§ Order for Second Reading read.
§ Mr. Speaker
Order. May I make a plea to hon. Members to adopt the practice of making less noise when leaving the Chamber, so that we can make a good start with our business?
§ 4.15 p.m.
§ The Minister of Overseas Development (Mrs. Barbara Castle)
Thank you, Mr. Speaker.
I beg to move, That the Bill be now read a Second time.
May I begin by saying how deeply we all regret the reason why the right hon. Member for Mitcham (Mr. R. Carr) cannot be present today to take part in this debate. He has a great interest in, as well as knowledge of, the problems of overseas development and I know how much he would have liked to be here.
I know, of course, that the right hon. Member for Enfield, West (Mr. Iain Macleod) also has a great interest in and knowledge of this subject. In fact, he was the author of the Overseas Service Aid Scheme which we are extending in the Bill. He also, as a former Colonial Secretary, knows the importance of the colonial development and welfare money which we make available to the dependent territories. So I am sure that he will be glad that we are making such generous new provision under the Bill, that we are making it in such good time and making it for a period of five years ahead. All this will enable these territories to plan their development more effectively than they have been able to do in the past. I therefore confidently anticipate a welcome for the Bill from both sides of the House.
The Bill, in fact, faithfully reflects the spirit of the discussions of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development. At that conference the hungry nations of the world staked their claim to a fairer share of the world's development and called on the rich nations for greater help. The Bill will help us to respond to that call. Some people may say that we are in no state 410 to do so; we have plenty of economic problems of our own.
It is certainly true that we are going through a period of intense economic difficulty. But, then, this country was going through an even more critical period when the first Colonial Development and Welfare Act was passed in 1940. Yet we all agreed then that one of the things we were fighting for was a better life for all humanity and that we had better start taking practical steps to achieve it.
So, today, it would be wrong for us to try to solve our own problems at the expense of peoples whose need is so much greater than our own. The very fact that we have not got a lot of spare money to throw about, and cannot increase our financial aid as much as we would like to do, makes it imperative that we should use our brains and imagination to ensure that our help is given in the most effective way. I suggest that the Bill will enable us to do this on two fronts. It combines two measures in one, just as the 1963 Commonwealth Development Act did when it extended the scope of the Commonwealth Development Corporation and provided fresh C.D. & W. money.
Clause 1 of the Bill makes new provision of colonial development and welfare money. I am, of course, putting forward these proposals in full agreement with my right hon. Friend the Colonial Secretary, and with the Under-Secretary of State, with whom I shall work in the closest co-operation in administering the Bill if it is approved. We are together in our anxiety to promote the progress of the colonial territories.
As the House knows, ever since 1940 the method of providing C.D. & W. money has been to provide by Act of Parliament that a certain sum of money may be spent up to a certain date. When we want to make fresh provision, we increase the total sum of money and push the date forward. The last Act, in 1963, made provision up to 31st March, 1966, and said that up to £340 million in grants could be spent and up to £105 million in loans could be approved by that date.
This, in effect, meant the provision of £25 million more for grants and £5 million more for loans which, added to the 411 unspent balances brought forward from the previous period, gave totals of £68½ million and £32 million respectively for the period of three years covered by the 1963 Act.
In the interests of good planning it is desirable to let the countries concerned know a year ahead what their continuing allocations are going to be. This is what we are doing in Clause 1, which gives us one year's overlap. The Clause provides a further £50 million for schemes which are financed by grants and a further £20 million for loans which, coupled with the outstanding amounts brought forward, give us totals of £95 million for grants and £40 million for loans for the five years up to 1970.
Those hon. Members who are good at mental arithmetic will have grasped that this works out at a smaller sum per year than under the 1963 Act: in the case of grants an average of £19 million a year instead of £23 million. But the House will realise that we are now catering for a much smaller number of dependent territories. Since the 1963 Act the following countries have achieved independence: Kenya, Zambia, Malawi, Zanzibar, Malta, Gambia, Singapore, Borneo and Sarawak. They no longer come, therefore, within the scope of the Clause.
Since so many of our former customers have become independent, are we, perhaps, being too generous? I do not think so. There are today about 30 separate Governments, in every continent and every ocean, which come within the scope of the C.D. & W. Acts. Their needs are varied, but all demand our attention.
In Southern Africa, the three territories of Basutoland, Bechuanaland and Swaziland are moving rapidly forward politically, and we must advance their economic development at the same tempo, and with a real sense of urgency. Southern Arabia is another politically sensitive area in which we have left economic development very late.
There is the Caribbean; the two mainland territories of British Honduras, whose potential has yet to be developed, and British Guiana, where dissension and violence have in recent years interrupted the momentum of economic progress; and the islands of the West Indies, especially the seven which, we hope, will come together 412 in a Federation that will generate added calls for development finance. There is Gibraltar; if Spanish pressure continues, we owe it to the loyalty of the people of Gibraltar to help them to readjust their economy to a changed situation.
Others of our dependent territories rarely make the headlines; but just because they are small, or remote, or because, politically, they present less pressing problems, we should not overlook their needs. We have responsibilities scattered across the Pacific from Fiji to the Solomon Islands. In the Indian Ocean, Mauritius needs help with the problems of an ever-increasing population dependent on a sugar industry which has reached the limits of expansion, and the Seychelles with their isolation and lack of economic development.
In the Atlantic there is the lonely island of St. Helena, and the even lonelier one of Tristan da Cunha. The people of Tristan aroused great interest and sympathy when they were our guests in this country for a time. Now that they have gone back to their own island, we want to use C.D. & W. funds to build them a safe harbour from which to earn their living by fishing. This is the kind of objective small in the overall view but of profound importance to that particular community, which provides to my mind one of the chief justifications of the C.D. & W. system.
We should remember that these are territories for which we have direct responsibility. I do not think that it is unreasonable, therefore, that we should spend about 12 per cent. of our development aid on them.
It might, perhaps, be argued that these countries will not be able to spend all this money anyway. Certainly, the figures in this Clause are commitment figures and it is unlikely that the actual expenditure will reach the permitted annual ceilings of £25 million a year for grants for the first three years or of £10 million a year for loans. This may be particularly the case for loans, since most of the loan-worthy territories are now independent.
In any case, these Exchequer loans are intended as a last resort, when the territories cannot raise money elsewhere, and, because many of the dependent countries cannot afford to service these loans, 413 we have, in the Bill, lowered the proportion of loans to grants and are providing 70 per cent. of this aid in grant form.
The House may ask why should we provide money which may not be used? The answer is, first, that there is inevitably—in every part of our aid programme—a lag between commitment and expenditure and we must, for planning purposes, leave a margin. But we are not satisfied with the rate at which allocations have been actually spent. This has been running at a total of between £6 million and £8 million a year in the past few years.
One of the reasons is that the 1963 Act was introduced too late. The Act was not passed till July of that year and the allocations were not made till November. This left the territories only a few months in which to plan their spending. We have taken care not to repeat that mistake and that is why we are introducing our Bill in February.
I suggest to the House that we should not rejoice when money we commit for development is so seriously underspent year after year. That is often a sign of failure at our end—failure to help the territories to plan ahead, failure to give them the technical assistance they need for good planning. Underspending on this scale has meant an inefficient use of resources which this House agreed should be devoted to raising standards in our colonies.
I want to see that the aid we give is given in a form in which it can speedily be used for development. This is a task to which we are giving our minds, but it will take time to achieve results. It is unlikely, for instance, that the level of spending will exceed £10 million in the coming year. But these territories are gradually establishing better planning machinery and the creation of my new Ministry, with its expert planning staff both here and overseas, will mean that we can help them on their way.
The need for effective development planning was the second point stressed at U.N.C.T.A.D. Even the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Streatham (Mr. Sandys) stressed this point in his dispatch to the colonial territories in November, 1963. Unfortunately, he has always opposed the creation of a unified 414 Overseas Development Ministry which alone can organise effective planning help.
This brings me logically to the second half of the Bill in which we take one of the essential steps in our policy of extending our technical and administrative assistance. The canvas here is wider, since the benefits of this section are not confined to dependent territories.
Clause 2 extends the provisions of the Overseas Service Act, 1961, which it replaces, an Act which itself created the major instrument of our recruitment policy for service overseas, the Overseas Service Aid Scheme. The scheme was the work of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Enfield, West, as Secretary of State for the Colonies, and the overseas service owes a considerable debt to him for it.
What the scheme did was to enable overseas Governments to retain the services of many of their expatriate officers, who might otherwise have retired prematurely, and to recruit new expatriate officers under contract by providing a wide range of inducement allowances. The officers designated under the scheme remain in the employment of overseas Governments, but they receive from those Governments at our expense an overseas addition to salary and education allowances for children, while we share with these Governments the cost of passages to and from their home country for the officers and their families and, at the appropriate constitutional stage, the cost of compensation for the members of Her Majesty's Overseas Civil Service.
Apart from the payments made towards compensation, the cost of the scheme is under £1,000 per officer per year, but this is still a large sum for many developing countries, and, without the help provided by the Overseas Service Aid Scheme, many overseas Governments would have been unable to provide suitable terms of service for their expatriate officers or to recruit more of them. No fewer than 41 Governments and administrations have entered into agreements under the scheme and, during the current financial year, over 11,000 officers are receiving benefits at a cost to the British Government of over £16 million.
We are continuing to recruit at a high rate for many Governments, and, during 1964, almost 1,800 officers were recruited 415 through my Ministry and through the Crown Agents. Despite this, the need is so great that, at the end of the year, requests were still increasing.
At the time when it was presented to Parliament, the Overseas Service Aid Scheme was the latest in a series of undertakings given by the British Government to expatriate members of the Colonial Service, which, in 1954, was rechristened Her Majesty's Overseas Civil Service. This background largely determined those who would be eligible for designation under the scheme. Paragraph 9 of the right hon. Gentleman's White Paper, Cmnd. 1193, laid it down thatthe arrangements envisaged by H.M. Government will include pensionable expatriate officers who are or become members of H.M.O.C.S. and expatriate contract officers who were or are appointed in the same way as members of H.M.O.C.S.This deliberate limitation of the scheme to the expatriate members of Her Majesty's Overseas Civil Service and to their equivalent colleagues on contract terms has not always been well understood and, because of this, the present Government and their predecessor have from time to time been under pressure to designate officers who do not come within this concept. The scheme and its benefits are now, however, well established, and it is no part of my purpose today, nor is it a purpose of the Bill, to redraw the scheme to bring in those officers to whom the unhappy term "non-designated" has been applied.
I have sketched in this background. however, so that the House may understand that the aid scheme has so far applied only to officers in the central public services of overseas Governments who are expatriate members of H.M.O.C.S. or expatriate contract officers appointed in the same way.
Clause 2 of the Bill does not change the basis of the scheme and it preserves the agreements existing under the 1961 Act. Its main purpose is to provide for an extension of the scheme into fresh fields. Now that the scheme has come to be recognised as our major vehicle of technical assistance overseas, its existing limitation to officers of the central public services of overseas Governments has become a restriction 416 on the help in skilled manpower that we are prepared to give.
Inevitably, overseas Governments have differing views on how services of value to the community should be administered. In one country, for example, public utilities like electricity, telecommunications or railways may be administered by Government Departments, in another by separate corporations. These functions are of equal value whatever public body provides them, yet under the scheme as it now stands we can give financial help only in respect of officers employed in the public services of Governments.
This has led to many anomalies. For example, during the debates on the 1961 Bill, the wish was expressed on both sides of the House that the scheme should cover expatriate officers of the East African High Commission, as it then was. This could be done because the High Commission, now the Common Services Organisation, was a governmental body providing common public services for all the East African countries. As a result, while the railway services provided by this inter-governmental organisation are covered by the scheme, other public utilities in East Africa, such as electricity in Uganda, are not.
Some of the worst anomalies occur in the field of education. Take the universities in East Africa. Because the universities there are bodies independent of Government under a policy, which we approve, of encouraging academic freedom, the present scheme does not touch them. On the other hand, two of the Institutes of Technical Education in East Africa are governmental bodies whose staff can, therefore, come within the scheme, while the status of the third makes this questionable.
There are similar discrepancies in local government. Some of the expatriate officers now serving with local government bodies in East Africa were, until a short while ago, discharging the same functions as servants of the central Governments. Now that they and their functions have been transferred, the scheme, in its present form, cannot apply to them. Under this Bill, it will be possible to extend its benefits to their employing authorities. The House will realise that I have mentioned these various types of bodies as illustrations 417 and with no commitment on my part to any of them at this stage.
The Clause, therefore, is intended to give me authority, with the agreement of the Treasury, to offer the benefits of the scheme to bodies and organisations overseas other than Governments who are employing expatriate officers in public or social services such as those that I have described.
If hon. Members will turn to Clause 2(5), they will see a variety of such services there set out. Subsection (6) is intended to give the Minister power by statutory order to extend the categories of public or social services described in subsection (5) if this should prove necessary.
A word now about how I propose to administer this extension of the scheme. Cmnd. 1193 itself constituted an offer to enter into agreements under the scheme with the developing territories which were there listed. This was primarily because the Governments of all these territories employed members of Her Majesty's Overseas Civil Service and, as I have said, the scheme grew out of previous undertakings to these members.
The British Government are not bound by similar undertakings to any expatriate officers in the organisations to which this extension of the scheme may potentially apply, and I do not, therefore, propose to make any such general offer of help available. Instead, I shall seek advice from countries overseas about the institutions there to which the benefits of the scheme might usefully be offered, and, as funds can be made available, the scheme will be offered on a system of priorities to the institutions which qualify for it. I shall be prepared to consider on their merits any requests for help made to me under the scheme, but I cannot, of course, undertake that all these requests will be met.
There is one field to which I shall give special attention. At the third Commonwealth Education Conference, at Ottawa, in August of last year, the British Government representative made an offer of financial assistance towards salaries of British teachers in overseas universities. I propose to offer to honour this undertaking through the extension of the aid scheme if the Bill is passed. 418 We shall, of course, have to consider to which particular institutions and to which members of their staff the extended scheme should apply in the light of the circumstances of each case.
The fact that the rules and undertakings of H.M.O.C.S. will not apply has another consequence. The provision under the present scheme for reimbursing half the cost of compensation was related solely to the British Government's undertaking to ensure compensation on self-government to the expatriate members of H.M.O.C.S. Apart from this specific undertaking, designation under the scheme in no way disturbs the contractual relationship between expatriate officers and their overseas employers. This extension of the scheme, therefore, will not give any designated officer any claim to compensation that he could not otherwise make and the benefits provided under this extension of the scheme will not include any compensation payments.
There is one final point which I should make clear. Under the present scheme we have been at pains not to disturb the relationship between overseas Governments and the expatriate officers they employ, or to encourage any kind of divided loyalty. That is why our payments are made to the employing Governments and not to the officers direct. I believe that these principles are right, and I expect to continue to adhere to them in respect of most officers designated under the extension of the scheme.
There is, however, some evidence that in certain circumstances direct payments to individual officers would be helpful to overseas Governments and institutions, and Clause 2(1) of the Bill therefore provides for direct as well as indirect payments by the British Government.
I hope that this proposed extension of a valuable and well-tried scheme will be generally acceptable to the House. As I have told the House, I am reviewing the whole scope and impact of our aid programme in order to decide how, in our present difficult economic circumstances, we can make it more effective.
But I think that one conclusion is already clear: whatever else we can or 419 cannot do, we should enlarge and improve our technical assistance. Developing countries urgently need help in bridging the gap in their skilled manpower until their own people can be trained to take over all these new tasks. Without this help they will not be able to get the most value out of the capital aid which we make available.
The sharing of knowledge and skills is one of the most urgent aspects of international fair shares. It is because, in the Bill, we take a further step in this direction that I confidently commend it to the House.
§ 4.44 p.m.
§ Mr. Iain Macleod (Enfield, West)
I am glad that the right hon. Lady opened the debate with a reference to the tragic reason why my right hon. Friend the Member for Mitcham (Mr. R. Carr) cannot be here today. Nobody has more friends than he has on both sides of the House. Nobody cares more deeply about these matters than he does. All I can say is that I share his outlook on these matters, and therefore, to some extent at least, I am confident that the points which I shall put before the House will be those which he would have put.
Of course we welcome, and of course we shall speed, the Bill. There is no question about that. It is one of a series which goes back to 1940, to our finest hour. I thought it refreshing that in moving the Second Reading the right hon. Lady did not just stick to the Explanatory and Financial Memorandum, but made a speech of considerable scope on a matter which is of great interest to us. I hope, therefore, that she will understand that the questions which I put to her are sympathetic and, within reasonable limits, friendly.
We have not altogether, so far, been able to find a satisfactory answer to the question: what is she up to? We wonder whether this new Ministry does enough new work to merit a Parliamentary Secretary and an increased establishment to administer increased aid, or whether—this is the question which we are asking, and she will understand that I use these words in an ornithological and not a personal sense—she is merely a bird in a gilded cage.
420 May I put one or two points either to the right hon. Lady or to the Parliamentary Secretary, whoever is to close the debate? I will reserve for the moment the question of further finance. I should like a little more information about one word—the word "directly" in Clause 2(1). I understand the position to be that previously these sums were paid indirectly; in other words, they were paid to the Government concerned. I believe that overseas Governments have found it somewhat embarrassing to have these relatively large sums being paid through their budgets.
But there was a good reason for this, and I hope that the Government have taken it carefully into account. The reason was to make it absolutely clear that these people were not servants of Her Majesty's Government but owed their work and their allegiance to the countries concerned. I wonder whether, by making these payments in some degrees directly to these officers, we may not encourage a move towards Africanisation, or Asianisation, or whatever it may be, of the local service.
The second point which I want to make concerns the administration of Clause 2 which, as the right hon. Lady fairly said, stems from White Paper Cmnd. 1193, for which I had responsibility. Perhaps I may quote paragraph 10 of the White Paper which I put before the House at the time:Her Majesty's Government are, therefore, prepared to enter forthwith into an agreement with each of these territories"—that is, all the dependent territories—with the exception, at least for the present, of the Bahamas, Bermuda, Brunei and Hong Kong where for a number of reasons this form of help is not regarded as appropriate.I want to make it clear that I very much welcome the extension set out in Clause 2(5) and I congratulate the right hon. Lady sincerely on having been able to obtain this from the Treasury. But I wonder whether she has not paid a price for it, because what she said was a great deal more restricted than the proposition which I put before the House four years ago. I then said that we would offer it to all these territories with the exception of the four territories which I mentioned—in their case for special reasons; in fact, because they were much better off than the others. The right hon. Lady 421 said that she will consider to how many people and how different forms of services this can apply, and then it will become a question of priorities and administrative decisions will be taken.
Everything is a question of priorities, but the right hon. Lady will recognise—this is a fair point—that this is a different approach from offering it openly, as I was able to do on behalf of the previous Government, agreed in a more restricted field, to virtually all the territories. I see the cold hand of the Treasury in this. The Parliamentary Secretary is taking note of the point and I wonder whether, if not at the end of the debate then at some other time, he will tell us whether consideration has been given to the proposition that a more generous approach might pay dividends.
§ Mrs. Castle
I should not like there to be any misunderstanding about this. I was talking merely about the administration of the extension scheme.
§ Mr. Macleod
I understand that, and my point is directed to that. She is not offering it to everyone. She will find out, she says, to what the extension will apply and then will consider her priorities within it.
The third point which I want to put to the Parliamentary Secretary concerns the question of promotion. It has always seemed to me that one of the key factors in getting people to serve overseas is the way in which they are treated when they return to this country. I know that we all agree on this, but it is something of the very first importance. If firms and companies, and Governments for that matter, were wise enough, they would see that they would both enrich themselves and enrich the men and women who went to serve in these countries for a time.
The difficulty, which we all recognise, is that in this country there are sometimes rather rigid ladders of promotion. A man or woman taking time out of his or her working life to go abroad may lose the opportunity, whatever it may be, to become a consultant, or a teacher, for example. I know that some arrangements have been made in medicine and education and that there are occasionally links between a teaching hospital in this country and a teaching hospital in some place in Africa, for example. This is excellent, but I should like to know 422 whether we can be told more about this subject and whether we have been able to make further progress.
The questions which I am putting to the Government are basically friendly, but we feel that we do not know enough about the work of the Ministry. I said yesterday, in a purely non-political speech, of course, commenting on Her Majesty's present advisers, that they were divided into two categories—we knew what one half was doing and wished that we did not, and did not know what the other half was doing and wished that we did. The right hon. Lady falls into the second category and we wish that we knew more about what she was doing.
We felt that we were roughly treated by the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster during the Committee stage of the Ministers of the Crown Bill, when questions of this sort were put to him. We hope that the right hon. Lady will appreciate that in this matter it is possible to make an ally of the House of Commons. I can assure her—and I dare say that she has found out already—that it is of considerable advantage in arguments with the Treasury, which inevitably occur, to be able to say that there is strong feeling about the matter and that it adds to the effect if one can say, as is often true, that there is strong feeling on both sides of the House. The right hon. Lady said yesterday that in due course she would produce a White Paper on the work of her Ministry. I do not want to press her to define "in due course" more precisely, unless the Parliamentary Secretary is ready to do so in closing the debate, but it would help her very much and certainly us if the publication of this White Paper could be expedited.
I turn now to the finances of the Bill. As I understand, adding together the £50 million schemes for the usual grant, the carry forward of £45 million, the loan of £20 million and the carry forward of the loans of £20 million, £135 million is available over five years, an average of £27 million a year. The right hon. Lady said, perfectly fairly, that this was less than the three-year average of the 1963 Act, when the average was £36½ million. It is considerably less, but, of course, so are the territories.
I think that it was the hon. Lady the Under-Secretary of State for the 423 Colonies who, replying to my hon. Friend the Member for Worcester (Mr. Peter Walker), said that development aid to the Colonies in 1965–66 would be about £31 million more than in 1964–65. That represents the tail-end of the more generous provision which was made under the 1963 Act and it is fairly clear that a falling off is envisaged in the commitment for development aid to our dependencies in the year ahead. The right hon. Lady asked the question the wrong way round. She asked whether we were being too generous. I should like for a moment to reflect whether in the circumstances we are being generous enough.
It is quite true that many countries have left the ambit of this part of the right hon. Lady's responsibilities and have travelled into another and it is true that an infinite number of schemes—the Swynnerton Scheme in Kenya and the Blantyre-Limke Water Scheme in what is now Malawi and many others—have all been financed by this money. I think that I am right in saying that 15 per cent. of the aggregate expenditure on development by the dependencies comes directly from C.D. and W. money and developments in the poorer territories are financed almost entirely from this source.
The point is that we still have about 30 colonial or dependent territories left which are clearly by and large the poorer territories whose needs, therefore, are more and not less urgent. As some other territories leave the ambit, so we should be certain that we do not drop the figure of provision for the colonial territories too far. It is natural that there should be what might be called the swings and roundabouts and that as an increasing number of territories come to independence, a large proportion of what we hope is an overall increasing level of Government aid should go to developing countries. I merely emphasise again the special needs of such countries. Mauritius is very much in my mind as a country which will need particular resources and help from us in future. Is this amount, the colonial element, which, we agree, is diminishing year by year, within an increasing overall total?
