HC Deb 15 February 1956 vol 548 cc2349-51
31. Mr. Blenkinsop

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs what representations he has received urging Her Majesty's Government to increase our contribution to the United Nations Emergency Children's Fund.

Mr. Dodds-Parker

Representations have been received from many quarters, but, as I said in reply to the hon. Member for Sheffield, Park (Mr. Mulley) on 24th January, Her Majesty's Government much regret that in present financial circumstances it is not possible to propose an increase.

Mr. Blenkinsop

Does the hon. Gentleman realise that there is a sense of general shame in the country at the miserably small contribution, amounting to about one penny per head of the population per year, that we contribute to this vastly important work? In view of that and the representations from widely differing organisations in the country, will the hon. Gentleman reconsider the matter?

Mr. Dodds-Parker

I agree with the hon. Gentleman about the importance of the matter, and all my right hon. Friends are fully aware of it, but, as I have said, in present financial circumstances I regret that it is not possible to propose an increase.

Mr. J. Griffiths

Has the hon. Gentleman seen the comment that a very large proportion of the contribution that we make flows back to our own Colonies and, therefore, relatively, in comparison with other countries, the proportion that we contribute to the Fund is very small? Will he reconsider the matter in the light of that fact?

Mr. Dodds-Parker

That is taken into account. The point arises on a later Question.

Major Legge-Bourke

Will my hon. Friend agree that the contribution which the British Government make to colonial development benefits the children in the Colonies, and that when we assess the contribution that we are making to the Fund, we should bear that in mind?

Mr. Dodds-Parker

Yes, Sir; that is so. We spend many millions of pounds in different welfare activities overseas, of which U.N.I.C.E.F. is only one.

33. Mr. Healey

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs what sum was expended by the United Nations International Children's Emergency Fund in territories under British sovereignty in the last full year for which figures are available.

Mr. Dodds-Parker

The last full year for which figures are available is 1954, when £187,740 was spent in British non-self-governing territories.

Mr. Healey

Is the hon. Gentleman aware that the allocations for 1955 amount to more than double the British contribution in either 1955 or 1956? Does he not feel some shame that this country, one of the richest in the world, should be twenty-third on the list and should appear to be profiteering out of international charity?

Mr. Dodds-Parker

I most certainly feel no shame about it. This country has done a tremendous amount since the war, and is doing a tremendous amount, to help people overseas. I would point out to the hon. Gentleman that what we have spent on U.N.I.C.E.F. since the war amounts to an annual average of £50,000 for the years 1948 to 1951 and an annual average of £137,000 for the years 1952 to 1955.

Mr. Stokes

The cost of living has gone up.

Mr. Younger

Is the hon. Gentleman aware that if he does not feel ashamed, there are many others who do? Is he also aware that apart from anything else it is bad housekeeping, because not only is all this money spent in dependencies, as has been said, but far more is spent by U.N.I.C.E.F. in this country in ordering goods and supplies for its world-wide programme than we subscribe, so that even from the point of view of the Chancellor of the Exchequer there is a good deal to be said for increasing the British subscription.

Mr. Dodds-Parker

The figures available to me do not bear out what the right hon. Member says.

Mr. Blenkinsop

In view of the thoroughly unsatisfactory nature of the reply, I beg to give notice that I shall raise the matter on the Adjournment.