§ 1. Mr. Paul Burstow (Sutton and Cheam)
How far UK aid and support for heavily indebted poor countries are conditional upon (a) human rights, (b) corruption and (c) governance. 
§ The Secretary of State for International Development (Clare Short)
The heavily indebted poor countries initiative is designed to lift the debt burden of the poorest countries to enable them to reform, grow their economies and provide basic services to their people. Debt relief is conditional on agreement on a poverty reduction strategy that drives forward economic and social reform.
§ Mr. Burstow
I am grateful to the Secretary of State for that answer. Given that, in the six years of the scheme, only three of the 42 countries eligible have received debt stock reduction, is it not time to back the Jubilee Debt Campaign's call for full cancellation of HIPC debts and redouble efforts to assist those countries in meeting the conditions, so that they can finally break free of the shackles of debt?
§ Clare Short
If the hon. Gentleman's facts were true, it might well be, but in fact 26 countries have received debt reduction, seven have completed the process and $62 billion of debt has been written off. Those are very poor countries, and that is a lot of money for them—two thirds of their debt. There has been a very big expansion in their spending on public services and significant reform. Another stock of countries are not there yet, mostly because they are in conflict—Burma, Sudan, Congo—and we are trying to use the availability of debt
272 relief to help to bring about a peace process. Of course the initiative could be better and more generous, but it is working well.
§ Mr. Tom Clarke (Coatbridge and Chryston)
Given my right hon. Friend's personal interest in not just debt but human rights in Rwanda, does she agree that it is still important to continue to support and provide resources for the Gacaca courts to ensure genuine reconciliation?
§ Clare Short
I agree with my right hon. Friend. The world owes Rwanda support because we turned away, in breach of the genocide convention, when genocide was threatened and, to all our shame, the UN was pulled out and nearly 1 million people were slaughtered under orders.
Rwanda has made enormous progress. In fact, it is becoming ready for a referendum on its new constitution and democratic elections. We are the biggest supporter of all that reform in Rwanda, but Rwanda will not be safe until there is peace in Congo and Burundi. That is in the interests of all the people of the region. We are working on all three and progress is possible, but it will require more attention.
§ Rev. Martin Smyth (Belfast, South)
One understands that there are contentions on governance in Malawi, but will the Secretary of State express concern at the fact that hospitals in Malawi need help, which surely could be provided through non-governmental organisations?
§ Clare Short
I agree. Malawi is a desperately poor country and, of course, it has been affected by drought and by problems with the governance of the country, selling off food stocks in the face of drought and the Government's focus on changing the constitution to get a third term, rather than looking after the needs of their people. We are trying to drive reform in Malawi's institutions, but we have shifted some of our resources into direct provision to people. However, one-off projects do not reform a country's institutions, which is the point that the hon. Gentleman makes, and we will get back to trying to help Malawi to have better institutions and better health care as soon as we can.