HC Deb 26 April 1966 vol 727 cc538-9
Q10. Dame Joan Vickers

asked the Prime Minister whether he will make a statement concerning his talks with the Prime Minister of India; and whether Her Majesty's Government is prepared to give aid for any project, such as an irrigation scheme, to help with the future production of food.

The Prime Minister

I would refer the hon. Lady to the statement issued after the meeting, a copy of which is in the Library. In addition, I am sure the House will be glad to know that we have now offered to make immediately available to the Government of India £17 million of non-project aid, details of which I am circulating in the OFFICIAL REPORT.

Dame Joan Vickers

I thank the Prime Minister for his reply. Will he not agree that the food shortage and the shortage of foreign currency are the most difficult problems for India at the moment? Can he not try to help with the special irrigation problems to overcome this difficulty?

The Prime Minister

This problem has been fully debated in the House on two or three recent occasions and hon. and right hon. Members on both sides of the House have stressed that this is the priority. Of the money which we are now giving in advance of our 1966-67 pledge in the consortium, £10 million is a general purpose loan for the Indians to use in whatever way seems most helpful for dealing with their urgent problems.

Following are the details: The £17 million of non-project aid is an advance instalment of our 1966-67 pledge in the Aid to India Consortium. £10 million of this sum will be a general purpose loan. This offer, which has been accepted with pleasure by the Government of India, is additional to the £7½ million already provided to meet the special needs arising out of the Indian food shortage.