As I understand the figures, from 1945 to 1952 there was an average expenditure of about £35 million a year overall. In 1952–53, the figure was £52 million and 424 that steadily increased until in 1963–64 it reached £175 million, more than three times up. During the first nine months of 1964, that is, January to September, it was 28 per cent. up on the same period of 1963. That is a fine record—and I do not say that in any party sense.
There are two points about this. First, there is the momentum in the figures, particularly noticeable in the last year or two, and still carrying forward. That is why I am probing beyond the immediate figures to make certain that this momentum will hold. Secondly, in the last Government the two blocks of public expenditure which in proportion were rising most swiftly were education and aid to the under-developed countries. Both sides of the House can agree that a society which puts those two first has its priorities just about right.
The real question is what is the part which the right hon. Lady is playing in all this. There is a new name for the Ministry and it may be asked what is in a name and that by any name it would smell as sweet. However, I believe that there is a good deal in a name. The House will remember that we changed the name Supplementary Pensions to National Assistance because we thought that people would then more willing to accept this from the State. [Horn. MEMBERS: "The other way round."] We changed it to National Assistance for that reason and it is now being suggested that we should change it back for exactly the same reason.
The right hon. Lady will recognise that one of the main reasons for setting up the Department of Technical Co-operation was the fact that there were some simply marvellous services which could be offered, but which came within the organisation of the Colonial Office, so that it was difficult for the newly independent countries to accept them as willingly as would otherwise have been the case. I do not for a moment decry the change in name.
The sort of question which I should like to ask is this: who did the lobbying work, the to-ing and fro-ing, on the Bill? On the last Bill, it was done by the Colonial Office and the Chief Secretary. Any matters which could not be settled by them were settled by the Chancellor of the Exchequer and, finally, the Cabinet. What worries me is this. If 425 the right hon. Lady did this, she is not, with respect, the best qualified person to assess the relative priorities which the Colonial Office must always weigh.
§ Mr. Macleod
I should have thought that it was obvious that the Colonial Office was better fitted to do this.
§ Mr. Chapman
Does it not depend, particularly at the beginning of the new Ministry, on the absorption of certain parts of the Colonial Office into the new Ministry, which is precisely what is happening?
§ Mr. Macleod
The management of aid is one thing. The relative importance attached to it is very much a matter for Colonial Office judgment.
May I take another sphere in which the point is perhaps even clearer? It is very often a matter of the highest policy whether aid, and, if so how much, should be given to a foreign country. Considerations come into this which go far beyond the scale of money involved. We all know this. It seems to me inconceivable that the Foreign Secretary has laid aside his responsibilities in this matter. If he has, I think it deplorable. Therefore, perhaps in the White Paper the right hon. Lady could make it clearer exactly where policy responsibility as distinct from management responsibility lies.
In my view, the specialist Departments—the Colonial Office, the Foreign Office and the rest—know best what priority should be given to the various territories for which they have different responsibilities.
§ The Under-Secretary of State for the Colonies (Mrs. Eirene White)
May I set the right hon. Gentleman's mind at rest? My right hon. Friend and the Colonial Office conducted a joint operation with the Chief Secretary.
§ Mr. Macleod
In that case, it is harder still to see what purpose there is in having new machinery. Previously, the Colonial Office did this with the Chief Secretary and then with the Chancellor of the Exchequer. I cannot believe that the Colonial Office regard it as a game to have another Minister and another 426 machine put between them and the Treasury.
It is difficult to disentangle, even with the help of the Vote on Account, the whole story. I am not twitting the right hon. Lady—I may do so some other time—about the promises which she has made. I am simply interested in whether we have the balance right of the colonial amount within the larger amount. As I read the Vote on Account, the figure of aid through the right hon. Lady's Ministry, £103.8 million, is higher than last year's estimate but lower than last year's out-turn. There is nothing surprising in that. There are other matters to be added.
In any case, the momentum of which I have spoken still operates in these figures. The Chancellor of the Exchequer cannot have it both ways. If the £8.9 million increase is due to the "wicked Tories", then equally the "wicked Tories" are entitled to the credit for the increase, if increase there be, in this form of expenditure in which we take such a close interest.
I return to the question of Treasury control, which is vital. I am sure that the right hon. Lady knows that Treasury hands reach for the knife whenever overseas expenditure is mentioned. Treasury hearts—if this is not a contradiction in terms—are apt not to see some of the nobler issues which we have been discussing. "Take the cash and let the credit go" is written above the desk of every official in Treasury Chambers. We should like to know the right hon. Lady's long-term plans as soon as possible. She will find us helpful. As I say, she may even find that we are her allies.
Lastly, I say a few words about Clause 2. The right hon. Lady was generous to me in what she said about this Clause. I am, I suppose, its godfather. It replaces the Overseas Service Act, 1961, which, in turn, gave effect to the White Paper, Cmnd. 1193, which I presented to Parliament in October, 1960. May I remind the House of the first sentence of that White Paper:For generations British men and women have left their homes to live and work overseas in the service of the Governments and peoples of many lands. Her Majesty's Government in the United Kingdom attaches the greatest importance to this tradition of service and wishes to foster it by all means in its power".427 I am sure that those are words which the Minister and hon. Members on both sides of the House would echo. I do not want to cover the many fascinating aspects of the forms of service overseas. I have touched on the question of promotion. There are also problems about whether it would be wise to have specialist careers in one or two of the services in which we help. The question of the length of service is also one which I know some of my hon. Friends want to discuss.
I wish to look for a moment to the future. One of the most famous sayings in relation to what was once the great British Empire was, "Trade follows the flag". I have always thought that this was entirely untrue. It happens the other way round. We did not go abroad originally to conquer. We went abroad to trade, preach, teach and heal. Administration came later because we needed settled conditions in which to carry out this work which has been of great service to so many countries in the five continents of the world. This story is coming full circle. We have returned many of these countries to the people for whom we act as trustees. Nothing gives me greater pride than the fact that in a particularly critical period I had a share in this work.
However, the great need remains, and this, I take it, is the true purpose of the Bill. Our people will still go out to these countries, but no longer as governors or provincial or district commissioners, although they did marvellous work and there is no finer body of men than the Colonial Service in these different countries. They will go once more as traders, technical experts, nurses, missionaries, teachers and doctors. Other people will administer and there will even be another flag. I believe that there is a place, and a welcome place, for those who go from these islands to serve overseas. It is because I think that the Bill helps them and will help the countries to which they go that we welcome it and will help to speed it to the Statute Book.
§ 5.9 p.m.
§ Mr. John Hynd (Sheffield, Attercliffe)
I for one welcome the Bill. I also welcome a little more warmly than did the hon. Member for Enfield, West (Mr. Ian Macleod) the establishment of the new Department.
428 Without going fully into the question, one of the main reasons why I welcome the setting up of the new Department is that in the past there has been an irregular development of the British contribution in aid to the Colonies and even foreign countries. There has grown up a large number of institutions within and outside the United Nations—the International Monetary Fund, the International Bank, and the rest—and voluntary organisations of many kinds. It is obviously necessary that there should begin to be some channelling of these activities and co-ordination, not only in the interest of economy but of ensuring that all these services are properly channelled.
What is equally important, and becoming more so, is the necessity for this country—which, as my right hon. Friend has said, for all its great generosity, has limited resources—to ensure that the money is properly used and supervised, so that we know just what is going on. It is true that very often we have voted money to countries through a Government which may not have been particularly sound or democratic and have seen fleets of Cadillacs bought with our money while the people in the back streets, in the hills and on the plains have had little benefit.
I am delighted to see that Britain is not only maintaining but developing its assistance. The White Paper, Cmnd. 4157, "Aid to Developing Countries", points out that, although we are net importers of food, we have made a substantial contribution to the World Food Programme and are also giving 5 million dollars towards the target of 100 million dollars. Half of our contribution is in shipping services and the other half in the form of food, mainly barley. We make regular contributions to the United Nations budget and to specialised agencies. Indeed, there are more British experts working in the field with United Nations programmes than those of any other nationality, and so on. There is not a great deal we need apologise for in this.
I want to use this opportunity to pinpoint two problems in two areas that illustrate how more can be done and how more concentrated development can be attempted. First, there is the situation in Ceylon. This is rather a special case 429 because it is an ex-colony which is now an independent territory. Ceylon has problems common to other territories which are now independent, but in the present situation it has a particular significance when we consider its recent political, social and economic developments.
I had the pleasure and honour of leading a Parliamentary delegation to Ceylon a few weeks ago. We arrived in the middle of a political and economic crisis there. Ceylon, is in fact, going through a double crisis—economic and political. It is a crisis which arises mainly from two causes. First, there is the population explosion, which is nothing new in such territories, but, in Ceylon, is particularly intensive and serious. The second cause is die usual one which also affects Latin America and African territories—the fall in world prices of primary products. World tea prices have fallen very considerably in recent years, with disastrous effects upon the Ceylonese economy.
For these and other reasons—the country still only produces half its basic food, rice, and has to import the other half at world prices—it is suffering from very sever balance of payment problems.
§ Mr. John Tilney (Liverpool, Wavertree)
Is there not yet another facet—that private enterprise has not been allowed to expand because those in the public sector have done so badly?
§ Mr. Hynd
I was in the middle of reciting what I consider to be the basis of the crisis and I was about to come to that aspect. There has, of course, been a change in the situation particularly of the British population. There have been changes in political and social policies by the Ceylon Government. In looking at the question of aid to Ceylon or at the prospects of future aid, we tend to forget that the basic factors of Ceylon's problems are largely worldwide in this context—the population explosion, the fall in the prices of primary products and the balance of payment problem because of dependence upon imports—and to be rather too concerned, although, of course, we should be concerned, with the problems affecting the business community, particularly the British and European business people.
430 I have heard it said—and I regret it—that this is largely Ceylon's own fault. I have heard it said that we can hardly be expected to contribute very much more to Ceylon than at present—which is little enough—so long as the Ceylonese treat our people as they are doing. If we approach this kind of problem from that point of view, we make a big mistake and are being very ungenerous.
There are, of course, difficulties for the British, Americans and others in countries like Ceylon. Oil distribution and various other services have been nationalised. Although it has been under negotiation for some time, no agreement has yet been concluded on the amount of compensation to be paid for the oil distribution industry. For this reason, the United States, which previously contributed about 99 per cent. of the aid to Ceylon under the Colombo Plan, has cut off its aid to Ceylon. The impact is obviously dramatic and calamitous in such a country.
The World Bank and the International Monetary Fund have taken up similar attitudes because of political developments in Ceylon. There is one glorious exception—Canada, which has not reduced its aid in any way and has consequently a very high reputation in Ceylon. It is, of course, inevitable that we face the political facts of the situation. These facts are that Ceylon and other countries like it have suddenly been given, or have taken, or have been thrown into, independence and have a need to assert and demonstrate that independence primarily to their own people. This is a political fact that we cannot ignore.
One Government in Ceylon has already fallen because it was trying to carry on a policy largely of continuity with that of the old colonial Government, realising that that was a good and sound policy. But it was politically unacceptable to the people, which is one of the reasons why Ceylon politics swung violently to the Left. These are facts in the general situation which give rise to conditions making inevitable changes in the position of our own nationals, who had, in many cases, been enjoying a very special position, insulated against all the accidents of fortune, such as falls in the standard of living amongst the native people. They were insulated because they were protected by the 431 colonial Power, by private companies and by their own special status and power. But they cannot expect it any longer. Even with the best will in the world, and the most desirable policy of continuity by the local Government, there must be a change in the status and standards of these people.
I would quote some words used recently by Mrs. Bandaranaike herself in this connection:Sometimes, I am afraid, there is not that much appreciation from abroad of the difficulties that we inevitably have to encounter in the transition of our society and economy from one which was fundamentally colonial to one which is socialistic and democratic. Sometimes it is particularly our old friends who show impatience at what we are trying to do. Unfortunately, it is all too often true that persons who have once enjoyed a privilege are reluctant to lose that position. That, I am afraid, is partly the reason for whatever little differences there may be among the Government and the British interests in Ceylon.This is very true, and while those of us who know the situation our nationals are facing in that country must feel considerable sympathy with them and must hope that their present difficulties can be overcome, we should not overlook the political situation which makes their difficulties of that kind unavoidable. While there is, therefore, a natural and a dangerous reaction against extending aid to such countries as this—I cite this as a particular case—it will not help our nationals if we take the attitude, "Well, it serves them right, and we are not going to do anything about it".
We shall not help our people that way, because they are dependent on the economy of the country in which they live, and on the continuation of democratic government in that country, which is facing a crisis—although democracy in Ceylon is not, in my view, as endangered as has been represented on many occasions since the last Government crisis. After all, the Ceylon Government, a few months ago, did accept their defeat in Parliament, although the defeat was by only one vote. They did declare elections in spite of heavy pressures against their doing so, and despite the pressure to declare a state of emergency and to suspend the Constitution, supported, indeed, by a national day's strike of the trade unions, 432 which demanded that there should be no elections. Mrs. Bandaranaike herself went to the demonstration and told them that theirs was a democratic country and it intended to remain a democratic country and that there would be elections—a courageous act, in my view, and a clear indication of the determination of Mrs. Bandaranaike and many others who are sometimes accused of Communist dictatorial tendencies. They are trying in very difficult conditions to keep democracy in their country.
Therefore, I believe that it is not only urgent to help this country, but that there is urgent need to help in facing the crisis at the present time because of the loss of the tremendous aid it was receiving from the United States and elsewhere, a loss which, I hope, will be only temporary, because, after all, the oil compensation question should not be difficult to bring to a satisfactory conclusion. There is only a very small margin separating the parties at the present time, and I believe that when it is settled American aid will begin to flow back and that things will be much easier. Therefore, I myself would hope that in a case of this kind our country, with its special responsibility to Ceylon, should be prepared to consider offering a special grant of aid in this critical position, if it is only interim aid to help the country over the present crisis.
I believe it would bring great dividends to this country and new confidence in the Commonwealth and in this country. Ceylon is struggling very hard and making great efforts. Some of us who have seen the development schemes for the production of rice to make the country independent in rice, and the great schemes for hydro-electric power, for minor industries, the clearance of the jungle, and the development of sugar and the rest, know that a tremendous amount of work is being done, and it would be to our advantage and their advantage, of advantage to the Commonwealth, and finally an advantage to democracy, if we could see our way to do something in this immediate crisis.
I turn for a very few minutes to one other point which is not so often brought to the notice of the House in these matters of foreign aid and development. I refer to Latin America. I do not propose to make a speech about it for 433 obviously that would open up a danger of exploiting our time, but I do feel that very often on these occasions we tend to regard the world as consisting of the United States, the Communist bloc, Europe, Africa, and Asia, and forget that there is such a place as Latin America. I hope that this will cease to be the case. I am rather disturbed—
§ Mr. Hynd
With all respect, Mr. Deputy-Speaker, I understood from today's Order Paper that we were discussing the Overseas Development and Service Bill to increase the sum of money for overseas aid, but if that is out of order I will not pursue it.
§ Mr. Henry Clark (Antrim, North)
On a point of order. Perhaps I could be of assistance to the hon. Gentleman. There are two British Colonies still in Latin America. Perhaps he could restrict his remarks to those two?
§ Mr. Edmund Dell (Birkenhead)
On a point of order. Clause 2 says:The Minister of Overseas Development may enter into agreements relating to the employment in public or social services in overseas territories …I do not think there is anything in the Bill which limits them, or limits them to overseas territories within the Commonwealth.
The hon. Member is wrong and he has misunderstood the Bill. The overseas territories referred to as eligible for financial aid are specifically territories inside the Commonwealth. We are not discussing all the overseas territories in the world.
§ The Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Overseas Development (Mr. Albert E. Oram)
With great respect, Mr. Deputy-Speaker, Clause 2, I would submit, is very different in geographical scope from Clause 1. Clause 1 is concerned with the Colonial Development and Walfare Act. Clause 2 applies beyond the territories to which Clause 1 applies, and in relation to these there are particular powers which the Government are seeking. I would submit that its geographical extent is very much wider indeed.
I am grateful to the Parliamentary Secretary. I hope the hon. Member is seized of the point that he could sneak of overseas territories in the widest sense in so far as the matters contained in Clause 2 are concerned, but only in so far as those matters are concerned.
§ Mr. Hynd
Does that mean or does it not mean that one can discuss Latin America? May I point out that according to the Orders of the Day we are discussing the Overseas Development and Service Bill which makes provisionTo amend the Colonial Development and Welfare Act, 1959, and to authorise the Minister of Overseas Development to meet expenses incurred in connection with the employment of persons in overseas territories …I was, and I am sure many other hon. Members were, under the firm impression—I think the Minister was, too—that it was in order to discuss anything which comes within the purview of her Department.
Under Clause 2, I hope that I may be permitted very briefly to refer to this particular problem, because we can become far too confined in routine acceptances of our responsibilities in other parts of the world so as to exclude an important part of the globe which has such tremendous political and economic potentialities, and also dangers.
It is becoming clearer and clearer that countries like Russia, China, Yugoslavia, France and Germany are taking a growing interest in this part of the world. Both President de Gaulle and President Liibke of Germany have recently toured this area, but we seem to be showing very little interest in it. I regret this, because the Latin American people and countries are different from 435 the other countries with which we are concerned in matters of development and aid. They, too, have problems of population explosion, the need for capital to develop roads, hydro-electric plant, communications, and problems connected with the price of primary products, and so on but the difference between them and the other countries is that they have a European background, European sentiments, and European inspiration.
Those hon. Members who have had some contact with these Latin American countries know that they are tremendously interested in developing a closer association with Great Britain in particular, yet it seems that we are the one country which is not playing its full part, at least directly, in regard to the Latin American situation, and I should like the Minister to consider one or two small suggestions to meet this point.
I know that one of the problems is that we have such large commitments to the Commonwealth and other areas that it is difficult to transfer resources from them to another sphere of activity, but there are a number of things which we could do, and which I wonder whether we are doing. One thing that is necessary is assistance in the development of education and local administration. There are dozens, if not hundreds, of ex-colonial civil servants who are no longer required in our colonial territories. I am thinking particularly of regional and district commissioners who have tremendous experience of such matters, who like that kind of work, and who are qualified to make a contribution. Has any consideration been given to trying to induce some of these men, even if they have reached or are near retiring age, to consider forming a team or group to assist in this kind of work in places like Latin America?
The armies in Latin American countries play a considerable part in the politics of those countries. At one time the army was responsible for overthrowing democratic Government and establishing dictatorships. In recent years, however, there has been a remarkable change, and the army is now passing the time overthrowing dictatorships and protecting democratic Governments. I wonder what kind of military attachés we have in the Latin American countries. 436 Do they understand the significance of what is going on? Are they specially trained and informed about this kind of thing?
§ Sir Douglas Glover (Ormskirk)
On a point of order. I find the hon. Gentleman's speech very interesting, but surely it is wildly out of order? Are these attaches paid out of the aid funds covered by the Bill?
I thought that the hon. Member had heard the discussion which we had on a point of order a little earlier. The position as I see the Bill, and as I have now been advised by the Minister, is that whereas Clause 1 refers to Commonwealth development, the term "overseas" in Clause 2 means overseas territories anywhere, and it is therefore in order, under the various sub-headings, to discuss the matter which the hon. Member for Sheffield, Attercliffe (Mr. John Hynd) is discussing.
§ Sir D. Glover
Further to that point of order. I do not wish to be awkward, but we are discussing aid. The Bill refers to aid overseas, and I can believe that it is in order to discuss aid to countries in South America, but surely military attachés who are not paid out of aid funds do not come within the ambit of the Bill?
It is a matter of argument, not of order. If the hon. Member reads the Clause, he will understand.
§ Mr. Hynd
I shall not try to argue that one.
These Latin American countries have a great deal of respect for this country and for its experience, and this could be made available to them through our embassies and contacts there. I believe that the selection and training of military attachés to assist in this type of situation would be immensely beneficial.
The same could be said of labour attachés who could well be paid directly out of welfare funds. How many labour attachés are there in the Latin American countries? After the last war the Labour Government, through Mr. Bevan, made a special point of appointing labour attachés. The trade unions in Latin America are a most important 437 factor on the political scene. They are anxious to learn. Are we encouraging the appointment of labour attachés in our embassies abroad, and if not, why not?
My final point in this connection concerns the use of English literature. Hundreds of thousands of Communist propaganda leaflets are being distributed throughout the cities of Latin America. They are being sold at ridiculously low prices, or even given away. They are printed in Spanish and Portuguese. I know of no literature that is printed in English which deals with matters of interest to the trade unions, to the military, to governmental and local governmental services, and I believe that if we spent a small proportion of the funds at our disposal under the new Ministry on looking at the question of providing information in English for widespread distribution, or even cheap subsidised sale, we would reap big dividends.
Much as I would like to expand on this theme, I do not propose to do so. I ask the Minister to pay some attention to the suggestions that I have made for dealing with the problems in this part of the world. I ask her to examine them and see what can be done to demonstrate to these millions of Latin American people, who wonder why Britain is not playing at least an equal part in the attempts that are made to assist them, that we are mindful of their urgent needs, as well as of the economic importance of this vast area.
§ 5.38 p.m.
§ Mr. Charles Longbottom (York)
I hope, in the shortest possible moment, to come back to the Bill after the meanderings of the hon. Member for Sheffield, Attercliffe (Mr. John Hynd), who took us on a great tour d'horizon of most of the countries of the world, which to my mind are outside the scope of the Bill. I should like, however, to take him up on some of the things that he said about Ceylon. I found it rather strange to hear someone suggesting that Ceylon was pushed or thrown into independence.
§ Mr. John Hynd
I referred to countries like Ceylon which had achieved, or been pushed into, or had taken independence. I was talking about the methods by which countries became independent.
§ Mr. Longbottom
The record will show what the hon. Gentleman said. He said, "pushed or thrown into independence", but that is hardly my recollection of what happened over the independence campaign in Ceylon.
I have a great deal of sympathy with the present economic situation in Ceylon, but I think that the lesson which the House and the Government of Ceylon should draw from it, and which I did not think that the hon. Member put very clearly, is that they should not be too surprised if aid, private capital, and technical assistance personnel leave in conditions of expropriation and nationalisation, and that if they wish technical assistance, aid and capital investment to return, the sooner they create the circumstances in which these can thrive, the sooner they will be able to benefit from them.
The Bill shows a growing realisation that in this world financial aid can be put to its best effect only if goes hand in hand with a great deal of technical assistance to service that end. We have learned that the mere giving of aid solves no great problem, and that our aim must be to help these developing countries help themselves. That is why I and the majority of hon. Members welcomed the setting up of the Ministry of Overseas Development—because that Ministry, for the first time, provides an opportunity for the whole breadth of our aid, technical assistance and trade policy to be looked at by one Minister, campaigning on its behalf in the Cabinet.
