HC Deb 07 July 1992 vol 211 cc276-96

`After section 88C of the Taxes Act 1988 to insert the following section—

"Additional relief for overseas Government debt

88D—(1) Where in relation to a debt to which section 88A(2) above applies, a company has included a provision in its accounts for any accounting period ending on or after 30th June 1992 which exceeds the aggregate amount which has been deducted under section 74(j) above in relation to that debt for that and any previous accounting period, then it shall be entitled to additional relief under subsection (2) below, subject to the clawback provided for by subsection (3) below.

(2) The additional relief shall be a deduction from profits chargeable to corporation tax for that accounting period equal to the difference between the aggregate amount mentioned in subsection (1) above and the lesser of

  1. (a) the provision mentioned in subsection (1) above and
  2. (b) the maximum provision which would have been made in relation to the debt had the company followed the recommendations contained in the Bank of England's guidelines for overseas debt provision m force at the end of that accounting period;

and for the purposes of subsection (1) above any relief given by virtue of this subsection shall be regarded as an amount deducted under section 74(j) above.

(3) The additional relief granted by subsection (2) above shall be withdrawn to the extent that, at a date one year from the end of that accounting period, the company has not made a relevant release of the debt; and an assessment made to give effect to this subsection (or subsection (5) below) may be made at any time up to six years after that date.

(4) For the purposes of subsection (3) above, a "relevant release" means

  1. (a) a release of the debt in favour of the Creditor Overseas State Authority for no consideration, or
  2. (b) a disposal of the debt to the Creditor Overseas State Authority for a consideration equal to or less than its book value at the end of that accounting period, or
  3. (c) a disposal of the debt by the company under a development plan or an environmental protection plan approved by the Treasury;

and the Treasury shall be empowered by this subsection to issue regulations demonstrating the criteria which it will use in deciding whether or not to approve under this subsection a development plan or environmental protection plan submitted to it for approval.

(5) Nothing in subsections (1) to (4) above shall cause the aggregate profits charged to corporation tax of any person for the accounting period in question, and all previous accounting periods in relation to which he was chargeable to corporation tax, to exceed those which would have been so charged had this section never been enacted, and this section shall have no effect to the extent that it would otherwise cause such excess to be charged to corporation tax.".'.—[Mr. Boateng.]

Brought up, and read the First time.

10.20 pm
Mr. Boateng

I beg to move, That the clause he read a Second time.

This clause is debated in the aftermath of the Rio summit, where the disparity between the nations of the north and of the south was revealed in all its reality and we saw the impact, not only in terms of poverty and life expectancy but in terms of environmental degradation, of the ever-growing burden of third-world debt.

This clause seeks to focus the attention of the House on that issue and to put forward a practical proposal to encourage banks and those commercial lenders who currently require from the developing world a degree of interest, a degree of repayment, that all too often has the effect of crippling those countries to forgo the debt and to see that it is applied in such a way, in the alternative, as to promote environmental and development objectives.

No one should be under any illusions as to the extent of the global crisis in debt. The figures speak for themselves. In 1989, the figure was $1.3 trillion—44 per cent. of the gross national product of the developing world. Money paid to developed nations in interest was $77 billion; money repaid, $85 billion; net flow from poor to rich countries, $50 billion.

The figures are enormous and they speak for themselves. What they do not reveal, however, is the enormous burden of human suffering that flows from those figures. In the last decade debt has emerged as the main cause of hunger and misery in the world. One thousand children are estimated to die every day from its effects alone. That is a clear indication of the extent to which the matter with which the House is concerned tonight has an immediate impact on the world outside the House.

If we take one example, the impact on one country, Ghana, of the burden of overseas debt, the position becomes very clear. In Ghana, the current position is that to meet its crippling burden of debt it devotes one half of the foreign exchange earned by its cocoa farmers to servicing that debt. The cocoa farmers provide the countries of the north with drinking chocolate and chocolate to eat, at a time when, Oxfam informs us, more than half of the children in Ghana do not have enough to eat. That is an indication of the extent of the crisis.

But it does not end there. No doubt we shall hear that some measures have been taken by the developing world to address the problem. The Trinidad terms that were proposed by the Prime Minister when he was Chancellor of the Exchequer were welcome so far as they went, but they did not go far enough.

Mr. Tim Smith (Beaconsfield)

They have not been accepted.

Mr. Boateng

The hon. Gentleman is quite right. The Trinidad terms, limited though they were, were not accepted by many of our partners in the European Community or, indeed, by the United States. The result is continued failure to address the problem of world debt.

When one peels away the rhetoric of Rio—and, indeed, when one examines the rhetoric itself—one sees that a great deal was said about the importance of at least aiming for the United Nations target of the expenditure of 0.7 per cent. of gross domestic product on overseas aid. That fact is not insignificant. But the target was dismissed by President Bush as being unrealistic, and the British Government regarded it as a dim, distant objective. However, at least there was talk about the matter; at least the objective was focused upon.

How much time did the participants at Rio devote to discussion of the issue of debt?

Mr. Chris Smith


Mr. Boateng

Indeed—none. But a good deal of time was devoted to keeping it off the agenda, to ensuring that it was not given the negotiating position that it merited as a matter of urgency to the developing world. Indeed, the action programme for Governments managed to reach it only as agenda item number 21, at which point it was said that a reduction of up to $80 billion in debt should be given consideration. That is the extent to which the Rio programmme of action was prepared to take this matter on board. We seek to give the banks some kind of incentive to address the issue. That is modest enough, but it should be welcomed by all and every hon. Member, on whichever side, who cares about development.

It is interesting to note how this is being addressed through the current tax provisions—a matter that was referred to by my hon. Friend the Member for Islington, South and Finsbury (Mr. Smith) in a recent question to the Chancellor of the Exchequer. The Economic Secretary responded to my hon. Friend's question about the amount of corporation tax that had been forgone from British banking institutions through the writing down of developing country sovereign debts in the past five years. My hon. Friend asked: how much sovereign debt has (a) been cancelled or (b) been made available for debt-for-environment or debt-fordevelopment swaps, in each of the last five years as a result of this writing-down. The answer was: Provisions for doubtful sovereign debt by banks operating in the United Kingdom are estimated to have reduced corporation tax receipts in the last five years by the following amounts:

£ million
1987–88 240
1988–89 550
1989–90 360
1990–91 720
11991–92 190"
—[Official Report, 25 June 1992; Vol. 210, c. 278.] 10.30 pm

The last figure is provisional. It was not possible to provide the information requested and to show the benefit in terms of debt for environment or debt for development swaps, and how the forgoing of corporation tax had benefited the developing world.

The most commendable feature of this modest new clause is that it at least begins to make a start in that direction. At least it requires, through subsection (4)(a), (b), and (c), that there be a notion of what the objective of the "relevant relief" is. We shall be able to recognise to what end reliefs are directed. That important aspect of the new clause should commend itself to the House.

