Make Poverty History

Evidence Session on world poverty
Progress on the G8 debt relief and aid deal
International Development Select Committee

Since headlines on the 8th July when G8 leaders announced a $28 .8 billion ($50 billion) aid package and debt of the 18 poorest African nations cancelled, what progress has been achieved? Yesterday’s ID select committee at which the Secretary of State for International Development gave evidence sheds a few clues.

Rt. Hon Hilary Benn was quick to express immediately the advantages and his own firm belief in the sustainability of 100% debt relief for those countries meeting the HIPIC conditions and the $48 billion aid, in the conference on the outcomes of the Gleneagles summit, Tuesday 19th July.
Labour have proposed a new International Finance Facility designed to frontload aid to poor countries. Unfortunately the Government’s rhetoric has exceeded its ability to generate a widespread consensus on the proposal, and The Secretary of State was made to tackle a number of probing questions from all parties. At one point, Malcolm Bruce MP even demanded whether the debt relief in question was not simply a ‘reward for irresponsibility’, a theory he has nicknamed the ‘Botswana example’. However, Rt Hon. Hilary Benn assured all those present that the aid and relief would only be given to those HIPIC countries that showed signs of progress to merit them. Moreover, he was also eager to quash the suggestion of ‘phantom aid’, claiming that he himself had seen evidence of the benefits, in the form of a much needed new school, on a visit to one of the HIPIC countries.
The Secretary of State also answered questions on HIV/AIDS, a subject raised by Jeremy Young, and a priority area of the Conservatives. He confirmed that ARA’s and treatment were among the Government’s priorities, although was slightly reluctant to outline an exact plan after getting results from the HIV test subjects.
Other sensitive subjects raised were the provision of clean water, roads and the importance of infrastructure to allow these countries to develop. The Secretary of State was questioned on the real importance of infrastructure as a priority, and agreed that a reasonable balance needs to be established between private and public contribution.
This is a cross party issue which needs, and is indeed receiving cross party support. In response to the PM’s address to the House on the outcome of the G8 summit, Michael Howard said:

I congratulate the Prime Minister on what he has achieved…these are people who share our planet with us. We have a moral as well as a practical imperative to help them

(read more here)

Overall, if there was any progress made, it was to agree that clearly set out plans of action were needed, and would soon be formed.

6 thoughts on “Make Poverty History”

  1. Michael Howard said: “I congratulate the Prime Minister on what he has achieved…these are people who share our planet with us. We have a moral as well as a practical imperative to help them”.

    I would only congratulate the PM for acheiving what the people wanted, and that WASN’T a partial and small solution with extensive caveats attached. For just a handful of countries.

    I assume, therefore, that Mr Howard was being ironic?

    As for that political sell-out and brownnoser-in-general Geldof, just don’t get me started!!! And Bono is as bad…

    Nice idea, poorly followed through. The PM should be hanging his head in shame (As if he ever would!!!)

    Still better than nothing – barely.


    Deeply Disappointed of Henley

  2. And many thanks are due to Amanda Oon, our work experience volunteer this week, for her notes on the select committee.

    Thanks again!

  3. Psimon-

    Agreed. Geldof is a joke after the sorry spectacle of Live8 in segregated Hyde Park and Cornwall AND in the light of his craven public dealings with Bush + Blair, whatever fecking diplomatic language he might use with them privately.

    Look at what’s happening in Niger now. The UN’s plea for Aid was ignored by the International Community (hatever that is)since last Winter – and even if we had shelled out through our governments the UN itself had cocked up by not asking for enough dosh. Now it’s Too Little Too late.

    Will we ever learn?

  4. Kevin b

    Done – from my outpost on the beach

    Not sure why so few comments here. Perhaps after Live 8 many feel the issue has been well and truly covered for now.

  5. Then there are more fools than i gave credit for.


    Not going to stop me trying to help, though.


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