HC Deb 23 July 1963 vol 681 cc1262-4
Q10. Mr. P. Noel-Baker

asked the Prime Minister whether he will make a statement about the recent conversations between members of Her Majesty's Government and Mr. Paul Hoffman, head of the United Nations Special Fund; and what increased contributions Her Majesty's Government intend to make to the Special Fund for the forthcoming financial year.

The Prime Minister

Mr. Hoffman was in London last week for a one-day visit, but he did not see members of Her Majesty's Government on that occasion. He discussed some technical questions with officials.

A decision about the United Kingdom contribution to the Special Fund for next year will not be taken until October, when it will be announced, subject to Parliamentary approval, at the United Nations Pledging Conference.

Mr. P. Noel-Baker

Will the Prime Minister recall that Her Majesty's Government's delegate voted for this most important plan, the success of which is of major interest to the Commonwealth, and that our contribution hitherto has borne no relation to the requirements of the plan for which we voted?

The Prime Minister

We made a good contribution which was up to the standard of other countries. I saw Mr. Hoffman, not on this occasion, but when he came here some weeks ago, and discussed the whole matter with him. We shall take all this into account when we make our decision in October.

Mr. Prentice

But does the right hon. Gentleman recall that when we voted for this expansion in the autumn of 1960, it was for an expansion of 50 per cent. in 1961 and further expansion in the following years? In fact the expansion has fallen far short of that. There was hardly any expansion in 1961, and only 25 per cent. last year. At the coming Pledging Conference will the Government pledge a much larger contribution and urge all the other countries to do the same?

The Prime Minister

I think that our record of contributions to all these various agencies and efforts compares very favourably with that of many of the great countries of the world.

Mr. P. Noel-Baker

Will the Prime Minister recognise that we have a much greater interest in the success of this plan than most other nations? Will he remember what my hon. Friend has just said, that there has not been the expansion in our contribution to which we pledged ourselves three years ago?

The Prime Minister

I think that we have carried out fully what we have been asked to do. They might like still more, but I understand that the nature of the work is to provide assistance for pre-investment projects, and it is really to devise methods before the question of aid and development arises. I think that this work is on the whole going on satisfactorily.

Mr. Pavitt

Will the Prime Minister use his influence to alter the system of annual pledging in October and ratification the following year, which stultifies the whole working not only of the Special Fund but of technical assistance through the United Nations and the special agencies, to one with a much longer term whereby assistance might be given more effectively?

The Prune Minister

I think that it is asking me to do a great deal if I am to alter the procedure of the United Nations. We shall bear in mind what the hon. Gentleman says to see whether we can make some useful suggestions for a different procedure.