We do not hold out this modest new clause as being the whole answer to the problem, but at least it makes a start towards encouraging the banks to resume an attitude towards such debts that is conducive to development and makes a start to recognising the link between the burden of debt and environmental degradation. The developed countries of the north have condemned the developing countries of the world to a labour of Sisyphus in which, day in and day out, their agricultural and industrial production, such as it is, is used to service an ever-increasing mountain of debt. That crushes their efforts and has a devastating effect on their environments and peoples.

We hope that the House will give a warm welcome to this new clause, which will make a small start in the right direction.

Mr. John Battle (Leeds, West)

In May of this year, a report was published by the Washington-based Population Crisis Committee in the form of an "International Index of Human Suffering". It pointed out that almost three quarters of the world's population live in conditions that tax human endurance, and that the gap between the rich and the poor countries is massively widening. It pointed out that more than 430 million people live in conditions of extreme suffering and 3.5 billion in conditions of what it terms high suffering. We do not recall often enough in the House or in our society that we live in a world in which 1 billion people have less than the equivalent of £1 a day on which to live.

Economic distress, national disasters, persecution and war are turning millions of people into refugees and migrants. This year we need only consider the evidence of drought in sub-Saharan Africa. Zambia set out at the beginning of last year with a new planting programme. It managed to plant 130 per cent. more of the land than had been planted the previous year. In other words, it was on target for a better harvest than ever before. The spring shoots came through, but people then had to sit and wait for the rain, and it did not come. The crop failed and the lack of sales of that crop to other countries will mean hardship and economic distress in Zambia.

Some development bodies, including the World bank, are referring to the 1980s as the lost decade of development. Since our previous debate on the issue in 1990, the burden of third-world debt has increased. When we last debated the issue in a Finance Bill debate, the debt figure was $1,180,000 million. In 1992, the projected figure is $1,223,000 million. Some 55 per cent. of the debt is in the poorest 46 countries.

The debt that has built up is equivalent to half the developing countries' combined gross domestic product and nearly twice their annual export earnings. In 1991, the debtor nations paid out $24 billion more in debt payments than they received in new loans. For example, Peru is now paying $50 million a month back to the International Monetary Fund and the World bank since Mr. Fujimori took office. In other words, the net flows of funds are clearly from the south to the north specifically as a result of the volume of debt.

Debt servicing is continuing to transfer wealth from the poor to the rich countries. In April, the United Nations development programme report spelt out how the gap between rich and poor had doubled in the past 30 years with the richest one fifth receiving 150 times the income of the poorest. Even the author of the report, a former Minister in Pakistan, said that he was shocked by that figure and that the international community should be shocked by it as well. Some 1.2 billion people live in acute poverty and suffer grossly inadequate access to resources such as education, health, infrastructure, fresh water, land and credit. That number has been increasing annually.

The restrictions in the global market—otherwise known as trade barriers—cost developing countries about $500 billion a year. Farm and industrial production protection cost third-world countries $55 billion a year in lost earnings.

Although that protection is in place and although, even today, we are told that the Prime Minister has not managed to make any breakthroughs in the GAIT third-world trade talks, third-world countries are being told by the World bank, the IMF and northern Governments that, conditional to their getting aid and trade, they should liberalise and open up their national markets, precisely when the world will not do that when it is not in its interests. Apparently, it is fine for third-world Governments to have open and fair trade, but it is not fine for the world system to open up so that there is some justice in the trade system for third-world countries as well.

We need to remember that only 17 per cent. of global capital is available to poor countries in the south. Only 0.2 per cent. of global commercial credit goes to poor countries. Africa, which now has to be the most marginalised continent from the world economy, now accounts for only 1 per cent. of world trade. In the 1960s, it accounted for 4 per cent. In other words, in terms of trade, Africa is being marginalised even further.

In practice, the World bank and the IMF have become institutions for recycling debt, rather than sources of new resources. Again, the United Nations Development Programme report spelt out that the IMF is now taking $6 billion a year out of the south and that the World bank is taking $0.5 billion a year out of the poorest countries. What is being done to tackle the debt burden? The United Nations Secretary-General, in his acceptance speech. commented: tackling the crippling problem of international debt is central to achieving a healthy world economy. We have had the Brady plan and we have had the Prime Minister's Trinidad terms initiatives. Of course, they related only to Government official debt relief, especially aimed at the poorest. We would have pressed for them to be extended certainly to middle-income countries as well, such as Peru, but not even they have been accepted at the G7 summit. At the previous summit, the issue of international debt was pushed off the agenda by the new east-west negotiations with what was the Soviet Union. It would be helpful if world debt were even on the agenda of the G7 summit which is now meeting.

On commercial debt, in 1990, the Government changed the rules, as we know, on corporation tax relief, but only in relation to how much relief could be claimed in any one financial year. In practice, tax relief in Britain has not meant debt cancellation in third-world countries. Many middle-income countries and many Latin American countries owe most of their debts to commercial banks. At present, if a commercial bank has a developing country debt in its portfolio, it can claim corporation tax relief when it writes down that debt in its books. It does not, however, have to cancel the debt to the country concerned. In other words, provision seems to be set aside in the accounts of the bank but it does not necessarily benefit third-world countries.

The new clause would insist that in order to qualify for relief from corporation tax, a bank must cancel the debt to the debtor nation or transform it, as my hon. Friend the Member for Brent, South (Mr. Boateng) has suggested, into a debt-for-development swap, for example. The new clause would grant immediate tax relief to overseas debts if the banks released or disposed of the debt to the country concerned. At present, British taxpayers are subsidising the banks, but without much relief to the world's poorest. The subsidy is said to have been worth £650 million last year. My hon. Friend gave the table of figures that were available for each year from 1988 to the present. It strikes me that that relief alone is worth more than half of what the Government are currently giving in aid to third-world countries.

Debt has fundamentally undermined the value of trade earnings and flows of aid to developing countries. In the immortal words of Michael Manley, it seems to third-world countries that they are trying to go up an escalator that is coming down against them and speeding up in the process. What chance do they have of going up the down escalator? Two thirds of the world is being drained of capital by the industrialised world. External debt is a major obstacle to economic development and social progress in the poorest countries of the world.

10.45 pm

The way in which our corporation tax operates is crucial. We ought not to pretend that it contributes to the alleviation of world poverty when nothing of the sort happens in practice. Ministers tell us that aid has to be tied for third-world countries. Countries are told that the aid must go to certain projects and according to certain conditions. The same rule should apply to the banks. If tied aid is good enough for third-world countries, it ought to be good enough for banks in the western world. The tie should be that if banks are to receive corporation tax relief on debts, those debts must be cleared.

The new clause would be a minor measure in the Bill, but we do not have too many opportunities to take practical, political and economic action on the problem of world poverty. It is important that the attention that the world paid to the Rio summit is not simply dissipated with words without any action resulting. Tonight. the Government have a chance to support the new clause and carry through a tiny measue which might make some difference.

