HL Deb 14 March 2005 vol 670 cc1093-106

4.6 p.m.

Lord Triesman

My Lords, I would like to repeat a Statement made in another place by my right honourable friend the Secretary of State for International Development. The Statement is as follows.

"With permission, Mr Speaker, I wish to make a Statement about the Commission for Africa.

"'African poverty and stagnation is the greatest tragedy of our time'. This is the conclusion of the report of the Commission for Africa, which was published on 11 March. Seventeen commissioners, appointed by my right honourable friend the Prime Minister, a majority of whom are Africans, spent the last year assessing evidence and reaching out to the continent of Africa. We talked and listened to ordinary Africans, politicians, leaders of regional institutions, business people, trade unionists, academics and religious and civil leaders. We were supported by an outstanding secretariat, to whom I pay tribute, as I also do to the many honourable Members on all sides of the House who took such an interest in the commission's work. The report is the richer for all these contributions.

"We live in a world of increasing prosperity in which, every year, more people around the world share. But one continent, Africa, has been left behind. This year 4 million African children will die before their fifth birthday. Millions more who do survive will not go to school, and will grow up to lead lives of abject poverty and frequent hunger. As the Prime Minister said on Friday, this is the fundamental moral challenge of our generation.

"The report is painfully honest. It tells the truth about the corrosive effects of corruption and conflict in Africa. It tells the truth about the things that Africa needs to change, and it is equally honest about the past broken promises of rich countries and about the things we must now do. It also recognises, however, signs of hope. There is more democracy in Africa than before. There are more governments trying to do the right thing by their people. There are fewer conflicts and, in some countries, economies are now growing strongly for the first time in years, and poor people are being lifted out of poverty. Best of all, Africans are taking responsibility for Africa, with the African Union and NePAD having set out the continent's vision of its own future.

"The report is clear that more ad hoc initiatives are not the answer. It sets out a comprehensive plan of action for implementation by Africa and by the rest of the world. It shows that Africa can absorb much more aid, and can put it to good use to rebuild basic healthcare and education; to help countries scrap user fees that stop poor children from going to school, or poor families from getting medical care; to assist in the fight against HIV and AIDS; and to reverse the decline in investment in water and sanitation.

"Aid to Africa should be doubled and made more reliable. The international finance facility should be launched immediately. For poor countries in sub-Saharan African which need it, there should be 100 per cent debt cancellation as soon as possible. The future of Africa lies, rightly, in the hands of its people and governments. And while Africa acts—as it must—to improve governance and tackle corruption, rich countries need to stop holding it back. We must make the international trade system fairer and end the damage that export subsidies are doing, while Africa increases its own capacity to trade.

"To do this, and to increase economic growth. Africa needs major investment in infrastructure. Leaving it to the private sector alone has not worked. So the report recommends a new $10 billion a year infrastructure fund, alongside proposals to improve the investment climate in Africa and boost agriculture.

"Finally, the report recommends support for the African Union's new leadership in peace and security, and for Africa's increasingly important regional institutions. It proposes a new monitoring mechanism to hold the world to account for implementing what the report tells us needs to be done. "The Government are committed to playing their part in responding to the report. We have already set out a timetable to reach the UN 0.7 per cent aid target. We are leading the world with the proposals of my right honourable friend the Chancellor on the IFF and on multilateral debt relief. We are on course to double aid to Africa by 2010. And we will need to do more to support good governance and tackle corruption.

"But this is not a report to the United Kingdom alone. It is a report to all of us. My right honourable friend the Prime Minister is committed to put the commission's recommendations before our G8 colleagues and to do so with determination. To succeed, we will need to harness the energy of all those who share the report's vision.

"Most important of all, this report shows us that something can be done. It tells us how, and what it will cost. We—this generation—can no longer claim that we did not know about the condition of Africa or what to do to help it change its future. Our challenge now is to do it.

"If we fail to act, as Africans or as the rest of the world, then those who come after us will ask how it was that people, so aware of the suffering and so capable of responding, chose to look away. If, however, we do act, then we will help to build a safer, more secure and more just world. The choice is ours, and it is by the decisions we make that we will be judged".