The Bill must be welcomed as a step forward in technical assistance. The Overseas Service Aid Scheme has shown its great value, and the wider needs for it are becoming even more apparent. It is right that it should cover local authorities, because in many territories—especially in Africa, to my knowledge—there is great need for trained local authority personnel in many of the larger urban areas outside the capitals.
Secondly, the Bill is welcome in that it covers people who will help to staff the new universities in the developing countries. This is very important. In past generations we have brought nearly 60,000 people to study in this country every year. We have now reached stage two, in which 439 we can set up universities in those territories. In many fields, especially development economics, these territories are crying out for people to go out to them to teach, and it is good to know that this scheme will help in that direction.
I am also glad that the question of direct payment to officers has been cleared up. I know that the right hon. Lady and the Government received representations about this from certain East African Governments. In that respect the Bill is a great improvement. I hope that the right hon. Lady will not take it as any qualification of my welcome for the Bill, but merely as a request to her to go further, if I say that I do not believe that either within this scheme or within the whole realm of technical personnel assistance outside it we are yet finding the right solution or doing enough.
Yesterday I asked a Question of the right hon. Lady, and was told that she is engaged on a thoroughgoing review of recruitment for technical assistance overseas, and that it includes all practical suggestions for more adequately satisfying and increasing demands made upon us. If I throw a suggestion across the Floor of the House I hope that she will not be unreceptive to it. First, should not we assume more responsibility towards Britons who are serving under the O.S.A.S.? It seems to me that once we have got them in their slots and they have been appointed we forget about them. They go out to do their two or three years, and that is the end of it. We do not try to pick them up on their return and ask them, "Would you like to go out on another scheme? Here is a project, in such and such a country, which would derive great benefit from your experience", and try to persuade them to take up that other engagement. Failure to make contact in this way must, in essence, deprive us of the further services of many people whose experience would be very valuable to other countries.
Further, great benefit would be derived by overseas territories if the people we sent there could be persuaded to stay in their posts for longer than the normal initial period of appointment of two or three years. In many cases that period is not long enough to enable people to give of their best and to be 440 of their maximum use. One way in which we might be able to persuade these people to stay on is to provide financial inducements. That could be done by a steeply graduated system of payments.
But the long-term solution is to have a permanent career service for technical assistance personnel serving overseas. Looking back, I think that it was a great mistake, some years ago, when we still had within the Colonial Service many people serving overseas who could have been persuaded to switch over to this new career service, that we did not make the effort. Because of that we have lost their valuable service and experience. The way in which the French Colonial Service was turned into the French Technical Service has been of great benefit to France and its former overseas territories. Anyway, we lost our opportunity. But it is not too late to remedy the situation.
It is useful to obtain able people merely for two or three years, but in many areas of activity it would be a tremendous advantage if people went into an overseas career service and specialised in depth and not merely on the surface in some of the greater problems that these overseas territories face. I take the example of agricultural officers. A first-class agricultural officer recruited in this country may have a good knowledge of British agricultural conditions. But he may go to a tropical territory whose climatic conditions are completely different from those to which he has been used. It takes him one year or even 18 months to adapt his own knowledge to the conditions. How much more valuable such a person would be if he stayed on after his initial period of service, and even spent most of his life specialising in agriculture in the conditions of that country.
As for medical officers, although it is true that the hospitals of tropical diseases have courses for people who can later serve as medical officers in Asia and Africa and—to return to the speech of the hon. Member for Attercliffe—Latin America, there are some diseases in respect of which we, as well as the World Health Organisation, have a responsibility for specialisation. I think particularly in bilharzia, which affects people in many former British territories in Africa. It is a debilitating kidney disease which takes about 10 years off 441 a normal man's span of life and has a terrible effect upon his physical energy and resources.
The World Health Organisation has studied the disease, and the Egyptian medical authorities have made considerable test progress in the Nile Delta, but it would be a great step forward if, within an overseas career service, we had top medical officers who specialised, alongside the W.H.O., in the containment and treatment—although there is not much treatment at the moment—of this scourge.
I now turn to economists. Here I am not talking about the 30 economists that the right hon. Lady is recruiting for use both in her Department and overseas but about economists who could serve in many overseas territories which are beginning to set up their own planning departments, in most cases without sufficiently qualified local people to take on the necessary responsibilities. With all due respect to economists, most of them have been trained and brought up to look at the economic problems of a highly industrialised and developed society. They take this knowledge, if they are seconded for a short time overseas, to a newly developing country and try to bring the same sophisticated and highly cultivated system of economic planning to a country which has known no basis of economic planning before. It should be starting from square one instead of with the sophistication of an advanced society. It is true that, particularly in the United States, there are very good courses in development economics, but, so far as I am aware, there are not really any in the universities of this country.
§ Mr. James Johnson (Kingston-upon-Hull, West)
Has the hon. Member forgotten Mr. Robert Gardner's E.D.I.P. Institute at Dakar? There E.C.A. has an institute in Africa for the very purpose which the hon. Member is talking about. It has about 40 students.
§ Mr. Longbottom
I knew of the E.C.A. place at Dakar. This is true. The point which I am making is that in this country we do not have these courses within our own universities. I think one will find some courses now in which Africans are studying development economics—there is one at York University—but there are none of our own economists who have great knowledge because none of our own 442 universities had these courses in development economics when they were going through university.
§ Mr. Henry Clark
Would my hon. Friend not agree that there are cases of British economists being allowed to cut their teeth in under-developed countries and then come back with the experience which they have gained to make a meal of this country?
§ Mr. Longbottom
I am sure that that may happen again, and that is why I would like to see them recruited into this overseas career service, where their experience could be useful in a single aspect of the problems of a developing economy.
Finally, I hope that the Minister, in looking at this whole question of an overseas career service, will look at the possibility of taking into the service what I would call expert project advisers. If we are to influence public opinion to maintain and increase the momentum of aid, both Government aid and the private industrial aid, to the developing countries, we have to see that we get value for money. The right hon. Lady knows examples, I am sure, which are highly publicised, where we have not had value for money. This problem could be dealt with by bringing in good advisers on these projects, either from the point of view of advising the receiving country on the way to construct a particular project, or advising the donor country upon the way in which that money should be handled. I hope very much that, in looking at these suggestions, the Minister will ensure that her Department has its own expert project advisers.
The right hon. Lady's Department is a most exciting venture in this whole field of aid. At last one can see the machinery, if it can be properly constructed, for co-ordinating aid, both Government and private investment. Government aid can produce an infrastructure so that private capital aid and investment in conjunction with the receiving country and the institutions there can act and rely on something positive in extending the living standards and economic growth in these territories. I hope that the right hon. Lady will accept the request of my right hon. Friend the Member for Enfield, West (Mr. lain Macleod) for us to have a White Paper as soon as she can possibly construct one upon the whole range of her Department, because 443 there are many friends of her Department who would be very interested in it. In the meantime, I wish her and her Ministry well.
§ 5.55 p.m.
§ Mr. Francis Noel-Baker (Swindon)
Although we have both been in the House for some years, this is the first occasion when I have had the pleasure of following my hon. Friend the Member for York (Mr Longbottom). I call him my hon. Friend because, in the days when such things were tolerated by my hon. Friend the Member for Wigan (Mr. Fitch) and the other Whips, we used to pair a great deal. I have come to know him very well and also to appreciate his intimate personal interest in this subject. I followed his remarks with great attention. I will mention very briefly two subjects which he raised. I think it is possible to have more than one opinion on this question of the career service, and, of course, there are aspects—agriculture is perhaps the extreme example—where conditions in overseas territories are so different that a great deal of specialised knowledge is indispensable. The same applies to some extent, to tropical medicine.
One difficulty about restricting one's overseas technical people to a career service is that in modern conditions it will be very difficult in some fields to get people who are at the top of their profession. This is why one has to have a double approach: a career service in some fields, and in other fields the deliberate expansion of institutions in this country, whether they be academic institutions or professional bodies of other kinds, so that one is training more people than will actually be required in the United Kingdom so they can be sent overseas. For example, if someone from a university goes to an Asian or African country—or a doctor or a scientific adviser from one of the well-known institutions in this country—he may be more useful and better respected than a member of a career service, where prospects are perhaps a little different.
I should like to say a word about the speech of the right hon. Member for Enfield, West (Mr. lain Macleod). He set a very pleasant tone for this debate, which I do not want to disturb unduly, 444 but when he talked about two categories of Ministers on this side of the House and of what the Opposition thought about it, I thought it would not be unfair to draw his attention to a recent speech by one of his colleagues, speaking from the Stone Age of Tory Party thinking, namely, the right hon. Member for Wolverhampton, South-West (Mr. Enoch Powell), who said in Manchester on 10th December:The current group of policies known collectively as aid to 'underdeveloped' or 'developing' countries is in fact both futile and harmful to those countries.The keynote of the right hon. Gentleman's philosophy in that speech appeared to be contained in the sentence:There is not a happy ending to every story nor a solution at all, let alone a satisfactory one, to every problem.This is a pretty gloomy outlook on which to base one's political approach. In this context, he went on to say:Policies and actions are not humane simply because the motives of their authors are, or profess to be, humane,and compared the virtues of unplanned investment for private profit by capitalist enterprise with planned investment by Governments, extolling the virtues of the former and decrying the defects of the latter. He said:Private investment is the true form of 'charity' between nations, which like Shakespeare's mercy, blesseth him that gives and him that takes' … what the aid programmes set out to do is to bring about the investment in the developing countries of resources which would produce greater value if invested elsewhere, or if invested in the same countries but in different directions. … the only true beneficent gift we have to offer is the example of that which has made the West productive—capitalism and enterprise … in short, the secret of aid to the developing countries is not capital itself: it is capitalism.There seems to me to be some disparity between the views of the right hon. Member for Wolverhampton, South-West and those of the right hon. Member for Enfield, West. When the right hon. Member for Enfield, West asks us to explain the different views expressed on our Front Bench, we might ask him to start with a little explanation of the differences on his own Front Bench. I hope that he will forgive me, but I could not resist that temptation. It was an extraordinary speech by his right hon. Friend.
445 The right hon. Member for Enfield, West spoke of the new facility under the Bill to permit the British Government to pay officers directly, and he asked whether this might not accelerate the departure of expatriates. I hope that my right hon. Friend will comment on this point. There are, of course, circumstances in which it might he less embarrassing to the Governments concerned for some of this money to be paid direct. When it is paid through the budgets of the recipient countries it tends to highlight the amount and the disparity between the salary being drawn by the expatriate and that being given to the local officer at the same level. It may mislead some local people into thinking that the local Government rather than Britain are meeting the Bill for this service. If it is handled tactfully and with common sense, as it will be under my right hon. Friend's guidance, this new arrangement will be very useful indeed.
May I make one general point which is relevant to the purposes behind the Bill and which has exercised my mind for some time? In many recipient countries, as in many donor countries, there seems to be an assumption that if we are able to raise the economic living standards in a country or to increase the per capita income of the inhabitants of an underdeveloped part of the world, we shall automatically improve the lives of the people, increase their level of civilisation and make them happier and more satisfactory people. Unfortunately, this is not always the case. Sometimes the result is the exact opposite. After all, in over-developed countries—and we live in one—many difficult human problems have been created, for example by congestion in large conurbations, by the circumstances of industrial life and by many other influences in the sort of society in which we live.
One might summarise the conditions in which some of the unfortunate inhabitants of Western civilisation live their lives as follows: their bodies are poisoned by diesel fumes and their minds are poisoned by the popular Press. It is difficult to say that all people living in such conditions are happier and better off and live at a higher level of civilisation than do people in more primitive communities where the old traditional cultures and patterns of society still persist.
446 When we say this to some African political leaders, and others, they tend to react rather violently and to suggest that we are merely trying to hold them back. But we who live in over-developed societies know their defects very well. I hope that at some stage in the thinking about economic aid to the developing countries, some thought will be given to and some research undertaken into what we must call the cultural and social impact of economic development on underdeveloped countries. I may not have expressed myself very well, but this is fundamentally the point which I want to make: when big economic development programmes in backward areas destroy small villages and break down tribal patterns, or whatever traditional pattern of society exists, the result can be very unhappy indeed for the people concerned.
I pass quickly from that general point to some specific questions to my right hon. Friend. The first three concern the overseas aid service. First, I believe that there is an urgent need for some of the expatriates working under the scheme to stay longer in the territories in which they are serving. A two or three-year contract is sometimes very inadequate and very unsatisfactory. Will my hon. Friend tell me, perhaps also in replying to the hon. Member for York, what he is able to do to make it possible for these people to serve longer?
Secondly, should not the Government assume a little more responsibility towards British expatriates serving overseas when their contract periods are ended and when they come home? Should not they assume some responsibility for starting them in new careers and watching what happens to them? I understand that no records are kept of people serving overseas in the Overseas Service or of what happens to them when they come home.
Perhaps another look might also be taken at the Department's policy on pensions and compensation for former Colonial Service officers, and perhaps the arrangement ought to be reviewed whereby the ex-colonial Governments are responsible for half the compensation and a large part of the pension. As the House knows, in some cases we have even had to make loans to the newly independent territories to enable them to pay their share of the obligation with which 447 we saddled them—if I may use that phrase—at the time of independence. Perhaps a more practical way of dealing with the matter is to make a larger contribution ourselves.
I hope that my hon. Friend will be able to expand on the plans for what used to be known as the High Commission Territories. The Minister mentioned this point. Hon. Members present in all parts of the House at the moment share a common desire that we should do our best for these three territories, in the past badly neglected, which used to be the responsibility of the High Commission.
I am almost at the end of my brief remarks but I want to mention a point of very great importance; it concerns probably the most effective way in which technical assistance can be given. My right hon. Friend made some reference to university teachers. If there is one thing in connection with work in under-developed countries which we can fairly claim to do better than anybody else in the world it is to teach English. Even the United States cannot claim that they do it better than we do. The teaching of English to a level at which it can be used by technical people and graduates is the key to a great deal of development, and it is the key to cordial relations with technicians and professional people in developing countries. This is something which can be done relatively simply and cheaply, where we can find the personnel to send overseas, because we can train people in the use of tapes and the other techniques of the language laboratory relatively easily. Many of the people who volunteer and are prepared to serve overseas would make good and effective English teachers for a short period.
So far our performance in this field does not compare very well with that of some other countries. I have particularly in mind the French, who have managed to maintain educational facilities in many parts of the world which compare favourably with our own. One example is Egypt, where one result of the Suez campaign was to finish the English schools but where President De Gaulle has managed so to restore relations with Egypt that the French school system there was reconstituted. I should like to hear 448 my hon. Friend say what priority he intends to give to the teaching of English.
With those few words I welcome the Bill and pledge the support of all on these benches, and I feel of all hon. and right hon. Gentlemen who are in the House at present, in seeing that the Bill is effectively implemented. I congratulate the Minister and the Parliamentary Secretary on having introduced the Bill.
§ 6.10 p.m.
§ Sir George Sinclair (Dorking)
I begin by joining earlier speakers in welcoming the Bill and the Minister's very resourceful presentation of it. I shall speak mainly of that part of the Measure which deals with the Overseas Services Aid Scheme. For that scheme and for the officers affected the Bill is particularly timely.
I say this for four main reasons. First, it increases support for a form of technical assistance which is still most required by developing countries—the help of experienced and skilled manpower. That is why the O.S.A.S. has, over the last three years, accounted for more than half of Britain's expenditure on technical assistance. I believe that this side of technical assistance is one of the most useful forms of aid we give and that it offers the best value for money in terms of economic development of the territories which receive it.
Second, for independent developing countries, the scheme helps their governments to retain experienced British staff and to recruit new British staff for tasks for which they themselves have decided that they still require overseas help. It enables them to do this without incurring heavy additional financial burdens.
Third, for the smaller countries which have not yet reached independence—and many of these have comparatively weak economies—the Bill helps their Governments to afford the staffs which they require for economic development and for the training of their own staffs, as they are on the way to independence.
Fourth, it should help to reassure those officers from this country who are anxious to go on serving as long as their help is acceptable—to reassure them that Her Majesty's Government rate their efforts as of high value and are willing to pay an increasing part of the cost.
449 My right hon. Friend the Member for Enfield, West (Mr. Iain Macleod) referred to the tradition of our people going to serve overseas. The Bill confirms this long and honourable tradition. It confirms that it is still relevant today to the needs of developing countries. I hope that the Minister will, with these additional funds for the O.S.A.S., do her best to encourage officers to continue to serve, if not in their own territories then in others which may require their services.
The Minister laid emphasis on help with development planning and I agree that that is important. But I would add one point because it has not yet been sufficiently covered. I hope that she will lay great emphasis also on technical assistance in agriculture, both in research and extension work. This is the sector in which increased productivity is of vital importance to all developing countries.
In service overseas, there is great value in continuity of effort by those who are prepared to accept rapid political change. Many hon. Members have laid emphasis on the value of this continuity. What is important is the continuity of service of people who have already adjusted themselves to very rapidly changing circumstances and to working with people of many different outlooks and achievements. In seeking to encourage continuity, I am sure that the Minister will consider the position of the families of officers serving overseas. Any help she can give in their transfers and leaves, and in financial assistance towards schooling in this country, will be important factors which the officers serving overseas will weigh when they decide to go on or to come back.
Another important factor will be the attitude of the right hon. Lady's Ministry towards those returning to this country after service overseas. Continuity of concern for them during their service and help when they return towards redeploying their talents in Britain will give confidence and will make service overseas more attractive.
I should like here to pay tribute to the work of the Overseas Services Resettlement Bureau, which now works under the Ministry of Overseas Development and which is doing magnificent work in helping 450 returning officers to find new and satisfying spheres of useful employment both here and overseas.
The Minister will, if the Bill is passed, be able to extend financial support to a wide range of services. When she is considering how best to encourage our people to continue to serve overseas, I hope that she will be successful in persuading Government Departments, local authorities and especially education authorities, statutory corporations, nationalised industries and, of course, the universities, to second staff and encourage promising members of their staffs to apply for such postings. In saying this, I am well aware of the great difficulties of releasing staff which shows real promise.
In closing her speech, the Minister said that she had the full sphere of aid under review. There are in my view two overriding problems which she must help to solve. First, she must help developing countries to earn their own living by trade. That means good markets for their primary products and, increasingly, expanding markets for their manufactures.
Second, she should aim to get an increased flow of private investment into developing countries and she should also aim to resist taxation measures in this country which would tend to reduce such a flow.
Unless developing countries can be helped in these two ways the objectives of this Bill will, I believe, be largely frustrated.
§ 6.18 p.m.
§ Mr. Donald Chapman (Birmingham, Northfield)
I am delighted to follow the hon. Gentleman the Member for Dorking (Sir G. Sinclair) and to welcome him to the small but very dedicated band of hon. Members on both sides of the House who follow this subject. I was glad that by implication, if not more directly, he demolished what his right hon. Friend the Member for Enfield, West (Mr. Jain Macleod) said so sceptically about the formation of the Ministry of Overseas Development. His right hon. Friend talked about "a bird in a gilded cage" and wondered whether my right hon. Friend would prove to be one.
I thought that this argument about the establishment of the new Ministry had been finished and done with long ago. 451 The hon. Member for Surbiton (Mr. Fisher) is shaking his head in disagreement. He should know that the Ministry was wanted by hon. Members on both sides of the House a long time ago.
The trouble was that one of his right hon. Friends, a very powerful member of the last Government, the former Commonwealth Relations Secretary, the right hon. Member for Streatham (Mr. Sandys), dug his toes in, as well as his heels, and would not have it. That was the only real reason why the Ministry was not created earlier. For the right hon. Member for Enfield, West to go back on all that history now is astonishing. Perhaps his remarks can be ascribed to the fact that he was in the political wilderness, out of the Government, for a year.
To consider the contrast between things as they were and as they now exist under the new Ministry one must reflect back on the debate which took place a year ago. A year ago we debated the granting of 100 million dollars to the International Development Association. It was an absolutely deplorable debate. The Government spokesman who opened the debate was the Government's chief hatchet-man—I say that advisedly—the then Chief Secretary to the Treasury. The winding-up speech was made by the then Economic Secretary. With great respect to them, they knew little about the whole subject of international aid. They went out from the debate forlorn, defeated and bedraggled. The contrast between that debate and today's debate is a most striking example of the importance of having the new Ministry.
The hon. Member for York (Mr. Long-bottom) said that one of the reasons for the Ministry was that we would have a Minister in the Cabinet fighting for development finance. Another very important reason is that we want a Minister of Overseas Development with the job of reappraising our aid in every field, not only in the Commonwealth, but in areas formerly under the Foreign Office, and so on. This is the major job which must be done under the new Ministry. Only the establishment of a new Ministry could ensure that it would be done.
I want to raise four issues. I come straight away to the last point I was making. I hope that as soon as possible 452 in the forthcoming White Paper which my right hon. Friend promised the House we shall get a clear, concise and detailed examination of the criteria under which we are offering aid to varying parts of the Commonwealth and of the world. The 1963 White Paper, Aid to Developing Countries, Cmnd. 2147, gives a summary of what we are doing throughout the world but it does not say why we are doing it. It does not say why one country has £x but another country has only £y, nor does it say why certain priorities have been chosen in certain areas. The whole picture is confused, because no standards are set out in the White Paper, nor, indeed, have they ever been set out anywhere in Government publications.
I have three suspicions on the question of criteria. First, I am sure that we are still in a haphazard way of allocating aid throughout the world. This is because for many years we have been offering aid through differing Ministries for differing reasons. There was no Ministry to co-ordinate. At Question Time yesterday my right hon. Friend the Minister said this:Owing to the division of responsibilities for overseas aid among so many different Departments under the previous Administration, it is very difficult to make out exactly what criteria were being followed."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 23rd February, 1965, Vol. 707, c. 222.]I am sure that it was haphazard.
Many factors must, of course, be taken into account in allocating aid. Much depends on what the recipient country is getting from other countries; another factor is the country's standard of living and its income per head of population; again, much depends upon the country's relative poverty compared with neighbouring areas. Security reasons come into it. All these factors are important. A study of the figures of allocations today does not give me confidence that we are doing this in a rational manner according to pre-set criteria so that what we are doing in one area bears comparison with what we are doing in another.
I will now give some figures which, I think, are not generally known. They have been given recently by the Overseas Development Institute, which has calculated the amount of money per head given to different parts of the world, particularly to different parts of the Commonwealth, in all kinds of grants and 453 loans during the 17 years from 1945 to 1962. These figures are astonishing. We have given 6s. per head of the population to India. On the other hand, the amount given per head of the population to Malta is £182. The figure we have given to Sierra Leone is £7 4s. per head of the population. On the other hand, the figure we have given to Cyprus is £82 per head of the population. The figure we have given to British Guiana is £61 per head of the population.
There is a whole range, from practically nothing—pennies—up to hundreds of pounds. I know of no criterion which explains why one country had £x and another country did not have as much. This is why we want to know what is behind the judgments which have been made. It is very important that this should be very clearly set out in the White Paper.
I said that I had three suspicions about the criteria. A second suspicion one is bound to have is that the troubled, noisy and unsettled areas get a fairer crack of the whip than they ought to get. This is most unfortunate for the peaceful parts of the Commonwealth—the neglected, often poverty-stricken areas which never raise their heads and shout and which are left in poverty as a result.
