HC Deb 23 March 1964 vol 692 cc5-6
5. Sir T. Moore

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs to what extent Her Majesty's Government are now prepared to contribute to the Development Decade Programme, to which they agreed in the General Assembly of the United Nations on 19th December, 1961, and which was reaffirmed in this House on 10th May, 1963.

The Minister of State, Foreign Affairs (Mr. Peter Thomas)

Her Majesty's Government contribute very substantially to the purposes of the Development Decade. The extent of our aid to developing countries is described in Command Paper 2147 of September 1963.

Sir T. Moore

Is my hon. Friend aware of the fear among non-governmental organisations that the resolution agreed to by Her Majesty's Government in the General Assembly infers a lessening of Government contributions to the Decade Programme? Will he, therefore, give an assurance that the Government will endeavour to increase rather than to decrease their contribution?

Mr. Thomas

I am grateful for the oportunity to try to clear up a misunderstanding which, apparently, persists about this resolution. I assure my hon. Friend that, in co-sponsoring this resolution with a number of delegations from developing countries, Her Majesty's Government have no intention of throwing the burden of development on to non-governmental organisations. Nor is it in any way the intention of Her Majesty's Government, by this resolution, to relieve Governments of their primary responsibility for carrying out the objectives of the Decade. Our contributions to overseas development have increased over the first part of the Decade, and we will try to do our best to maintain this increase during the coming years.

Mr. P. Noel-Baker

While I am sure that hon. Members in all parts of the House are grateful for what the Minister has just said about the intentions of Her Majesty's Government, is he aware that the doubt about their intentions will be cleared up only when they give much larger sums than they have so far done to the cost of the Development Decade? Can he tell us in terms of cash what he means by very substantial support?

Mr. Thomas

All payments concerned with development aid, whether they are part of the regular budgets of the United Nations or its Specialised Agencies, or outside them, form part of the Development Decade. We are the third largest contributor to the regular budget of the United Nations and to the budgets of most of the Specialised Agencies. We are the second largest contributor to the budgets of a number of other agencies, including the F.A.O., and we are also the second largest contributor to the Expanded Programme of Technical Assistance and to the Special Fund, to which we have contributed in the last two years 10 million dollars.