My Lords, that concludes the Statement.

4.13 p.m.

Baroness Rawlings

My Lords, I thank the noble Lord for repeating the Statement made in another place by Mr Hilary Benn. After a busy and sleepless few days, the Africa Commission report has given us extensive weekend reading. We welcome it, and thank its authors. It provides a thorough, detailed and perceptive analysis of the problems which confront Africa. Although, in total, there are more people in Asia and South America who subsist on less than a dollar a day, only in Africa is poverty increasing and life expectancy falling, caused by disease, poor governance and conflict. This report has covered the ground comprehensively. Its analysis is excellent, but I fear that it risks being more of an academic work than a programme for action.

Both sides of the House share the common objective of wanting to tackle global poverty. Both major parties would spend the same amount on international development. In as much as we differ, it is about how we spend that money on poverty reduction, not on how much we spend on poverty reduction.

We on these Benches unreservedly endorse many of the commission's recommendations. As we have said in our manifesto, we want a radical reform of the CAP and an end to protection by developed countries which denies poor countries access to our markets and thereby the means to increase their own prosperity. Our proposals for an advocacy fund to help poor countries fight their corner in trade negotiations are. I believe, very close to the commissioners' own on the issue.

The report's analysis is excellent. However, as a blueprint for the effective change and progress we all want to see in Africa, it has serious shortcomings. It describes, and meticulously costs, the measures developed countries should take to help Africa, many of which we support. But there is no implementation plan to show in comparable detail how the additional £13 billion in aid by 2013 would be disbursed; how this disbursement would be monitored to ensure accountability and transparency: and what measures would be taken against errant governments. The fundamental question I therefore ask the noble Lord is: what mechanism will there be to monitor and secure the quality of good governance that Africa so desperately needs?

For such a lengthy and detailed report, the coverage given to African governments' obligation to match the commitment to their people demanded of the developed governments is disappointingly thin. For example, the chapter on governance states that, corruption is a systemic challenge facing many African leaders and that the process of fighting it will be assisted by "increased transparency" by African governments, but it offers no methodology for achieving this. Instead, blame for corruption is transferred to those who offer bribes rather than those who solicit them.

African governments have had 30 to 40 years of independence to "increase transparency". This is more than a generation and, indeed, longer than the life expectancy of many of their citizens. In the early years of independence, corruption may indeed have been fuelled by east-west rivalry, post-colonial influence or commercial competition. But today, it is almost exclusively home grown, and it is characterised by a total indifference by the corrupt to the welfare of their fellow citizens.

Reference is of course made to the NePAD African Peer Review Mechanism as a way to address the problems of governance and corruption. But the portents are not good. On 24 February, the second phase of the NePAD review of Kenya was launched. It was formally welcomed by the Kenyan Government as the, commencement of intensive work on a process central to Kenya's search for greater democracy arid economic growth". The Kenyan Government, was aware that corruption could undermine its commitment to the process, but was working to stem the vice". That statement was made only 11 days after Kenya's anti-corruption chief, John Githongo, was forced out of his job and out of the country, following threats to his life from Ministers whose corruption he was investigating.

Can we be confident that the peer review mechanism will bring the Kenyan Government to book and put pressure on them to reform? Unlikely. According to the NePAD secretariat, the peer review mechanism does not rate governments according to a score card for governance, transparency and suitability for donor support: It is a voluntary process based on self assessment". That would suggest that neither Kenya, nor Uganda, which is also to embark on the process, will be subject to much peer pressure at all.

Does the noble Lord agree with what we have been saying for months—that this entire project will work only if all participant countries subscribe to a collective commitment to govern well? And if so, by what effective mechanism will the likes of Robert Mugabe be certain to reach the high standards of government that we seek?

Another disappointment is the report's recommendation that the majority of the funds to build or restore Africa's infrastructure should be channelled directly to governments. Commissioner Anna Tibaijuka made a telling comment in this respect when she described how the promise offered by Tanzania's independence was squandered. How was it squandered? By donor governments transferring huge sums of money to the Tanzanian Government for use on infrastructure projects which were either not completed because the money was stolen or a waste because they were irrelevant to the country's needs.

