|Previous Section||Back to Table of Contents||Lords Hansard Home Page|
Lord Evans of Temple Guiting: My Lords, I am very grateful to a former Chancellor for paying tribute to the way in which the present Chancellor has looked after the British economy. I absolutely agree that no one should run down Britain's contribution, because we have done a most extraordinarily good job and will continue to do so.
Lord Lea of Crondall: My Lords, my noble friend said that he did not recognise the statistics cited by the noble Lord, Lord Watson, and implied that there might be some contradiction between them and those of Ernst & Young. From what has been said this afternoon, there is no contradiction, as one talked about total inward investment and the other about inward investment to the UK from outside the euro-zone. Is it not quite plausible to suppose that people outside the euro-zone would be increasingly worried about non-membership of the euro-zone by Britain, because they have double exchange rate jeopardy as they invest in Europe and, in particular, in Britain?
Lord Evans of Temple Guiting: My Lords, my noble friend makes a very good point. With sterling and the euro, if a big firm is interested in investing in the UK there is always the problem of coping with the exchange rate. As to his first pointthat there may not be a contradiction between my statistics and those given by the noble Lord, Lord WatsonI shall have to look at those statistics afterwards.
Baroness Williams of Crosby: My Lords, further to the Question of my noble friend, his source is the Financial Times, which is widely recognised in this House and outside to be a wholly reputable newspaper.
Baroness Williams of Crosby: My Lords, if it is not so recognised by some Conservative Members, I think that the great spectrum of opinion in this country is that it is a newspaper that can be relied on. I am rather surprised that anyone should think otherwise.
There was a considerable play on words, in that the absolute amount and the proportion are two different things. My noble friend pointed out that the proportion of foreign direct investment from outside the euro-zone and the European Union into Britain has just about halved. That is serious, even though the absolute figures may have increased. It is not to
Lord Evans of Temple Guiting: My Lords, I am not in any way pretending that matters are not as they seem. I merely say that I was presented with a set of statistics that are at variance with the material that I have been given.
I am afraid that I do not agree totally about the Financial Times. A big article yesterday on regional selective assistancethat has a bearing on foreign investment in our countryhad inflammatory headlines. On reading the text, one found that things were not quite as bad as the headlines suggested.
Lord Peston: My Lords, will my noble friend really stick to his guns, which I take it are that the figures are extremely difficult to interpret and that it would be foolhardy to jump to any conclusions about something that happens in the very short term? However, does he agreeI speak as someone who would join the single currencythat the exchange rate question is beside the point? If an American firm is thinking of investing here, it is concerned about sterling against the dollar. If it is thinking of investing in France, it is concerned with the euro against the dollar. In both cases, there is an exchange rate risk. From that point of view, the exchange rate is neither here nor there.
Lord Evans of Temple Guiting: My Lords, the variance in statistics may have something to do with the difference between stock and flow, which is not a matter that we ought to get into this afternoon. Other than that, I agree with everything that my noble friend said.
Lord Saatchi: My Lords, speaking of figures that can be relied on, did not the Chancellor recently assess foreign investment and trade in his 18 studies? Did he not come to the conclusion that our trade could increase by 50 per cent if we joined the euro-zone? Will the Minister remind the House which particular currency unions the Chancellor studied to arrive at that conclusion? Were they not Angola and Mozambique, Burkina Faso and Chad, Vatican City and San Marino, and Tuvalu and Tonga?
Lord Evans of Temple Guiting: My Lords, I shall certainly not write to the noble Lord! That question is very wide of the Question on the Order Paper. We have here a great British success story. We attract massive inward investment. Every party should do everything it can to support that. What we should not do is to quibble over issues that are not relevant to the Question that I am answering.
The Secretary of State for International Development (Baroness Amos): My Lords, the Department for International Development presently has 24 officials, including short-term consultants in Iraq. Nine are with the Coalition Provisional Authority in Baghdad. These include the new director of operations and advisers on food distribution, health, refugees, salary payments and infrastructure. In Basra, five are working with the Coalition Provisional Authority on economic management, legal affairs and governance; three are seconded to the UK military; and two are liaising with humanitarian agencies. DfID has also seconded seven consultants to support UN agencies, five of whom are currently stationed in Iraq.
Lord Astor of Hever: My Lords, I am grateful to the Secretary of State for providing the House with those figures. But aid agencies tell us that there are far too few people on the front line. Considering that they also say that co-ordination between DfID, the MoD and the Coalition Provisional Authority is so poor, why are there not more DfID officials there? Will the noble Baroness explain why so little forethought was put into planning for the collapse of civilian authority in Iraq?
Baroness Amos: My Lords, I do not accept what the noble Lord has said. We have individuals who are working with the CPA and who are co-ordinating between ourselves, the MoD and the FCO; we have had officials in Basra who are located with the UK military; and we have put substantial resources into the United Nations, the World Food Programme, UNICEF and other UN organisations, and into NGOs which are working on the ground. When noble Lords see work being done in Iraqwhen they see water supplies being fixed and electricity being suppliedthat is done with British money through DfID.
Lord Campbell-Savours: My Lords, is not one of the greatest incentives to departmental officialsbut in particular to departmentally sponsored NGO involvement in Iraqthe very high cost of life insurance for people who go on to the front line, which often runs into thousands of pounds per person per week? Is my noble friend prepared to ask officials in her department to consider, without any prior commitment, the establishment of a scheme whereby the Government act as the insurer of last resortbecause this problem is acting as a major disincentive to NGO involvement?
Baroness Amos: My Lords, noble Lords will be aware that there have been some problems with the administration in respect of the CPA, particularly in Baghdad. I have addressed these questions in the House previously. The question of safety and security is particularly problematic and is hampering not only CPA efforts but the efforts of the UN and NGOs on the ground. It is a matter that we have to address with a great deal of urgency. Noble Lords are perhaps aware of the latest reports on television and radio regarding the possibility of a further attack on our own forces just north of Basra. So the situation is extraordinarily serious and is holding up the reconstruction effort. We are putting a great deal of effort into this. In addition to staff from DfID, staff from other government departments are working with colleagues in the CPA and with Iraqis in the department there.
Back to Table of Contents
Lords Hansard Home Page