HC Deb 27 February 1957 vol 565 cc1222-4
32. Mr. Moss

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs if he will make a statement on the Special United Nations Fund for Economic Development with particular reference to the British policy on the 39-nation resolution of 1st February, 1957, calling for the early drafting of a statute.

43. Mr. Blenkinsop

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether Her Majesty's Government will reconsider their decision not to contribute to the Special United Nations Fund for Economic Development, in view of the proposed cuts in defence expenditure.

Mr. Selwyn Lloyd

Her Majesty's Government consider that in present conditions it would be inappropriate to draw up a statute for the fund. There are still very substantial differences in the points of view of various Governments on the basic features of the proposed fund, and when the fund can begin operations circumstances may differ greatly from those obtaining now. As regards savings derived from the proposed cuts in defence expenditure, experts have estimated that the fund should have available to it not less than 250 million dollars for a start, and there would be a continuing commitment for contributions. Her Majesty's Government have accordingly no reason to alter their belief that only a programme of internationally supervised world-wide disarmament will provide savings on a scale sufficiently large to finance a fund of this nature.

Mr. Moss

Is it not a fact that suggestions have been made that the fund could be supported with less than 250 million dollars? May I ask the right hon. and learned Gentleman two questions? Has he any information whether a vote has been taken and whether the Resolution was passed or not? Secondly, will the right hon. and learned Gentleman study the problem of making available in this country detailed reports of the speeches of our representatives, as I find it very difficult to get information?

Mr. Lloyd

If the hon. Member will have a word with me about the first matter, I will certainly see what information can be obtained. I am not certain to what vote the hon. Member is referring. As to the provision of copies of speeches made, my impression was that copies of the transactions in the various committees of the United Nations are placed in the Library of the House, but I will certainly go into that matter.

Mr. Blenkinsop

Is the right hon. and learned Gentleman aware that we on this side of the House regard it as complete hypocrisy on the part of Her Majesty's Government to keep on talking as though they approve the principle of this fund when in fact they make absolutely sure that there has been no movement at all to implement it over the last six or seven years?

Mr. Lloyd

There is a practical point here. Somebody has to find the money for this fund, and we are already overcommitted across the balance of payments in finding funds for development in the Commonwealth and elsewhere. Therefore, we are not in a position to take the initiative.

Mr. Younger

Nevertheless, is the Minister aware that his Answer was a very disappointing and stonewalling one? Is he not aware that there are at present proposals being discussed internationally both for aid to the Middle East and for putting the aid to certain dependencies in Africa on an international basis? Would it not be much more suitable if those things were done through an international body of the type of S.U.N.F.E.D.? Is it not time that we took the lead on this matter, particularly in view of the fact that, I understand, we shall save considerable sums on the provision of aid to the Middle East in the case of Jordan? Could we not give that to this fund?

Mr. Lloyd

I do not think that we should alter our present methods for giving such development aid as we can. But if there is to be a contribution by us to this sort of fund, we have to earn £500 million or so across the balance of pay- ments to be available for this kind of activity. But we approve in principle and, if other people produce large sums of money to aid development, we should be very pleased to see it happen. We cannot do so at present.