Does the noble Lord believe that the recommendation in our manifesto to channel aid through NGOs and civic organisations, as well as governments, would produce both greater accountability and more cost effective use of available funds? As I understand it, the noble Lord believes that he is doing things well already. What will he do differently in the light of the report?

I noticed that on other subjects the report was very coy. Let us take, for example. military expenditure. It is true, as claimed, that by international standards African defence expenditure is low. But if it is to be measured as a percentage of GDP then a very different, more worrying picture emerges, as several governments, including those of Rwanda and Ethiopia, will be seen to be spending more on defence than on education and health.

It is also regrettable that the nettle of land reform and land registration was not fully grasped. The report recommends that land tenure systems should continue to be grounded in "local, social and political legitimacy" and that disputes should he settled according to local culture. That is essentially an endorsement of traditional procedures which usually discriminate against women and orphans and restrict the use of land as collateral for small enterprise development which, rightly, is regarded as a key to economic growth. In the absence of land reform, what steps will be taken to improve the climate for both domestic and inward investment?

A short response today can hardly begin to address all the issues covered in the report so I hope that we might yet have a full debate in this House, which is long overdue, on international development. That said, I reiterate my welcome to the report and admiration for its authors. It could indeed help to transform Africa. This weighty tome needs to be converted from words into action. We need to he reassured that African governments genuinely share our determination to create a better future for their people; otherwise it will be yet another opportunity missed and this, by any measure. is the best opportunity we are ever going to have.

4.22 p.m.

Baroness Northover

My Lords, I, too, thank the Minister for repeating the Statement made in the other place. I wish also to commend Bob Geldof for driving this forward. He has not allowed the 20th anniversary of LiveAid to be marked by how little has been achieved, but by what we must do now.

The Africa Commission Report is a most impressive analysis and the authors are indeed to be commended on it. However, there is some feeling, perhaps summed up by Save the Children, of occasionally "pulling punches"—an incisive analysis which is held back in terms of the recommendations which are allowed to flow from these analyses. Did the commission suffer from politicians worrying about what they could deliver and how it would serve as a challenge to them?

At the heart of things must be the question: what difference will this remarkable report make? How will this be taken forward? In the long term, I note that two members of this commission will be responsible for annual monitoring of what has been achieved. Does the Minister think that that will be satisfactory and what else will underpin it? Meanwhile, this document is to be used this year to encourage members of the G8 in particular to take action. How do the Government intend to secure agreement on the proposals?

As the press has noted, the report points very honestly to the problem of corruption. Yet it also reveals that no G8 nation has signed the UN anticorruption convention committing the West to repatriate stolen funds. Will the UK at least now do that? Does the Minister think that having one civil servant in DTI to monitor the actions of large multinationals accused of corruption in the DRC is adequate to the task? My noble friend Lord Avebury has been pursuing that issue for some time.

The UK's Export Credits Guarantee Department's rules on bribery were watered down only three months ago as a result of pressure from companies such as BAe Systems; and the UK is one of only four OECD countries to have failed to prosecute any firms accused of corruption aboard. Does the Minister see that changing now? Should we expect more joined-up government?

The report calls for greater corporate transparency but is vague as to how that is to be achieved. It fails to call for effective regulation of money laundering, tax avoidance and evasion. It relies heavily on corporate voluntarism. Does the Minister think that this will work?

ActionAid notes that the report fails to demand support for the UN human rights norms for businesses and to make company directors legally accountable for the social and environmental impacts of their company's activities overseas. On trade, the commission argues that the liberalisation of poor countries' markets can damage those countries. It also argues for the removal of trade destroying subsidies. What will the UK now take forward within the EU to address those questions?

The report argues that aid should be doubled. Will the Government review when they intend to reach 0.7 per cent of GNP? Why does the report not put a target on this for all developed countries? What will the UK do to persuade other countries to untie their aid? We welcome the fact that the UK has untied its aid.

The proposal on debt is "up to" 100 per cent debt forgiveness "as soon as possible". Can the Minister say what is meant by those qualifications?

