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Howard: Securing a lasting legacy from the G8 Presidency

Responding to the Prime Minister’s statement in the House of Commons in the G8 Summit

"May I at the outset congratulate the Prime Minister on what he achieved at the G8 summit. Though it was overshadowed by the atrocity in London, substantial progress was made. This was, in large measure, due to the work done by the Prime Minister, and others, not only at Gleneagles but in the run up to the Conference

The Prime Minister at Gleneagles was fighting for policies and principles which are widely shared across this country. The success of Live8 and the work of the Make Poverty History campaign have played their part in focussing world attention on this issue. The Prime Minister's response was appropriate and welcome.

Of course international summits by their very nature cannot live up to all the hopes invested in them. The Prime Minister has accepted that he did not achieve everything he wanted to achieve. But both on world poverty and on climate change the agreements which were reached hold out the prospect of further advances later this year.

We all know what is at stake - in Africa 8,000 people die every day from HIV/Aids. 7,000 die from hunger, 6,000 from waterborne diseases. These are people who share our planet with us. We have a moral as well as a practical imperative to help them. That is why we welcome the agreements which were reached on aid and on debt relief. We wholeheartedly support the Government's position on both these issues. But can the Prime Minister confirm what proportion of the aid is new money and can he also say more about the timing of the aid? How much will be delivered immediately and how much in the latter half of the decade?

There is also cross-party support for the International Financing Facility, including the IFF for immunisation. The communiqué is very non-committal on this issue. What are the prospects for further agreement on this proposal?

I am sure that the Prime Minister agrees that aid and debt relief are only part of the package that will help Africa to secure a permanent escape from poverty. We all recognise the need to make progress in securing free and fair trade. Protectionism by developed countries at the expense of the developing world is immoral and hypocritical and must come to an end. The key meeting on this is the WTO ministerial meeting in Hong Kong later this year.

One of the key issues at that meeting will be the removal of export subsidies by the developed countries. Progress was made on this at Gleneagles but no date was set. The Prime Minister has set out his objective for Hong Kong. Can he give us a fuller assessment of the likelihood of progress?

The communiqué made clear the G8's commitment to 'strengthening the multilateral trading system' and 'improving the participation of developing countries'. The Prime Minister will be aware of our proposals for an Advocacy Fund which would help developing countries make the most of the opportunities available to them in Hong Kong. Even if the Prime Minister does not accept this specific proposal, can he assure me that he will examine additional alternative means of achieving this goal?

We welcome the communiqué's acknowledgement that 'well governed states are critical to peace and security; economic growth and prosperity'. Could the Prime Minister tell the House what discussions he had with President Mbeki about the pressing need to extend good governance to Zimbabwe?

On climate change, as on world poverty, we support the Government's overall approach. I recognise that it took political courage to put climate change on the agenda at a G8 summit given the lack of consensus on how to proceed. The Prime Minister has made progress but not as much as we all would have liked.

The challenge at Gleneagles was not necessarily to agree, there and then, a series of new targets. Its task was to provide the impetus an agreement of that kind - one that binds in the US, China and India as well as the Kyoto signatories.

How does the Government intend to achieve this through the `Dialogue' which will now take matters forward?

Can the Prime Minister tell us which other 'interested countries' will be invited to join the Dialogue and when in the second half of the year he proposes to hold meetings to make progress on this agenda?

Can he also clarify the purpose of the United Kingdom's international conference in November? Does the Prime Minister envisage that this meeting will lead to binding commitments upon the participants, particularly with regard to the Plan of Action?

We welcome the communiqué's emphasis on the need to invest in and share clean energy technologies. Does the Plan of Action guarantee new funding for the development of such technologies? If not, can the Prime Minister give us his assessment of the prospects for securing such funding during the remainder of Britain's G8 Presidency?

Climate change is undoubtedly one of the most important issues facing the world today. It is essential that the issue does not now drop down the agenda for the remainder of the year and beyond.

With Britain having secured a lasting legacy from its G8 Presidency on the matters of aid and debt, is it not essential that we work to secure a lasting legacy on trade and on climate change too?

The test of the G8 was to provide an impetus which would increase the prospects of a successful outcome at both Montreal and Hong Kong. Last week's summit has already moved us in the right direction but does the Prime Minister agree that the real test of success will come in Hong Kong and Montreal?"

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