HC Deb 24 June 1986 vol 100 cc284-94
Mr. Deputy Speaker

I now call the hon. Member for Hertford and Stortford (Mr. Wells) to move amendment No. 1.

Mr. Bowen Wells

I need not delay the House for long in dealing with this sensible new clause, the arguments for which, relating to immigration, were rehearsed in the report of the Select Committee on Foreign Affairs in 1982. One of the problems in the present Bill——

Mr. Raison

On a point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. I believe that my hon. Friend is under a misapprehension. I understand that you have not selected new clause 2 which deals with immigration.

Mr. Deputy Speaker

We are dealing with amendment No. 1.

Mr. Wells

On a point of order Sir Paul. I thought that I had tabled new clause 2.

Mr. Deputy Speaker

Order. New clause 2 has not been selected. I have called amendment No. 1 and the hon. Gentleman must speak to that amendment.

Mr. Wells

Further to my point of order, can I have an explanation of this, if not now, at some other time?

Mr. Deputy Speaker

The hon. Gentleman knows that it is not usual for the Chair to give explanations about selections. If the hon. Gentleman is puzzled and would like to have a private word with me at some other time, I will try to enlighten him. We are now dealing with amendment 1.

Mr. Wells

I would be grateful for such a discussion. I now beg to move amendment No. 1, in page 2, line 18, after 'may,', insert 'after consultation with the Corporation and'. This was the subject of discussions between my right hon. Friend the Minister and members of the Committee. It involves whether we should allow the Minister the power to give grants to the CDC. The CDC has never been eligible to receive grants from the ODA. It has been financed through loans. Many people have criticised that as inappropriate, as the corporation is risk-taking and should therefore be financed by equity capital and not loan capital. It has battled for many years against that disability. It has now generated its own funds, which enable it. in effect, to have equity capital, although the Government did not give it such equity capital.

An equity and loan arrangement for the corporation would he the correct way in which to tackle the issue. I made that point in Committee. That would, of course, mean a reorganisation of the corporation's finances and balance sheets, but I do not see why my right hon. Friend the Minister should not have thought that that was a sensible way in which to solve the problem in the Bill. None the less the Minister has not done that.

The Minister has taken the power to give grants. That could fundamentally alter the relationship between the ODA and the CDC. I would like my right hon. Friend to explain what he has in mind to do with the grants that he is asking the House to give him the power to bestow. I believe that that power could do what my right hon. Friend does not really want to do. It could ruin the CDC in its present form and reduce it to a profitless and relatively useless organisation, in the day-to-day control of the ODA officials.

I accept that the purpose of the powers could be to increase the resources of the corporation. I would say "Hoorah" to that. However, why do we want to give grants rather than loans? My right hon. Friend said in Committee that he wanted to reduce the amount of money paid out of the ODA budget to the CDC by giving it grants. Grants are manifestly more valuable than loans. How much more valuable is a question of judgment and of arithmetic to which we will not be privy. Grants could be used to affect the CDC's core funding. That would affect the independence of the CDC board.

My right hon. Friend and I know that, if the ODA gives grants, the ODA will therefore have to require the CDC to apply for grant money. If it is granted, the ODA must issue the grant on the basis of a prospectus or proposal put up by the CDC. It will then be incumbent on the ODA to ensure that the grant money is used for the purpose for which it was granted.

The Foreign Affairs Select Committee will ask my right hon. Friend what he has done with the grant money that he has given to the CDC. The relationship between the ODA and the CDC, which is an arm's length relationship at the moment, will be destroyed. The CDC board's independence will be diminished and the ODA will take over. My right hon. Friend and the ODA have given me every assurance that that is not their intention. I believe that to he true, but the possibility of what I have described exists. That fear is certainly shared by the management and board of the CDC.

The arrangement will affect the discipline that the board can exert over its management in the field. Because the management does not have to repay the capital and the interest, the management will be able to make loans and investments which are below the standards that the CDC now expects. That could lead to the CDC being unable to repay its capital and interest and unable to invest in successful projects overseas. The management of the companies established by the CDC will have a diminished discipline to make a proper return on capital. The arguments with the host Government to ensure the profitability of a company will be weakened, and the necessity to remit funds from the host country to Britain will also be diminished.