The report is very critical of past privatisation policies: that the privatisation of water, transport and agricultural markets has been a serious policy mistake. Will the UK now back away from the privatisation backed by DfID and promoted by its consultants, the Adam Smith Institute, and others?

The commission notes that violent conflict has been stoked by the sale of small arms. Can the Minister say what action the Government intend to take here? Some encouraging reports are coining through.

On AIDS, the report argues for an extra $10 billion a year. What will the UK do this year to mobilise US efforts for an internationally agreed strategy or will the US be allowed to continue benefiting its own drugs companies and pandering to those who will not allow the use of condoms to play a part in combating the spread of AIDS? The report fails to call for the full funding of WHO's target of 3 million people into treatment by the end of 2005. That is extremely puzzling since that was a somewhat limited aim. Can the Minister comment on that?

The report is clear about problems with capacity. Africa is desperately short of health workers and teachers. More than a million children are not in school. The commission wants that to improve right up to tertiary level and has a particular focus on science; and that is surely welcome. It will take a huge amount to stop the brain drain to developed countries. One in two nurses in London is from overseas. Will the Government further address the issue?

Overall, the report should be warmly welcomed. It could be a major step forward but only if it is implemented. For Africa's people, and for those who wrote the report. we have to be sure that the commission's analyses and recommendations are not applauded and then quietly shelved. Africa needs sustained assistance and concerted action over the long term. I welcome what the Government are saying about their commitment to providing that.

4.28 p.m.

Lord Triesman

My Lords, I have a little over four minutes for about 20 questions. I am grateful to both noble Baronesses for welcoming the report so warmly even with such great circumspection.

Perhaps I may deal first with the big issues raised. On governance, combating corruption and peer review—many of the other questions are tangled up with those issues—it is fair to say that we have been consistent in arguing that we wish to see political systems which provide opportunities for people, including the poor and disadvantaged, to influence government policy and practice. No macro-economic stability, sound public expenditure mechanisms, overseas investment or any of the other elements will be likely to succeed unless there is a further and sustained movement towards democracy. There is no question that in relation to the heavily indebted countries, the countries of the G8 as well as all those that have taken part in the commission are insistent that we should see continued progress, but not continued progress that means that under no circumstances in countries where there is not enough progress are we content to see people simply starve or go to the wall because we feel that they have not reached a standard that we would wish to assert.

It is true that the peer review for good governance is helping us to make that forward progress without cutting off hope to those countries that have not seen that progress. The African peer review mechanism has begun; 24 countries have voluntarily signed up—and it is voluntary—to the four reviews that are under way. The goals are to increase the number of reviews and to make sure that people well able to undertake those reviews are leading them, with assistance but with ownership within the African countries—because finally they must own these things if they are to succeed. At no stage will we be able to judge our success or otherwise by whether we persuade Robert Mugabe to take part in the process. I have no expectation that he will and nobody in this House has any expectation that he will. But that is at the most negative end of the spectrum in relation to those countries that are trying to make the progress that we seek.

We ourselves must ensure that we deal with corruption in the form of bribery and export licences. If a licence has been issued arid the company acts illegally, the DTI will take steps to revoke the licence. If the goods have already been sold and there is a case for prosecution, that will be pursued by Customs and Excise. It is also taken into account when considering application for future licences. There will he no condoning of criminality. The absence of prosecutions—and indeed there have been relatively few prosecutions anywhere—will not be pleaded in aid of the necessity to take the steps that I have described.

We shall channel money directly to governments in many cases, but the noble Baroness, Lady Rawlings, also knows from the debates that we have had in this House on HIV/AIDS that money has been channelled through the NGOs, which can put it to very good. and effective use, rather than through governments. In many cases, it is important to ensure that governments assume their full range of responsibilities. But it must be the case that when we can see a possibility of better practice, we engage with it.

Military expenditure is an issue, but the report is gratifying in showing that the African Union is now much more willing to intervene in cases of war and that it is not standing off from the most difficult problems. There are a number of multilateral developments taking place which should help. I have no doubt that I shall need to write to both the noble Baronesses to deal with all the questions, but I am warm towards the idea of a full debate on these issues.