Sir David Steel (Tweddale, Ettrick and Lauderdale)

I rise to support the amendment on behalf of my party. When I spoke in the post-Rio debate in the House, I dwelt at some length on the symbolism of our aid programmes and their failure to meet the United Nations target. But I said in parenthesis that I recognised that the aid target was less important to the developing world than the terms of trade and debt write-off. The figures that were given by the hon. Members for Brent, South (Mr. Boateng) and for Leeds, West (Mr. Battle) justify the observation.

The developing world owes in total approximately $1,300 billion to the developed world—to the Governments and banks of the industrialised nations and to the international financial organisations. The blunt truth—public opinion does not seem to have grasped it —is that the amount of debt repaid from the developing world every year in capital and interest to the developed world exceeds the amount of aid that we give every year. So there is a net flow of resources every year from the developing world to the developed world.

As the hon. Member for Leeds, West said, the new clause is modest. However modest, such measures would be warmly supported by the public if people knew that they existed. I welcome the opportunity on the Report stage of the Finance Bill to give a small nudge towards encouraging the write-off of debt.

One problem that the developing countries face in tackling debt repayment is that there is no single effective body to which they can turn for assistance. They have to cope with several organisations separately—the IMF, the World bank and the individual creditor nations. It is because the thinking of creditor nations is of such importance that when he presented his plan as the United States treasury secretary, Mr. Brady said: creditor governments should consider how to reduce regulatory, accounting or tax impediments to debt reduction where these exist. I assume that that is what the new clause seeks to do. I say that because I am honest enough to admit that the clause is so technical that I do not fully grasp how it will work. I am comforted by the thought that nor did the official Opposition spokesman, the hon. Member for Brent, South. Certainly he did not explain how it would work.

In all seriousness, it is important that the House should register its support for any measure, however technically complex, that will have the effect of assisting the banks in relieving third-world countries of some of their debts. That is the object of the new clause, and accordingly it has my support.

In 1990, as the hon. Member for Leeds, West said, the Prime Minister, when Chancellor of the Exchequer, responded to pressure from the House and outside organisations and took a small but significant step in the direction of using tax incentives to encourage debt reduction. Two years later, we are asking the Treasury to take a similar step. I know that the Financial Secretary, who will respond to the debate, was a member of the board of Christian Aid, and I know also that he is genuinely concerned about the issues which have been raised. Perhaps he is more concerned than a standard Treasury Minister. I hope that he will respond positively. It is—[Interruption.] I do not understand why the Minister smiles; I am paying him a tribute.

The United Kingdom's record on debt repayment is not all that good. We all cheered in October 1991 when the Trinidad announcement was made. We were told that there was to be a 67 per cent. write-down of all official debt. My party believed that that pledge should be upheld and implemented in full. Two months later, in Paris, it was quietly downgraded to 50 per cent. of the amount falling due in the next three years. Unfortunately, we have gone back on the excellent statements of the Prime Minister when he was Chancellor of the Exchequer. I hope that the Treasury will redeem itself, at least to some extent, by accepting the new clause.

Mr. Tim Smith

The right hon. Member for Tweeddale, Ettrick and Lauderdale (Sir D. Steel) was honest enough to say that, because the hon. Member for Brent, South (Mr. Boateng) did not explain the new clause, the right hon. Gentleman does not understand it. I do not understand it either, but I understand the general objective behind it.

Does it make sense, whatever one thinks about the growing disparity between the poverty of developing countries and the wealth of developed countries, to use or manipulate the corporation tax system to try to alleviate the debt problem of developing countries? That is the question which the House must consider.

Much of what the hon. Member for Leeds, West (Mr. Battle) said was irrelevant to the new clause. I agree with his remarks about the terms of trade between developing and developed countries, but they are not relevant to the clause. I agree with his comments about the poorest countries, but they are not much affected by the clause. On the whole, the banks did not lend to the poorest countries. Largely, they lent to middle-income countries. Implementation of the Trinidad terms, to which the right hon. Member for Tweeddale, Ettrick and Lauderdale referred, would benefit the poorest countries the most.

Mr. Jeremy Corbyn (Islington, North)

My hon. Friend the Member for Leeds, West (Mr. Battle) said that.

Mr. Smith

The hon. Member for Leeds, West said it all, and I am repeating what he said, but it was all irrelevant to the new clause. That is the point that I am trying to make. The new clause is about lending by commercial banks, largely to middle-income countries. The question that the House must consider is whether it is right in principle to make a distinction in terms of corporation tax between the allowances that companies can have in the ordinary course of lending to domestic borrowers as against overseas borrowers.

Mr. Boateng

It is not true that some of the poorest countries do not have a high proportion of commercial debt. Somalia and Mozambique, for example, have above average debt, even for sub-Saharan Africa. At the same time, more than the proportion of debt attributable to Governments is owed to commercial creditors or multilateral institutions. That is the position in Somalia and Mozambique. countries which have been ravaged by the burdens of famine and continual war as well as the burden of debt.

Mr. Smith

The hon. Gentleman said that those countries are indebted to commercial banks or to multilateral institutions. The bulk of the debt, however, rests with South America and Latin America. That is a well-known fact. I do not want to become involved in a debate about the particulars, because, as I have said. the question of principle is whether it is right in terms of corporation tax to distinguish between domestic and overseas borrowers. I see no reason to make that distinction. To me, there is no distinction. If a lender makes provision against his profits because he does not think that he can recover a debt and the Inland Revenue accepts that, there should be corporation tax relief. If the lender subsequently recovers the money from the borrower, the relief is clawed back. That would happen in the unlikely event that one of the debtor countries repaid the banks, but we should recognise that large sums of money were lent to those countries and they have not been repaid, for whatever reason. In those circumstances, I see no reason to distinguish between that kind of debt and the debt that arises at home in a recession.

Mr. John Denham (Southampton, Itchen)

Whether or not the hon. Gentleman feels that it is right to distinguish between different categories of debt for the purpose of tax treatment, the Government established that principle in the Finance Act 1990. We are not arguing about that principle tonight because it is already enshrined in the law. We are discussing how the principle is further developed.

Mr. Smith

The hon. Gentleman has misunderstood the provisions of the Finance Act 1990, which do not deny banks the relief but simply deny them the relief in a particular time scale. It is a question of when, not whether, they receive the relief. A formula in the Act means that, whatever the provision in the accounts, the relief is phased over a period of years. I take no exception to that as it seems to be a reasonable arrangement, but it is not right to try to use the tax system to influence our policy in relation to poorer countries. That should come through our aid programme and the establishment of better trade relations through the GATT negotiations.

Those measures would benefit the poorer countries much more than what was described by the hon. Member for Brent, South as a relatively modest new clause. Although the new clause's impact would not be great, it would distort our corporation tax system.

