HC Deb 02 April 1957 vol 568 cc237-9

The following Question stood upon the Order Paper:

95. Mr. BRAINE

To ask the Under-Secretary of State for Commonwealth Relations what agreement has been reached with the Government of Ghana in regard to proposals for technical aid: and if he will make a statement.

The Under-Secretary of State for Commonwealth Relations (Mr. C. J. M. Alport)

With your permission Mr. Speaker, and that of the House, I should like to answer Question No. 95.

I am glad to say that the United Kingdom Government and the Government of Ghana have agreed in principle to give each other technical assistance on a mutual basis. We contemplate that under the scheme officers nominated by the Government of Ghana from among their younger public servants will come to the United Kingdom at our expense for training in practical and technical subjects. We will also be ready to supply the Government of Ghana with experts to fill specialist, technical and professional posts of a temporary or advisory nature, the costs of such experts being shared between our two Governments.

In making this offer to the Government of Ghana we have sought to give further practical expression to co-operation in the technical assistance field with other Commonwealth countries as we already do elsewhere, for example through the part the United Kingdom plays in the Technical Co-operation Scheme under the Colombo Plan in South and South-East Asia.

The Government of Ghana have indicated their readiness to provide reciprocal assistance in fields in which they are able to make a significant contribution, for example, in the study of scientific and technical tropical problems of concern to us and the Colonies. Details will be discussed between the two Governments. We warmly welcome the proposal of the Government of Ghana that this arrangement should be on a basis of mutual co-operation which fully accords with the new status of Ghana.

Mr. Braine

I am sure that the House will congratulate my right hon. and noble Friend on this timely and generous gesture to the people and Government of Ghana. May I ask the Under-Secretary of State if he can give me any information about the cost to the United Kingdom taxpayer?

Mr. Alport

It is difficult at the present time, before we know the full nature of the requests that we may have from the Government of Ghana and before details have been considered on an official basis, to give any estimate. The preliminary estimate is that it may work up to about £200,000 a year.

Mr. J. Griffiths

We heartily welcome the agreement worked out with the Government of Ghana for mutual aid on the technical side, and we hope that it will be a success. Is the Minister now able, or will he shortly be able, to give an announcement to the House of the steps that have been taken to enable the Colonial Development Corporation still to function in areas like this, and whether Her Majesty's Government will give any aid to enable the Government of Ghana to proceed as quickly as possible with the Volta scheme upon which their social and economic development depend?

Mr. Alport

The right hon. Gentleman has raised two problems apart from the problems mentioned in my answer. They are recognised as being of great importance. I am sorry I am unable to make a statement on the matter at the present time, but the right hon. Gentleman can be assured, as I think he already has been, that these are aims in which Her Majesty's Government are taking a very considerable interest and about which they are greatly concerned.

Mr. Dugdale

Is it intended to extend this admirable arrangement to other members of the Commonwealth who may desire to avail themselves of it? How soon is the proposed setting up of a Commonwealth Service of officers available to give technical assistance in various countries, envisaged by the Home Secretary, likely to come to fruition?

Mr. Alport

The right hon. Gentleman raises a rather wider aspect of this prolem. It gives me the opportunity of saying that if any other members of the Commonwealth feel able to associate themselves in giving this kind of help I am certain that the help will be welcomed by countries, and particularly by Ghana, which may wish to avail themselves of the help. I would emphasise that this is a mutual co-operation scheme between Ghana and ourselves.