The anti-corruption convention will have to be part of the process. I have referred to credit guarantees. I do not believe that there is a change at the moment in the general date to reach the 0.7 per cent, but the IFF proposal would radically foreshorten that process for us and for other countries.

In the light of the time, I must give way to other questions. 1 shall write to both the noble Baronesses.

4.32 p.m.

The Lord Bishop of Chelmsford

My Lords, I, too, thank the Government for encouraging the report and warmly welcome it. I must declare an interest as I chair the board of Christian Aid.

I wish to make three points. First, we are not going to make any progress on issues that are deeply complex and deeply embedded in African politics and economics unless the Government are persistently committed to pursuing them. It is easy for politicians to declare a priority for Africa and then for other things to take its place on the agenda and for there to be no structures in place for pursuing those goals. Now we have another report. It would be a disaster if this report was widely welcomed and actually nothing happened, so I am interested in the mechanisms in government for pursuing the goals.

Secondly, the Statement refers to fair trade. Certainly, the removal of subsidies is part of that, but does the Minister accept that the terms of trade are also part of the issue? The idea that one size fits all and that somehow a general globalised and liberalised economy will meet everyone's needs without any nuancing will not work. At the G8. will we work in a focused way to see what emerging nations' economies need in terms of international systems that defend their capacity to build up their capacity?

Thirdly, I hugely welcome the commitment to improve levels of aid, but can we press the Government to consider the quality of aid and how it is used? There might be some questions if we simply increased the levels of aid and it was all government to government aid. If aid and development is to work for communities in Africa, it must work with the substructure of what helps those communities to build their lives. Those of us in the development agencies will be really interested in pursuing that conversation and seeing ways in which government and the agencies can work in partnership to work from the bottom up in these communities, working with the networks that build the life of those communities for the future.

I, too, warmly welcome the opportunity in this House for a major debate on these issues. I thank the Minister for his Statement and the commission for its report.

Lord Triesman

My Lords, I thank the right reverend Prelate for his questions. I assure him and other noble Lords that the Government will persist and act very vigorously. The work on the G8 agenda is an example of that, as it is going ahead with a great deal of energy, as is the work of the EU presidency, which we debated in this House very recently. A great deal of that work at the moment focuses on the IFF because of the rate at which it will leverage funds into the poorest countries. That gives us the possibility of doubling the amount of aid in a very short space of time.

I understand very well the point about terms of trade. The Africa element of the WTO has been looking at that issue, and there is acceptance from the Government that as markets liberalise—and it is almost impossible to conceive of people operating wholly outside the WTO—there is no question that some things should be kept outside it. Free schools and health services are two areas that I mentioned in the Statement; other areas will require what I described in your Lordships' House as asymmetry. There will be really quite different timetables, because many small farmers, let alone countries, will not be in a position to act unless they are given the opportunity to do that.

I agree 100 per cent, as does my right honourable friend the Secretary of State, about the need for networks to develop on a bottom-up basis. A big part of the report that I found hugely encouraging was the notion that it is the development of small agribusinesses and at seed-corn level which will be fundamental to success. Those are areas in which much of the aid and development capacity building is intended to take place.

Lord Hannay of Chiswick

My Lords, I warmly congratulate the Minister on the report and thank the right honourable gentleman the Prime Minister for the leadership that he has given in shining a sharp light on Africa's problems. Would he not agree that the commission report has very little in it for one group of countries that is all too large in Africa—that is to say, states that have already failed or are failing, for which no amount of aid, investment or trade is going to be any good until the questions of peace and security are properly addressed? Would he agree that it is important to find responses to that. too? There is not an awful lot in the commission report on that subject, which involves some 15 African countries.

Secondly, does he agree that, while it is admirable and excellent that the African Union and its sub-regional organisations are now beginning to address problems of peace and security and governance, the problem is not so much that Africans stood back while others dealt with the problems of the continent. but that non-Africans are now starting to stand back and encourage the Africans to do the lot when they cannot? The Africans have no heavy lift to get troops in position and they have no money to support troops in peacekeeping operations. They need a great deal of help.