I want to take some examples. Cyprus has a population of 600,000. I would not say that Cyprus was particularly poor, but she has had £82 per head of population in loans and grants over the last 17 years. Sierra Leone, which is poorer, has had £7 per head of the population. Trinidad, which has gone on quietly—I will come to its standard of living later—and which has 800,000 population, has had less than £10 per head. The noisy countries, the unsettled countries, those which have created trouble for British administration, have, in my view, had a little too much. The criteria should be set out so that this does not happen any more.
My third suspicion is that national income per head as such plays too great a part in the criteria. This is a very deceptive criterion to use to the extent to which it is often used. What matters in many cases is not the standard of living but the standard of expectation in the area. Trinidad and Tobago has had less than £10 a head from us in the last 17 years. It has a higher standard of 454 living than Jamaica and the West Indian islands generally. It has a much higher standard of living than Africa.
However, Trinidad is a relatively poor island in a very rich continent, and it is highly affected by the standards of expectation of the neighbouring United States, Mexico and Canada, with which there are considerable links. Fifteen per cent., 20 per cent., or even 25 per cent. of its population is practically totally unemployed.
The danger in an area like this is not poverty. It is the sheer collapse of democracy under the pressure of the sophisticated unemployed. Ministers often say, "We cannot help Trinidad very much, in view of its standard of living". I urge these Ministers to pay attention to the danger inherent in the society at its present stage of development. This point was brought out strongly by Dr. Eric Williams, the Prime Minister of Trinidad, in an address he gave two years ago to the Economic Society of the University of the West Indies, in which he said this:When you get unemployment around Kingston"—he was taking Jamaica as well as Trinidad—or around Port-of-Spain you are not dealing with people who could be put back on the land tomorrow morning. You are dealing with unemployment that the Americans would understand or that the British would understand or that the Europeans would understand. And then you have 14, 15, 20, 25 per cent. unemployment principally at that level. That is an explosive situation which would blow the lid off the American Government and the European countries if it was allowed to develop there".Therefore, we must be told the criteria, so that we can criticise, if need be, and particularly if standard of living and average income per head of population are being unduly stressed in fixing allocations of aid.
I come to my second point. When this White Paper is published, and in any case when this Measure is administered, I hope the personnel whom we are going to provide under it will try particularly to secure for some parts of our Commonwealth increased aid through some of the international agencies. This is a terrific problem and I wish to stress it as strongly as I can. In an area like the West Indies we are providing, for development projects of various kinds, 455 C.D. and W. funds which we could just as easily get from other international agencies, and which those agencies would be glad to give, while reserving some of our money for other projects.
Let me give one specific example. Another 750 million dollars have been provided for the International Development Authority, making a total of 1,500 million dollars—an astronomical sum. Thirty per cent. of I.D.A's expenditure on grants and loans in recent years has been on road development in various parts of the world. I made this point a year ago and I make it again. There is no part of the world more in need of road development than some areas of the West Indies, and yet we are still financing all of it by colonial development and welfare funds. No application has been made to the International Development Authority for assistance.
I know of the argument that the individual islands of the West Indies are too small to fulfil the criteria of the I.D.A., which deals only with larger countries with bigger populations. I have made the point, and I make it again and will continue to make it, that it is the job of the British Government, through the Colonial Office and my right hon. Friend's Ministry, to draw together the road plans of the Leeward Islands and the Windward Islands so that we get a total population which satisfies the criteria of I.D.A. We should present the plans to I.D.A. so that we get a substantial grant for the work in these islands. In every other respect they fulfil the requirements of I.D.A.: they are very poor and they cannot service their loans, which is one reason for the setting up of I.D.A.
It is wrong to wait for these tiny areas of the Commonwealth to get together and present an application to I.D.A. It is far beyond their capabilities. In any case, such has been the history of our administration in that part of the world that their links with us are much greater than their links with each other. They do not naturally get together to organise these things and present them. I insist that this matter should be tackled. It has been raised enough times and I hope that the present Government will bring some new energy into this field.
456 I come, thirdly, to a point which has been raised by a number of us, and follows from my last point. I hope that as soon as possible some of the economists who are being recruited to this new Ministry will be working out in the field. This is most important. I do not know whether my right hon. Friend is aware of this, but the Director of the International Bank has on more than one occasion made the point that the world is not so much short of money for international development as short of projects. Mr. George Wood said, a year ago:There is a lack of sufficient well-designed projects necessary to make these programmes a concrete reality.The International Bank itself is now undertaking project studies in various parts of the world to bring forward projects which it can then finance.
I have made the plea so often in this House that I am almost frightened of doing so again, but the point is quite simple. The small islands in the West Indies need help to draw up their development plans. They cannot do it by themselves. Take, for example, Montserrat, with a population of 12,000. What can it do to draw up a development plan? It needs economists out there to help it draw up a plan to enable it to reach the take-off point in the process of economic development. I hope that we shall have a firm assurance that in areas like the Caribbean, economists will be working out there in conjunction with economists in the Ministry here, so that the projects come steadily forward based on properly drawn-up development plans.
My last point is this. No mention has been made today of the very difficult question of the rate of interest on loans that can be provided under the Bill. I say quite bluntly to the Minister, although I know that I am knocking at an open door, that we must quickly make a clear announcement about the rate of interest on the money that we are going to lend to the rest of the world. My right hon. Friend—I am sorry she is not here at the moment—is on record so strongly on this point that she cannot avoid it. A year ago she said, on 3rd February, that developing countries in 1963 were paying in interest more than 457 £1,000 million on the loans they received. She added that that wasone-third of the total aid and investment which they had received in the previous year. This means that we have to go on pouring out future aid just to enable the poor countries to pay for past aid."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 3rd February, 1964; Vol. 688, c. 836.]We all know that this is a fact, and it has got to stop quickly under a Labour Government.
To clinch this point I want to give figures which my right hon. Friend sent to me in a letter some weeks ago. I had pointed out to her in a Parliamentary Question that in 1962, which is a good example, 61 per cent. of the United States loans were at under 1 per cent. per annum while only a few were above 5 per cent. What are the figures for British aid in the last few years? They make disgraceful reading by comparison. We are hanging a millstone round many necks by the rates of interest which we charge on our loans.
In 1960, as opposed to the United States figures, we loaned 5 per cent. of the money at under 1 per cent. interest, whereas we provided 84 per cent. at over 5½ cent. interest. In 1961, it remained 5 per cent. at under 1 per cent. interest and 91 per cent. at over 5½ per cent. In 1962, we loaned 7 per cent. at under 1 per cent. interest and 73 per cent. at over 5½ per cent. interest. In 1963, the figures were 5 per cent. and 37 per cent. and, in 1964, 10 per cent. and 80 per cent. These are shocking and disgraceful figures. Between 5 per cent. and 10 per cent. of our loans were granted at under 1 per cent. interest, whereas 61 per cent. of United States loans were at under 1 per cent.
There is a pledge in the previous Government's White Paper that they will ease the terms of aid. I know the difficulty of my right hon. Friend in making an announcement about this, with the Bank Rate as high as it is. But let us be clear on both sides of the House—and I am sure that there will be no party difference on this matter any more—that the time has come when a clear announcement must be made, by the spring at the latest, that our rates of interest will be brought down much more to the kind of level which the other richer countries are offering to the rest of the world.
458 I hope that I have not spoken too strongly for my hon. Friend the Parliamentary Secretary. Some of us feel very strongly on these issues. I welcome the Bill and I will do everything that an hon. Member can do to give it a swift passage on to the Statute Book. The Ministry over which my right hon. Friend presides is an inspiring new creation and we are delighted that this Bill should be the first fruit of its work.
§ 6.41 p.m.
§ Sir John Fletcher-Cooke (Southampton, Test)
I am sorry that the Minister is not in her place, not only because I wanted to congratulate her on her new appointment and on introducing the Bill, but also because I wanted to remind her that some years ago—I nearly said many years, but perhaps that would be ungallant—we were contemporaries in a "gilded cage" rather different from that referred to by my right hon. Friend the Member for Enfield, West (Mr. lain Macleod), at Oxford.
We took the same course. We went to the same lectures. We took our finals in the same year, I think with the same results, and now we are on different sides of the House. Also, during the last 20 years or so I have been at the receiving end overseas of a number of her visits when she has asked me a whole series of penetrating but friendly questions. I hope now that I may have the opportunity of asking her a few equally penetrating and, I hope, equally friendly questions.
The first point which I should like to raise, which I do not think has been touched upon by any speaker so far, is the question of the effect of aid on our balance of payments. I should like to draw the attention of the House to a passage in the recent message from President Johnson to Congress on the question of foreign aid by the United States in which he said, referring to the Agency for International Development:A.I.D. has made great progress in reducing the effect of economic assistance on our balance of payments. The bulk of our assistance—well over 80 per cent.—now takes the form of United States goods and services, not dollars. Dollar payments abroad have sharply declined. In 1960, the dollar drain to other countries which resulted from the aid programme measured over one billion dollars. This year and next the drain is expected to be less than 500 million dollars …".459 I should like the Parliamentary Secretary, when he replies, to deal with two aspects of this. The first is whether, in view of our balance of payments difficulties, this factor is taken into account. Is it a specific element in Government policy, in this matter of aid, to ensure, to the greatest extent possible, that whatever aid we give is given in a form which has the least harmful effect on our balance of payments position?
Secondly, following from that, would it be possible to give the House an indication of the corresponding figure to the United States figure of something over 80 per cent.? That is to say, can we be told what proportion of our total aid is represented by goods and services and therefore is not putting any particular strain on the balance of payments position?
Turning to my second point, I should like to start by paying a tribute, and perhaps also expressing gratitude, to my right hon. Friend the Member for Enfield, West, because I was one of the beneficiaries of the 1963 Act to which the Minister referred when she also paid her tribute to my right hon. Friend. There is no doubt whatever that this was a landmark in the progressive development of countries in the Commonwealth from being dependent territories into becoming independent territories.
I should like to mention, in particular, the question of overseas pensioners. I am encouraged to do this because I see that in the Explanatory and Financial Memorandum to the Bill there is a specific reference in paragraph 4(a) to the "expenses" which are included or covered by the Bill, namely:… the additional pension … earned by virtue of the payment of such allowances …It is not absolutely clear to me whether it is intended that Her Majesty's Government should reimburse the country employing the officer with that particular element of his pension or whether this part will be covered by the words "direct payment", so that this part of his pension will be paid to him direct.
This query, however, is not specifically germane to the issue which I want to raise, because the very fact that there is any reference to pensions in this context once more underlines the fact that the Government of this country are 460 gradually coming round to the point of view that we have a specific obligation in terms of overseas pensioners' pensions. Hitherto, the Government have gone no further than accepting a vague obligation to guarantee them and underwrite them. Now I see a more specific reference; and I would ask the Minister to consider the possibility of reviewing the whole question of overseas pensions with a view to taking them over. The Government could then offset the cost thereof, as might be appropriate, against the aid which otherwise would be given.
It seems to me quite ludicrous that with one hand we should be giving out a considerable amount of aid and with the other hand receiving a certain amount of that back—a small proportion I hope—in terms of pensions. This is a matter of grave concern to overseas pensioners, of whom I am one, and I must therefore declare an interest. I get mine from six different sources, which, apart from anything else, is a complicated business, involving considerable correspondence.
I feel that the time has come when the Government should do this and I trust that the Minister will give some assurance that it is at least being considered. I know that there is a specific Adjournment debate on Monday, 8th March, when no doubt there will be other opportunities of carrying this point further if I am fortunate enough, Mr. Speaker, to catch your eye and I therefore will not labour it now.
I turn now to another point already touched upon by one or two hon. Members, namely, the question of criteria. In reply to a Question yesterday the Minister specificially mentioned two criteria as being the main ones and she said:So far as requests for aid constitute competing claims on our resources, the main criteria are the relative needs of the recipients and the prospects of the effective use of the aid."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 23rd February, 1965, Vol. 707, c. 222.]There may well be cases in which those two criteria are mutually contradictory. It may well be, and perhaps we have just heard examples of it given by the hon. Member for Birmingham, Northfield (Mr. Chapman), that those whose need is greatest are least able, as things are, to apply for or make use of any aid that might be given to them 461 without a considerable amount of further help.
It is interesting to note that among the criteria referred to in his message to Congress, President Johnson mentioned two in particular. He said that support would be attracted to projects whichemphasise self-help and the fastest possible termination of dependence on aidand to projects whichreflect continuing improvement in management".I am sure that the Minister appreciates the dilemma which is posed by the two criteria to which she referred yesterday, but the main point I make in this connection is to disagree entirely with the view put forward by the hon. Member for Sheffield, Attercliffe (Mr. John Hynd) who, if I understood him aright, suggested that we take no account whatever of the attitude of recipients of aid to British interests and British nationals.
I have said in the House before that I am not one who believes that aid should he used to require independent countries to do things differently from the ways in which they want to do them; nor should it be used as a means of inducing them to adopt forms of government which they do not want to adopt or to establish institutions which they do not want to establish. Those are entirely matters for them to decide because they are independent countries.
Nevertheless, I cannot escape the conclusion that, when one of these countries mistreats British nationals or impairs British interests, it cannot be right and proper that this Government should go on paying out aid on the same principles as though nothing whatever had happened. We read in the Press today, for example, of two more cases of expulsion of British nationals from Tanzania. I do not know whether there was any justification for those expulsions—perhaps there was; I just do not know—but I do suggest that it is the duty of the Government to acquaint themselves with the facts in cases of this kind—and these particular examples are by no means the first expulsions which have taken place from that part of the world—and, unless they are satisfied that there is justification, they should point out to the Governments concerned that, if this sort of thing continues 462 and if there is no variation in their policy, there will have to be a reconsideration of the aid granted to them.
There are plenty of other Governments which treat British interests and British nationals properly and which would be only too glad to have this aid. In my view, we are entitled to make this point, and I trust that the Minister will take it into account and will assure the House that it is a matter which is considered when applications for aid, in whatever form they may come, are received by her Ministry.
§ 6.53 p.m.
§ Mr. James Johnson (Kingston upon Hull, West)
It is not exactly a maiden speech which I hope to make, but I confess that, after some years away from the House, I feel rather like a new boy in rising to speak again in this Chamber. My only consolation is that I am sitting on the Government benches this time whereas I sat on the other side last time, but I hope to remain on this side for many years to come.
First, I take up the point made by the hon. Member for Southampton, Test (Sir J. Fletcher-Cooke) about pensions for overseas civil servants or past colonial servants. I entirely agree with what the hon. Gentleman said. When I consider these territories which he knows so well, Tanganyika, or Tanzania as it is now, and other countries in Africa, I see newer, younger, tougher, nationalist politicians getting power. I cannot see these men, in two years, five years, or ten years, accepting the estimates in Dar-es-Salaam or anywhere else, and seeing their young, independent, black nationalist States paying £650,000 a year or more in pensions to former colonial servants who were appointed by gentlemen like Lord Boyd and others from time to time in the British Government. I just cannot see this happening.
As I understand it, the total amount now being paid is about £10½ million. I understand that Somalia and Zanzibar—Malawi also is being difficult at this moment about non-designated civil servants—have defaulted and Her Majesty's Government are paying between £11 million and £2 million at the moment. We have given our pledge to take over the pensions compensation of those servants who worked in these territories, 463 and I hope that my hon. Friend the Parliamentary Secretary will keep the point closely in mind.
I enjoyed the exciting speech made by my right hon. Friend the Minister, and I am sorry that the right hon. Member for Enfield, West (Mr. lain Macleod) has doubts about her new Department. I have recently had the pleasure and honour of leading a delegation to Sierra Leone and the Gambia, when I cut into Ghana and also Nigeria on the same journey. I found in those countries the utmost excitement, joy and jubilation because we had this Department and because the head of it was my right hon. Friend the Member for Blackburn (Mrs. Castle). They are quite happy about this, and I really do not see why right hon. and hon. Gentlemen on the benches opposite should be smiling at what I say.
§ Mr. Iain Macleod
Of course, people are delighted, but what matters is whether there is or is not an effective change. This is the point which I made. My hon. Friend the Member for York (Mr. Longbottom) is a believer. I, if I may say so, am an agnostic. I am very ready to be convinced, but we have not yet been told enough about it, and this is why we want so much to see the White Paper setting out exactly what the Ministry is doing.
§ Mr. Johnson
The right hon. Gentleman is an agnostic. I am a well-behaved nonconformist. I honestly welcome the change, and those whom we might loosely call the customers—I should not say that—our colleagues on the African continent, to a man and to a woman think that it is a good change. I beg the House to await the outcome and to see how we get on in the coming session.
I speak as one who has worked in this field overseas. Her Majesty's Government did not pay my expenses, but my trade union, the N.U.G.M.W., did. I leave this suggestion with my hon. Friend the Parliamentary Secretary, that it would be a good thing to persuade the more wealthy trade unions to send out officers to work with the organisations in Africa. It is extremely important work and can be taken right down to the grass roots, even to the teaching of Africans to keep their books, accounts, and minutes when they meet together in democratic assembly as 464 workers. As a former teacher in a technical college, I recognise that this work is just as important to the Africans as the work of an academic who may be teaching in one of the technical colleges in Africa.
§ Mr. Longbottom
I endorse what the hon. Gentleman says about the effect which trade unions could have. I hope he will say the same to Mr. George Woodcock and the Trades Union Congress, because they have been terribly backward in pursuing the work which trade unions could do in that way.
§ Mr. Johnson
The hon. Gentleman is not being quite fair. Mr. George Woodcock is as keen a supporter of the idea of helping overseas workers as is the hon. Gentleman or I. He would have officers of trade unions in the United Kingdom going out there under international aegis, probably under the I.C.F.T.U. and working in the field as opposed to spending, say, £2,000 in bringing over one black African leader to spend some time in London, in a sophisticated society, and perhaps not deriving the same benefit from the money spent as would be got if we sent an organiser out to Africa. It is a matter of management, and it is not a case of anyone being against helping organisations overseas.
If African States are moving forward in their development, so must our relationship with them change. All Africans whom I have met desire to have more and more technical aid given to them and particularly to have workers going out to assist in the field. I remember hearing Daniel Chapman, the Ghana Ambassador to the United Nations, once say, "We need the white man to advise us. He has the 'know-how' to help up." That is true. Therefore, I applaud the amount of money that is being spent on technical training and in sending out our people to help in Africa.
Ghana is an example for all to see. I was there in December, and it is simply teeming like a hive with new development schemes. Everyone appears to be out in Ghana helping. The Czechs are there, and so are the Americans and the Chinese, in addition to ourselves. All are helping. There is a lot of loose talk about Ghana in our daily Press. Ghana is an example to all 465 Africa in its economic development. Whatever people may say about Kwame Nkrumah being messianic, he has done a wonderful job for his people. If I were, a Ghananian, I would support Kwame Nkrumah, never mind what is said by people outside Africa. Ghana is an example to all African States of how to use the technical aid which is given by both West as well as the East.
Whatever we might say about Ghana development—whether it is having a steel smelting plant, a cement works and even a Guinness factory—agriculture remains the most important sector of its economy. Over 80 per cent. of the society of any African States are working as peasants or in plantation farming. This is why it is so important that we give these people all the technical advice we can, because so many of their economies are monocultural. Ghana, for example, relies mainly upon cocoa. If a calamity were to occur or there were fluctuations in the world market, such a country suffers enormously. It is important that we advise these nations to diversify their agriculture.
The old-fashioned traditional African method of farming and tending the soil has been evolved over centuries, and when the Africans change over to modern methods of farming one can get enormous tracts of erosion and even dust bowls. I ask my right hon. Friend the Minister to set some of the economists of whom we have heard earlier to work on the important task of how an African peasant farmer can change over to modern methods, while at the same time avoiding, for example, the past mistakes of the scheme in Tanganyika, but without losing the benefits of the past. This is one of the biggest jobs for agricultural scientists to tackle in Africa or in any other underdeveloped territory.
Secondly, there are vast areas which are still unexplored. This makes it vitally important to have ordnance, geological and geophysical surveys. The British are well-equipped to do this, but African participation is vital. The African leaders want their people to participate in these jobs with Europeans. If their economies are to be self-sustaining in five or ten years' time, they must have their own geologists, geophysicists and mining engineers. Occasionally, one meets a first-class African engineer. For 466 example, the man in charge of the Guma Dam, in Sierra Leone, is a first-class African engineer, but it is uncommon to find an African holding such a position. What saddens me when examining Commonwealth Development Corporation schemes is the contrast between the manning and the personnel of the schemes in South-East Asia, with its long traditional cultural and educational systems, in which many Asians participate, whereas in Africa there is very little local participation. This points to the need for much more education.
At the Ottawa Education Conference, I noticed that people were a little dismayed because of the lack of a Commonwealth teacher-training plan. I gather that my right hon. Friend the Minister and her staff are turning their minds to this extremely important aspect. Whether to build technical teacher-training colleges, in Africa or elsewhere overseas, which the local people attend, or whether one attaches a wing in the technical colleges at Nairobi and Lagos, where future teachers will be taught, is not my business, but certainly this is one of the most important jobs to be tackled in these territories, in addition, as I have said, to studying the change-over from the older traditional methods of farming to modern European technical methods.
In mining as well as in agriculture, these areas need a great deal of capital investment and the outside world can give it to them. They need, however, to have their own formation of capital within their own territories as quickly as possible. The quickest way to achieve this is by the exploitation of metals. The copper belt in Zambia affords a classic example. Again, however, surveys are needed before we discover where the deposits are located.
Discoveries are being made all over the continent. It was not so long ago that we began exploiting in Northern Liberia, a country which I know fairly well, the immensely rich 70 per cent. pure iron ore deposits at Mount Nimba. This is a new field and there must be many others in Africa which can be developed in the same way.
Thirdly, the need of all these territories is for transport. I agree with two gentlemen so diverse in nature as Lord Lugard 467 and President Tubman that if we wish to sum up the economic or material advancement of Africa the key lies in transport. Communications are vital. This again calls for enormous efforts by my right hon. Friend's Department in getting mechanical engineers and having vehicle-maintenance men taught the job of looking after the vehicles and engines which the Africans will need.
Fourthly, there is an enormous need, not so much for teachers of English as such to teach in elementary schools, but for specialists to teach in French-speaking territories, and for teachers of French to teach in the high schools in the English-speaking territories. The division in Africa as between English-speaking and French-speaking people is the biggest gap which exists. For any conference, or any communication whatever, there is necessity for people living in, say, Dahomey to be able to speak English with the next-door Nigerians and for the people living in Sierra Leone to be able to speak sufficient French to mix with their neighbours in next-door Guinea. If in these territories we are to move towards common markets, larger areas of cultural exchange and the rest, it is important that many more language teachers go overseas to teach in the high schools in both English-speaking and French-speaking territories.
