HL Deb 06 May 1999 vol 600 cc786-7

3.16 p.m.

Lord Judd asked Her Majesty's Government:

How they define "security" in the new programme of the Department for International Development for "security sector reform"; what will be the budget for such reform in the next financial year; and what proportion this expenditure will represent of the total aid budget for that year.

Baroness Amos

My Lords, in our new policy paper on plans to help developing countries reform their security sections, we define the security sector as those who are responsible, or should be responsible, for protecting the state. The Department for International Development does not plan to set specific targets for spending on security sector reform activities. Actual spending will be determined in the country and regional context and will reflect needs over a particular year.

Lord Judd

My Lords, while I thank my noble friend for that reply, can she assure the House that in the Government's approach to relief and reconstruction in Kosovo and the adjacent states this new policy will be taken seriously? Can she also assure the House that in the long term in the wider world we shall continue to recognise that stability and security are best achieved by the right mix of development, environmental, trade and economic policies right across the spectrum?

Baroness Amos

My Lords, I can assure my noble friend that the new policy will be taken very seriously. One of the reasons why the Department for International Development was created as a separate body was to ensure that all the linkages between trade, security sector reform and development were looked at in the context of sustainability and the long-term economic viability of developing countries.

Lord Redesdale

My Lords, bearing in mind the cost if conflict prevention fails, will the Minister give consideration to increasing the budget for defence diplomacy initiatives? Such initiatives have been extremely successful in the past.

Baroness Amos

My Lords, I can assure the noble Lord that we consider conflict prevention and resolution key to successful development. Defence diplomacy is delivered by the Ministry of Defence, and the Department for International Development works in close co-operation with the FCO and the MoD on these matters.

Lord Monkswell

My Lords, can my noble friend confirm that as part of the security sector reform proper training and equipment for police and armed forces in developing countries are highlighted to ensure that such security forces come under democratic control?

Baroness Amos

My Lords, our policy on security sector reform does not include the police. The police are included in our other programmes relating to governance. We have a range of policies which cover that area. We have had considerable experience in working to reform police services to ensure that they work in a more appropriate way to meet the needs of a democratic society.

Viscount Waverley

My Lords, I believe that that is a commendable initiative, but is it recognised that the majority of developing nations have sufficient military and civilian equipment but that it is unusable through not having been serviced or properly maintained over the years? Would it not be better for the Government to concentrate on providing expert technicians and trainers to ensure the good running of that equipment and infrastructure?

Baroness Amos

My Lords, we take an integrated approach to these matters. Therefore we are considering a number of different aspects. We supply technical experts as well as trainers. Upgrading equipment can be more expensive in the longer term than new equipment.

As regards security sector matters, we take into account the ability of a country to afford the equipment that it wishes to procure. Those criteria are considered when looking at export trade licences.

Lord McNair

My Lords, since the armaments industry is one of this country's major export earners, does the Minister see a conflict in the new policy between her department and the Department of Trade and Industry?

Baroness Amos

My Lords, there is no conflict between the Department for International Development and the Department of Trade and Industry. These matters are considered in a cross-departmental working group. The DfID considers clear criteria in making representations to the DTI which the DTI then takes on board.

The Earl of Sandwich

My Lords, what proportion of the humanitarian work carried out by our Armed Forces in Macedonia—I am sure that we all applaud it—is carried by the Ministry of Defence? Can that proportion be maintained?

Baroness Amos

My Lords, I do not have the exact figures. However, we see no problem in maintaining the humanitarian effort by those forces.