Does the Minister agree that, in order to get a comprehensive set of prescriptions for Africa, it will be necessary to fit together the prescriptions of this commission and those of the high-level panel that reported to the Secretary-General? That dealt fully with a 10-year capacity-building system for African peacekeeping, the need for the international community to provide financial support for African peacekeeping and other matters that are not dealt with in great detail in this report.

Lord Triesman

My Lords, I agree with the noble Lord, Lord Hannay, that there will need to be the closest fit between the report of the Economic Commission for Africa and the high-level United Nations report. It is very largely true that, whatever forces the African Union can assemble, it will need a good deal more logistic help in order to make sure that they can be deployed rapidly and appropriately. That is not a matter that most African nations can take on with their current financial difficulties. I have no difficulty in giving the assurance that the noble Lord seeks.

There are some signs of an overall reduction in the number of places in which wars are being fought. That is not a complacent view and does not mean that the situation could not again become more difficult. But there is willingness to open negotiations on an international arms trade treaty no later than 2006 and Africa is very much in view in that. There is a new United Nations peace-building commission, and flexible resources for the AU's role in conflict prevention and resolution—the point raised by the noble Lord, Lord Hannay. Ensuring that corporate activities and the exploitation of natural resources do not fuel conflicts is, in my view, ethically just as important—maybe even crucial—because it is in our hands. It has so often been the case that prosperous countries have fuelled the very conflicts that we look at with such dismay. We must be clear that we are not going along that path.

Baroness Whitaker

My Lords, this well written report is a new way of looking at Africa that focuses on being just to Africa. In that connection, we need to crack down on our part in corruption. I remind your Lordships of my interest in Transparency International. When is the UK's new law on corruption likely to appear?

Lord Triesman

My Lords, in advance of the general election that is rumoured to be happening very soon, I find the question about what would be in the immediate legislative programme—on the assumption that this party wins the election—very hard to answer.

We have done a good deal. I shall emphasise it very briefly, because I know that other noble Lords have questions to ask. The Anti-terrorism, Crime and Security Act 2001 made it clear that bribery beyond these shores is a criminal activity that can, and will, be prosecuted. The UN Convention Against Corruption was signed in December 2003. The ratification of it is pending and depends on the passage of the Serious Organised Crime and Police Bill, which has just come before your Lordships' House. The Proceeds of Crime Act is having an important effect. An international consensus about the return of assets that have been stolen and secreted away by ruthless dictators and others needs to be built and acted upon. In this country, we probably have among the most scrupulous and rigorous banking systems to deal with money laundering. Looking into the future, we intend to make sure that EU procurement directives introduce the mandatory disbarment from further trade of bidders convicted of corruption. These measures taken together as a battery are very important. But, we may, as the noble Baroness, said, need more.

The Earl of Caithness

My Lords, when the Minister introduced the Statement he said that the point was to hold the world to account. Can he say more about who is going to hold Africa to account? In the debate on Zimbabwe last Wednesday, the noble Baroness, Lady Crawley, said that every time the British Government raised the question of Zimbabwe in UN committee discussions, it was blocked by the African countries. It is not just Mugabe, all the other leaders are blocking progress in Africa. What will happen on that?

Lord Triesman

My Lords, I recall that in a recent sequence of Questions in your Lordships' House my noble friend Lady Symons made the point that more political will is needed. Were it in our gift, we would do so. But the critical point made by the Economic Commission on Africa is that African nations should take greater responsibility for determining the outcome of matters in their own continent, with all the forms of assistance that the commission report quite rightly refers to.

We will continue to press on the issue of Zimbabwe. That is without question. But it is plain that we have a new platform for trying to achieve a consensus for action, which is based on a systematic and sustained view of aid over a long period with fewer ad hoc arrangements, as I said in the Statement. We believe that we are seeing signs of change. It is not a wholly pessimistic view although., in some areas, it is still a very difficult one.