There are some positive aspects to making grants, which we all accept. My right hon. Friend can give the CDC grant money in support of projects in which it has invested, such as roads, education, health and housing to meet costs which, in a developed country, a normal project does not have to bear. It means that my right hon. Friend can give technical co-operation assistance to CDC projects. Trained personnel can therefore assist projects by training management in technical resources and undertake investment in agricultural training centres in Swaziland, for example, in research. I applaud all of that, but I should like my right hon. Friend to spell out how he intends to use the proposed power.

Mr. A. J. Beith (Berwick-upon-Tweed)

The hon. Member for Hertford and Stortford (Mr. Wells) has distinguished himself by speaking more often and at greater length on this Bill than the two Opposition parties added together. I do not intend to imperil his record by speaking at great length. I listened to his argument at several stages of the Bill. I was not a member of the Committee and, although I read the report of the Committee proceedings and noted his comments, I am still not convinced. The picture that the hon. Gentleman conjures up is one of the Overseas Development Administration smothering the CDC with grants to such an extent that the officials of the CDC look up with horror at the sight of yet another gift-bearing emissary from the ODA coming to the door with more grants and more control. In my wildest dreams I cannot conceive of this situation coming about.

10.45 pm

The hon. Gentleman may be right in his analysis of what might happen if anyone were to undertake such a smothering exercise, because lie well knows the workings of the CDC. No one in the House knows them better than he does, and no one in the House would dare to argue in such detail about them. I cannot envisage a situation in which the ODA would be in a position to make such extensive dispersals as would pose a threat to the CDC, nor can I imagine that the CDC would be forced to accept such largesse if it was genuinely worried that its independence was being threatened. I agree with the hon. Gentleman that a situation may arise in which it is pressured to accept a grant instead of a loan for a specific project. But if the situation was as difficult as he described, it would be open to the CDC to resist the blandishments.

Mr. Bowen Wells

Without the amendment that I have suggested, the CDC will have no option. If the amendment is accepted, the Minister at the time will have to consult the CDC. I should be grateful if the hon. Member for Berwick-upon-Tweed (Mr. Beith) could agree to the amendment. It would have a humble and limited effect: the Minister would have to consult the CDC before he gave it a grant.

Mr. Beith

The Minister may well find something wrong with it, although I cannot imagine that the ODA would give a grant to anybody without first consulting him about it. I would be the first to suspect Government Departments of not consulting. I have frequently criticised them for failing to consult people. But the one Department which usually consults is the one which is proposing to give money to somebody. Not only does it consult, but it inquires in the various ways that the hon. Gentleman has mentioned.

The hon. Gentleman may have a point, but he has not convinced me. Even if my wildest dreams are realised and an alliance Administration has stepped up the annual rate of overseas aid to meet within five years the United Nations target and disbursements are being made thick and fast in pursuit of this policy, he has not convinced me that one of the consequences would be that the independence of the CDC would be greatly jeopardised because of the number of grants being made to it in preference to loans. Not even my imaginings about Ministers who may succeed the present Minister lead me to share the fears expressed by the hon. Member for Hertford and Stortford. I would, of course, wish the Minister to consult with the CDC before making grants, and I should be very surprised if he did not do so.

Mr. Jim Lester (Broxtowe)

I support the amendment. We all recognise the value of the CDC and the contribution that it makes. If there is any suspicion that by changing the formula its independence will be threatened or that it will feel in any way less able to operate in the same way as it has operated in the past — an operation which has been widely acclaimed and supported by every investigation of the House into its affairs—then the acceptance of a minimal amendment which relieves that suspicion is well worthwhile.

I do not necessarily share the analysis of the situation by my hon. Friend the Member for Hertford and Stortford (Mr. Wells), but if the amendment is accepted it will reinforce the independence of the CDC and ensure its ability to make that contribution to development that we would all applaud and support.

