HC Deb 23 February 1965 vol 707 cc220-1
26. Mr. Alison

asked the Minister of Overseas Development what proportion of bilateral United Kingdom Government aid granted in the last two accounting years has been taken up and spent by the developing countries.

Mrs. Castle

It is not possible to say exactly what proportion of the commitments made in a given period lead to disbursements in th0at period. Commitments made in any one year may result in expenditures over several following years. In the calendar years 1962 and 1963, the latest for which figures are available, total disbursements amounted to 73 per cent. and 96 per cent. respectively of the total commitments made in those years.

Mr. Alison

I thank the right hon. Lady for that Answer. May I inquire whether the shortfall is due to a lack of goods and services for export from the United Kingdom or to the shortcomings of what might be described as the digestive system of the beneficiary countries? On the future, in the light of the recent announcement by the Chancellor of the Exchequer of public expenditure for the coming year and the pressure on resources which this is likely to generate, does the right hon. Lady expect that we shall be able to export the full amount of goods and services in aid without easing the pressure on home demand?

Mrs. Castle

As I said in my reply, there is not an exact relationship between the two figures which I gave. It is, therefore, impossible under our present statistical arrangements to estimate the shortfall. I am considering what improvements we can make in our financial statistics to enable us to have a clearer picture of the position.