Mr. Denham

The tax treatment of banks' third world provision constitutes one of the biggest but least known public financial scandals for many years. Billions of dollars of tax income have been forgone by Governments not just in this country but across the industrialised world. Banks have been allowed to avoid tax liabilities by claiming relief on provisions made against third world debt hut, at the same time, they have largely avoided any commensurate action to mitigate the burden of debt on developing countries.

If we take stock of the international debt strategy in 1992, we must conclude that its whole thrust has been to cushion commercial banks, as far as possible, from the effects of imprudent lending at the expense not only of people in developing countries but of taxpayers in the developed world. The root cause of that scandal is simple. The regulatory systems may vary to some extent in the different industrialised countries but in most of the OECD countries banks have been able to claim tax credits on provisions made against sovereign loans, even though no loss was incurred by them and no reduction in the heavy burden of debt was enjoyed by the developing countries.

The sums involved are huge. A conservative estimate would be that $40 billion of tax credits were generated by banks in the OECD countries by mid-1990, with little debt reduction to match. That is 55 times the annual budget of UNICEF—the respected organisation that estimated that half a million young children were dying each year as a result of the debt crisis—and twice the annual OECD development aid to low income countries. It is about eight times the extra money pledged in Rio to save the planet, about which we have heard so much in recent weeks.

Christian Aid estimates that, by 1990, United Kingdom banks received some £1.6 billion in tax relief. If my mental arithmetic is correct, on the figures given earlier about £1.8 billion has now been received. But the tax relief that will ultimately be received by those banks will be about three times that figure.

11 pm

Of course, once the debt crisis had been created through imprudent lending, bad borrowing and even worse regulation, it was inevitable that the citizens of northern countries would have to pay a fair part of the cost of resolving the crisis. With the record of generosity of the British people, I believe that they would have happily accepted that burden. It is not acceptable that vast sums of money should be used to pad out the banks' balance sheets without any benefit to the debtor countries or their peoples.

For years up to 1990, the Government tolerated, endorsed and even encouraged that financial scandal. Year after year, they insisted that nothing could be done to treat sovereign lending differently from other loans, despite the obvious difference in the nature of those loans and the global urgency for a solution. The hon. Member for Beaconsfield (Mr. Smith) Missed the central point, which is that the Finance Act 1990 clearly showed that third-world debt provisions could be treated legally in a different category and manner from other provisions. The Government swept aside their pretence and the 1990 Act proved that such loans could be treated differently. The tragedy is that the action was too little, too late.

In the first stage of the financial scandal, the problem was one of allowing banks to claim tax relief on provisions on loans that they still held at face value. We are now in a second and rather different stage of the same scandal. Many banks, certainly many British banks, have disposed of a large part of their loans. They have taken some losses, so what was originally tax relief against provisions is now tax relief gained on the actual losses on the banks' balance sheets. The problem is that those losses and that tax relief are still, in most cases, unrelated to any real debt relief for developing countries. The British banks' balance sheets may look cleaner, but there has been little benefit to the developing countries.

Most of the disposal of United Kingdom hank loans has been through sales on the secondary market. In 1989 and 1990, Midland reduced the debt on its books by almost $2 billion, but only $365 million was through out and out debt reduction—the remainder was through debt equity swaps, which merely transforms one form of foreign obligation into another, or through simple trading on the secondary market. Other banks such as National Westminster appear to have disposed of virtually all of their third-world debt through secondary market sales.

The truth is that having padded the banks to the hilt, the Government have now allowed them to get away with the loot. At that moment in time in the late 1980s and early 1990s when the provisions were high, had the Government chosen to link tax relief to direct debt reduction they could have ensured not only that the banks received the tax relief, but that there was a commensurate benefit in the developing countries.

Internationally, the value of commercial bank debt reduction under the Brady initiative is perhaps at best $30 billion—less than the amount of tax credits that OECD banks appear to have generated. That is appalling. Of course, that is not the only way in which the taxpayers in the north have been asked to help the banks at no benefit to developing countries. In addition to the tax relief, it took vast sums of new official loans and new publicly underwritten loans to developing countries to enable them to maintain debt service payments to the commercial banks throughout the 1980s. The taxpayer has paid twice

through tax relief and through the advance of new official loans.

The sums involved amount to maladministration on a massive scale. The concern of Governments in the north to protect the banks, irrespective of the cost to their own citizens and the damage done to developing countries and their people, is truly scandalous.

Mr. Jeremy Corbyn (Islington, North)

It is a pleasure to follow my hon. Friend the Member for Southampton, Itchen (Mr. Denham). I welcome the work that he has done, and will no doubt continue to do, in exposing the scandal of banks fiddling around with third-world debt in order to enjoy Government tax write-offs.

When the hon. Member for Beaconsfield (Mr. Smith) rose to speak, he first professed not to understand the new clause, and then went on to say that we should concentrate on overseas aid rather than worry about debt problems. He made one useful admission, which Hansard will obviously record—that there is a growing disparity between the rich and poor in the world.

All the aid increases that are suggested, projected, sought, or demanded will be eliminated at the stroke of a pen by the debt repayment system, underpayment for commodities produced by third-world countries, and the repatriation of profits by multinational corporations That occurs to the extent that last year the poor in the poorest countries in the world transferred $50 billion to the economies of the richest countries in the world. That wealth went not to the people who are sleeping in cardboard boxes along the Strand tonight, but to the banking systems of this country, the rest of Europe, and north America.

The new clause of my hon. Friend the Member for Brent, South (Mr. Boateng) takes a useful step forward in exposing what British banks have been up to over the past few years. They pretended to the public that they were doing something about the debt crisis of developing countries, when in reality they were enjoying a handout at the expense of British taxpayers.

A new approach is needed. For all the honeyed words at Rio and the other statements that have been made, unless there is a fundamental change in the relationship between the richest countries and the poorest people in the poorest countries, we will be heading for a massive ecological and social disaster.

In many cases, people who are seeking asylum in neighbouring third-world countries are the victims of the debt crisis. They flee to seek a living elsewhere because they have been forced off their land, have nowhere to live, and can get nothing to eat. They are the initial victims.

The debt crisis has its origins in the oil price rises of the 1970s and the funding of inappropriate development programmes. The two crucial elements in any developing country's economy are the prices paid for the commodities that it produces and the interest that it pays on borrowings to develop its agriculture, social infrastructures, or industry.

Neither of those two important economic levers is in the hands of third-world countries. The prices of cocoa, coffee, tea, and other commodities are set not by the producer country but in London, Frankfurt, Chicago—everywhere except in the countries that produce them. Similarly, interest rates are set not by those who must meet them but be greedy bankers in western Europe and north America.

The debt crisis reached its height in the early 1980s, when, basically, Mexico declared itself bankrupt. The response was swift and, in some ways, very clever in the interests of north American bankers in particular. They sought to divide the indebted nations by making one-off agreements, to persuade them to borrow yet more money to pay the arrears on interest payments on existing loans and to accept an alternative economic package.

