HC Deb 14 April 1961 vol 638 cc744-5

3.56 p.m.

Mr. Cyril Osborne (Louth)

I beg to move, That this House urges Her Majesty's Government to give greater practical help to the underdeveloped areas of the world through the United Nations and other organisations, as a matter of common justice, since nine-tenths of the world's people live at one-tenth of the United Kingdom standard, and our standard is maintained by the natural resources of the poorer countries, and we have to import 50 per cent. of our food and nearly 100 per cent. of our raw materials, for which we paid last year £400 million less than the 1954 terms of trade required; but warns the nation that absolute economic equality amongst the world's workers would provide a wage of less than £3 per week, and the British people cannot materially increase the poorer nations' standard of living if we ourselves continue to demand more pay for less work; and therefore calls for real personal sacrifice for all sections, for greater production at lower prices, a restraint of wages, salaries and dividends, so that our aid may produce worth-while results. I want to speak for the last few minutes that are left. I do not doubt that Wales and the Welsh troubles are vital to Welsh Members, but they are pettifogging against the background of world problems. I wish to raise the problem not of 5 million people but of 1¼ billion, the poorest of whom are immeasurably poorer than the poorest person in Wales. In the vast under-developed area between Iran in the West and Japan in the East there are 1¼ billion people, half of whom have an average income of less than ten shillings per week and the other half less than thirty shillings a week. That is the estimate given by Mr. Paul Hoffmann in his latest book.

We should be giving a great deal more help, both financial and technical, to enable these under-developed countries to help themselves to reach a standard of life which will be the tiniest fraction of what the people of Wales already enjoy. The vital fact is that we are now passing through the greatest revolution the human race has ever known. Previous revolutions have either been national or regional, but at present the whole human race is going through a complete revolution, and we of the West must learn that the world cannot be half poor and starved and half rich. Those who belong to the richer and wealthier section must make great sacrifices unless the developing countries are to be driven forcibly into the hands of the Communist bloc. If we want to keep them in the Western world we must do immeasurably more for them than we are doing.

As the time ticks away I want to leave one figure with my hon. Friend. We are spending £1,500 million a year on defence. The greatest danger to our country will arise not from guns, however, but from the political philosophies which come from other parts of the world. If we would spend one quarter of what we are spending on defence in helping the under-developed countries our defences would be a great deal stronger.

We cannot help them with American dollars; we must pay ourselves. Too many people in this country are willing to help poorer people the world over; they are desperately anxious to do so—but they are not prepared to put their hands into their own pockets to provide the wherewithal. If we are to help these people the folk in Wales must make their contribution. Over the last fifteen years the American taxpayer has borne an immense burden in trying to help the coloured peoples, and if we are to help them as we should it will cost us a great deal more than people at home realise.

Something should be done to educate our people to appreciate their responsibilities. We have to pay to help the poorer peoples of the world in their struggle against poverty and ignorance—