HC Deb 21 January 2003 vol 398 cc162-3
9. Peter Bradley (The Wrekin)

What discussions he has had with the new Government in Kenya. [91788]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs (Mr. Bill Rammell)

We welcomed the election of President Kibaki on 27 December, and we are looking forward to meeting new Ministers to discuss their priorities. The Secretary of State for International Development is visiting Nairobi today, and Baroness Amos will have meetings there on 28 January. We expect the new Kenyan Vice-President, Michael Kijana Wamalwa, to be in London from 22 to 25 January.

Peter Bradley

I am sure that the whole House welcomes the recent elections in Kenya, the country's return to democracy and in particular its commitment to eradicating corruption. Is the Minister aware, however, that many British citizens, including constituents of mine, have unfinished business with the previous Kenyan regime? I am thinking especially of those whose assets, property and land have been withheld. Will the Minister give an undertaking that when Ministers and officials meet their Kenyan counterparts they will impress on them, as a matter of urgency, the need to resolve those outstanding cases at last, equitably and justly?

Mr. Rammell

I am happy to give that assurance. I am aware of the constituency case that my hon. Friend is pursuing. Let me repeat what I have already told him: I shall be more than happy to arrange a meeting between Foreign and Commonwealth Office officials, him and the Kenyan high commission to see how we can press the new Kenyan Government on the issue. I think the situation is positive at the moment; we must take the opportunity that it offers.

Mr. Hugo Swire (East Devon)

Let me add my congratulations to the people of Kenya on their return to democracy with a convincing win by President Kibaki and the National Alliance Rainbow coalition. Will the British Government offer every assistance to the new Kenyan Government in their pursuit of corruption? Will they also provide any assistance they are called on to provide in pursuing anyone who has misappropriated funds from Kenya in the past before any more money is advanced by the International Monetary Fund?

Mr. Rammell

We certainly welcome the fact that a key plank of President Kibaki's campaign was the commitment to root out corruption, and we will certainly seek to support him in whatever way we can, specifically in relation to the international financial institutions. Assuming that the Kenyan Government govern on the basis on which they campaigned—a commitment to good governance and rooting out corruption—we will seek to re-establish contact with those institutions.

Hugh Bayley (City of York)

Does the Minister agree that the successful implementation of a new partnership for Africa's development will depend on the principle of reciprocity? That is to say that when an African country complies with its obligations under NEPAD—the New Partnership for Africa's Development—as Kenya has done in terms of good governance, a peaceful transition from one governing party to another, and tackling corruption by appointing the chairman of Kenya's chapter of Transparency International to the office of the anti-corruption commissioner, it should see demonstrable benefits coming from our side of the partnership through trade liberalisation and development assistance.

Mr. Rammell

My hon. Friend makes a reasonable point. It is a two-way street. We are at a critical juncture. If the new Kenyan Government act in the way in which they are committed to act, it is important that we look to restore the aid programme and particularly that we use our best efforts with the international financial institutions to get progress on that issue, too.

Mr. Richard Spring (West Suffolk)

Does the hon. Gentleman agree that the election last month in Kenya contrasts dramatically in its free and fair character with that in Zimbabwe? Given the clear pledge and immediate actions taken by President Kibaki, whose election we greatly welcome, to tackle the cancer of corruption that has bedevilled Kenya, does the hon. Gentleman welcome the indications of an early-stage meeting with the International Monetary Fund and of a positive dialogue with Kenya to help it to return to being one of the success stories of the African continent?

Mr. Rammell

I agree with the hon. Gentleman. The contrast with Zimbabwe in terms of free and fair elections could not be more significant. We are in a positive situation at the moment in Kenya and I think all of us have a responsibility to build on the peaceful transition to move that process forward. We will certainly look to work with the IMF to take that process forward.