HC Deb 01 May 2001 vol 367 c748
11. Mr. Brian White (Milton Keynes, North-East)

If he will report on developments in controlling the sale of conflict diamonds. [158618]

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Mr. Brian Wilson)

I am pleased to confirm that I led an Adjournment debate on behalf of the Government in the House on 26 April, reporting on national and international developments in controlling the sale of conflict diamonds. The United Kingdom has played a prominent role throughout in supporting the UN Security Council resolutions and the Kimberley process.

Mr. White

Given that the UN global policy forum produced a report last December that set out not only the smuggling routes, but the names of the brokers, dealers and cutters involved in the trade, will my hon. Friend assure me that the global certification scheme, on which the Government are working, will not get bogged down? Will he also give an idea of the time scale, because each day's delay means that more people die needlessly?

Mr. Wilson

I can assure my hon. Friend of the Government's complete commitment to see the process through to the end. Useful progress was made at meetings in Brussels last week. It is vital to involve Governments in the producer states as well as the industry and countries such as Britain, which are central to the trade. Everyone is working together to produce a scheme. At the same time, it is important to remember that only 3 or 4 per cent. of diamonds come through illegal channels. Nothing should be done to damage the legal trade because diamonds are very important to producer countries, especially in southern Africa.