If one studies the economics of Latin American countries over the past 15 years, one finds a steady reduction in public spending on the social infrastructure and on social needs. One also finds a steady increase in the repatriation of profits by multinational capital and in the amount of money paid as interest on debts. Very little of the principal has been paid. Mexico, for example, has paid more than all the money it ever borrowed, but it is still a heavily indebted country.

In a sense, they are technical points. The reality is that expenditure on the health service, social services and education is cut in countries which cannot afford any reductions of expenditure on such vital services. When we read of increasing infant mortality rates in third-world countries and of the growing cholera epidemic in many parts of Latin America, we should realise that there is a direct connection between those horrible and horrifying facts and the economic restructuring programmes which have been forced on those countries by the International Monetary Fund and by the World bank.

This process cannot continue. Tonight we are considering one aspect of that process, in which the British taxpayer is expected to support the British banks in their attitude—their mistaken attitude—towards third-world countries. The issue is enormously important. Unless there is a serious programme of writing off public and private sector debt in its entirety and of restructuring payments for commodities and trading arrangements with third-world countries, the future will involve nothing but more and more experts stepping off planes from Washington—

Mr. Bernie Grant (Tottenham)

And London.

Mr. Corbyn

And London, telling third-world Governments that they must cut down their rainforests because they are a source of export earnings, that they must produce more coffee, tea and cocoa while, at the same time, the world price for those commodities continues to fall. They must repay increasing sums in debt, sell state-owned enterprises and cut public expenditure programmes. Such countries face horrific prospects.

While I obviously support an increase in the aid programme and support the non-governmental aid programmes, unless we deal with the basic issues of debt, fair trade and commodity prices, the outlook for 1 billion people around the world is not one of improved living standards or increased life expectancy but of the very opposite—of seeing their economies collapse, their life expectancy fall, and infant mortality rates rise.

As a developed country which has made millions or billions of pounds over decades and centuries from the poorest people in the poorest parts of the world, we have a responsibility to play an important role in trying to restructure the world's economy and to base it on social justice, on environmental protection and on paying the people who produce the goods that we consume a reasonable price for them. Instead, we have a cock-eyed financial system under which those who have made the most out of the third world now seek to make the most out of the British taxpayer.

The new clause is a useful step forward, but I hope—indeed, I am sure—that we shall return time and again to such an important issue as the world situation gets worse and more people suffer because of the rapacious attitudes of the banking systems of western Europe and north America.

11.15 pm
Mr. Tam Dalyell (Linlithgow)

At this late hour, I shall confine myself to asking the Financial Secretary three questions. First, can we be clear about whether the £100 million talked about in relation to Rio is new money or whether some or all of it will come out of existing Overseas Development Administration funds? I see my hon. Friend the Member for Cynon Valley (Mrs. Clwyd) indicating that she, too, wants that question answered. Few people know precisely what is the Government's position in the matter. I went to hear the Secretary of State for the Environment make his big statement at the natural history museum in South Kensington and it was far from clear to the roomful of experts just what had been committed by the Government.

As another part of the same question, may we be told what money has been given to the Darwin initiative? Is it £2 million or £5 million? I am all for that initiative, but a sign of how little it was thought out is the fact that neither the head of the Royal Botanic gardens in Edinburgh, whose institution was named by the Prime Minister in Rio, nor the head of Kew gardens, Ghillean Prance, knew anything about it beforehand. Dr. David Ingram learned about it from a reporter from the Edinburgh Evening News. Not since Harold Wilson dreamt up the Open university on the night train to Glasgow has such a thing happened.

Secondly, what does the Financial Secretary consider the responsibility of the Government to be in this area? I listened carefully to everything that my hon. Friends, especially my hon. Friend the Member for Southampton, Itchen (Mr. Denham), said, and I agree that there is a big problem. One or two banks cannot be expected to operate by themselves in the matter.

I went to the rally of the Amerindians in February 1989 and I was in Brasilia at the same time as Sir Kit McMahon, who had briefed me when I was a member of the indirectly elected European Parliament, when he was an official of the Bank of England. He subsequently became chairman of the Midland bank. It was clear that the Midland could not unilaterally take on the responsibilities involved. Indeed, the Midland and Lloyds could not take on those responsibilities, and one could not in those days expect Sir Jeremy Morse and Sir Kit McMahon to take on total responsibility. What does the Treasury now see, in those circumstances, as the responsibilities of the British Government and the responsibilities of the EC as a whole?

My third question, asked in the presence of my hon. Friend the Member for Tottenham (Mr. Grant), is about Libyan sanctions. I hope that in the Consolidated Fund Bill debate one of us will be lucky enough to raise at length the folly and—dare I use the expression—ignorance of the Foreign Office in relation to that issue.

I am as concerned as anybody about Lockerbie. I saw it. But I also saw, in the company of my hon. Friend. the bombing of the working-class areas of Benghazi and Tripoli. It is a complicated matter. It is generally accepted who were the main instigators of the worst crime against civilians in the western world since 1945, the bringing down of the PanAm airliner over that Scottish village. The police from my constituency had to help clear up the mess, and it was a terrible mess.

We want to know the cost of the sanctions. We talk about the third world, but, frankly, the Gadaffi regime, for all its shortcomings in the middle and early 1980s—

Mr. Deputy Speaker (Mr Geoffrey Lofthouse)

Order. The hon. Member has been in the House long enough to appreciate that he is straying from the subject matter of the new clause.

Mr. Dalyell

I always accept the Chair's ruling, Mr. Deputy Speaker.

I leave the matter there. What is the cost of the Libyan sanctions, imposed against a regime that is one of the most ecologically imaginative in Africa?

Mrs. Roche

As my hon. Friend the Member for Brent, South (Mr. Boateng) has said, the new clause constitutes a modest attempt to set Britain in the right direction in regard to the debts of the south of the world. It is not nearly enough, but it is a start.

In 1992, UNICEF published its "State of the World's Children" report, which stated: A new slavery has shackled the African continent and its name is debt. The countries of Sub-Saharan Africa, including most of the world's least developed countries, now owe a total of approximately £150 billion. Each year, Africa struggles to pay about one third of the interest which falls due; the rest is simply added to the rising mountain of debt under which the hopes of a continent lie buried. The total inhumanity of what is now happening is reflected in the single fact that even the small proportion of the interest which Africa does manage to pay is absorbing a quarter of its export earnings and costing the continent, each year, more than its total spending on the health and education of its people". As my hon. Friend the Member for Islington, North (Mr. Corbyn) pointed out, the 1970s saw the beginning of many problems for developing countries. Following the first oil shock at the end of 1973 and the subsequent world economic slump, many developing countries faced financial disaster, and borrowing was one temporary way out. Many of the debts then fell due in the late 1970s, at the same time as oil prices quadrupled for a second time and interest rates began to rise. As we have seen time and time again, it is always the poor who pay the price.