At the beginning of my speech, I referred to the question of pensions. I find that there is enormous disquiet and anxiety amongst former colonial civil servants. I beg my right hon. Friend the Minister to turn her mind towards this question. Yesterday, I asked a Question about Malawi and non-designated civil servants. I was told—I was happy to hear it—that Her Majesty's Government were taking responsibility for these men, of whom there are 16 in Malawi.
This sort of thing is happening at many places. I am at one with the hon. Member for Southampton, Test, in asking the Government to take over the whole burden. If the cost is only £10½ million, that represents only a couple of planes, at the best or worst, as the case may be. However, it would cause an enormous amount of joy in the hearts of our civil servants and would cut out much future misunderstanding in the future discussions of these overseas Parliaments. It would 468 make it much easier for these technically qualified people to live and work with their African hosts in the coming years.
All our actions must be geared to this issue and this issue only. We are moving out of the old society, in which people working overseas were motivated or activated by the actions of the Whitehall Civil Service or big business in the City of London, and towards a set-up in which local people in the local territories settle their own local affairs with our help and co-operation.
§ 7.12 p.m.
§ Mr. John Tilney (Liverpool, Wavertree)
I am delighted to follow the hon. Member for Kingston-upon-Hull, West (Mr. James Johnson), because when he was the Member for Rugby and sat on this side of the House and I sat on that, we frequently used to pair and we always had a great common interest in West Africa. I hope that when conditions soon return to normal, we can continue an arrangement of that kind. I know that the House enjoyed hearing what he had to say as much as I did, especially what he said about Ghana.
There was a time when this country could both trade and moralise. I very much doubt whether we still can. We may wish to do so, but, in view of our present difficulty over the balance of payments, we have to be careful about interfering in the internal affairs of independent countries, whether in or outside the Commonwealth, or behind the Iron Curtain. No doubt we may have our views, but we are right to remember that the expression of those views may affect our trade.
The main crop of Ghana is cocoa. I know that some of my hon. Friends may not agree with me, but I believe that one of the greatest forms of aid, for the colonial Commonwealth especially, but also for many of its independent members, was the Commonwealth Sugar Agreement, which my own party continued and extended in its tenure of office. It has enabled many West Indians to hold their heads high. I am not at all sure that there are not one or two other commodities, provided that a fraction is controlled for internal consumption, a large fraction, for which a similar arrangement might not be better for the people of Britain. That might be a better 469 form of aid than pure cash. This is something which ought to be considered.
I was interested in what was said about trade union help. Many professions can help. I am not sure that we could have a career structure because of the differences in various countries, especially in the Commonwealth. We could try to get companies and public authorities and even Government agencies to second good personnel to an overseas tour of at least one and a half years. We should consider what are known as proloptic appointments, especially for the hospital service, so that a registrar or even a consultant could be appointed a year and a half ahead. I know that the medical profession will say that only the best people should be appointed and that we should wait till just before the vacancy, but this is a matter of what is the best method for the country as a whole, and such a method might be used not only in the medical but also in the teaching profession.
I was interested in what was said by the hon. Member for Birmingham, Northfield (Mr. Chapman) about the provision of more aid. I would agree with him if only the purse were bottomless. We would all like to give very much more aid, but the amount is limited and priorities must be established. The priorities are a political decision for the Secretary of State for Commonwealth Relations, the Colonial Secretary, or the Foreign Secretary. I do not see how the decisions can be made except through them.
We shall, therefore, watch with much pleasure the issue of the right hon. Lady's White Paper, when we shall be able to judge the size of the cage and possibly the weight of the bird. It is tremendously important for this country to be able to help the under-developed countries.
I have just been to India to whom, as the hon. Member for Northfield said, we have given 6s. per head. India is the greatest democracy, more than half the Commonwealth in size and holding the front line now for the free world against Eastern Communism, and yet expanding its population by more than that of Ceylon every year with only a limited area of land. This is a very difficult problem and my bet is that even if we collaborated, as we do, with the United States of America, Europe and Russia, 470 all our aid would not be enough to solve India's problems.
I was interested in what was said by the hon. Member for Swindon (Mr. Francis Noel-Baker) about the English tongue, a subject also mentioned by the hon. Member for Kingston-upon-Hull, West. While I was in India, I met a Naga land leader who told me something I had not realised, which was that in Nagaland there are 17 tribes with main languages and many more dialects and able to converse with each other only in English. Even if we had not given the English tongue to India, some form of it, some kind of international language like the English tongue, would have been necessary for that vast country.
Anything we can do to help with the teaching of English will be useful to the whole world, for we need such an international language. If the Initial Teaching Alphabet, to which Mr. Gordon Walker has now gone, I understand, and which to some extent was invented by Sir James Pitman, who used to sit on the Conservative side of the House, could make the teaching of English easier, a great battle would have been won. I know that it will be said that it is only for teaching reading more easily to those who can speak English, but I hope that the right hon. Lady will look into this matter with her erstwhile colleague to see what can be done in this direction.
I have one or two questions to ask the Parliamentary Secretary about the Overseas Service Aid Scheme. We welcome its extension to public utilities, universities and other bodies. Could the Parliamentary Secretary say what percentage of the aid scheme goes to those on contract rather than to Her Majesty's overseas civil servants and what action is taken to follow up their careers? I understand that many are engaged and that sight is then lost of them. It is very important that proper tabs and records should be kept.
Could the Parliamentary Secretary say whether it is true that Treasury approval for all C.D. & W. schemes in countries which receive a grant in aid has been difficult to obtain? Any scheme which may increase current expediture and thus a budgetary deficit, such as an agricultural scheme, can be vital to many developing countries. I hope that the hon. Gentleman will be able to tell the 471 House that he is getting the better of the Treasury, because, in view of the population explosion, agriculture will be one of the most important recipients of aid.
What does the Parliamentary Secretary regard as the object of aid? No doubt it is to raise the standard of living in overseas countries, bearing in mind our balance of payments. But does the hon. Gentleman regard the private sector as important as the public sector? The right hon. Lady was good enough to reply to a Question of mine yesterday about Kipping aid. I found, going round India, that an enormous number of private and public enterprise plants were working at only 50 per cent. or less capacity because they could not get various components which were vital for manufacture. In many cases, they could not even get the pig iron which was wanted.
I therefore hope that the right hon. Lady will endeavour to increase Kipping aid by as much as possible, thus helping British exports and enterprises in places like India, which are so vast, and which do a first-class job.
Would the right hon. Lady also consider increasing to as great an extent as possible teacher-training and technical aid generally? There is in this respect a great bottleneck in a large country such as India. If she can induce, say, the F.B.I. and industry to take supervisors and instructors from Indian industry and put them for six or nine months in this country, it would help enormously. This would not be a burden on our balance of payments. I was surprised to find that the railways, which are fairly large in India, were able to send to the free world, or outside India anyhow, only 12 people a year. That is far too few. If we can help, there are many in that great Commonwealth country who would be extremely grateful.
Finally, would the Parliamentary Secretary consider the possibility of helping private enterprise more and thereby saving the British taxpayer for the time being? Because of the action of some countries, not only in the Commonwealth but elsewhere, there are many people with capital who are very loath to put it in Asia, Africa or, for that matter, South America. Could the right hon. Lady say something about talks which 472 may have taken place between the British Government and our partners in O.E.C.D. in this matter? What chance is there of some form of insurance scheme?
If that can be achieved purely for new industry and enterprise, I think that, in the words of my right hon. Friend the Member for Enfield, West (Mr. Iain Macleod) the British taxpayer would be able to "keep the cash and let the credit go" for another decade or so.
§ 7.25 p.m.
§ Mr. Christopher Rowland (Meriden)
I rise to make what I am told is the more difficult speech, the second one after my maiden speech. I am glad to do so because this is a subject in which I have been interested for some years. During the four years before being elected to this House I had the opportunity of visiting most of the West Indies—Jamaica, Trinidad, British Guiana, and Barbados—and last year I visited Zambia, Malawi, Nigeria and Egypt. It is, therefore, with a real sense of personal involvement that I welcome the Bill.
I welcome it for various reasons. I welcome particularly those parts of it which refer to the employment of British subjects overseas. The Bill recognises, as more and more people are doing, the importance of men as distinct from money. The works of Mr. Ian Little recently have underlined the shortage of expertise as distinct from cash in Africa.
I welcome the Bill because it extends to new categories of men the chance of the British Government to assist in their work. I am sure that for too long we have been restrictive in defining people as working in the central Government only. I also welcome the Bill because, against the rather fashionable trend of the last two or three years to praise voluntary service overseas, which is admirable and desirable, it recognises that work overseas cannot be a quixotic adventure for most people. We want people to go overseas not merely for one year, straight from university, but for several years, with some experience under their belt. I am glad that the Bill focuses attention on that vital need.
I welcome the Bill also because, in respect of men as distinct from money, 473 it applies to all developing countries. It is a way of making sure that more and more British people work overseas. Over the last few years there has been a reduction in the number of people assisted by O.S.A.S. from 16,000 to 11,000. I should like this trend to be arrested, because it is good for overseas countries and our own society that British people should go to and from these countries.
There are some uncertainties which I should like to express to my right hon. Friend the Minister, although, perhaps, not with that touch of steel which characterised the uncertainties expressed by the right hon. Member for Enfield, West (Mr. Iain Macleod). There are four of them. First, will the territories which benefit from the extended O.S.A.S. provisions be informed of their allocation within the total sum available, which, I think, will reach about £17 or £18 million assuming that it is the previous £16 million plus the £1½million in respect of new categories?
Will they be told how this should be divided as the years go by between the old categories in O.S.A.S. of central Government employees and the new categories, which we welcome? As time goes by the disbursement situation of this money will become more and more fluid as the existing commitments, particularly in compensation and pensions, gradually become a smaller proportion.
Secondly, I should like to ask, because it is not entirely clear from the Bill, who will do the appointing in the new categories. Must the appointments be made through the Governments of the countries concerned, or with the advice of the Governments, or merely with their knowledge? Clarification of this point would be helpful, particularly for universities or any other body overseas which looks forward to benefiting from the Bill.
Thirdly, how are the public and social services to be defined? Some definitions are given in Clause 2(6), though I think that many hon. Members, particularly, perhaps, on this side, would like to see an extension to include people to assist with the formation of trade unions or to work with co-operative movements.
There is also a subsidiary point here. There is a reference in the Bill to making money available for people to work in the medical services. There is a technical 474 problem—if I may call it that—in that some large British companies overseas, opening up some pioneering projects like plantations, factories and railways, are in some ways having to provide miniature welfare states themselves. I wonder whether the reference to medical services could, in certain circumstances, be held to apply to them. Would it be possible to assist towards the appointment of a doctor in a scheme which is, to some extent, a private as distinct from a public scheme?
Perhaps related to that point is the fact that, in some of the countries that we wish to assist, public utilities are still run as private concerns. Would the fact that, although they are public utilities, they are in private ownership allow them to qualify under the Bill? I am not pressing this one way or the other, but some clarification by my hon. Friend the Parliamentary Secretary might be helpful.
The fourth uncertainty I have—it is more general—is that the Bill tends more to have the effect of keeping people who are already working overseas there as distinct from encouraging other people to go overseas. There is a danger that of our assuming that money is the sole or at least the prime inducement in getting people to work overseas. I would never deny the importance of the money factor but we must also allow for two other factors.
The first of these is the inherent interest in working overseas. I am sure that great numbers of people welcome the opportunity to spend a large part of their lives overseas, perhaps in better climates, perhaps in less congested conditions and perhaps with more scope for initiative and the exercise of wide responsibility. But there is another aspect which must be taken into account, otherwise all this desire to work overseas in existing conditions for good pay will be washed away. That is the desire for security. Many hon. Members have referred to this today. There seem to me to be three ways in which we can offer security to someone working overseas.
One is, of course, that he should have continued employment with the same organisation, whether he works overseas or here. That could be continued employment in the service of a large company or international organisation or of 475 the British Government. We should try to make sure that that facility goes on. This is particularly necessary in respect of what might be called "world portable professions"—for instance, engineering—in which men are free to move around, not always to our own advantage and interest, but will not do so if they cannot be sure that, wherever they go, they will continue to receive their employment from their employer.
The other way is to ensure re-employment after a period overseas. Here the universities and the local authorities and the teaching profession have the prime responsibility. I do not think that the local authorities have yet done enough to allow the secondment, for instance, of town clerks, borough engineers, surveyors and others to work briefly overseas. Indeed, I would like to see the Bill extended so as to offer inducements not only to people to go overseas, but to the employers to allow them to go.
This could be done by help, for instance, in meeting contingent charges entailed in advertising for a replacement and other costs. It may well be that, for want of a few hundred pounds, many local authorities and, perhaps, universities feel that it is just too difficult to allow one of their chaps to go abroad for three, five or seven years.
The third way in which one can give people security is for them to be members of a career service. My hon. Friend the Member for Swindon (Mr. Francis Noel-Baker) quite rightly cast some doubt on this being the total or the only solution. I think that it depends on which kind of job is involved. Whereas I think that it would be difficult to have a career service for university lecturers willing to spend all their lives overseas, I do not think that would necessarily be true of people willing to spend their lives overseas in tropical agriculture or medicine.
There is an argument for having a career service, because not only would people be able to take their skills overseas but they could be trained for the conditions under which they were to work and not only merely be told about the countries to which they are likely to go. This would be worth doing if 476 a man intended to spend many years overseas, but not if he is to spend only two or three years.
Of course, a man in such a career service could also learn the necessary languages. My hon. Friend the Member for Sheffield, Attercliffe (Mr. John Hynd) established that Latin America came into this and it is essential, if we are to offer assistance in the shape of agriculturalists or doctors to Latin America, that they should be trained to speak Spanish or Portuguese before they go. That would be an advantage of a career service.
We must, if possible, get away from contract service. It might attract some people, but my suspicion is that the short-term contract of two or three years is not sufficiently attractive in the conditions we have here, of full employment and reasonable prospects in professional or career jobs, to people to go overseas for two or three years with absolutely no knowledge of what will happen to them when they return.
The other advantage of not having contract service is that the man himself would not have to look, from the moment he arrived abroad, to whether he would get the contract renewed or not at the end of three years. It would give much greater freedom and flexibility to the employing Government or agency to decide whether or not he should carry on. It would also make it easier if he knew there was somewhere to go back to or some other place to go on to in a career service.
I also have the feeling that the idea that people should work on contract for three years for a foreign Government and be employees of that Government is also gradually becoming less and less attractive. It may be a pity, but I believe that people would rather feel that they were working for the British Government, or for an international organisation, or large company, or were on loan from their own university, than be employees of the Government of X, Y or Z in view of the difficulties which often face countries X, Y or Z. This is a psychological factor that we should not discount.
Another advantage of not having a contract service is that a career service might well be more economical. To employ 477 people on contract, one has to pay very much more in annual remuneration. It would be fair to say that there is a law in terms of expatriate employment which says that the salary is in inverse proportion to security. If we could increase the security factor by not having people on contract, the salaries need not perhaps be quite so high, and if they were not as high as they are they would not excite local animosities by virtue of being so much higher than the salaries of the nationals of the area.
Another advantage of having a career service, or of working for an international organisation or for a large company, or being on secondment, is that it would reduce the likelihood and the need for "golden handshakes". Last year, in Zambia, I had a conversation with an official of the Zambian Government, an Englishman who had enjoyed "golden handshakes" from India, Palestine and Sudan and was just getting ready for one from Zambia. That is a career which I do not think can be paralleled again, but it is desirable to get away from a situation in which a man feels that, after a few years, he may well be the recipient of £10,000 or £12,000. In any case, as my hon. Friend the Member for Kingston upon Hull, West (Mr. James Johnson) has said, these debts may not be honoured by Governments in years to come.
I do not think that having a career service is incompatible with having contract service on rare occasions. I think that there will be occasionally a world-class man, a high flyer, a supreme expert, who can more or less name his price wherever he wants to go, and who will not be tied down to a Government or to a company or to an international organisation, and for whom a contract will be desirable. Indeed, it may be desirable for us, because that is all he wants. However, over the great range of people in professional occupations I doubt whether it will be sufficiently attractive in the years ahead.
I think that it is significant that hon. Members on both sides of the House have to some extent concentrated on men rather than on cash in this debate. It may be that it is because we understand men better than cash, but I think that it is because there is a growing feeling on both sides, and, indeed, in those 478 circles which study this subject, that it is whether or not we get the right men in the right places which will determine whether the very much larger sums of money than the men themselves cost are expended effectively.
I welcome the Bill, not only because it continues the C.D. and W. element but because it is taking the steps towards encouraging British people to work overseas in fields which are not traditionally those of the central Government. I hope that it is the first of many Measures which will come from my right hon. Friend's Ministry during the next few years.
§ 7.42 p.m.
§ Mr. Richard Hornby (Tonbridge)
The hon. Member for Meriden (Mr. Rowland) began his speech by mentioning the alleged dangers which await hon. Members who make their second or third speeches in this House. If he was fearing any criticism in any intervention which might come from me I can assure him that there is no danger ahead for him, because I thought that he made some extremely interesting comments, many of which I would share.
To take up the point that he was mainly making at the end, I personally think that he is right in his demand that in this field we should move in the direction of a career service. I do, however, think that he pushed his criticism of the contract system rather too far. He half baled out from it when he said that there were certain people, perhaps very top experts, who would be needed always and for whom a contract would be suitable. I personally would go further than that and say there will be many people for whom a contract will be the necessary method if we are to get sufficient numbers for this work.
I believe that we shall need an overseas service of the kind he mentioned, but we shall certainly need to use the services from time to time of very top experts—in planning universities, perhaps—at the planning stage. Perhaps for some of these there would be only short-term contracts, but we shall also need some very competent people at different levels and in different fields who can give a booster to the available personnel on the spot.
I believe that it will be an extremely good thing if managers, advisers and 479 consultants in British industries are given the opportunity to do that sort of work denied to them by over-much dependence on a career service. I think that it is only by this means, possibly, following the hon. Member's suggestion, of having inducements to local authorities and other employers to let people go for a short time, that we can begin to get the sort of numbers we shall need.
I go on from there to a point which I think has been at the back of the mind of everyone in this debate though it has not, perhaps, been openly stated, that we have to state openly time and time again to the public of this country just what the scale is of the problems which we face and what the consequences of failure may be. It will not be easy to carry public opinion in this country, in Europe, North America, or elsewhere, in the work which needs doing. I suppose, at the risk of tedious repetition, that the simple fact is that over half of the world's population lives, by British standards, below the subsistence level, and the world's population is likely, on present trends, to double before the end of this century, most of the increase being in areas not beginning to feed themselves at all.
That is the scale of the problem which faces us today, and the consequences of failure to meet that problem are—what? The consequences of failure are not only human misery and starvation; but there is all the anarchy and opportunity for disruption which follows from it, as well as, in terms of Britain and the developed countries, the failure to see the opportunities for ourselves in developing countries.
There is a contagion here which can spread very far. As it happens, unhappily, it is married with the race and colour problem which can spread extremely fast, as events in North America, South Africa, and, unless we are very careful, in Britain also, emphasise only too strongly. So there is the scale of the problem facing us firmly all the time.
How can we tackle it? We can tackle it, I suggest in the first place, by recognising, as I said, what needs to be done. Secondly, we cannot tackle it alone. It is not a field for exclusiveness, least of all in the Commonwealth countries. We need 480 joint efforts. It was said by the hon. Member for Birmingham, Northfield (Mr. Chapman) earlier that the spending of our aid was haphazard. I personally do not think that we can avoid that appearance, because of the gap between supply and demand, but I believe that the best opportunity for avoiding the haphazard pattern lies not so much in what it may be possible for the right hon. Lady's Department to do here, backed by political advice of the overseas Departments, but in trying to get together as much as we can with other like-minded, developed countries to see what is most likely to be possible to meet an admittedly worthy demand for aid.
If we can, as the hon. Member for Northfield, I think, suggested, get economists and consultants into the field at an early enough stage in the planning of development schemes so that the needs for development and the projects for development can be professionally examined, in collaboration, obviously, with the Ministers and the people whose country is being considered, then that advice can be given along the lines of saying, "The people who can best help here are in Sweden. Those in colleges of tropical agriculture in the West Indies can best help". Let us remember that the developing countries themselves have frequently a contribution to make, no less than the developer, in the planning of these schemes. It is in these ways that we can most easily go forward.
Then again, it has been said by hon. Members on both sides that there is a tremendous need to ensure that our finance for aid when given is both planned and placed, and when placed administered, as efficiently as possible. It is on those grounds that we are right to place emphasis, even more than on the money. We can provide great assistance by getting the right people into the field at the right time.
I should like to mention a number of other points which have been raised by hon. Members during the debate, but I know that there are others who wish to speak. The hon. Member for Kingston upon Hull, West (Mr. James Johnson) placed emphasis on the need for communications, agriculture, and education. I was interested that he made that point, because I think I am right in saying that the Administration of the C.D. & W. Acts 481 comes in for some good marks on that criterion, because I think that they score the top three percentages of any areas of activity. Communications account for about 23 per cent. of the total amount spent under those Acts, agriculture for about 14 per cent., and education for about 20 or 21 per cent. Emphasis has been growing there, and I believe rightly so.
I conclude by referring to a point made by my right hon. Friend the Member for Enfield, West (Mr. fain Macleod). There has been much comment in the Press, and in other places, too, about the rôle which Britain can play in these countries, and in the world generally. It is more than two years now since Dean Acheson made his much quoted, much criticised, and sometimes quietly praised remark that Britain had lost an empire and was still searching for a rôle.
In my opinion, the rôle is here in this field. It must be backed by our own economic strength, which will probably involve tough decisions and a willingness to participate in the industrial and geographical world in which we find ourselves, but then we must go out as we did in the nineteenth century and do the job that needs doing. The experience is there. We are well known. Despite all the complexities of politics, we are well known and well liked by individuals in many of these countries. We have a common language, and I believe that because of our history, with luck and with leadership, we have a bit more of the willpower to do the job if we really give ourselves the tools.
§ 7.53 p.m.
§ Mrs. Shirley Williams (Hitchin)
One of the difficulties of intervening in this debate is that many of the points which one wishes to make have already been made. I want to speak about three points which have arisen so far. The first of these is to refer for a moment to the provisions of the Bill which relate to colonial development and welfare funds. Many of the remaining colonial territories are among the poorest and least economically viable in the Commonwealth and I wonder whether my right hon. Friend would consider easing the terms under which grants are normally given under C.D. and W. legislation, in particular where they refer to revenue-creating projects. For example, if one 482 considers the High Commission Territories, one finds three territories which are not only economically very poor, but which are seriously threatened with the possibility of one of their major sources of income, the repatriation of wages earned in the Republic of South Africa, being seriously threatened over the next few years.
Bechuanaland is a country which has some possibilities of becoming an important producer of meat, and yet this country is held up by the fact that it has no adequate system of land tenure, no adequate system of security for farmers. It is a country where there are scarce supplies of water, and where up to now not much has been done to improve the quality of the stock on which its future wealth probably rests. Much of the work which could be done would not only be revenue-producing, but might add to the recurring expenditure of the High Commission Territories, and I hope that my right hon. Friend will be able to consider a slightly more generous interpretation of the conditions which normally govern the expenditure of C.D. & W. funds.
