view, they will be condemned to eternal dependence on aid, and that will be a disaster. So we must help them build capacity in the trade field and devise even more ways of ensuring that what they do produce reaches our markets and that they do receive a fair return for it.

Secondly, we must act on debt, where we are often—and we need to recognise this—dealing with countries whose ability to undertake sustained programmes of structural adjustment is very slight. Thirdly, we must do what we can to strengthen regional and sub-regional organisations which can often provide more politically acceptable assistance than can the main donors and the major global institutions. Fourthly, we must work to make the European Union's aid effort—which continues to grow steadily, and will now increasingly do so with the enlargement of the new members which have not hitherto been much involved in the aid business—more effective and more sensitive to the problems that this short debate has highlighted.

7.55 p.m.

The Earl of Listowel: My Lords, I, too, thank the noble Baroness, Lady Whitaker, for providing us with the opportunity to debate this important issue.

I shall concentrate my remarks on the situation in Angola and on the case for reviewing our donor relationship with that country, particularly in regard to the urgent and immediate need to prevent the spread there of HIV/AIDS. At the same time I recognise the need to avoid colluding with a government who historically have not attended to the needs of their people.

I am informed in correspondence with the Minister that the rate of HIV/AIDS infection in Angola is in the region of 5.5 per cent. That is an approximate figure as statistics are very hard to glean in that country. That contrasts with an incidence of over 20 per cent in several neighbouring southern African countries. According to the Children on the Brink report published in 2002, a joint USAID/UNICEF/UNAIDS publication, there were 84,000 AIDS orphans in Angola; in other words, children who have lost either one or both parents to AIDS. The figure could double by 2005 and jump to almost half a million by 2010 if no action is taken to reduce HIV infection. There is a

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brief window—which I shall describe later in more detail—to minimise the impact of HIV/AIDS on Angola.

Angola is endowed with large resources of oil and diamonds. It has had a thriving agricultural economy in the past and is well watered. Its revenues from oil are set to double over the next five years. At the same time Angola is recovering from over 25 years of civil war. About 500,000 UNITA soldiers and their families are being resettled. Hundreds of thousands of refugees are returning. More than a million people driven from the land by war are returning to their homes. Last year's cease-fire precipitated a further humanitarian crisis as areas that were previously inaccessible were opened up. Last year two million Angolans were dependent for survival on food from the World Food Programme.

As the noble Baroness, Lady Whitaker, mentioned, it appears that Angola's mineral wealth has had a negative impact on the prosperity of the general population. Lacking strong rule of law, oil prospers only those powerful enough to command its revenues. The UK and the international community are loath to assist Angola financially as Angola has the means to meet her own needs. Should one provide financial assistance to a wealthy nation whose people suffer from poverty? The UK's answer has been a gentle affirmative. We are Angola's largest bilateral donor, providing support for the Luanda Urban Poverty Project. We meet the poorest people's need for clean water and food security in such a way as also to promote grassroots co-operation and grassroots political awareness. Recently I visited a co-operative which the Luanda Urban Poverty Project supports. It comprises a group of women who buy food together and, therefore, obtain it at a reduced price. There is a gradual building of political awareness in such deprived communities.

At the same time Her Majesty's Government urge the Government of Angola to be more transparent in their financial dealings. International partners and international institutions sustain that pressure. Her Majesty's Government have emphasised the key role that they see for Angola in supporting the development of Africa. The noble Baroness demonstrated the importance she attaches to Angola by making two recent visits to that country. However, for all the reasons I have given, Her Majesty's Government are reluctant to accede to Angola's wish for an early donor conference, perhaps in September of this year, to support projects to consolidate Angola's peace.

HIV/AIDS is set to sweep through Angola as it has through its neighbours. Some 200,000 refugees are set to return from Zambia, a country with a seroprevalence rate of about 30 per cent. Long-distance lorry routes are opening up as mines are cleared from the roads in the country. They convey lorry drivers from Namibia and southern Africa, where there are very high rates of HIV/AIDS infection.

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More than 75 per cent of Angolans are under 25. It is a very youthful nation, and it is the young who are most likely to contract and transmit the disease.

The president of Angola has put his personal authority behind the fight against HIV/AIDS. In that, he has shown leadership that, sadly, many of his peers across sub-Saharan Africa have lacked. The media in Angola are alive with hard-hitting campaigns on HIV/AIDS. Although the response of the Angolan Government has been disappointing in the past, I warmly welcome the recent news that the first phase of the new national strategic plan has just been completed. I am also pleased to learn that the government of Angola have submitted an application to the global fund for AIDS, TB and malaria for 58 million dollars. The government of Angola have committed their own funding in the action against AIDS. Sadly, that is rather an exceptional case, but it is to be welcomed.

The current situation could not be more critical. Put very simply, there are large population movements across and within Angola, and there is little awareness of HIV/AIDS outside Luanda. Condoms are scarcely available in the rural areas. Unless immediate action is taken, Angola may shortly engage in a second civil war, a war against AIDS that may negate any peace dividend and that may keep Angolans in extreme poverty for years to come. Will the Secretary of State assure the House that Her Majesty's Government recognise the current brief window of opportunity to minimise the impact of HIV/AIDS in Angola?

What more financial assistance might Her Majesty's Government consider providing to Angola to minimise the inevitable rise in HIV/AIDS infection? Evidently, there is the need to inform the population and increase access to condoms. That must be the first priority. However, HIV/AIDS is also a reflection of poverty, the inadequate health systems, the social injustice that obliges women to provide sexual services to men on a large scale, and the lack of a rudimentary education.