Mr. Raison

It has been useful to have this short debate, and it was right that my hon. Friend the Member for Hertford and Stortford (Mr. Wells) should have put forward the amendment. We discussed this matter at fairly considerable length in Committee, and I do not think that I shall be expected to explain why we are introducing this grant provision element in the Bill. However, my hon. Friend asked one or two specific questions about that aspect and I shall briefly respond to him.

As I said in Committee, the introduction of the grant scheme can give useful support to the CDC — that is what the whole thing is about. It provides a flexibility in ways of financing the CDC as well as the opportunity to provide the parallel or supporting operations to which my hon. Friend has referred and which he favours.

We certainly do not see in the Bill a drastic change in the Government's attitude towards the CDC. We have had a long and friendly association with the CDC in our joint business of assisting and investing in developing countries. We fully recognise that the CDC must fund and invest in projects that show a good financial return and are economically sound. We have no desire to relax the financial discipline which has been one of the good features of the CDC's management. I certainly am not trying to take away from it its reputation as an aid agency of a kind which nevertheless manages to operate against strict commercial standards. That has been its proud boast, and I hope that it will continue to be its proud boast. I have no desire that things should be otherwise.

Nor do we in the ODA desire to engage in day-to-day interference in the management of the CDC. We have confidence in the management, and it is not the job of the ODA to run the organisation. It is the job of the CDC's board to run its organisation in accordance with sound investment principles, but again operating within the developing world.

Of course, in the last resort, we have responsibility for the CDC and that has always been accepted. It remains a statutory body financed by concessional funds from the aid programme, but we do not want a day-to-day interference in its management. I am grateful to the hon. Member for Berwick-upon-Tweed (Mr. Beith) for recognising that it is not our desire to do any of those things.

However, I recognise that it is important that if we implement this grant-giving power we should do so in conjunction with the board of the CDC. I made it clear in Committee that that was our intention, but my hon. Friend the member for Hertford and Stortford has put forward an amendment which would write that into the statute. I am happy to accept my hon. Friend's amendment, and I hope that the House will agree to it.

Amendment agreed to.

Motion made, and Question proposed, That the Bill be now read the Third time.

10.52 pm
Mr. Tom Clarke

The Bill is essentially a short technical measure. Despite some of the reservations which the Opposition have about what appears to be the Government's extension of some of their monetarist philosophies into the field of development—a view most eloquently expressed by my hon. Friend the Member for Vauxhall (Mr. Holland)—several times in Committee, the Minister will be pleased to hear that there will be no attempt on our part to obstruct the Bill's passage through the House.

In Committee the Minister attempted to outline the main issues in the Bill as he sees them, and I am sure that he will do so again this evening. Four main points arise from the Bill. First, the CDC will now be able to borrow on the financial markets. Secondly, it can do so in more than one overseas country. Thirdly, the Government can guarantee borrowing, and, fourthly, the Government, as we have heard, can make grants. I hope that that is a fair summary of the main points of the Bill, but I am sure that the Minister will point out any omissions from that fairly quick summary.

The Bill naturally reflects the substantial and worthwhile development of the work of the CDC. It recognises that in trade and technical assistance underdeveloped countries are increasingly able to help one another and are not solely dependent for aid and technical assistance on the developed world. While we accept our own responsibilities in these matters, we welcome this recognition of co-operation and co-ordination of effort among Third-world countries.

In another place Baroness Young gave us an example of the kind of project which the Bill would seek to facilitate. She mentioned that the CDC has provided funds for Shelter Afrique, a Kenyan-based organisation which, in turn, supplies finance for housing activities in a number of countries in the continent of Africa. Because of present legislation, the CDC has to confine the use of finance to Kenya itself. When the Bill is enacted, the CDC could, as I understand it, if it wishes, provide finance for Shelter Afrique to support housing developments in other countries. That is an example of how the CDC would be allowed to extend its activities.