For as long as I can remember, we have periodically seen on our television screens terrible pictures of famines and droughts. and of politicians saying that this must never be allowed to happen again. Yet, time and time again, we see the same pictures and hear the same words.

There were many fine words to be heard at the recent conference in Rio. Of course something must be done. It is frequently said, not only by Opposition Members, but in the House as a whole, that we are not three worlds but one world. As Susan George so ably pointed out in her book

"A Fate Worse than Debt": The reality is we are all aboard the same ship steaming towards the iceberg. Even if those of us in the developed countries are travelling first class, and the people of the poor countries are travelling in the most miserable steerage, we all have the same need to navigate away from disaster". If Brazil is crippled by bank loans and debts, the one world's ecosystem is destroyed and its rainforests are flattened. If India is defenceless against unscrupulous corporations. the one world's atmosphere is polluted by chemical plants.

Our one world is a small world, and the new clause goes only a tiny part of the way towards putting things right. Without action to reduce debt substantially, any form of development in the 1990s simply will not be possible for many developing countries. Of course small steps such as the British Trinidad terms initiative are to be welcomed. but they need to be greatly expanded. Faster and deeper reductions in commercial debt must be achieved. It is deplorable that while the Government were proposing the Trinidad terms, they were blocking proposals in Brussels to reduce debt owed to the European Community.

British tax regulations encourage commercial banks to set aside provisions against possible default on third-world debts in the accounts, but not to translate these provisions into debt relief for the countries concerned. Many British taxpayers resent the fact that they are subsidising the banks without providing any relief for the world's poor —especially when the tax relief is to the tune of £650 million, as it was in the financial year 1990–91. According to the Government's figures, as was pointed out by my hon. Friend the Member for Leeds, West (Mr. Battle), that is about half of what Britain spends in aid a year. The new clause seeks to offer banks more relief, but it would be conditional on using it for the reduction of debt, either through the sale at a loss of the debt to the debtor country or a swap that had environmental or developmental gain.

When the Opposition tabled a new clause similar to this one during the proceedings on the Finance Bill in 1990, the then Economic Secretary to the Treasury, the right hon. Member for Mid-Norfolk (Mr. Ryder), told my hon. Friend the Member for Brent, South that the relief proposals in the new clause could be very costly. Rather than considering these proposals as costly, we should consider them as a first faltering step which we cannot afford not to take.

The Financial Secretary to the Treasury (Mr. Stephen Dorrell)

The purpose of the new clause is to extend relief against corporation tax to relief, in certain circumstances, of world debt. Two separate issues are tied up in that proposition, as the debate has made clear. That is best illustrated by looking at the transaction from two different perspectives.

First, there is the perspective of the banking supervisor or the banking manager whose proper concern is to ensure that if a debt is in the bank's balance sheet and is unlikely to be serviced or repaid, proper provision is made against that debt within the bank's accounts. The second perspective is what one might broadly term the borrower's perspective: never mind what is going on in the bank's accounts, is the bank going to demand repayment of the debt, whether or not it has been provided against?

There has been a tendency during the debate to assume that the banker's or the banking supervisor's viewpoint is the private concern of bankers and that it need be of no concern to hon. Members, and still less of concern to developing countries. That is not a proper proposition for any hon. Member to accept. The fact is that every hon. Member and everyone working in our domestic economy has a clear and important vested interest in ensuring that banks have stable balance sheets so that they are able to undertake their proper activity of providing credit for the purpose of ensuring the efficient functioning of both the home and the overseas economy. It is not, therefore, something that is an abstruse concern of banking regulators.

What is also striking is the hostility that has been articulated, not so much by the hon. Member for Brent, South (Mr. Boateng) but certainly by his hon. Friends the Members for Islington, North (Mr. Corbyn) and for Southampton, Itchen (Mr. Denham), towards the role of private capital in financing trade and economic activity in the developing world. They made it absolutely clear that they saw no legitimate role for servicing the capital provided to third world countries through private banking institutions. In taking that view, they are being left far behind by those in the developing world whose day-to-day responsibility it is to ensure the development of those third world economies and who have moved on from the world of 20 years ago when they regarded every private sector company from the developed world as a multinational company whose sole purpose was to rape their country. That is not the role or the perspective of those people within the developing world who are now interested in ensuring the development of their countries.

It was striking to hear the hon. Member for Islington. North rightly stress the importance of ensuring proper and fair terms of trade between developed and developing countries and then, in the next breath, to make clear his hostility to the provision of finance to allow that trade to take place. That seems to me a difficult argument for the House to accept.

Mr. Corbyn

The hon. Gentleman may not have heard all that I said very clearly. Perhaps he has a problem with hearing. The point that I was trying to make was that the money paid for coffee, cocoa, tea and other commodities is less now, in real terms, than it was 20 years ago. The more coffee that is produced at the behest of advisers from the World bank and the International Monetary Fund, the lower, in effect, is the resulting price. Thus, more land is taken up producing export crops, and there is less land available to produce food for the people in the countries concerned. I want the Government and the Minister to address the serious problem of the prices paid for basic commodities produced by poor countries.

11.30 pm
Mr. Dorrell

The one thing I will certainly not do is export on an international scale the kind of intervention price system which is causing us so much difficulty in the context of the common agricultural policy. The interest of those who want proper development to take place and full participation of developing countries in the international trading system, among whom I include almost all the responsible Governments in the developing world, is to see a proper financial structure that allows a free interchange of goods and services between all countries, developed and developing, and to allow that trade to be properly financed.

The Opposition, during this debate, have, not surprisingly and not improperly—I make no complaint about it—concentrated on the borrower's perspective. They have been concerned—it is not fundamentally controversial between the two sides of the House—to ensure that if a debt continues to be shown and to he enforceable against a particular country there should he the realistic prospect of that developing country being able to service and repay that debt. That was, indeed, the point of view that motivated my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister when he promulgated the Trinidad terms, which have been mentioned in the debate. It was also the perspective which motivated Treasury Secretary Brady when he launched his initiative to encourage the banks to recognise in the Brady plan the proper limits on the likely collectability of their debts. He was concerned to make the reduction of the debts outstanding between the banks and the developing countries conditional on the necessary reforms, to make the economic benefit of that debt reduction tangible within the developing country in question.

It is easy to dismiss, as some hon. Members have done, the practical results of the Brady plan, but I think that it would be wrong to do so. Let us look, for example, at the most publicised headline case of the Brady plan in action —Mexico. Whereas in the 1980s the average rate of growth of the Mexican economy was 1.1 per cent., it has now been projected to over 3.5 per cent. as a direct result of the changes negotiated in the context of the Brady plan. That plan has seen the debt outstanding from Mexico fall from 74 per cent. of gross domestic product in 1988 to 29 per cent. of GDP this year. The Brady plan has seen the Mexican economy relieved of $400 million a year in interest costs. So it is not true to say that the Brady plan has been disappointing in action. It has been quite impressive and has delivered, tangible benefits to those countries where the banks have been involved in a discussion about the future economic well-being of their borrower clients.

