HC Deb 18 February 1964 vol 689 cc1016-7
30. Mr. G. M. Thomson

asked the Secretary for Technical Co-operation if he will state the net increase or decrease in the number of British officials serving in developing countries over the past three years.

Mr. R. Carr

From 1961 to 1963, there was a decrease of approximately 700 in the numbers of British officials recruited by or on behalf of the British Government, or assisted by British funds. This excludes the increasing number of volunteers.

Mr. Thomson

Does not this make nonsense of the figures which the Prime Minister gave the House in the recent Commonwealth debate, suggesting that we were increasing our scale of technical assistance to the developing countries? Will the right hon. Gentleman ensure that we have more accurate figures on this subject in future?

Mr. Carr

The figures given by my right hon. Friend were absolutely accurate. If the hon. Gentleman will read the whole paragraph in context, he will see that the increase my right hon. Friend was referring to was the increase in the annual rate of recruiting. This is definitely increasing, I am glad to say, and I hope that it will continue to do so.

Mr. Worsley

Can my right hon. Friend say how this figure compares with the effort of other nations?

Mr. Carr

I have no exact comparisons, but I believe it to be bigger than that of any other country, with the possible exception of France.

Mr. Thomson

In view of the need for a country like Britain to give a lead in this matter, will the Minister undertake to do a good deal better than this and try to beat France?

Mr. Carr

I think that international league tables in this matter can become rather an absurd obsession. We are giving a lead. Our technical assistance is increasing rapidly, and I hope that it will continue to do so.

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