In our discussions this evening reference has been made to the World bank. It is not my intention to delay the House in its consideration of the Bill. However, some of the World bank's attitudes—I know that this is a matter for a more comprehensive debate — especially about conditionality, do not lend themselves to the philosophy which we would expect the CDC to adopt. Therefore, although I am convinced, as the Minister has said, that there are some similarities, I hope that in time we will see that there are considerable differences in approach as they affect individual countries.

One of the saddest commentaries of our times was contained in Baroness Young's view that some of those projects would not easily attract private sector finance from those who are looking for a quick profit. That may have influenced the Government and the Minister to take the view that they have and that is enshrined in the Bill on the question of grants. Certainly it was a major matter in Committee. The hon. Member for Hertford and Stortford (Mr. Wells) expressed a strong view, tonight, as the House would have expected. He took the view that these grants should not be used as a device to reduce loans. I think that it is fair for me to point out that my hon. Friend the Member for Vauxhall also saw many aspects of the Bill as a Government attempt to reduce the public sector borrowing requirement. He said that he would be watching that very closely.

I have to repeat the question put by my hon. Friend the Member for Vauxhall in Committee: Will the Minister give an assurance…that the CDC will never get a grant from his Department or from the Exchequer simply to subsidise the higher interest rates that would have to be paid on these Euromarket loans?" — [Official Report, Second Reading Committee, 26 February 1986; c. 7.] He used the word "Euromarket" in the general sense of global financial market loans. As I have said, we shall be watching that aspect of the legislation very closely.

I come briefly to the work of the CDC in the context of the Bill. The Bill gives us the opportunity as it did the Committee, to talk about the efforts of the CDC and, in so doing, to acknowledge the splendid work which that organisation has done and will no doubt continue to do. It is an organisation which is widely respected, not only in the House but throughout the United Kingdom and, I think it is fair to say, in the Commonwealth itself. I had the opportunity, with some of my hon. Friends, to visit at least one of its projects in Papua New Guinea and again in Swaziland. I think that the CDC deserves the greatest possible praise for its efforts in bringing investment, employment and prosperity to those parts of the world, and long may those efforts continue. That is what we seek to encourage. However, we are also bearing in mind the need for greater emphasis on agriculture and rural development, and the involvement of grass roots organisations which articulate and serve the needs of local people. That is also extremely important.

Those views were reflected in the last annual report of the Commonwealth Development Corporation, in the remarks of the chairman and in the management report. In view of our concern about Africa, I wish to refer briefly to the chairman's remarks whih give a good indication of the Bill's objectives, especially for the poorest parts of the Commonwealth and the world. The chairman said: Africa has perhaps suffered more than any other area from the combination of falling commodity prices, overambitious domestic investment policies and debt burdens made more weighty by the long period of high interest rates. Unfortunately, when we compare this year's annual report with that for last year we see that there are still aspects of crisis for the Third world. We see the contrast between 1984 and 1985. Drought has been alleviated a little, but the world debt problem is as great as ever. I know that the Minister would want the Bill to be effective in trying to deal with the many problems that arise from the debt crisis which the world faces. Certainly it would be nice to see the whole British aid programme expanding at the same rate as the CDC programme, and to see the same priority and emphasis being given to these issues.

We must consider the CDC and the Bill in the context of current and, perhaps, even future debt problems. The CDC's sense of urgency regarding debt is correct, reflecting the critical nature of the issues facing developing countries, especially those in Africa. One of the aspects of the Bill and of our discussions both in Committee and in the House which delights me is that we have started again to use the word "Commonwealth" with some pride. Some of us were disappointed during our debate on South Africa when the Commonwealth seemed to be frowned on by a minority of Conservative Members. It is important that the Commonwealth should be seen as playing an important part in offering a solution to development problems, while at the same time the work of the CDC expands successfully into non-Commonwealth areas.

The Minister would be somewhat astonished if I did not at some stage refer, albeit briefly, to the problems of the Mindanao project in the Philippines. My views are on record in Committee, and I do not withdraw anything I said there. However, I am sure that all hon. Members will agree that it is most important that all hon. Members, including, I hope, the Minister, who seems to find reasons for disagreeing when most hon. Members appear to be uttering the obvious, learn the lessons from that experience. If we have, in the spirit of constructive criticism which I have endeavoured to offer both this evening and in Committee, surely we can look to the future with confidence.