Much the same comments apply to Basutoland, which has the opportunity of producing hydro-electricity, and where the control of rivers and of flash flooding at certain times of the year is an important way of raising the deplorably low level of per capita income in that country; one needs to look generally at the whole system of giving grants.
Under the provisions of the Bill, about three times as much per capita will be available for these colonial countries in the next three years as has been available in the past, and this provides a real opportunity for them to be brought into the modern world.
I propose now to say something about the career system of the Overseas Service. I think that there are two points which I might add to the extremely valuable contributions which have been made from both sides. It seems clear from what has been said that one needs a combination of contract service and career service. It is a tragedy that so many of the valuable members of the Colonial Office left that service without being given generous opportunities for further employment, 483 but there is another aspect which might be considered. It is the possibility of giving short-term grants, possibly from the British Council, for people going for as little as three to six months to a foreign country, particularly in the academic field.
I have in mind the speed with which our links with universities in South-East Asia, India, and Pakistan, in particular, are being lost. This is partly because people who have a great reputation in Britain tend always to choose the United States or North America generally as a place in which they spend periods between university terms or periods of a sabbatical year. If they were treated as a special case, a great deal of valuable return would come to this country as a result of their brief visits to universities in other parts of the Commonwealth.
The other point is that there is one danger in the scheme, which I understand is necessarily being brought before the House in the Bill, of paying additional salaries for British civil servants on the basis of a grant from the Government, and that is the possibility of the charge of neo-colonialism being raised against this Government, which of all Governments least deserves that charge. One might get round this by exploring the possibilities of introducing a Commonwealth element into the Overseas Service. If we could get a certain number of recruits, by agreement, to an extension of the Service so that it might be the case that an Indian planner, or an African academician, visited other parts of the areas we are considering, this might go a long way to refuting a charge of that kind. I am told by my hon. Friend the Member for Birmingham, Northfield (Mr. Chapman) that that happens, but it does not happen with the Overseas Service as extensively as one might wish.
The last thing I want to do, as the hon. Member for Tonbridge (Mr. Hornby) did in his contribution, is to look at a country which the Bill may help, although it does not fall directly within its provisions. I refer to India, which I was fortunate enough to visit during the Recess. It is a country which is desperately badly off. The fifth to the eighth decentile, the group of its population which falls below the halfway mark, 484 but does not include the poorest fifth of the population, will rise with the years, it is hoped, to a level where they can expect an income of 30s. or 20 rupees a month. When one considers India, with her fourth five-year plan coming along, costing £14,000 million, one realises that she faces grave difficulties. Perhaps one of the greatest of these is the refunding of the existing loan debt.
I am told that about one-fifth of India's future income will be committed to the repayment of this debt. I crave the indulgence of the House to quote a phrase from a pamphlet produced in India by a Professor of Monetary Economics at the University of Delhi. He quotes the average annual cost of loans from three countries which have lent money to India since her independence. He saysIn the case of loans from the Soviet Union the rate of interest has been only 2½ per cent. per annum but the time spread of repayment has been unusually short and so the annual servicing burden … has been somewhat higher at about 11½ per cent.He refers to the annual servicing burden of the American loans. There is a longer period of grace and a longer period of repayment—and the figure is about 7 per cent., despite higher interest rates. I regret to say that the annual servicing burden in the case of the United Kingdom and Germany in some cases exceeds 20 per cent. per year on the amounts borrowed.
This is a fantastic burden to place on a developing country, and I hope that careful consideration will be given to the possibility of refunding of this debt over a longer period of time. Many people who are interested in these matters are aware of the experience of Brazil and Turkey, both of whom went bankrupt in difficult circumstances because of the debts they owed to creditor countries.
Lastly, I very much hope that two groups will be looked at in terms of the extension of the overseas service to take in non-central government employees. Many references have been made to academics. I thought that the suggestion put forward by my hon. Friend the Member for Swindon (Mr. Francis Noel-Baker) about slightly extending university staff in order to make it possible to have a rotation of university teachers to Commonwealth universities would be particularly appropriate in the case of either Afro-Asian studies departments or 485 development economics departments, such as that now being pioneered in the University of York.
I hope that this scheme can take in managers of public enterprises. In the newly independent Commonwealth countries there is a serious need for emergency help in these new public sectors, and also, as my hon. Friend the Member for Meriden (Mr. Rowland) mentioned, in co-operatives. One of the difficulties about this very encouraging form of enterprise in under-developed countries is the desperate lack of skilled people to run the co-operatives, and people whose honesty can in no way be impugned. I make these suggestions to my right hon. Friend, recognising that so far it has been possible to make suggestions to her Ministry in the knowledge that they are readily taken up.
§ 8.3 p.m.
§ Mr. Henry Clark (Antrim, North)
We all welcome the Bill. It has been pleasant to see the trend that the debate has taken. It has been carried on by hon. Members who all have a common interest. I am particularly happy to see on the Opposition Front Bench my right hon. Friend the Member for Enfield, West (Mr. Iain Macleod), because the Bill pays special tribute to his greatest achievement when at the Colonial Office, in that it brings together in one Bill the old C.D. & W. scheme of which we were so proud and the provisions in the Overseas Services Act, which was undoubtedly the rock on which the Department of Technical Aid was founded.
From the Department of Technical Aid—which I understand is now to be rechristened "the birdcage"—the new Ministry has come. I pay special tribute to my right hon. Friend for the great battle that he put up—and it was a great battle, which I doubt whether any other hon. Member in the House could have put up—to get the initial money from the Treasury in order to start the Overseas Service Aid Scheme. The only tragedy is that it was not started 10 or 15 years earlier.
We are now to have a change of name. I am not certain that we shall not have a change of size in this Ministry. I am not sure that the change of name is an advantage. The emphasis in the old 486 name was upon technical assistance. It was clear that we were more concerned with people and ideas than with straight amounts of cash. I have said on many occasions that aid depends far more on quality than on quantity. The aid which we can give is probably worth a guinea a box compared with the aid given by other countries, because we know what we are talking about. We see the enthusiasm of countries like Sweden and Norway who, fortunately or unfortunately, lost their colonial possessions hundreds of years ago, and we also see how little they know of the world beyond Europe. The naïvety with which they approach these problems convinces me that that in this matter Britain knows best.
We must continue to send top people. If we send top people and concentrate on quality we shall be doing some good. Let us not start arguing about Britain's place in the international league table of megadollar contributions to under-developed countries. Let us never have it said about our experts—and I heard this comment from Tanganyika the other day—that "expert" consists of two elements, namely, "x"—"an unknown quantity" and "spurt"—"the drip under pressure".
One point made was that we may have been too generous in respect of the remaining colonial countries. We must be very careful to give them enough. There is a popular idea which circulates round the still dependent countries that they will never get enough until they become independent. I am not going to start a battle across the Floor of the House about hon. Members opposite pressing for some of the smaller territories to become independent. I merely say that it would be very unfortunate if some of them pressed hard for independence not because they really wanted it, but because they thought that only when they became independent would they get enough. Many persons in these territories think that, once Uhuru comes, with it comes all the international aid which seems to float round to newly independent countries. We must make it clear that they could do just as well by remaining dependent. We can make a strong case for their remaining dependent or semi-dependent.
I take up the point made by the hon. Member for Birmingham, Northfield (Mr. Chapman) that the Government, and the right hon. Lady's Department, 487 must not only dispense British aid but help the under-developed countries to obtain aid from international organisations and from other countries. Obtaining aid is not quite as straightforward as it sometimes looks. It needs a fair degree of detailed economic planning, and sometimes a fair degree of economic ballyhoo, put down on paper. If the request is put forward in the proper terms the aid is forthcoming. Instructions should be given by the new Ministry telling the smaller territories how to get this money.
We talk about the responsibility of Britain, Europe, and the Western world to the under-developed countries, but we must make it quite clear that whatever our responsibilities may be the basic responsibility for development must come from the under-developed countries themselves. It is no good an underdeveloped country sitting back and expecting to be helped. We can give it help, but we cannot initiate development. It is only through an underdeveloped country's drive, perhaps reinforced by overseas aid from the Western world, that real progress will be made. Never let them push the responsibility on to us. It is not our responsibility; it must be theirs. If they realise that, we can give them every assistance.
I bitterly regretted one comment made by the right hon. Lady. She made it quite clear that the Bill made no difference in the terms offered to non-designated officers, particularly in Northern Rhodesia and Malawi, and those that are still left in Tanganyika, Zanzibar and Kenya, and a large number of other territories which suffered from the woolliness of the famous Command Paper which founded Her Majesty's Overseas Civil Service. It was a wonderful idea, but it never worked out in practice. Nobody knows whether it is a Service or a club. Nobody knows when the Colonial Service ceased and H.M.O.C.S. took over, As far as I know, I resigned from the Colonial Service in 1959, but I have a small piece of paper which tells we that I joined H.M.O.C.S. in 1955.
I have certainly never resigned from it. I do not think that I have been sacked, so presumably I am still a member 488 of the H.M.O.C.S. There is no staff list and it has no known status. Membership of the H.M.O.C.S. was applied on different criteria in almost every territory. There are quite a number of Indian and Pakistani nationals who are members. There is a considerable body which was locally recruited in Tanganyika. One man who was born and educated in England happened to be on a holiday in Tanganyika. He wrote for an appointment in Tanganyika. There was one there. He took the best possible advice from the established Department at Tanganyika and asked, "Should I fly home to London and get into it there?" He was told, "Do not bother about that. It will save you the fare and we will take you on here and it will make no difference."
Three years later all his friends got inducement allowances. They were members of the H.M.O.C.S. and he was not. He got no pension and no compensation when he left. One good thing is that the Colonial Office fixed him up with a fairly decent job somewhere else. I think that he was £5,000 to £10,000 worse off than a man who had travelled to London and had been appointed in London to exactly the same job. I can tell the right hon. Lady that I can produce a dozen cases on her desk tomorrow morning of people in very much the same circumstances.
We probably hear most about the non-designated offices in Northern Rhodesia. This is because Northern Rhodesia had probably more people who were, in a technical sense, locally recruited. However, it is quite wrong to pretend that they were not expatriate officers in every sense of the word. In the early 1950s we were encouraging people to go to Rhodesia to build up an inter-racial State and we were trying hard to persuade Europeans to become Rhodesian citizens. In that atmosphere a large number of people travelled to Rhodesia, looked around for a job and decided on Government service, but they were expatriate employees of the Rhodesian Government as surely as anybody else.
What made me feel most cynical about this—though I know that Ministers and Departments concerned have great sympathy for non-designated officers—was that when I asked, in the last Parliament, whether the facilities of the Colonial 489 Resettlement Bureau were being extended to non-designated officers, I was told that the bureau was working for the non-designated officers. This is complete nonsense. The non-designated are locally recruited and do not return to this country at all.
It is ridiculous to say, on the one hand, that they had the service of the Colonial Resettlement Bureau and, on the other, that they were not due for any compensation when the country became independent. I would ask the right hon. Lady to look into this. Unfortunately, the D.T.C. has a rather bad name in quite a large area of the Commonwealth, because of the relations with those same non-designated officers.
This has to be looked at. It may be a matter of dealing with a large number of difficult cases. It will not be a matter which can be dealt with by just changing the precedent. I believe that there are a considerable number of people who have been hard done by by Her Majesty's Government in these cases and they are feeling particularly sour about it. They are not doing a great deal to boost the prestige of the aid-giving departments of this country.
I want to pass on to a happier subject, to end my remarks. I take the point which my hon. Friend the Member for Tonbridge (Mr. Hornby) made extremely well, that aid is something which need not only come from the developed countries. It has been my belief for many years that there are a few countries in the Common wealth which could not contribute something to the other countries. I believe that Malaysia could teach Africa a great deal about fishponds and rice. I believe that Ghana could teach East Africa a great deal about the oil palm, that Ghana and Jamaica could probably swop notes about cocoa. It was thought that in the days of full colonial empire, this information flowed freely backwards and forwards. It did not flow freely and, in fact, it was amazing what tight little compartments the Colonies lived in. It is not just on this score that I pressed for a Commonwealth aid scheme.
I hate the idea that aid is international charity. I believe that it is an international pool, to which every country in the Commonwealth can contribute something, 490 no matter how small, and from which every country is entitled to take something out. For all we know, there might be countries in the Commonwealth which could teach this country quite a lot about race relations and the integration of communities.
If we could get technical assistance from every land in the Commonwealth for a central pool which passed out the information available, I believe that we could form an institution which would make the Commonwealth live in the mid-sixties of the twentieth century.
§ 8.17 p.m.
§ Mr. Edmund Dell (Birkenhead)
It is a great pleasure to take part in this debate when so much has been said on both sides of the House with which one can agree. For example, I particularly agree with what the hon. Member for York (Mr. Longbottom) said, when he stressed the importance of those economists who are going to plan or help to plan in under-developed or developing countries having experience in the field so that they know what they are doing and are familiar with the different types of problem which exist there, as compared with those which exist in highly developed countries. Fortunately, this comment was made in an article some time ago by a Mr. Dudley Sears, so we can assume that it is not being overlooked in the Ministry of Overseas Development at the moment.
The point which I wish to make this evening is a very simple one, and that is that all the developing countries are not within the Commonwealth. This Bill is inevitably very largely a Commonwealth Bill. Clause 1 is entirely Commonwealth; Clause 2 is bound to be primarily Commonwealth. I want to make the plea that we should fix our view—rather more than we are doing at the moment—beyond the Commonwealth. I want in particular to make a plea that we should use the powers which will exist under Clause 2 of the Bill to make contact with, and to assist in development in, Latin America.
I want to see that, not just for their sake but for our sake, because I think that there is there an enormous amount of experience upon which we could rely. If we do increase our contacts with Latin America, this will be of great benefit 491 to us as well as to them. At the moment what we are doing is negligible. Technical aid in 1965–66 will, I believe, be of the order of £½ million. This is distributed among 20 separate countries. I think that we should do more. I think that this Bill should give us the opportunity to do more and I think it of fundamental importance in this context—and bearing in mind everything which has been said in this debate about this country's balance of payments problem—that this is something which could be done relatively cheaply. Therefore, I hope that when the Parliamentary Secretary replies, he will take notice of my plea and that he will not simply tell me that we cannot afford to do more. I think we can afford to do more, because it will not cost us very much.
Why should we—as I am arguing—try to improve our relations with Latin America and use the powers which accrue under Clause 2 of this Bill to do so? I do not want to refer to the historical background and the unfortunate way in which we have cut ourselves off from Latin America, nor the intense resentment which this causes among many Latin Americans. I want to speak of the situation as it exists today. The fact of the matter is that the influence of Latin America, especially in the developing world, has increased, is increasing and is not likely to be diminished. This is for quite a number of reasons. First, there is the great increase in population which is taking place there and which is making it a very much more important part of the developing world. The rate of increase in the population is higher than in any other part of the world. By the end of this century the population will be 600 million or more, and over one-third of that will be in Brazil.
In addition to this increase in population, there is a most important point for us if we wish to play a full rôle in aid—the extent to which Latin America is today providing a philosophy for the developing nations, a philosophy which has been largely worked out in the Economic Commission for Latin America.
A large part of the debate going on at the moment among developing countries has been inspired by the thinking taking place in Latin America and, in particular, in the Economic Commission for Latin 492 America. One has only to mention the so-called Prebisch effect in respect of the terms of trade of developed countries as against under-developed countries. One does not need to agree with the whole of the argument to be able to understand the force which that argument has in the whole of the developing world and the sympathy which it attracts from all developing countries which are dependent on the exports of primary commodities.
The experience of Latin American countries in commodity agreements, their experience in establishing commodity agreements, their understanding of the importance of those agreements in developing their own countries, and their emphasis on the importance of the exports of manufactured goods—all these are points which influence the thinking of developing countries. They were made at the Geneva Conference last year—the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development. All this is helping to create a philosophy of development for the developing world, and unless we maintain contact with Latin America we shall fall behind in our understanding of much of the thinking which is going on in the developing world.
In addition, in a sense they are providing a Civil Service for the developing world. Their influence at the U.N.C.T.A.D. conference was as much administrative as it was philosophic. The Secretary-General of the Conference was an Argentinian, Señor Prebisch. The influence of the Brazilians at that conference was enormous. Although I am aware that he is not a Latin American, it is perhaps no coincidence that the Director-General of Economic Planning at the Ministry of Overseas Development spent many years in the Economic Commission for Latin America. It is not possible to understand development thinking in the underdeveloped world today without maintaining contact with Latin America.
I come to a further point which we should do well to understand if we hope to be active and influential in aid—and that is the resentment which exists in Latin America at their exclusion from the preferential areas of the world. We have our own Commonwealth preferential area. The European Economic Community has its preferential area. The Latin Americans are excluded from these preferential areas, and they look with jealousy and concern at any attempts in 493 extend those preferential areas which exclude them. For example, they are looking with considerable concern at the moment at the attempt of Nigeria to be associated with the European Economic Community.
I believe it to be necessary, as indeed, it was proposed by the last Government at the U.N.C.T.A.D. Conference, to extend preferences to all developing areas, and I believe that it is necessary to make contact with Latin America, if we are to understand their position and to press home this point that preferential areas should be extended to included all developing nations.
There is a need to extend Latin American horizons to all developed nations and to establish contact not merely between them and the United States but also more varied contacts with countries such as ourselves. As I indicated before, by doing this we may find that we have much to learn from them. We could introduce them to a way of thinking about development problems which is very different from that which they get from the United States. I believe that this Bill, and especially Clause 2, gives us an opportunity to do this, for Clause 2 deals with people going out to developing areas to provide technical and managerial skill and to create contacts through cultural institutions and universities. This gives us an opportunity to extend our contacts with Latin America.
We are well equipped to do so. I referred to the fact that we can help them in outlining a philosophy of development rather different from that which they get from the United States, whose thinking on these problems is very much under the influence of their own more laissez faire philosophy—although it is noticeable that today Americans are more aware of the need for economic planning in Latin America than they are aware of it in the United States.
It is necessary to assist them in setting up a mechanism of economic planning within their own countries. This is much more important than simply planning for them. All too often plans made for developing countries fall by the wayside. If we could help them to set up their own planning mechanisms it would be of much greater and more long-term importance.
My hon. Friend the Member for Birmingham, Northfield (Mr. Chapman) referred 494 to Montserrat, with a population of 12,000. I do not suppose that we can help Montserrat to set up its own planning institutions, and no doubt we should have to provide a plan for them, but for countries with larger populations and for countries which have an independent future to which they can look forward, it is very much more important to do this than to make plans for them.
Again, Latin American countries are very backward in infra-structural development. Here again we can help. We can help them in advising on the running of public utilities in both a managerial and a technological sense. Here again we may have an opportunity to do more than the United States can do, because the United States is not always too pleased at the nationalisation with compensation which Latin American countries carry out in respect of public utilities. We suffered that in the past and the Americans are suffering it now.
In trade union development, which, again, is important in Latin America, we have a great deal to offer. The Americans are trying to assist in this respect, but unfortunately not with great success. In certain respects we might have more understanding and greater success.
The question of foreign private investment has been mentioned several times during the debate. It is of the utmost importance that developing countries should be encouraged to receive foreign private investment, but it must be on terms which are beneficial to them. Unfortunately, this is not always the case. In my experience in Latin America I noticed how often they seemed to be less well equipped than certain countries in the Commonwealth, such as India, with which I have also dealt, in considering the terms on which foreign private investment would be beneficial to them. Here again, we have a great deal to offer them.
In the whole sphere of commodity problems, there is no developing country with greater experience of commodity arrangements and agreements than Brazil. For 60 years Brazil has been trying to organise the world coffee market with a greater or lesser degree of success. I suppose that the country in the developed world with the longest experience of commodity problems is the United 495 Kingdom. So, here again, we have a great contribution to make.
If, as a result of the Trade and Development Conference, viable commodity agreements are worked out, that will be to a considerable extent the result of liaison and understanding between, for example, the Latin American countries, which have enormous experience in this matter, and some of the developed countries, which also have experience of commodity agreements.
I believe that all this can be done under Clause 2 and I appeal to the Minister to try to achieve these ends. This is very much something in terms of people rather than cash. It is the sort of aid which we can offer and which will benefit us, in addition to benefiting those to whom we give it.
My philosophy of aid requires that the donor should see some benefit from it as well as the recipient. Although I agree that the first priority in our aid policy must be to the Commonwealth, I believe that we must do far more to extend aid outside the Commonwealth. The countries of the Commonwealth, very properly, look beyond the Commonwealth and we, too, must look beyond it. As a first step we should increase our bonds with the developing countries of Latin America.
§ 8.31 p.m.
§ Mr. John H. Osborn (Sheffield, Hallam)
At this late hour I will endeavour to make a brief intervention in the debate, which has gone much wider than the Bill before us. I welcome the fact that even within the terms of the Bill we are spending more money on aid, but we are still, in money terms, talking only about an extra £25 million a year under Section 1 and £20 million over three years under Section 2 within the scope of the Commonwealth Development and Welfare Acts.
The Minister raised the question of our having any spare money to provide more aid and how we could give aid in a more effective way. This matter has been receiving the attention of hon. Members throughout the debate. My observation will, therefore, go somewhat beyond the Bill and will include one or two points which, I hope, the Parliamentary Secretary will note, on what I would like to see in the White Paper.
496 I will make three observations about the Bill. First, although we are spending more money, it would seem that we are spending less for the dependent or colonial territories. Because there are now fewer such territories it might be thought reasonable that that should be so, but it must be appreciated that their need might be greater. Secondly, is there not a need for a comprehensive Measure to deal not solely with the dependent but the newly emergent independent territories, for assistance of this type? Is there not a need for a Bill which extends to all territories within the Commonwealth?
My third observation is in connection with Clause 2. I note that the definition of those employed in public or social services is much wider, and this leads me on to the whole question of who should and who should not come within the career-cum-contract structure which we have discussed. I will refer to this later.
On the whole question of aid, I challenge the comments of the hon. Lady the Member for Hitchin (Mrs. Shirley Williams), particularly when she spoke of the burden of the repayment of loans. The dilemma facing this country is that unless we receive something back from the money we give to these territories we are limited in the total amount of money we can make available to them on the more philanthropic projects. Unless we can resolve our balance of payments problems the ambitions which have been put forward by hon. Members on both sides of the House today will be hard to realise.
What kind of aid will give us some sort of return? I will, in this connection, comment on a recent O.E.C.D. publication which was concerned with the flow of funds overseas. During the period under review, roughly six years, it stated that the amount of money flowing out through the public sector increased from 3 billion to 6 billion dollars, while the amount of money flowing out through the private sector contracted from about 3 billion dollars to about 2.5 billion dollars. Recently, I asked the Minister some questions about the trends in British aid—multilateral, bilateral, public sector and private sector. There is no doubt that the amount of money going out in the private sector is contracting.
