§ 4. Ann Clwyd (Cynon Valley)
If she will make a statement on humanitarian assistance to Sudan. 
§ The Secretary of State for International Development (Clare Short)
Despite the fact that the Government of Sudan have predicted a bumper harvest this year, we believe that Sudan will need humanitarian assistance again. The civil war, which, as my hon. Friend knows, is taking 80 per cent. of the Government of Sudan's budget, is the cause of the suffering. In the past year, we have worked to achieve a ceasefire and to increase international commitment to seek peace. We are also working to increase the effectiveness of the UN co-ordination of humanitarian programmes and to reduce the leakage of supplies to fighters.
§ Ann Clwyd
I am sure that my right hon. Friend agrees that it is an absolute tragedy that up to 2 million people have died in Sudan from famine, disease and fighting. Why is it, then, that only the European Union has imposed an arms embargo, while the UN Security Council imposes no such embargo? Could it be that some of the members of the UN Security Council are supplying arms to Sudan and that some countries are ignoring the fact that arms are reaching Sudan through third countries? Will my right hon. Friend take some action?
§ Clare Short
I am grateful to my hon. Friend. I honestly think, as she knows, that the point has been reached where the war has gone on for so long and has caused so much suffering that the international community has almost given up on Sudan, given up on 919 seeking peace in Sudan and allowed humanitarian aid just to prop up another worsening situation. I think that things are turning somewhat but there is a long way to go. The United Nations special representative is re-engaged and the senior representative of the Secretary-General of the United Nations has visited Sudan recently. The NGOs that are campaigning in New York have also re-engaged.
I take my hon. Friend's proposals very seriously. I assure her that we are doing all that we can to re-engage serious international opinion in seeking a peace in Sudan. I am grateful to my hon. Friend for her support.
§ Dr. Jenny Tonge (Richmond Park)
Does the Secretary of State accept that humanitarian aid should also include simple health measures such as the vaccination of children and primary education? As I learned in Sudan, those things cannot be taken away by the effects of war, however hard the soldiers try.
Will the right hon. Lady accept also, in agreeing with the hon. Member for Cynon Valley (Ann Clwyd), that we should make more effort to control the activities of arms brokers, who supply not only the two main sides in the civil war but the Arab militia, which terrorises the population of southern Sudan? When will the right hon. Lady do something through the European Union about arms supply?
§ Clare Short
On the first question, the hon. Lady knows that we are doing all in our power—I know that she has recently visited Sudan, and I have read her report—to improve the quality of assistance through UNICEF, and other bodies, to children in Sudan. However, it is impossible to run proper development programmes when populations are moving because of fighting. We must maintain the education of children, of course, but what can be achieved is limited because of the consequences of the fighting.
Secondly, I agree with the hon. Lady about arms in Sudan. The problem is that there is a litter of arms spreading across Africa wherever there is fighting, from all sort of illicit sources. It is a major cause of problems and more and more action is necessary to get rid of these arms. However, given the situation in Sudan, that is very difficult. We need a ceasefire and a commitment to peace. As the hon. Lady knows, we are working on that with her support.
§ Mr. Llew Smith (Blaenau Gwent)
Can my right hon. Friend tell the House what information the Government received from the American Administration that convinced them that the factory that was bombed in Sudan last August by cruise missiles was producing chemical weapons and not pharmaceutical products?
§ Clare Short
As my hon. Friend will appreciate, I am not the appropriate Minister to answer his question. Therefore, I have not seen the reports, which I presume exist and to which he is referring. My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Defence made a statement on these matters recently and I shall draw his attention to my hon. Friend's question and ensure that he is sent the appropriate material.
There is a continuing campaign on the bombing, which is suggesting that all the medical needs of people in Sudan are the consequences of the bombing. I repeat that 920 80 per cent. of the budget of the Sudan Government is spent on the war. That is the cause of the suffering, hunger and lack of medical care. It is in the power of the Sudan Government to put that right.
§ Mrs. Cheryl Gillan (Chesham and Amersham)
Can the Secretary of State confirm that as much as two thirds of the £28 million that she gave to Sudan in aid last year has been stolen and goes to feed the fighters and not the suffering people in Sudan? Can she confirm also that what she so glibly refers to as leakage is still continuing? For the right hon. Lady, talk is cheap. We have certainly had our money's worth as she goes round pressing the United Nations and others to take action. Will the right hon. Lady tell the House what action she will take? Will she tell the House what she considers to be an acceptable level of theft from the aid budget? We know that for Labour in Europe it is 5 per cent., but 65 per cent. in Sudan is an obscenity.
§ Clare Short
The hon. Members for South-West Devon (Mr. Streeter) and for Chesham and Amersham (Mrs. Gillan) get the prize for being the rudest Opposition Front-Bench team. The hypocrisy is stunning. We inherited, from the Administration that the hon. Lady supported, a commitment of very high levels of aid contribution to Sudan, no action on peace and massive leakage of food to fighters. We have taken international initiatives on peace and other initiatives that have resulted in much change in the entire United Nations system to try to ensure that food supplies do not leak to fighters. Yet the hon. Lady and her vitriolic friend, the hon. Member for South-West Devon, just stand up, throw around ill-informed abuse and accuse others of being unpleasant.