The guidelines given to the corporation some years ago called for emphasis on helping poor countries —presumably that is what the Minister envisages in this legislation — with particular priority for investment in the projects concerned with the renewal of natural resources. Therefore, it was a little disappointing to find that disbursements in 1985 totalled £82.2 million, sharply down from the 1984 figure of over £109 million, of which only 62 per cent., as against 82 per cent., went to poorer countries.

Bearing in mind the future work of the CDC, I ask the Minister three brief questions. First, on the status of the CDC, does he see it as a disburser of British aid and essentially humanitarian, or as a private development corporation? Secondly, will he encourage it to try to resolve whether it is working on behalf of communities, or necessarily with Governments and was not this one of the issues posed by the Mindanao project? Thirdly, is there not a case for the CDC to renew its models of agricultural development, which might have been progressive in the 1960s, but are open to criticism today?

The potential contribution of CDC to enabling people throughout the world to lead decent lives without fear of hunger or poverty, and participating in the development of their communities, is immense. Both the CDC and the House, recognise the needs of Africa for long-term solutions even more than immediate injections of relief. It was George Orwell who said some time ago that we might expect to live in a world where one half of the universe saw the other half on television suffering or dying from starvation. The stark reality of that prediction is that it was an understatement. One third of the world is watching two thirds of humanity on the verge of starvation or worse.

When the late John Strachey signalled the introduction of the legislation that led to the CDC being set up, he said: We believe that this new departure— and it is a new departure — is essential because the world would not tolerate much longer the leaving fallow of undeveloped areas".— [Official Report, 6 November 1947; Vol. 443, c. 2018.] That is true, and our great regret is that 40 years later, we have still not come near to realising the objective that he set or the achievements that he and the House would have liked.

I give a broad, if cautious, welcome to the Bill. We are grateful for the vision that those responsible for the CDC have provided in the past for future generations. In that spirit, the Labour party will not impede the Bill. However, we shall monitor its progress, when enacted, with the greatest possible care.

11.7 pm

Mr. Bowen Wells

I shall not detain the House for long. It has already been indulgent of my interests in this subject. However, I make it clear that I welcome the Bill wholeheartedly. It is a response to an Adjournment debate that took place in 1982, with my hon. Friend the then Financial Secretary to the Treasury, at about 6 am, during the proceedings on the Consolidated Fund Bill. The argument put by him was that the CDC was subject to the PSBR requirements that had been firmly established, and were administered, by the Treasury, and that even if the CDC were to borrow overseas, invest that money overseas, and receive repayment overseas, that was a borrowing that had to count as part of the PSBR.

That manifest absurdity is being put right in the Bill enabling the CDC to borrow and lend overseas, and ensuing that that does not have an impact on the PSBR. This is an ingenious way to have managed to do this. I am sorry that the time of officials and the House has had to be taken to invent this way to get round economic dogma and definitions. However, the fact that ODA and Treasury officials and my right hon. Friend the Minister for Overseas Development have spent that time upon it demonstrates their commitment to the Commonwealth Development Corporation and their concern to provide the necessary resources with which to expand its very valuable work overseas.

The whole of the corporation's finances are involved in a mix of ODA financial receipts at concessionary rates of interest and borrowing on commercial terms, thus making more money available for the essentially commercial, profitable and viable investments that it is making overseas. I welcome that development. It is the way in which development can take place in the most sensible and disciplined way possible.

I pay tribute to the CDC's results this year. They emphasise my belief that the CDC is of unique benefit to countries overseas. I do not share the fears of the hon. Member for Monklands, West (Mr. Clarke). One only has to look at the results of the CDs commitments this year, which amount to about £106 million. They will create 12,800 new permanent jobs overseas. I should have thought that all right hon. and hon. Members would welcome that result. A livelihood will be provided for 94,200 small and impoverished farmers. I wish it were in Mindanao where some of the poorest and most deprived people in the world live. I do not share the apprehensions of the hon. Member for Monklands, West, other than his apprehensions about the human rights difficulties that face those small and impoverished farmers. I believe that the CDC's efforts will improve their standard of living and enable them to withstand that kind of oppression.