Here I advance a view which we know exists in the United States. The question 497 is how to help and how not to help the under-developed countries. This was put forward in "The Ugly American", which was written some time ago. The problems have affected the American taxpayer. When I was in the United States, about 18 months ago, talking about foreign aid in both public and private sectors, I found a marked unwillingness on the part of the taxpayer to finance fruitless projects overseas. That is why the Kennedy programme has suffered severe cuts. It is why President Johnson has had similar experiences.
On the question of aid in the private sector, I, too, have just returned from India. Two weeks ago I was in Delhi for the biennial conference of the International Chamber of Commerce. The theme was, "World progress through partnership". By far the greater majority of those attending were people operating in industry, business and commerce all over the world who are concerned with the industrial aspects of development. I want to quote three sections from the final statement:While the responsibility of Governments for ensuring a growing and balanced economy is recognised, experience in free societies throughout the world has established that private enterprise has a major part to play in securing economic growth …There is, in the business communities of the advanced countries, a wealth of knowledge, skill and initiative which should be used to solve the problems of the less developed world. This can be done only if business firms in developed and developing countries are encouraged to employ their capital and enterprise in fruitful interaction and cooperation with each other.Although the improvement of agriculture should be a first priority in many developing countries, industrialisation is also an essential element of further economic growth. Profitable operation should be the overriding consideration, full scope should be given to resourceful private initiative, and government projects should be confined to activities of a kind which private enterprise is not equipped to handle.Such a statement coming from those attending the conference—businessmen from all parts of the world—may appear to be tame, but the background was much more interesting, because amongst those attending the conference were business men from the newly independent territories and some dependent territories, who have been in countries where neo-colonialism has prevailed and where there has been resentment to foreign capital. I suggest that in the 498 newly independent territories, where perhaps Left-wing philosophies tend to prevail, there are controls and frustrations which inhibit private business. However, my own observation is that in spite of these controls and frustrations difficulties can be overcome. India is a classic example.
On the premise that there is a limit to the amount of assistance which can be given, if the donor receives something back he is in a better position to aid these territories. As a Yorkshire-man, I appreciate the position that faces this country. We must obtain some return on our investment overseas. My right hon. Friend the Member for Barnet (Mr. Maudling), when he was President of the Board of Trade and subsequently Chancellor of the Exchequer, brought it about that we were given information on private British investment overseas. The latest Board of Trade figures I have read show that this is about £5,000 million, but the return to this country by way of dividends is only £92 million.
I suggest that the trend both with Governments and private firms is to look at the cash return on capital investment overseas. If there is a good cash return we have something with which to resolve our balance of payments dilemmas. I suggest to the right hon. Lady that there is a need for the Government to encourage the remittance of dividends on capital projects overseas, perhaps with tax incentives to encourage this, and that there should not be discouragement such as the present corporation tax. Otherwise, we shall deny ourselves of one means of acquiring the money to further our aid programme.
I turn to the problems raised by Clause 2, in the context of private industry. We have discussed the career contract for further activity and employment in these fields. The same problems occur in private industry. In India, there is the technical service agreement—a three-year tax-free agreement—for technicians who go to development projects over there. On the other hand where a person makes a career, and not a three-year contract, the problem is different. If a person earning £1,200 to £1,700 in this country is sent to India, to give him the same reward that he would get for the same amount 499 in this country costs an employer between £7,500 and £10,000 a year. Therefore, it is not worth while employing people on more than a three-year contract. This is the dilemma facing the private sector in India and in other countries as well.
I see that the Minister is now here. One of the projects that I saw when I was in India was the Durgapur project. I have met Mr. Douglas Bell, who was in this country about 12 days ago. His problem in the Durgapur project has been to attract skilled technicians from the British steel and engineering industries, and make it worth their while to go to Durgapur with their families. On the other hand, the Indians have been remarkably skilful in putting three national competitive projects—German, Russian and our own—alongside each other so that we can vie with each other to a certain extent to prove that our respective countries have the know-how.
I suggest to the right hon. Lady that the problems facing those embarking on private projects is to provide the incentive to people who have got good jobs in the private sector in this country to go out to other countries and tackle these tasks. In discussing how much aid should be given, it might be worth discussing how much aid should go to the public sector and how much should go to the private sector. The Durgapur project is an immense undertaking. There are now 55,000 people working where there was only jungle about six years ago. The steelworks is completing the first of three phases and is operating to capacity and profitably. A project of this size in an area of this type has to be a public sector project, and I would welcome the decision that Great Britain will play its full part in the third phase of this venture.
In addition, there are many small-scale projects. There is no prestige attached to them, but they need encouragement and assistance. We can provide aid through the private sector in two ways. The first is as consultants. I was offered various consultancy invitations when I was in India because of my experience. I suggest that remuneration could be given to a firm in this country or elsewhere for imparting its know-how. 500 Could we not do more to encourage private enterprise to offer consultancy services?
The other way in which we can help is by more active participation in equity shareholding. This is a much more popular concept now than when certain members of the Conservative Party put their pens to paper in a pamphlet entitled "The Export of Capital", when we emphasised that trade followed aid, and that to assist in solving our balance of payments problems there was a positive need to encourage British industry to invest overseas, for British people to go out and earn money overseas and remit money back here, thus putting us in a financial position whereby we could give more philanthropic assistance, perhaps to the extent of one per cent., to which so many of us have referred on the hustings and in subsequent debates.
The giving of aid is not an easy task. I have been connected with, and have seen some, of the Oxfam Inter-Church projects, particularly in connection with the Freedom from Hunger Campaign. The problem which I, and those with whom I was associated, have found is that when one has acquired money from voluntary sources, let alone from public sources, it is difficult to spend it wisely. If there is a project with some Government agency or local authority behind it and there is a given need and there are people with enthusiasm and energy to carry it out, the money can be given, but to give dried milk which gets lost in the markets of India and even vehicles which were reported in the India Press as having been lost means that the gift is wasted.
I would draw the right hon. Lady's attention to the various projects which I have seen for myself for the improved breeding of cattle. I saw the Haringhata project, outside Calcutta, which is a model for joint co-operation between U.N.I.C.E.F. and the Food and Agriculture Organisation and I have in my possession a report on the Vijayawada dairy milk project in Hyderabad, a project to breed cows to produce roughly five times the milk per cow that is customary in that country. The project also includes agricultural education and the production in some instances of eight crops where, hitherto there has been only rice. These projects are worth while, and I would 501 emphasise the need for greater co-operation and co-ordination between those giving our money and international agencies in any one territory.
One request made to me was that our trade commissioners and various High Commissions should take a greater interest in this type of work. I hope that when we receive the White Paper we shall have the Minister's views on this issue and on how greater participation by our representatives can be best achieved. My intervention in the debate, therefore, has been to stress that the first essential is to provide a return on capital invested overseas so that we have the money and then to devise the means of spending what money we have wisely and effectively.
§ 8.48 p.m.
§ Mr. Ioan L. Evans (Birmingham, Yardley)
This has been a most interesting and encouraging debate, one of the most constructive that we have had in this Parliament. It augurs well for the new Ministry that there should have been such a good response from both sides of the House. There have been one or two critical comments. The right hon. Member for Enfield, West (Mr. Iain Macleod) referred to my right hon. Friend the Minister as a bird in a gilded cage. I am reminded of Sir Winston Churchill's expression and would say to the right hon. Gentleman, "Some chicken, some neck", because we have in the Minister someone who will champion the cause for which this Ministry has been established.
The only criticism that right hon. and hon. Members opposite seem to have made of my right hon. Friend have been in personal references. The right hon. and learned Member for St. Marylebone (Mr. Hogg), in a debate on the setting up of her Ministry, referred to my right hon. Friend as "Pussy Galore". I do not know whether he imagines himself to be Goldfinger. I always have always imagined him to be nearer to Goldwater.
The subject of our debate is of vital importance, because the Bill represents another step in our efforts to deal with the most serious problem confronting humanity in the second half of the twentieth century, the problem of world poverty. It is not a new problem. It is as old as history. One is reminded of 502 what is said in the Bible, when the multitude said to Jesus:What then shall we do? He answered and said unto them, 'He that bath two coats, let him impart to him that bath none; and he that hath food, let him do likewise.'Leo Tolstoy wrote a book on this very subject, and he based his life on that principle, giving his land to the poor of his own country. Tolstoy said that this principle was the basis not only of Christianity, but of all the great religions of the world. From this side of the House, I express the belief that it is one of the basic fundamentals of what we understand to be Socialism. We wish to encourage the giving of help to other peoples overseas.
It is not just a matter of giving a coat. That is not enough. We must give these people the "know-how" to gather the wool, to spin the yarn, to measure the cloth and to cut it, and to make the coat. It has been wisely said, "Give a man a fish and he will live for a day, but teach a man how to fish and he will endure". The work of my right hon. Friend's Ministry will go beyond the giving of food to the giving of the "know-how" so that other peoples may reap their harvest and increase their catch when they go fishing.
The Government are to be commended for setting up the Ministry, which is certainly getting on with its task, as is evidenced by the Bill before us. It is one of three new Ministries of which I think in this context, the Ministry of Technology, the Ministry of Land and Natural Resources and the Ministry of Overseas Development. One might say that they are the Ministries of faith, hope and charity. The Ministry of Technology expresses our faith in the industry of the future. The Ministry of Land and Natural Resources is the Ministry of hope for the people of this country. The greatest of the three, the Ministry of Overseas Development, is concerned with giving the necessary help to people overseas.
There are many reasons why we should increase our overseas assistance. There are good economic reasons. Prosperity is indivisible. Poverty anywhere is a threat to prosperity anywhere. We cannot hope to strengthen and develop our Welfare State, thinking that we shall live in assured prosperity, unless 503 we concern ourselves with the problems of the under-developed areas. There are good social and medical reasons why we should increase our help. We must eradicate the evil conditions and diseases which are rampant in many territories overseas. At this time of enormous developments in communications and means of travel, the evils which exist in other countries can easily spread to other parts of the world.
There are good political and defence reasons why we should increase our overseas aid. "Nye" Bevan once said that peace was not merely the absence of war, but something more positive was needed if we were ever to establish true peace. The Bill represents a step towards the positive something of which he was probably thinking, the giving to people in less fortunate areas of the world the type of conditions in which they can raise their own living standards.
There are humanitarian and moral reasons why we should increase our overseas aid. Many of us profess to believe in the brotherhood of man. I was very pleased to read, a year or so ago, that the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition expressed this belief when he went to Moscow, quoting the words of "Rabbie" Burns:For a' that and a' that,It's coming yet for a' that,That man to man the warld o'erShall brothers be for a' that".It is all right to say these things, but we must do something to express such thoughts, and the work of this Ministry is doing just that.
In saying this, and that we must increase our national effort to help these people, I hope that in the years ahead the Ministry will increase its efforts to encourage the many voluntary organisations which have been doing great work in sending help to the people in these areas—such organisations as the Oxford Committee for Famine Relief, War on Want and the Save the Children Fund. The number of people in this country who run bazaars and money-making efforts to contribute in this way shows that there is a tremendous fund of good will for the cause which the Department has been set up to deal with. There are the United Nations agencies and organisations, the United Nations 504 Children's Fund and the work of the World Health Organisation and the Food and Agriculture Organisation, which I hope the Government will increasingly support.
I must say a special word for the good work that is being done by Voluntary Service Overseas. It is pleasing to note that in reply to Questions in the House yesterday, my hon. Friend the Parliamentary Secretary was able to say that this effort will be increased. I hope that everything will be done to encourage it so that we give not only aid in cash, but practical aid by people going from this country to help the countries abroad.
The problem of world poverty is a long-term problem. The Government will need to have three or four terms of office before we begin even to come to grips with the problem. It will be a long journey, and a long journey starts with the first steps. The proposals which are before the House today are the beginning of those steps.
When two-thirds of humanity is living in want, the fact that many leading industrial nations are spending £40,000 million on armaments is a condemnation of those nations. It is to be hoped that the Estimates for defence will diminish as the years go by and that those of the Ministry of Overseas Development will increase. We should begin to think less of the arms race and more about the human race. That is what we are doing in the Bill today.
It has been estimated that in the 29 poorest countries, the average income per head is less than £20 a year, compared with £300 in this country. In other words, our standard of living is 15 times as high as that of half the world's people. We must not merely concern ourselves with famine relief, but we must remove the causes of famine. As well as exploiting outer space and talking of journeys to the moon, industrial nations—and Britain can give a lead—must spend more time and effort exploring the possibility of helping these people to solve their problems.
I should like briefly to refer to the type of organisation which we can help to create. The hon. Member for Meriden (Mr. Rowland) and the hon. Member for Southampton, Test (Sir J. Fletcher-Cooke) have referred to the 505 development of co-operative organisations. If, in these territories, we can form credit, agricultural, fishing and other cooperatives, not only will we help them, but we will help them to help themselves. That is the important thing. It is not aid that they want all the time, but the means of getting trade. Not only will this give them a new concept of democracy in which they can govern themselves, but in the process they can have the fruits of their labour and raise their living standards.
Reference has been made to the trade unions. Our trade union movement has done a great deal in supporting the different voluntary organisations. I hope that it will think more in terms of giving active help and sending representatives to organise the people in these territories as well. Some time ago, John Donne said:No man is an Island …Any man's death diminishes me, because I am involved in Mankind; And therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee.I am very pleased to know that at the end of this debate there is to be no Division bell.
I hope that this will be one of many Measures which this Ministry will bring before the House and that they will all have the support which this has had today.
§ 9.1 p.m.
§ Mr. Nigel Fisher (Surbiton)
I very much agree with the hon. Member for Birmingham, Yardley (Mr. Joan L. Evans) that this debate has been a useful and constructive one and has shown what a wide area of agreement there is on this important subject between the two sides of the House. Colonial and Commonwealth debates nowadays are very friendly, but the right hon. Lady will very well remember the days when they were not. The House owes a great deal to the Colonial Secretaryship of my right hon. Friend the Member for Enfield, West (Mr. Iain Macleod), because it was his bipartisan approach to these problems and his progressive, forward-looking thinking which secured for the House the sort of atmosphere in which we now debate these issues, the atmosphere in which we have debated them this afternoon.
The debate has been wide-ranging geographically and occasionally disjointed, 506 because, not unnaturally, hon. Members have wanted to talk about the places they have been to and the development needs arising in each. I sympathise with that, because it has been my good fortune over the years to visit many of our colonial territories and to see for myself what the Colonial Development and Welfare Acts do and have done in those countries. Almost all the roads, airfields, hospitals and schools in any of these territories have come out of C.D. and W. funds. I hope by now, for instance, that some of the money which we made available last year is already producing wells for much needed agricultural development in South Arabia, and that the new hospital, which I saw under construction when I was last in Barbados, is now completed, and that at least a start has been made with the important new road developments which we are financing in the Virgin Islands.
These projects and hundreds more like them are of vital importance to the colonial territories concerned, and I am sure that the right hon. Lady would agree that it is very difficult to exaggerate the immense difference which the Colonial Development and Welfare Acts have made throughout the new Commonwealth since that first Act in 1940, which was such a gesture of faith in the future, passed as it was at the height of the Second World War.
I can fairly claim that the Conservative Government had a good record on aid. In 1952 Government overseas aid was running at about £50 million a year; six years later it had been doubled, and by 1960 it had been trebled. Last year it amounted to £175 million. We expect the right hon. Lady to continue with this upward graph, and on this side of the House we very much welcome the Bill which, for the Colonies, is the most important piece of legislation since the 1963 Measure and which will be the most important until the next one in 1969. I also welcome the fact that this is a five-year Bill, which is much more appropriate than the three-year Bill on which I remember speaking myself in 1963. In effect, it is a four-year Bill with a one-year overlap, and an overlap which allows the territories to plan ahead is of some importance.
The right hon. Lady and my right hon. Friend compared this Bill with the 1963 507 Measure. I should like to remind the House that we did quite well, perhaps a little late, as the right hon. Lady said, under the 1963 Act. The proportion of grant to loan was higher than it had been under the 1959 Act and the total represented an increase of 28 per cent. Taking account both of new money and unspent money from the previous Act, our total worked out at about £23 million a year in grants and about £14 million a year in loans. The grant total under this Bill will work out at about £19 million a year and the loan total at £8 million a year.
On the face of it, therefore, our 1963 Act provided £4 million a year more in grants and about £6 million a year more in loans. But we cannot compare the figures, because in the last two years more countries have become independent and although many of them still continue to receive aid, they receive it through different machinery.
I should like the hon. Gentleman to tell us when he replies whether the remaining colonial territories, comparing like with like, will receive under the Bill as much or more per annum in C.D. and W. money as the same territories did under the 1963 Bill. I hope that they will. If so, I warmly welcome this.
Like the hon. Member for Birmingham, Northfield (Mr. Chapman), who never makes a bad speech in the House and makes very good ones on this subject, I am interested in and particularly concerned with the smaller and poorer of our remaining colonial territories. I do not refer to the ones which are always in the public eye or in which there have been, and still are, acute political difficulties, like Aden and British Guiana. Money is somehow always found for places with acute political problems.
But in her statement on 10th November, in answer to a supplementary question from the hon. Member for Barking (Mr. Driberg), the right hon. Lady said—and I think that I have her words correctly—that economic considerations would always predominate and that genuine economic need was to be the criterion. Incidentally, I believe this is an unrealistic and probably mistaken view, because nowadays aid is one of the principal instruments of overseas policy and the right hon. Lady would not be supporting very effectively the 508 policies of the Foreign, Commonwealth and Colonial Secretaries if she literally applied need as the criterion on which her Department dispensed its funds and did not take into account the very important political considerations.
However, if the right hon. Lady's statement on 10th November meant anything, it must have meant that she would at least do her best for the small Colonies whose need is often the greatest of all. I was glad to hear her confirm that this afternoon. I am thinking especially of the Solomon Islands and the New Hebrides in the South Pacific and of the Seychelles in the Indian Ocean. These three are probably as badly off as any. In these and other small island Colonies it is not a question of spending millions of pounds, as we have had to spend in the past in some of the larger territories; a few hundred thousand pounds a year would make all the difference.
I am glad to hear that the hon. Lady the Under-Secretary of State for the Colonies is to visit Fiji in the near future. I hope that when she does, and if there is time—I shall be very ready to help on any pairing proposal—she will have an opportunity of visiting the Solomon Islands and perhaps the New Hebrides to see the need for herself. I am a great believer in Ministerial visits. Ministers argue the case far more effectively with the Treasury if they have been to the places in question and seen the need. I speak from personal experience. I hope that the Minister of Overseas Development and her Parliamentary Secretary will do some travelling, too.
I am glad to know that the Under-Secretary of State for the Colonies is also going to the High Commission Territories this year, where she will see that the new capital of Bechuanaland, Gaberones, is now functioning, I understand, with our Commissioner in residence. This new capital is a great step forward, has long been needed and is the result of C.D. and W. funds.
May I mention another new capital on which work has not yet begun but which I have much at heart and on which I hope there has been some progress since I left the Department. I refer to British Honduras. I was there a year ago and I know what great store Mr. George Price and his people set by having a new 509 capital inland away from the hurricane dangers. There have been difficulties over this new capital. Negotiations have been proceeding very slowly indeed. However, I hope that with this Bill the right hon. Lady will be able to provide enough money, at any rate, to make a start. I should be grateful if the hon. Gentleman the Parliamentary Secretary would say whether this project has been agreed and, if so, when construction work is likely to begin.
The hon. Member for Northfield gave me a nice political point that I should like to pursue briefly. I want to ask a question about interest rates. I know that domestic interest rates are a delicate subject for this Government and it would, of course, be out of order for me to refer to them in this debate, but the interest rate on C.D. and W. loans is in order. When the 1959 C.D. and W. Act was before the House the right hon. Lady, in her first speech from this Box, and speaking officially for the Labour Party, said:… to meet the problem … in the Colonies there is only one way, and that is by grants adequate to close the gap or loans … at specially cheap rates of interest … we state quite clearly that in our views loans of 5 per cent"—that was what we were charging then—are too high and we shall see to it that when we get a Labour Government no Colony is held up in its development plans because of excessive rates of interest for the money it has to borrow."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 2nd March, 1959; Vol. 601, c. 147.]Those were very fine and challenging words and very embarrassing, I thought at the time, for the Government spokesman who replied. It was a point well taken. It was a very clear and categoric undertaking for the future. Yet, in the first C.D. and W. Bill brought forward by the present Government—and I expect that it will be the last—the rate of loan interest proposed by the right hon. Lady herself is now 6¾ per cent. It is very embarrassing the way these pre-election chickens are coming home to roost.
I come now to the way in which the money is spent. I hope that it will be spent on real development, which is what these Acts intend. I know that sometimes we may have to spend some development money on replacements—for instance, when an air-strip runway needs renewal or a bridge falls down. But that is not real development, and I hope that the minimum of C.D. and W. money will be 510 used on what really should be budgetary aid.
I mention this because, as the hon. Member for Northfield knows, one often hears criticism, particularly in the West Indies, that we sometimes give with one hand and quickly take away with the other. The money under this Bill is not meant to be spent as grant in aid, and I hope that it will not be.
My second plea not only to the right hon. Lady's Department but also to the territories themselves is to spend as much as they can as quickly as they can and as well as they can within the allocations they are given. I am glad that the right hon. Lady herself made that point. What often happens is that some Colonies spend slowly and do not use up, within the period of the Act, the full amount available to them. It is not, of course, lost, because it is carried forward to the next Act, but it means that the sum voted by Parliament is not fully used during the period.
It may be that this is due in some cases to inexperience or lack of proper planning machinery in the Colonies concerned, and that brings me to Clause 2, which is concerned with the Overseas Service Aid Scheme. We welcome the extension of O.S.A.S. to local government services, including universities, and the provision that payment to expatriates can now be made direct by the Government to the bank account of the officer concerned instead of, so to speak, going through the books of the colonial territory.
My right hon. Friend the Member for Mitcham (Mr. R. Carr) would have wound up this debate today but for the inquest following the tragic bereavement he has suffered. He would have spoken with much more authority on this part of the Bill than I can. We regret his absence very much, and especially the sad reason for it. Before the General Election, my right hon. Friend had been considering the very changes now incorporated in Clause 2 and would have brought them forward had he remained in the Department.
I am a little concerned about how much Clause 2 actually means. As my right hon. Friend the Member for Enfield, West reminded us, the original O.S.A.S. offer was an open one to every territory except the four rich ones—the Bahamas, 511 Bermuda, Brunei and Hong Kong. The extension of Clause 2 to local government services seems, however, to have been very much qualified by the right hon. Lady's speech today. I will read it carefully tomorrow, but my impression was that the extension will apply only when she thinks there is a high priority for it, and this may be very restricted indeed. The Clause reads all right; it is the right hon. Lady's interpretation of it which concerns me a little.
I hope that the Clause will at least remove some of the relatively minor difficulties which have arisen as a result of O.S.A.S. As the right hon. Lady knows, there have been some jealousies and misunderstandings in the past between local civil servants and expatriate civil servants, and also, I believe, between O.S.A.S. officers in some cases and technical assistance officers. I think these payments direct to the officers will help to remove a possible source of misunderstanding of the O.S.A.S. scheme by local civil servants. At any rate I hope so.
