Smith proposes expanded economic role for G7

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Indy Politics
A SUGGESTION that the Group of Seven should become an economic equivalent of the UN Security Council, with an expanded and less exclusive membership, was made yesterday by John Smith, the Labour leader.

He told a Socialist International meeting in London that, while he hoped this week's G7 summit in Tokyo would be a success, the event had degenerated in recent years into 'an over-hyped photo-opportunity'.

Mr Smith cited the Uruguay Round on Gatt trade terms and the Trinidad Terms of debt relief on loans to Africa as examples of how the G7 had raised hopes of action which had yet to be fulfilled.

The Labour leader said that proposals on African debt relief dated back to 1978 and an initiative taken by Judith Hart, then Minister for Overseas Development in the last Labour government. Variations on the theme had been considered at successive summits since the Toronto meeting in 1988, 'and yet still there has not been full agreement to implement the so-called Trinidad Terms', Mr Smith said.

'It would be nothing short of scandalous if, yet again, there is only partial acceptance of the urgent need to write off the debts of some of the poorest countries on our earth.'

On the future of the group, Mr Smith said: 'At some point, it may be worth considering folding the G7 into an economic equivalent of the UN Security Council with a slightly larger membership, drawn not exclusively from the industrialised world.

'If carefully crafted, such a step could enhance the credibility of international economic policy-making and the UN itself and possibly satisfy Japan's desire for greater involvement in the decision-making of the UN.'

Building on Labour's return to a policy of full employment, Mr Smith said: 'What we must explore now is a new approach to full employment that recognises it cannot be achieved simply by traditional Keynesian policies of demand management.'

He said it also required 'a new role for government, which is to encourage targeted investment in people, in their energy and skills, so that all who want to can make their contribution to the prosperity of all.'