About 210,000 hectares have been brought into cultivation or have been rehabilitated, either as estates or as small farmer or outgrower projects, with plantings of oil, palms, rubber, maize, sunflower, rape, cotton, beans, hardwoods, coffee and tea. Those are major investments in basic commodities that are produced for export. They will provide foreign exchange which will enable the standard of living in those countries to he improved. That investment will result in orders in the United Kingdom. That, too, is important. The orders will benefit this country, just as economic development worldwide will benefit this country. At least £19 million worth of orders will be generated during the implementation phase of these projects. The result in foreign exchange earnings for the host countries is very important.

The ability of countries overseas to import essential spare parts and improve the infrastructure will result in foreign exchange earnings for the host countries of at least £270 million per annum. That is a very proud record. We can all take pride in it. My right hon. Friend is entirely justified in his support for the CDC and in his desire to increase the amount of money that is available to it, and he deserves our wholehearted support.

11.13 pm
Mr. Beith

On behalf of the alliance, I welcome the Bill without any reservations. Its provisions are wholly desirable. They remove irksome and unnecessary restrictions upon the work of the Commonwealth Development Corporation. The Government are to be commended for introducing the Bill. I cannot, however, commend the Government's business managers. If anything has delayed the Bill, the activities of right hon. and hon. Members have not delayed it. The Bill had its Second Reading on 26 February, but only now have right hon. and hon. Members been given the opportunity to debate it on Third Reading.

One might think, having heard the comments of the hon. Member for Monklands, West (Mr. Clarke), that the proceedings in Standing Committee involved a protracted and deep dialectic about the Government's monetary policies, but the entire proceedings in Standing Committee lasted 40 minutes.

Mr. Tom Clarke

That is not so.

Mr. Beith

That is indeed the case. I have the text in front of me. The proceedings began at 10.30 and ended at 11.10 am, which by my reckoning is 40 minutes. Neither I nor the hon. Member for Monklands, West was present.

Mr. Tom Clarke

If the hon. Gentleman does his homework he will find that there were two sittings. The first lasted a great deal longer.

Mr. Beith

That is not so. The hon. Gentleman has not done his homework. There was a Second Reading Committee on the Bill, of which he and I were members, which lasted for 1 hour and 40 minutes. There was a Standing Committee which sat once for 40 minutes.

I stand by the comments I made originally. Neither the Second Reading Committee debate nor the Standing Committee debate was protracted, and rightly so. I make the point merely to underline that the general wish of hon. Members has been to get the Bill on to the statute book as quickly as possible. If anyone is to blame for not doing so, it must be the Government's business managers. The contents of the Bill well deserve the commendation of the House. I have a rare opportunity to welcome a Bill without any reservations whatsoever.

11.15 pm
Mr. Raison

I rise bathed in the bonhomie which the hon. Member for Berwick-upon-Tweed (Mr. Beith) has just expressed. I had intended to draw to the attention of the House the fact that in an earlier intervention he said that, in his wildest dreams, he could imagine a doubling of our GNP percentage for aid. In other words, he was saying that the Liberal party's official position corresponds with his wildest dreams, which does not quite have a ring of conviction about it. However, I shall not tease him because he has been extremely helpful to us this evening. I thank him for that. I also thank other hon. Members who have contributed to the passage of the Bill.

I think that we have given the Bill a reasonable amount of attention. It would have been a pity if the Bill had simply gone through on the nod without any discussion, because it concerns an important matter. The future of the Commonwealth Development Corporation is important. I, the Government and, I am glad to find, the House have great respect for the corporation. I do not begrudge the minutes in Committee and the short number of hours on Second Reading that have been spent discussing it.