Lord Avebury

My Lords, what happened to the proposal—which I think was advanced by Mr Gordon Brown when he was on his tour of Africa—that the debts that are to be forgiven should be paid into a virtual fund and only used to make the increases in health and education that are necessary to help African countries attain their Millennium Development Goals? Secondly, will the UK play any role in the increased investment needed to develop treatments and vaccines for AIDS, TB, malaria and parasitic diseases, which the report talks about eliminating?

Lord Triesman

My Lords, the proposals made by my right honourable friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer during his tour of Africa will be among the centrepieces of the EU presidency and the G8 discussions. Right at the heart of them is the concept of a new fund that would be leveraged so as to assist in the forgiving of debt—if I may use that expression—on the understanding that moneys raised would be invested in health and education and would certainly assist in making sure that they are both free, rather than charged to those who use them.

On the second question, I am glad to say that the United Kingdom is at the forefront and a great deal of research work is going on here. There is a big research budget: £16 million for the development of microbicides, in which the Medical Research Council and the London medical schools are involved; £18 million for the international AIDS vaccine initiative; and £35 million for the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunization initiative, on which Liverpool and London universities are working. For AIDS, a great deal of experimental research work is being done at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine. Work is being done by Jonathan Webber at Imperial College, and development work on HIV/AIDS is being done at St George's Hospital. Vaccine development work is being done at Oxford University. Malaria work is being done at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, and vital work on TB is also being done there and in Liverpool. I mention this work because it is first class, alpha-rated, United Kingdom science. If we can drive it forward, it will give a huge amount of hope for cures for those diseases.

Lord Elton

My Lords, so that we can get the scale in focus, can the Minister tell us whether the correct figure is £25 billion, as stated in the resources paragraph in the executive summary on page 16, or £75 billion as in the exemplification of it on page 353? What proportion of that figure would be produced by 0.7 per cent of GDP as proposed? Does he recognise that if the corresponding benefits to us do not immediately flow from the output payment, the effect on our economy will be negative? Is a concordat therefore required between all political parties on what the quantum should be so that it does not get eroded in election after election?

Lord Triesman

My Lords, I can answer the first question; the second is in some ways much more difficult. We have pledged ourselves to the £25 billion in an immediate sense. We believe that the figure needs to be doubled; we need more than that to accomplish the whole programme. The point about the IFF proposal is that it would get us closer to the £50 billion by almost halving the time to get to our 0.7 per cent commitment. It would concentrate that period of time by leveraging money through the international bonds that would be issued.

So, those sets of figures are to do with the timetables. The difficulty in answering the question about the 0.7 per cent is that with another mechanism we can do it even faster by, as I said, halving the time. It is always possible that if we do not tie the aid that we give to, for example, contracts for the United Kingdom's own companies, some of them may lose out. However, I emphasise that the process of tying aid to contracts is discredited in the international arena. We have to ask what our ethical obligations are and make sure that we work on them. That is the first thing that we need to do.

I hope that in the EU and G8 discussions under our presidency we will persuade other countries—as I believe we will—that they should not tie aid to their own national advantage. If they do so, the processes will be slower; the millennium development goals will be more difficult to achieve—and goodness knows, we know that they are difficult to achieve in Africa on anything like a human timescale.

Lord Mackie of Benshie

My Lords, will the Minister tell us which African countries are making satisfactory progress and what are the conditions under which they are doing so?

Lord Triesman

My Lords, satisfactory progress is being made in different respects. I am not sure how best to answer the question. In economic terms—rather than going through a list—a number of countries now have economic growth rates of above 7 per cent. A big batch of countries have growth rates in the 5 per cent to 6 per cent region. Some countries are doing far worse than that, and some, we believe, are going backwards.

We have seen movements away from wars and civil wars in Angola and other countries; I could mention a number of countries. We know that in countries such as Sudan and the Democratic Republic of Congo progress is still desperately needed. Progress on health and education is far more complex, but the data that the noble Lord seeks are in the commission report. Those cover different issues and different rates of progress.

Baroness Flather

My Lords, as we all know, the poorest of the poor in Africa—

Baroness Crawley

My Lords, I apologise to the noble Baroness, but the time is up for Questions.