I move now to the specifics of the new clause and the proposal that is being pressed upon the House in terms of an amendment to the provisions of the Finance Act 1990. It was precisely that recognition of the importance of ensuring that we do not insist on the repayment of irrecoverable debts that motivated the changes to the corporation tax provision that we introduced into the Finance Act 1990. There were three important changes. First, the Finance Act 1990 made it clear that provisions by banks against irrecoverable sovereign debt were indeed tax allowable. Secondly, it made provision to fix the quantum by which allowable reliefs would be decided. Thirdly, it included phasing of that provision to ensure that the tax relief would not all fall in a single year. But the important point that the supporters of this new clause Miss is that there is no phasing in terms of the 1990 Act if the debtor is to be released immediately from the obligation to repay the loan.

The clause would simply remove the phasing requirement in three circumstances that are identified in subsection (4). The first of those relates to the release of debt in favour of the creditor state, and the second concerns the reduction of debt in favour of the creditor state. In both those cases phasing is already waived under the terms of the 1990 Act. Therefore, the new clause would only provide the tax relief a year earlier than the present law allows—in effect, a one-year, interest-free loan from the Government to the bank provided that the bank then went ahead and made a "relevant release" of the debt in question.

Mr. Boateng

That is the purpose.

Mr. Dorrell

The Opposition now say that that was their purpose. It was not the tenor of their speeches, which indicated greater concern with the introduction of a new principle into the law. But the principle that if a debt is written off, and the debtor is exempted from servicing or repaying it, there should be no phasing requirement is written into the 1990 Act. The only provision of this new clause that is not in the 1990 Act is the third one in subsection (4)—that the phasing requirement should be waived if an environmental and development plan that has been approved by the Treasury is undertaken. That shows a touching faith in the environmental and developmental expertise of Her Majesty's Treasury, and I gratefully recognise it.

Mr. Dalyell

Is the Rio £100 million new money? The question of Treasury approval is very unclear.

Mr. Dorrell

I can assure the hon. Gentleman that my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister does not make commitments to put money into the global environmental fund without securing the prior consent of the Treasury. This does indeed have Treasury consent.

The proposal is that there should be exemption in the case of development plans approved by the Treasury. I prefer to encourage the banks to agree to release the borrowers, provided that they undertake the reforms that are necessary to the efficient functioning of their economies. That principle underlies the Brady plan, which has been effective in practice, and I commend it, rather than the one espoused by the Opposition, to the House.

Mr. Boateng

In his speech, which was clearly prepared before the debate, the Minister has not in any way answered the points made by my hon. Friends. He has not addressed the central issue that has dominated this debate —the need to ensure that where relief is given it actually relieves the countries that are so desperately in need. The Minister has not addressed the importance of ensuring that relief given to commercial banks has an environmental and developmental focus. These issues, which are incorporated in the new clause, remain crucial. They are central to the modest proposals intended to lighten an intolerable burden on developing nations, and we intend to press the new clause to a Division.

Question put, That the clause be read a Second time:—

The House divided: Ayes 101, Noes 254.