The hon. Member for Monklands, West (Mr. Clarke) welcomed the Bill. I am grateful to him for that. I think that at one point he described it as an extension of our monetarist philosophy. I did not quite know what he meant by that. The introduction of a grant-giving power is not normally thought of as a monetarist activity. Whatever else one may have to say about it, no doubt, deep down in the hon. Gentleman's subconscious, something is stirring which he is about to release.

Mr. Tom Clarke

When the right hon. Gentleman reads Hansard, he will see that I was referring to the views of my hon. Friend the Member for Vauxhall (Mr. Holland). I thought it right that those views should be placed on the record.

Mr. Raison

The hon. Member for Vauxhall (Mr. Holland) would see monetarism under any stone or in any corner that he chose to look. I am only surprised that the hon. Member for Monklands, West should see himself in the role of the mouthpeace of the hon. Member for Vauxhall who is, if I may say so, a different kind of creature from himself.

Mr. Tom Clarke

And from the Minister.

Mr. Raison

And from myself also. I claim no identity with the hon. Member for Vauxhall.

As the hon. Member for Monklands, West said, the Bill enables the CDC to borrow and operate in overseas countries. As my hon. Friend the Member for Hertford and Stortford (Mr. Wells) said, it can do so without recourse to the public sector borrowing requirement. That gives a greater flexibility. I think that everybody would welcome that. Under the Bill, the Government have the duty to guarantee such borrowing. The Bill introduces the grants facility which we discussed earlier. I think that all those measures add up to greater scope for the Commonwealth Development Corporation.

The hon. Member for Monklands, West referred to Shelter Afrique. I think that he accepted that one of the merits of the Bill is that it could permit support for such an operation, as my noble Friend Baroness Young said in the other place. That is another advantage. The hon. Gentleman made some comparisons between the CDC's operations and World Bank conditionality. I believe that what the World Bank is doing, in trying to bring about structural adjustment in a genuine attempt to get to the root of the economic problems of Africa and other countries, is all to the good. I very much support that. The CDC is a somewhat different operation in that respect from the World Bank. I hope that the CDC will be used for real development. That is what the Bill is about.

The hon. Gentleman asked me three questions. He asked me whether I see the CDC as a disburser of humanitarian aid or a private corporation. I do not see it as either exactly. It is not exactly a private corporation. It can work in partnership with and give strength to the private sector. One of the healthiest aspects of the United Nations special session on Africa a few days ago was the recognition of the importance of the private sector.

The CDC is not exactly a humanitarian aid organisation. It is operating in developing countries, contributing to the strengthening of their economies, especially important sectors such as agriculture. It is not exactly a charitable organisation. It is trying to contribute to fundamental development.

As to whether it works with communities or with Governments, in operating in a Third world or other country, one must recognise that they have legitimate Governments. One may not like them, but they are Governments. It is difficult to waltz into a country and say, "We shall forget about the Government and do our own thing." Of course, the CDC is concerned to do things that are worth while in the economic and social development of the places in which it operates. That is an important part of aid strategy generally and the CDC contributes to it.

The hon. Member for Monklands, West raised the vexed question of Mindanao, and I understand his concern. We discussed the issue at some length in Committee and I cannot add much to what the hon. Gentleman has said. Since the change of Government in the Philippines, pressure from certain voluntary organisations on that matter seems to have abated. I do not know whether that is because they find the new regime more to their taste, as clearly many people do. Perhaps there are lessons to e learnt from this affair. However, the CDC can claim that jobs and prosperity are being generated in that area, and that, should not be dismissed.

The hon. Member for Monklands, West asked whether the CDC would review its models of agricultural development. The corporation is always prepared to bthink about the most effective ways of operating. It brings to that consideration enormous practical experience. The CDC works in the field. We are perhaps all tempted at times to pontificate about developments, but the CDC is the body out in the field. The way in which it applies its expertise is very much to the good.

I think that I have covered the main points raised in this short debate. We are right to be proud of the CDC as an organisation. As my hon. Friend the Member for Hertford and Stortford (Mr. Wells) said, the Bill will strengthen the CDC in its activities. I commend it to the House.

Question put and agreed to.

Bill accordingly read the Third time, and passed, with amendments.

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