Since its introduction by my right hon. Friend the Member for Enfield, West in 1960 it has proved a very fine scheme, helpful, I think we would all agree, both to the expatriate officers and to the countries which employed them. I was very glad to hear that my hon. Friend the Member for Southampton, Test (Sir J. Fletcher-Cooke) was one of the beneficiaries. I was also glad to hear the justified tribute from my hon. Friend the Member for Antrim, North (Mr. Henry Clarke) to my right hon. Friend.
I think it is now worth considering whether it would be possible to employ some of these officers ourselves and second them to the individual territories. In other words, we ought at any rate to think about creating a long-term career structure in some specialist categories for some people in those categories. I do not think I would go a great deal further than that. My hon. Friend the Member for York (Mr. Longbottom) made the point rather forcefully, but, if I may say so, it was put with better emphasis by the hon. Member for Swindon (Mr. Francis Noel-Baker) and by my hon. Friend the Member for Tonbridge (Mr. Hornby). I think it is worth thinking 512 about, but I do not think we can do it for everyone, or on at all a comprehensive scale.
I think it is also worth thinking a little about the whole aid system for the Colonies. After all, at the time it was devised we still had a vast colonial empire, including many large and important African countries like Nigeria. Now we are left with many small island Colonies, almost all of them in receipt of grants in aid. Not unnaturally, there is a Treasury tendency to dislike development projects which, by adding to recurrent expenditure, will automatically add to grant in aid in future years. The grant-in-aid system has been very much improved recently, particularly in the West Indies. Although many Colonies still do not like it very much, it is now a good deal more flexible than it used to be.
Some hard things have been said today about the Treasury by my right hon. Friend, and this is right. Anybody interested in overseas expenditure has always had to say hard things about the Treasury; but, at the same time, when the British taxpayers' money is being spent the Treasury is, perhaps, entitled to exercise some control over the way in which it is spent in order to ensure the best and most efficient use of it. I do not know whether at this point of time and in the changed circumstances we should be looking again at the colonial aid system as a whole to see if we can go any further with improvements in it.
I put this in a very interrogative form, because I know the difficulties. In office one has the most wonderful and helpful Government machine to examine new ideas but one is desperately busy with acute and time-taking day-to-day problems; out of office one has plenty of time to think, but not such good sources of information and research. So it is rather difficult.
Indeed, my suggestion for a new look at the colonial aid system arises mainly from the fact that the right hon. Lady has invited into her Department three additional economic advisers from outside the Civil Service at combined salaries of over £16,000 a year, and I understand from an answer to a Question yesterday that she has since taken on another economist and is proposing to take on 10 more. I do hope that these 513 somewhat highly paid gentleman will apply their expert economic minds to thinking about ways in which we provide our aid and trying to improve them. If they are not doing that, I cannot imagine what they are doing there at all.
Everyone who has taken part in this debate—although with varying degrees of enthusiasm—has welcomed the new Ministry; and the hon. Member for Kingston-upon-Hull, West (Mr. James Johnson), whom we are all very glad to see back in the House, said how much it was welcomed in Africa. Of course, it is welcomed in Africa. All the territories welcome it, because they think that they will get a lot more money out of it. But that is the acid test. There are a lot of expensive new officials in the right hon. Lady's Ministry and it has a beautiful new name—whether one calls it "The Birdcage" or the "Elephant and Castle" I do not mind—but these things are going to be a fraud and a bitter disappointment to the territories if the Bill does not provide more money. That is what matters. And until we see the financial outcome of this elevated new Ministry, with the best will in the world we must reserve judgment upon it.
Having welcomed the Bill, may I also welcome the right hon. Lady. I am glad that she has at last graced the House of Commons with her charming presence in order to listen to our inquiries about the way in which her Ministry works. I hope that when the Parliamentary Secretary replies he will be able to answer the points made by my right hon. Friend the Member for Enfield, West. I put these same questions during the debate on the Address. I did not expect an answer then, but that was in November, and the right hon. Lady has therefore had plenty of notice of the sort of questions that we have in our minds. I put them again, as did many of my right hon. and hon. Friends, during the debate on the Machinery of Government Bill. The right hon. Lady deliberately remained away from the House on that occasion, and, of course, the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster did not know any more about the functions of her Ministry—why should he?—than we did. In fact, I thought he knew rather less.
But in the end Ministers always have to face the House of Commons, even if they are coy little violets like the right hon. Lady, or perhaps like the First 514 Secretary of State, who failed to appear in the House last week when he was top for Questions. That was a most extraordinary lapse. I thought that it was deplorable; but in the end they all have to come here.
I think that we are entitled to inquire—and I hope that we shall get answers from the hon. Gentleman—into how the right hon. Lady's Ministry functions, and how this Bill was prepared. Under the last Administration, it would have been the subject of prolonged discussions between the Colonial Office and the Treasury, first at official and then at Ministerial level. As it happens, I conducted the negotiations for the 1963 Bill myself, and I was able to do it—and I say this with suitable modesty—because I and my officials lived with these problems from day to day. We were able to argue the case from personal knowledge. We did not always get our way. We did not get as much money as we wanted—one never does—but we knew what we were talking about, in a way which the right hon. Lady, her Parliamentary Secretary and her officials cannot know, because they are not dealing with the territories every day. They have to get their information at second hand.
How was the Bill prepared? If it was prepared by the right hon. Lady's Ministry, then, with respect, the C.D. and W. part of the Bill did not have the best advocates available to make the case for it. If it was prepared by the Colonial Office, what is the point of upgrading the right hon. Lady's Ministry to cover what has hitherto been, and apparently still is, a Colonial Office responsibility? If, as I suspect, and as I thought the Under-Secretary of State for the Colonies confirmed during an intervention in my right hon. Friend's speech, it was prepared by both, if there were two sets of officials and then two lots of Ministers trooping along to the Treasury, there was a duplication of effort and a waste of time of important and able people who could have given their minds to other matters during that time.
I hope that the hon. Gentleman will enlighten us on this, because these points call into question the whole justification for this aspect of the new Ministry's work, and we were not able to obtain any answers to them during the Committee stage of the Machinery of Government 515 Bill. Having introduced this note of criticism, which I felt obliged to do, and which I think needs answering, I hope that the hon. Gentleman will not duck it, because we are entitled to answers which we have not hitherto had.
I will finish as I began, on a note of welcome, because this is a helpful and an important Measure. The annual income per head in America is £825 a year, and in Britain it is £425 a year. In India—and I was very interested in the speech of the hon. Member for Hitchin (Mrs. Shirley Williams), as I once represented her constituency; she spoke very well on this point—in India and East Africa, in the High Commission Territories of Bechuanaland and Basutoland, and in the newly independent country of the Gambia, the average income per head is not £425 a year but £25 a year. These figures are a challenge to our consciences in the House of Commons, to whatever party we belong.
We are inclined—it is only human nature, and I do not complain of it—to demand bigger profits, higher wages, longer holidays, shorter working hours, less effort and more leisure. But we must give as well as take. We must do without some of these things for ourselves in order to provide the simple necessities of life for these people in our colonial territories for whom we still have direct responsibility, and whose standard of living is so much lower than our own.
We have now almost achieved "one nation". We have not nearly achieved "one world". In so far as this Bill helps to realise that ideal it is very welcome to the House of Commons.
§ 9.27 p.m.
§ The Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Overseas Development (Mr. Albert E. Oram)
I am sure that hon. Members on both sides of the House will agree that we have had a valuable debate on the Bill. Every speech has been packed with constructive suggestions—very often, as the hon. Member for Surbiton (Mr. Fisher) has said, based on first-hand experience which Members have gained in their travels or their occupations. I can assure hon. Members that all these suggestions will be taken fully into account by my right hon. Friend and myself. We shall try to build 516 constructively on the constructive suggestions put forward.
Many searching questions have been asked. These are welcomed. I do not expect that I shall be able to answer them all tonight, but I shall do my best. I can assure anyone whose question is not answered that that does not mean that it is not considered worthy of note. It may well lead to action.
Virtually the only controversial points which have been raised are those concerning the formation of the Ministry, which were rather tortuously dragged in by the right hon. Member for Enfield, West (Mr. Iain Macleod) and, more latterly, by the hon. Member for Surbiton. Yet we could see that both hon. Members, in their hearts, know, in the first place, that this is a very good Bill, and, in the second place, that it is being introduced by a very good Ministry and that the new Ministry will be able to carry out the kind of work provided for in the Bill far more adequately than was possible under the previous machinery which our present Ministry is replacing.
The right hon. Member for Enfield, West at least now claimed to be in the stage of an agnostic in this business. It was clear that some of his hon. Friends—especially the hon. Member for York (Mr. Longbottom)—had seen the light. If the right hon. Gentleman has at least made some progress towards a state of agnosticism we may be able to look forward in the not too distant future to his total conversion.
The hon. Member for Surbiton asked me not to dodge this question. I will not. We are proud that we included these proposals for a Ministry of Overseas Development in the manifesto which we put before the electorate. We are proud that we have been given the opportunity by the electorate to do it and we are building up a Ministry of first-class importance which is welcomed throughout the world, not just because people are hoping to get this or that amount of money out of us, but because they see that by this method Britain is putting overseas development in the forefront of the things which this Government intend to do in helping to build a new and more peaceful world.
517 I take the point made by the hon. Gentleman the Member for York that if we are putting aid into any country it has to be paralleled by an injection of technical assistance. Is it not a logical consequence, therefore, that capital aid and technical assistance should be planned and operated by the same Minister, under the same Ministry and for the same rational set of purposes? This combination of technical assistance and aid is, I think, the real basis of what we are bringing about in this new Ministry.
But there is another point. I am sure it has been noted throughout the world that the Prime Minister has brought this whole set of purposes out of the secondary status in which it was into Cabinet status. My right hon. Friend, if I may say so, is not a bird in a gilded cage. She is a forceful personality, dedicated to the whole business of development promotion, able to speak in the Cabinet on behalf of those ideals. This, in itself, is an enormous justification of what we have done.
My right hon. Friend has announced—and she referred to it again today—that, to make sure that we operate aid on a new and purposeful front, we are making a complete review. The economists who have been referred to have been imported from outside to assist us in weighing up the whole field, to try to find if there was a rational basis in the pattern of aid and of technical assistance under the previous Administration. I know that we have not been too impressed by what we have discovered about it so far, but we shall review it and out of this get a set of criteria which makes sense not only to us, but to the Opposition and to the world outside.
The right hon. Member for Enfield, West asked me a number of rather more detailed questions, though they are quite important ones. First was the making of direct payments to people serving overseas. He recalled that under the original O.S.A.S. scheme it had been carefully established that the person serving overseas was the employee of the overseas Government and that the O.S.A.S. scheme was operated in such a way as not to disturb that relationship or to divide that person's loyalty. This point was made by my right hon. Friend in her opening 518 speech and she went on to say that she expects to be able, under the proposed new arrangements, to continue to ensure that these principles are still fulfilled. I do not think that this need cause the right hon. Gentleman any further concern.
The right hon. Gentleman asked why we do not propose to apply this extension of the O.S.A.S. universally at once. He made the point that the original O.S.A.S. proposals were extended universally, with the one or two exceptions which he quoted from the White Paper. If he reflects, he will realise that the institutions to be covered under Clause 2(5) are potentially vary varied and that we cannot, at this stage, assess the needs and the problems of the institutions with which we hope to reach arrangements. This is in contrast to the present O.S.A.S., which applied to much more definitely ascertainable public services, the needs and composition of which we knew much better than we can possibly know this more varied set of institutions which we hope to service under the proposals in the Bill.
May I leave the right hon. Gentleman temporarily and turn to my hon. Friend the Member for Meriden (Mr. Rowland) who, in his very well-informed and lucid speech, raised a number of points in connection with the O.S.A.S. extension? I suggest that the very points which he raised illustrate the need for us not to be too categorical this evening about exactly what kind of institution is likely to be covered but rather to wait until the Bill becomes law, as we hope it soon will, and then my right hon. Friend can weigh up the competing claims from the variety of institutions to which I have referred and we can proceed pragmatically instead of making any dogmatic announcements at this stage.
I can, however, reply in one or two particulars to what my hon. Friend said. He raised the question of whether the bodies with which we hope to reach agreement could themselves reach agreement with us or whether it would have to be under the aegis of their Government. We see no objection, for example, to universities appointing staff and making application direct to my right hon. Friend, although I must make it clear that it will .be for my right hon. Friend to decide on the point of designation.
519 My hon. Friend then went into the interesting sphere of the possible extension of Clause 2(5) to cover such things as trade unions and co-operative societies. In view of my own co-operative connections, he will not be surprised to know that this point is in my mind, and it way well be that we shall later consider that this kind of non-profit-making, social institution is something which we want to encourage under the powers of the Bill. As my hon. Friend pointed out, the purpose of Clause 2(6) is to enable us by Order presented to Parliament to extend the scope of the powers which we are seeking.
§ Mr. Iain Macleod
This is particularly important. As my hon. Friend the Member for Surbiton (Mr. Fisher) pointed out, it seemed to us that the Bill was all right and we welcomed it, but what worried us was the interpretation which the Minister put on it, an interpretation which the Parliamentary Secretary is confirming. The Explanatory and Financial Memorandum reads:If full effect is given to the increased powers … the additional charge … in the financial year 1965–66 might be as much as £500,000.All we are concerned about in this financial year is a possible sum of half-a-million pounds. But the danger is that if this is left entirely to administrative action, there is no guarantee that this admirable provision in the Bill will be implemented. It is on this point that we should like reassurance.
§ Mr. Oram
I can give the right hon. Gentleman an absolute assurance about that. It is not the intention of my right hon. Friend to be in any way restrictive or niggardly in her approach to this matter. Indeed, she is anxious to have these powers so that she may be expansive rather than restrictive. It is not possible at this stage to be too categorical in describing the exact boundaries of the extension. This must be left as a matter of administrative judgment.
When the right hon. Member for Enfield, West intervened I was about to make a further point in reply to my hon. Friend the Member for Meriden, who asked whether it would be possible for so-called public utilities in private 520 ownership to qualify under the Bill. That is not the position. It is not intended that private ownership of that kind should come within its provisions.
The right hon. Member for Enfield, West made a perfectly valid point about the need to ensure promotion for people after they return home. I recall that it was not many months ago, from the benches opposite, that I was asking similar questions of the then Government. The right hon. Gentleman can rest assured, therefore, that we are seized of the importance of the problem. However, he will know that it is not an easy matter to tackle. It depends on confidence and the recognition by employers that service overseas is an asset and that it must be recognised as such. It being a question of employers having a sense of confidence—being educated in this matter, to put it one way—this must take some time to get over to them, but we will do all we can to encourage the spread of this sense of confidence. Secondment is important in this sphere. The hon. Member for Liverpool, Wavertree (Mr. Tilney) raised this question. It is a matter of people in stable employment here at home going into overseas service. Secondment enables employers, if they are wedded to the idea that overseas service is a valuable thing, to ensure that their staffs do not suffer as a result of serving overseas.
The right hon. Member for Enfield, West tried to imply in his opening remarks that under the Bill there will be some falling off in the amount of money that we are providing, compared with earlier Measures. He must know better than that, particularly if one realises—and my right hon. Friend spelt this out in terms of the territories which became independent since the operation of the previous Act—that the sums of money provided under this Measure will apply to a much smaller number of dependent territories.
The figures are not without interest in rebuttal of the right hon. Gentleman's suggestion. At the time of the passage of the 1963 Act the population of the dependent territories covered by that Measure was 18¾ million and £109 million was available under that Act for all the territories over a period of three years, or £2 per head per year. The population of the territories covered by the Bill is only 5½ million and the Measure 521 will make available £135 million over five years. If one does the necessary arithmetic, one finds that this represents £5 per head per year. Thus, on a per capita basis, which is not without significance in these matters, there is an obvious uplift from £2 to £5 per head per year.
To be fair to the right hon. Gentleman, he went on to say that the remaining dependent territories tend to be the poorer and, therefore, need all the more. I accept this point, but the figures I have mentioned substantiate the fact that they are liable to receive considerably more than hitherto.
The hon. Member for York and my hon. Friends the Members for Swindon (Mr. Francis Noel-Baker) and for Meriden spoke about the value of having longer periods of service overseas rather than the two- or three-year tour which is often the accepted term of contract. It must be recognised that the two- or three-year period as an initial contract suits both the person going overseas and the Government employing him, because it enables them to find out whether the one suits the other. The matter need not, and in many cases does not, end there. There is encouragement for these people to renew the contracts, and in very many cases it is a series of two- or three-year contracts, which alters the picture, although I am not in any sense disputing the value of the longer term of service overseas.
Several hon. Members have suggested that there should be a career service. Those who have studied this matter will recall that this suggestion was examined in the White Paper, to which several references have been made, and a number of very serious difficulties are there outlined. At Question Time yesterday I was able to announce that we at the Ministry are undertaking a review of the whole procedure of recruitment. We are not entirely ruling out a career service, even though the White Paper rather damped one's enthusiasm for it.
I would not seek to improve upon the words used by the hon. Member for Surbiton. As I see it, it is very much a question of the scale on which one envisages this. The difficulty arises if one imagines a vast organisation, but something along the lines of a more specialist corps, home-based, might turn 522 out to be quite practicable. At any rate, any practical scheme will be open to consideration in the review we are now undertaking.
A number of hon. Members raised the question of the English language. I welcome their suggestions on this point. They might be interested to know that a good deal is already being done in this respect. I am not attempting to suggest that it meets the need. It is, in a sense, only a drop in the ocean, but it is worth putting it on record that both the Ministry of Overseas Development and the British Council do a great deal in recruiting teachers of English for service overseas. Indeed, about one-quarter of those who go to teaching posts overseas, other than purely technical ones, are competent to teach English or general art subjects which include English.
In 1964, about 200 teachers of this type were appointed. In 1965 the figure will probably be about 300. Although the numbers are still small, I suggest that the trend is very much in the right direction and is evidence that both the Ministry and the British Council have this important point very much in mind.
The hon. Member for Surbiton commented that the debate has been wide ranging and has extended far beyond the scope of Clause 1. This we all welcome. It gave us an opportunity during the debate not to confine our attention to C.D. and W. aspects, but also to consider more general aspects of the Ministry's policy.
A number of my hon. Friends have called attention in this connection to the needs of Latin America. My hon. Friends the Members for Sheffield, Attercliffe (Mr. John Hynd) and Birkenhead (Mr. Dell), in particular, spoke on this point. I can assure them that although in terms of actual aid at the moment I would entirely agree that Latin America tends to have been neglected, this is by no means outside the attention of the Ministry particularly in terms of technical assistance. I recall that only a week or two ago, at Chatham House, there was a conference of economists from all over Latin America, and our Ministry played a part in acting as hosts to the visitors from Latin America. I mention this as an earnest of our interest in the possibilities in that Continent.
523 The hon. Member for Dorking (Sir G. Sinclair), in an interesting speech in which he warmly welcomed the Bill, gave four cogent reasons for welcoming the extension of the O.S.A.S. provisions. He then made a point which is dear to my heart in these matters, supported by my hon. Friend the Member for Kingston-upon-Hull, West (Mr. James Johnson), about the desperate need for technical assistance in agriculture. I welcome the fact that reference was made to this need from both sides of the House. I feel that there has been a tendency to think of technical assistance and aid too much in urban terms and in industrial terms. It is difficult to say these things without appearing to criticise urban and industrial development; one does not want to do this, but hon. Members are quite right in suggesting that we should not lose sight of the desperate need for technical assistance in agriculture.
The points that were made about co-operatives are very valid in this connection, and it will not have escaped the attention of the House that one of the types of institution included in Clause 2 as being capable of help under the new O.S.A.S. arrangements are the marketing boards, so that this should enable us to give support to agriculture as has been requested.
My hon. Friend the Member for Birmingham, Northfield (Mr. Chapman) made a vigorous speech outlining, as I thought was justified, the need for establishing a set of standards of judgment, as he put it, for the allocation of aid. He said that the present situation is haphazard and that this arises—I entirely agree with him—from the fact that it has hitherto been under a variety of Ministries. I dealt with this point earlier, but I recall that my hon. Friend made this point in a particularly forceful way.
My hon. Friend, with others, urged that the economists who are being recruited into the Ministry should not only work at Eland House, but that they should be encouraged to go out into the field. This we entirely accept. The hon. Member for Surbiton made some encouraging suggestions that Ministers should travel. I can assure him that my right hon. Friend has already done so. As he knows, she went to India and Pakistan and she was accompanied by one of the 524 economists who have been appointed. This shows that it is fully our intention that they should not just stick at home, but should go out into the field. We hope that these new appointments that will be made will also in some degree be related to the need to provide expert economic advice on the spot.
The hon. Member for Southampton, Test (Sir J. Fletcher-Cooke) raised the difficult question of the effect on the balance of payments. He asked to what extent this was taken into account. Clearly, it is one of the criteria that must be taken into consideration and it is being included in the major review of policy which has been referred to on several occasions. I cannot give the hon. Member the precise information for which he asked about the strain on the balance of payments resulting from the proposals in the Bill, but I have seen an estimate. It is in very general terms and I cannot do better than say that probably something like 50 per cent. of our aid operations over the whole field have an adverse effect on the balance of payments. I would not put that forward as being more than an intelligent guess.
The hon. Member managed without being out of order—and, therefore, I also hope to be able to reply briefly to him without being called to order—to raise the question of obligations on overseas pensions. The only point that I want to make in that connection is that my right hon. Friend is due to have an interview with representatives of the Overseas Pensioners' Association and for this reason it is clearly impossible for me to do more than inform the hon. Member that that will take place. I hope also that that will give some temporary satisfaction to my hon. Friend the Member for Kingston-upon-Hull, West who also raised this question.
I was glad to hear the hon. Member for Wavertree reminding us of the important question of commodity prices. I take a personal interest in this, as he knows. We have in a number of other debates both raised the whole question of the way in which adverse trends in commodity prices can so easily wipe out all that one tries to do in aid. I assure him that we have this point very much in mind.
As I was approaching this debate at the beginning of this week I heard a political 525 correspondent quoted as saying that this week's business in Parliament was likely to be dull. I have no doubt that he was assessing today's debate in those terms. I have no doubt that that is a completely wrong assessment of the subject matter which we have been discussing today. It is true that there has been no great clash between the parties—and I welcome this—but that does not mean to say that the contents of the Bill and of the debate have been dull, uninteresting or unimportant. They have been the reverse.
We have been talking about amounts of money, terms of service and recruitment of expert personnel. I fully recognise that these are not the things that headlines are made of, but do not let us forget that behind these seemingly uninteresting phrases there are hungry people, there are children suffering from disease, there are unused and undeveloped physical resources side by side with human misery and want. There is nothing more interesting, more exciting, and more challenging than taking part in this worldwide campaign against these ills, and it is for that purpose that we present the Bill to the House.
§ Question put and agreed to.
§ Bill accordingly read a Second time.
§ Bill committed to a Standing Committee pursuant to Standing Order No. 40 (Committal of Bills).