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Clare Short: If we did that, we would be prevented from making reforms in Government systems that are needed to help whole economies to grow to include everyone and facilitate social reform. If we could spend only on the poorest people in the poorest countries, we could not spend on better financial systems, better revenue systems, better regulation of banks and so on. We share my hon. Friend's objective, but such a clause would narrow our powers in such a way as to prevent us from supporting reforms needed for the systematic reduction of poverty.
Mr. Worthington: I fully support what my right hon. Friend is doing about governance and helping to create civil services, police forces and the engines of state. I have no quibble with that. My question is whether we need to ensure that we concentrate on the countries in the deepest poverty--but I have no doubt that we are doing so now.
Sometimes, DFID runs programmes that I do not see as absolutely central to overseas development aid. For example, money has been spent in central and eastern Europe--not all under DFID control--following the collapse of the iron curtain, as page 146 of the annual report notes. I wonder whether that money is subject to the same poverty focus as the development budget.
Why do clauses 9 and 10, on devolved powers, make no reference to Northern Ireland, when Scotland and Wales are covered? The powers devolved to Northern Ireland are equivalent to those devolved to Scotland. The bodies listed in the schedules to the Bill include tourist authorities and health boards and trusts. Northern Ireland has health boards, even if the tourism body is an all-Ireland body. Why is there no reference to Northern Ireland?
The Select Committee has recently discussed whether it might be handy if the Bill referred to how DFID should be accountable to the House. I have always been puzzled about why we have Wales debates, such as the one held yesterday, or debates on defence and on each of the armed services, when there is no requirement for an international development debate. I am fortunate to be on the Select Committee on International Development, but some less fortunate hon. Members present are not. I can see one Member--the hon. Member for Richmond Park (Dr. Tonge)--who is in mourning because she is no longer on the Committee. Westminster Hall has been a good step for debates on international development, but there should be a requirement for a debate on the Floor of the House. That is a modest demand.
We must build our democratic links with DFID, but above all, with the EU to ensure that our views get across there. I am pleased that the World Bank has recently involved parliamentarians much more than it used to. The IMF should also consider such links. That issue is significant. The House does not deal well with on-going matters; we can deal with them if there is a Bill, but, as we have heard, it is 21 years since a measure such as this was introduced. It is important to increase accountability.
The hon. Member for Hertford and Stortford referred to humanitarian principles. We have received extremely good lobbying material on that subject, which stresses the importance of even-handedness. That is the difference between life and death for many people. In the aid world, if one is seen as part of the enemy, lives are lost. The Red Cross has built its reputation on never being part of the enemy--one receives assistance regardless of ethnicity and so on. I support that. Humanitarian aid must be seen to be given dispassionately on grounds of need.
There is, however, another side. During our visit to Albania and Macedonia, we were struck by the fact that the armed forces put up the camps with incredible efficiency, as no other body could have done. That had to be done; otherwise, the consequences for those poor people who were fleeing would have been horrific. However, people in the aid agencies pointed out to me
That is not the only example. One of the purposes of the proposed European defence force--of which I approve--is to give humanitarian assistance. In the past, I have been critical when world or NATO resources were available--especially for heavy lift--but people starved and did not receive aid because we were unable to get aid workers to them. I recognise the importance of humanitarian principles, but I do not want to draw their definition so tightly as to rule out the use of military forces to get aid to people.
The most recent case was in Mozambique, where our performance was superb, but why could not our military helicopters get there as quickly as possible? Such issues are at the boundaries of that humanitarian debate, and sometimes we have to use military resources--perhaps we should use them more often.
Mr. Wells: Does the hon. Gentleman remember meeting General Reith in Albania? He was the first NATO general to be given humanitarian responsibilities--when NATO was the belligerent force against Serbia over Kosovo. Surely, in that situation, the use of the word "humanitarian" by the military is a contradiction in terms. Humanitarian assistance from armed forces is most welcome, but those forces must be subordinate to impartial, aid-giving humanitarian organisations.
Mr. Worthington: The hon. Gentleman illustrates the point that we both make: the issue is not simple. For example, in Sierra Leone, there was no state and no army; it is impossible to reduce poverty without police forces and armies--without state institutions. By and large, the aid we give in that country is not humanitarian, but help with the construction of an army. I have seen that work, and I believe that it is right, because it is crucial to the recovery of that country and the ending of poverty there. The boundary between humanitarian and other issues seems simple, but it is not.
My final point might be for the Standing Committee rather than this debate, but the Under-Secretary might want to address it when he sums up. I am delighted to see him in his new position--his career plan is intriguing.
We are committed to the reduction of poverty, but I have some concerns about people who are involved with drugs. It is right for us to try to stop the supply of illegitimate drugs and involvement with them. Such projects are not likely to reduce poverty in the first instance. For example, I visited Bangladesh with other hon. Members to examine AIDS issues. There is no doubt that girls in the brothels are better off than if they had remained in their villages--that is why they had left the villages. It is right that we should try to return them to an orthodox life, but it might be difficult to claim that what we were doing was poverty reduction.
Mr. Worthington: They might have preferred to be in the village, but they were financially better off by moving--that is why they did so. However, I raise the matter as an example of the focus on poverty.
Mr. Worthington: I am grateful to my right hon. Friend for that point. We need to test all the points. Perhaps the drugs example is a better one. Our motive in trying to stop involvement in drugs in one country might be because of the poverty of people elsewhere. However, anti-drugs initiatives in a country should not be seen as impermissible just because they did not directly attack poverty there. We should test such points in Committee.
In order to stop the growing of drugs in Afghanistan, a UN drugs agency paid people not to grow them, so even more growing took place in the surrounding area. Such interventions would not be permitted under the Bill. However, an intervention to help people who grow drugs because they are so poor that they have access neither to legitimate crops nor to a better legitimate life would be permitted--to enable them to have access to crops, so that their children could receive schooling and health care. Surely, that is where we should draw the dividing line. We could throw large amounts of the development budget at anti-drugs initiatives that were not well thought through and brought no help to poor people. That would not be permitted under the Bill. That is where we are trying to draw the line.
Mr. Worthington: Once again, I am grateful to my right hon. Friend for that intervention. That shows that we are bringing ideology into development by focusing on poverty. It is very important to test our development programme against a set of principles. Countries that fail to have respectable principles in their development programmes do not run good ones. We must have a simple clarion call for poverty reduction. That is what the Bill represents, which is why I support it so enthusiastically.