HC Deb 08 May 1952 vol 500 cc547-9
38 and 39. Mr. G. B. Drayson

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer (1) how much of the £1,084 million external finance required for the purpose of implementing the Colombo Plan has been forthcoming; and how much of this sum has been provided by private investment, Governments both inside and outside the Commonwealth and the International Bank;

(2) if he will make a statement on the progress of the Colombo Plan for cooperative economic development in South and South-East Asia.

Sir A. Salter

I am glad of this opportunity of commending to the House the First Annual Report of the Consultative Committee on Economic Development in South-East Asia, which was presented to Parliament on 30th April [Cmd. 8529]. I affirm the continuing interest of Her Majesty's Government in the United Kingdom in the progress shown by this Report in carrying out the Colombo Plan. While the Report rightly emphasises that spectacular results must not be looked for at the end of the first year, it is the view of the Consultative Committee that a good start has been made and that a substantial quickening of the pace of development may reasonably be expected next year.

When the Plan was originally prepared, in 1950, it was calculated that its total cost over six years would be £1,868 million. Of this total, £784 million would be found by the countries themselves, and £250 million would be found by releases of sterling balances, leaving £834 million required from other sources. It was always recognised that these estimates were provisional and subject to alteration in the light of developments. This Report gives the information desired by my hon. Friend more fully than would be suitable in an answer to a Question.

Mr. John Paton

On a point of order Is it not extremely unfortunate that a very long statement of this kind, covering a Report already available to all Members, should be interpolated into the middle of Question time?

Sir A. Salter

It was not practicable to make a statement so conveniently at the time of, or immediately before, the publication of the Report. If I may finish the statement, it serves that purpose. It goes on:

The Report shows that the temporary improvement in the terms of trade of the countries concerned has enabled them to finance the early stages of their programmes to a large extent from their own resources. As the Report points out, the indications are that the need for external assistance in 1952-53 will be greater than during the first year of the Plan. These needs are under constant discussion through bilateral arrangements between donor and recipient countries.

The Report therefore records satisfactory progress during the first year of a scheme which is of great importance not only to the participating countries but to the whole of the free world.