Division No. 55] [11.39 pm
Abbott, Ms Diane Dowd, Jim
Alton, David Dunnachie, Jimmy
Ashdown, Rt Hon Paddy Evans, John (St Helens N)
Banks, Tony (Newham NW) Ewing, Mrs Margaret
Barron, Kevin Foster, Derek (B'p Auckland)
Bayley, Hugh Foster, Donald (Bath)
Beckett, Margaret Fyfe, Maria
Beith, Rt Hon A. J. George, Bruce
Benton, Joe Gilbert, Rt Hon Dr John
Bermingham, Gerald Godman, Dr Norman A.
Betts, Clive Golding, Mrs Llin
Boateng, Paul Graham, Thomas
Brown, N. (N'c'tle upon Tyne E) Grant, Bernie (Tottenham)
Bruce, Malcolm (Gordon) Gunnell, John
Campbell, Menzies (Fife NE) Hall, Mike
Campbell-Savours, D. N. Hanson, David
Carlile, Alexander (Montgomry) Heppell, John
Chisholm, Malcolm Hill, Keith (Streatham)
Clapham, Michael Hinchliffe, David
Clarke, Eric (Midlothian) Hoey, Kate
Clwyd, Mrs Ann Home Robertson, John
Cohen, Harry Hood, Jimmy
Connarty, Michael Hoon, Geoff
Cryer, Bob Howarth, George (Knowsley N)
Cunliffe, Lawrence Hoyle, Doug
Dalyell, Tam Hughes, Kevin (Doncaster N)
Davidson, Ian Hughes, Robert (Aberdeen N)
Davies, Ron (Caerphilly) Hughes, Simon (Southwark)
Davis, Terry (B'ham, H'dge H'I) Hutton, John
Denham, John Illsley, Eric
Dewar, Donald Kilfoyle, Peter
Dixon, Don Llwyd, Elfyn
Donohoe, Brian McAllion, John
MacDonald, Calum Skinner, Dennis
Mackinlay, Andrew Smith, C. (Isl'ton S & F'sbury)
Mahon, Alice Smith, Rt Hon John (M'kl'ds E)
Mandelson, Peter Spearing, Nigel
Marek, Dr John Squire, Rachel (Dunfermline W)
Marshall, Jim (Leicester, S) Steel, Rt Hon Sir David
Meale, Alan Strang, Gavin
Michael, Alun Turner, Dennis
Milburn, Alan Tyler, Paul
Morley, Elliot Wareing, Robert N
Mudie, George Watson, Mike
O'Neill, Martin Welsh, Andrew
Pendry, Tom Wilson, Brian
Pike, Peter L. Wise, Audrey
Primarolo, Dawn Wray, Jimmy
Purchase, Ken
Radice, Giles Tellers for the Ayes:
Roche, Ms Barbara Mr. Jeremy Corbyn and
Salmond, Alex Mr. John Battle.
Short, Clare
Ainsworth, Peter (East Surrey) Dorrell, Stephen
Aitken, Jonathan Douglas-Hamilton, Lord James
Alexander, Richard Dover, Den
Alison, Rt Hon Michael (Selby) Duncan, Alan
Allason, Rupert (Torbay) Duncan-Smith, Iain
Amess, David Durant, Sir Anthony
Ancram, Michael Eggar, Tim
Arbuthnot, James Elletson, Harold
Arnold, Jacques (Gravesham) Evans, Jonathan (Brecon)
Arnold, Sir Thomas (Hazel Grv) Evans, Nigel (Ribble Valley)
Ashby, David Evans, Roger (Monmouth)
Aspinwall, Jack Evennett, David
Atkinson, David (Bour'mouth E) Faber, David
Atkinson, Peter (Hexham) Fabricant, Michael
Baker, Nicholas (Dorset North) Fairbairn, Sir Nicholas
Baldry, Tony Fenner, Dame Peggy
Banks, Matthew (Southport) Field, Barry (Isle of Wight)
Banks, Robert (Harrogate) Fishburn, John Dudley
Bates, Michael Forman, Nigel
Beggs, Roy Forsyth, Michael (Stirling)
Beresford, Sir Paul Forth, Eric
Blackburn, Dr John G. Fowler, Rt Hon Sir Norman
Bonsor, Sir Nicholas Fox, Dr Liam (Woodspring)
Booth, Hartley Freeman, Roger
Boswell, Tim French, Douglas
Bowden, Andrew Gale, Roger
Bowis, John Gallie, Phil
Brandreth, Gyles Gardiner, Sir George
Brazier, Julian Gill, Christopher
Bright, Graham Gillan, Ms Cheryl
Brooke, Rt Hon Peter Goodson-Wickes, Dr Charles
Browning, Mrs. Angela Gorst, John
Burt, Alistair Grant, Sir Anthony (Cambs SW)
Butcher, John Greenway, Harry (Ealing N)
Butler, Peter Green way, John (Ryedale)
Butterfill, John Griffiths, Peter (Portsmouth, N)
Carrington, Matthew Gummer, Rt Hon John Selwyn
Carttiss, Michael Hague, William
Cash, William Hamilton, Rt Hon Archie
Channon, Rt Hon Paul Hamilton, Neil (Tatton)
Chaplin, Mrs Judith Hampson, Dr Keith
Churchill, Mr Hanley, Jeremy
Clappison, James Hannam, Sir John
Clark, Dr Michael (Rochford) Hargreaves, Andrew
Clarke, Rt Hon Kenneth (Ruclif) Harris, David
Clifton-Brown, Geoffrey Haselhurst, Alan
Congdon, David Hawkins, Nicholas
Conway, Derek Hawksley, Warren
Coombs, Anthony (Wyre For'st) Hayes, Jerry
Coombs, Simon (Swindon) Heald, Oliver
Cope, Rt Hon Sir John Heathcoat-Amory, David
Cran, James Hendry, Charles
Currie, Mrs Edwina (S D'by'ire) Heseltine, Rt Hon Michael
Davies, Quentin (Stamford) Hill, James (Southampton Test)
Davis, David (Boothferry) Horam, John
Day, Stephen Howarth, Alan (Strat'rd-on-A)
Deva, Nirj Joseph Howell, Rt Hon David (G'dford)
Devlin, Tim Howell, Ralph (North Norfolk)
Hughes Robert G. (Harrow W) Robathan, Andrew
Hunt, Rt Hon David (Wirral W) Robertson, Raymond (Ab'd'n S)
Hunt, Sir John (Ravensbourne) Robinson, Mark (Somerton)
Hunter, Andrew Roe, Mrs Marion (Broxbourne)
Jack, Michael Ross, William (E Londonderry)
Jackson, Robert (Wantage) Rowe, Andrew (Mid Kent)
Jenkin, Bernard Rumbold, Rt Hon Dame Angela
Jessel, Toby Sackville, Tom
Johnson Smith, Sir Geoffrey Sainsbury, Rt Hon Tim
Jones, Gwilym (Cardiff N) Scott, Rt Hon Nicholas
Jones, Robert B. (W H'f'rdshire) Shaw, David (Dover)
Kellett-Bowman, Dame Elaine Shephard, Rt Hon Gillian
Key, Robert Shepherd, Colin (Hereford)
Kilfedder, Sir James Shepherd, Richard (Aldridge)
Kirkhope, Timothy Sims, Roger
Knapman, Roger Skeet, Sir Trevor
Knight, Mrs Angela (Erewash) Smith, Sir Dudley (Warwick)
Knight, Greg (Derby N) Smith, Tim (Beaconsfield)
Knight, Dame Jill (Bir'm E'st'n) Soames, Nicholas
Knox, David Spencer, Sir Derek
Kynoch, George (Kincardine) Spicer, Sir James (W Dorset)
Lait, Mrs Jacqui Spicer, Michael (S Worcs)
Lang, Rt Hon Ian Spink, Dr Robert
Lawrence, Sir Ivan Spring, Richard
Legg, Barry Sproat, Iain
Leigh, Edward Squire, Robin (Hornchurch)
Lester, Jim (Broxtowe) Stanley, Rt Hon Sir John
Lidington, David Steen, Anthony
Lightbown, David Stephen, Michael
Lilley, Rt Hon Peter Stern, Michael
Lord, Michael Stewart, Allan
Luff, Peter Streeter, Gary
Lyell, Rt Hon Sir Nicholas Sumberg, David
MacGregor, Rt Hon John Sweeney, Walter
MacKay, Andrew Tapsell, Sir Peter
Maclean, David Taylor, Ian (Esher)
McLoughlin, Patrick Thomason, Roy
Madel, David Thompson, Patrick (Norwich N)
Maitland, Lady Olga Thornton, Sir Malcolm
Malone, Gerald Thurnham, Peter
Mans, Keith Townend, John (Bridlington)
Marlow, Tony Townsend, Cyril D. (Bexl'yh'th)
Marshall, John (Hendon S) Tracey, Richard
Martin, David (Portsmouth S) Tredinnick, David
Mawhinney, Dr Brian Trend, Michael
Merchant, Piers Twinn, Dr Ian
Milligan, Stephen Vaughan, Sir Gerard
Mills, Iain Waldegrave, Rt Hon William
Mitchell, Andrew (Gedling) Walden, George
Monro, Sir Hector Walker, Bill (N Tayside)
Montgomery, Sir Fergus Waller, Gary
Moss, Malcolm Ward, John
Needham, Richard Wardle, Charles (Bexhill)
Nelson, Anthony Waterson, Nigel
Neubert, Sir Michael Watts, John
Nicholls, Patrick Wells, Bowen
Norris, Steve Wheeler, Sir John
Onslow, Rt Hon Cranley Whitney, Ray
Oppenheim, Phillip Whittingdale, John
Ottaway, Richard Widdecombe, Ann
Page, Richard Wilkinson, John
Paice, James Willetts, David
Pattie, Rt Hon Sir Geoffrey Winterton, Mrs Ann (Congleton)
Peacock, Mrs Elizabeth Winterton, Nicholas (Macc'f'Id)
Pickles, Eric Wolfson, Mark
Porter, David (Waveney) Wood, Timothy
Portillo, Rt Hon Michael Yeo, Tim
Redwood, John
Ronton, Rt Hon Tim Tellers for the Noes:
Richards, Rod Mr. Sydney Chapman and
Riddick, Graham Mr. Irvine Patnick.

Question accordingly negatived.

Forward to