Children need adequate health systems so that their infected parents can endure long enough to see them into adulthood. Infants need to be protected from mother-to-child transmission by effective drugs, advice and healthcare. The extended families and communities in which orphans are raised need to be supported. AIDS sufferers need access to counselling, drugs and healthcare. It is very sad to visit such sufferers in Angola and see what little support there is for them.

Will the Secretary of State use every opportunity for discussion with the government of Angola to encourage their work in that area? Will she ensure that HIV/AIDS permeates all our responses and support in Angola? Furthermore, will she use dialogue with the government of Angola to ensure that implementation takes place of the strategy that they have now produced?

My time is at an end. I look forward to the Secretary of State's response.

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8.4 p.m.

Lord Desai: My Lords, I thank my noble friend Lady Whitaker for having proposed a fairly precise subject. It is not a general question about development aid or rural poverty, but is specifically about countries that lack a funding relationship with donor countries or international institutions.

In a way, it is like the problem that we often face; namely, of helping poor people within our own country. We try to do it through tax credits, or through other benefits. But if someone is not in the labour market and cannot qualify for benefit under one grant or another, or will not submit himself to be means-tested for benefit, he cannot be helped. We must devise new ways outside the conventional picture of how poverty is removed in order to help these people.

One of the most helpful aspects of this evening's debate—indeed, I almost felt the ghost of Lord Bauer hovering over us one year after his death—is the fact that we have all become so much more aware that aid is not a simple nor very often an effective way to tackle poverty. We cannot tackle it by just saying that money should be made available.

If we set criteria for the giving of aid, as regards applying for it and qualifying for it—criteria which, I am afraid, have become more elaborate—that requires a degree of sophistication at the receiving end that the poorest may not often have. In a sense, we now seem to overlay the agenda. We impose so many conditions on those countries that receive money: they have to be gender sensitive; poor people must participate directly; they must have sustainability; they must have environmental friendliness; and they must have transparency, accountability, and so on. Civil society must also participate. We take it for granted that every country has a civil society. I do not see why we should do that, just because we have text books with diagrams and statements on society.

When aid is given, it should be given by one government to another or by one corporate organisation to another. Very often, problems arise at both ends. They arise at the giver's end because the motives of a giving government are bound to be mixed. They do not just want to help the poor; they want to receive some credit for doing so. There might be a diplomatic or international relations angle involved, or they might want to sell arms or other products. You cannot fault a democratic government for wanting to get a bang for its buck, which can distort aid. As for the receiving end, not all countries or states necessarily rule in the interests of their people. That is a shocking comment to make, but that is the way it is.

I have long argued that, as far as possible, aid should not be given directly to governments; it should be given to NGOs at home, or in the receiving country. I know that there are problems in that respect, because there may not be NGOs in the country concerned. Very often, only very well directed aid, administered by people on the ground who know the facts, will work. The same applies at the giving end. If somehow we could remove governments from the scene and make it an arm's length operation whereby money would be

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put into some big account and then distributed on criteria that are simple but—it is to be hoped—objective, we might improve our ability to control the usefulness of aid.

The problem remains that the poorest of the poor countries may still not benefit. What we probably need is an expanded funding facility—something that my right honourable friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer has proposed. We ought to issue what I would call "human development bonds", which should, if possible, be cancelled on the principle that recipient countries would never have to pay back the money. We should be able to give these countries money—not expertise, capacity or building, just straight money. We ought to say to them: "Here is money. You do not have to pay it back. We will service your debt. We will take the debt as ours, not yours, and give you this money". The proviso could be a simple efficacy criterion, such as a 1 per cent improvement on the human development index in five years—just one simple device.

We make the problem of receiving or administering aid very difficult. Some years ago, the LSE Centre for the Study of Global Governance, of which I happen to be the director, issued a research report based on the findings of Dr Lily Nicholls. She visited UNDP offices and headquarters in Africa asking people what the difficulty was. It was that people in New York went on adding new desirable objectives that had to be achieved. The recipients could not understand how to cope with the multiple objectives and targets set.

If we think of our own historical development process, or that of any developed country, none of the criteria was fulfilled: we were not transparent; we were not accountable; we did not always participate; we were not ecologically friendly; we were not gender sensitive; we were not democratic; and we were not non-corrupt. Why, just because we give a pittance to other people, do we expect such bossy behaviour to be received properly? I do not understand why we think that it will be effective in removing poverty, whatever desire we have to show that we are virtuous.

I would love to think that if we could give money—perhaps not to governments but directly to the citizens of poor countries—it could somehow enable them to make their own effort to get out of poverty. We are not giving enough attention to how poor people get themselves out of poverty. We always assume that we must do it for them. So we have policies that restrict labour migration, whereas it has been one of the most effective ways by which people have got themselves out of poverty. People living in a poor region have got out of poverty by leaving that region and going somewhere else where there are better job opportunities. We think, "No, the poor can stay where they are and we will give them resources"—and, of course, we do not give them resources. We do not let them move and we do not let them trade. We have to re-examine this policy.

In specific answer to the Question put by the noble Baroness I still say that if we could find a simple device—let us say, of giving each citizen in the poorest countries of the world one dollar a week, not even a

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day, no questions asked, and making quite sure that it goes to the citizen, I think we could do more than by doing anything else.

People often say, "These problems are not solved by throwing money at them". I say, "Just try".


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