HC Deb 09 August 1966 vol 733 cc1361-5
1. Mr. Boyd-Carpenter

asked the Minister of Overseas Development which countries which had expropriated the properly of British subjects without proper compensation are receiving grants and loans from his Department.

The Minister of Overseas Development (Mr. Anthony Greenwood)

If the right hon. Gentleman refers to the property of U.K. citizens, and if technical assistance be counted as grants, the list is Argentina, Brazil, Burma, Ceylon, Indonesia, Mexico, E1 Salvador, Syria, Tunisia and the United Arab Republic. In most cases, negotiations or discussions concerning the claims to compensation are in train.

Mr. Boyd-Carpenter

Is that not a formidable list of countries helped by the British taxpayers which have looted the property of British citizens? Would not the negotiations be expedited if it were made clear to them that there would be no assistance until they had come to a settlement of their just debts with Britain?

Mr. Greenwood

I think that reluctance to negotiate on claims would affect our attitude to aid, but I doubt whether an exchange of views across the Floor of the House would help the negotiations. The right hon. Gentleman should remember that Argentine, Brazil and the U.A.R. were promised help by his Government when he was a Treasury Minister.

Mr. Boyd-Carpenter

In view of the unsatisfactory nature of the Reply, I beg to give notice that, if I am fortunate, I will raise this matter on the Adjournment as early as possible.

Mr. Greenwood


5. Sir C. Osborne

asked the Minister of Overseas Development what is the total amount of aid he proposes to give during the current year; how much will go to each country; what is the estimated income per capita, respectively, of each country; on what basis is the aid granted; how much is in repayable loans and gifts, respectively; and what are his estimates for the coming year.

Mr. Greenwood

Because of the length of the Answer, I will, with permission, circulate it in the OFFICIAL REPORT.

Sir C. Osborne

I am grateful for those figures. Will the right hon. Gentleman warn recipient countries that he may not be able much longer to give this aid, since we are lending money which we have not got and which we have not earned but which we have borrowed and which we are not likely to be able to repay?

Mr. Greenwood

I repudiate the hon. Gentleman's lack of confidence in our ability to face this country's economic future, and I hope that when he asks questions of that kind he will bear in mind that we are helping countries where the income per head ranges upwards from £12 per year and that 90 per cent. of our aid goes to countries with per capita incomes of less than £100 a year.

The following is the information: The expectation is that British Government economic aid expenditures in 1966–67 will amount to £225 million. Details of voted expenditure in respect of £138.2 million are available in the printed Estates. It would not be in accordance with customary procedure to go beyond this in making detailed forecasts of amounts expected to be disbursed to individual countries and on other forms of aid. Precise and fully comparable figures of per capita income of countries receiving aid from the United Kingdom are not available, but it is estimated that they range upwards from £12 a head, and about 90 per cent. of our aid goes to countries with incomes of less than £100 per head. (This compares with a United Kingdom figure of £517.) On the question of the basis on which aid is granted, I would refer the hon. Member to Chapters I and VII of the White Paper: "Overseas Development: The Work of the New Ministry" (Cmnd. 2736) published in August, 1965. In 1965–66 the provisional breakdown between grants (including technical assistance and contributions to international organisations) and loans was £108.5 million grants and £93.7 million loans. In the current year, the figures are expected to be nearer 50 per cent. for each category. I cannot at present give details of estimates for 1967–68.
6. Mr. Goodhart

asked the Minister of Overseas Development what proposals he has to increase the proportion of overseas aid which is tied to British exports.

7. Sir C. Osborne

asked the Minister of Overseas Development why his aid is not linked to total purchases from Great Britain; and why he continues to give aid to countries which threaten to leave the Commonwealth and work against this country's interests; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Greenwood

My hon. Friend explained the position in his reply of 26th May to the hon. Member for South Angus (Mr. Bruce-Gardyne) and emphasised that it is our policy to ensure that as much aid as possible is used to supply British goods. I have no plans for a change in the system. I do not accept the implication of the second part of the Question from the hon. Gentleman the Member for Louth (Sir C. Osborne).

Mr. Goodhart

Does the right hon. Gentleman appreciate that at a time of financial stringency tied aid makes far fewer demands on our foreign currency position than any other sort of aid?

Mr. Greenwood

Yes, I fully appreciate that, and it is why we do everything possible to tie aid where it is practicable to do so. But I know that the hon. Gentleman realises that we have special obligations to dependent territories and also to independent territories with whom we have entered into agreements in the past to give budgetary support.

Sir C. Osborne

The hon. Gentleman says that a certain amount of this aid is spent in this country. Does he not know roughly what proportion is spent in this country, and can he also say generally where the rest is spent?

Mr. Greenwood

Generally speaking, the balance is spent on local costs. I had imagined that the hon. Gentleman would have gone into the subject himself and looked up previous answers on the subject, from which he would have seen that £54 million of bilateral financial aid last year was wholly tied and 16 per cent., or £21 million, was partly tied.

9. Mr. Godman Irvine

asked the Minister of Overseas Development what was the total spent in overseas aid since 1945, setting out the details of all main items such as gifts, loans, with details of those free of interest and which have been repaid, defence, technical assistance, Commonwealth Development Corporation, including India, Pakistan, Burma, and all foreign countries.

Mr. Greenwood

The collection and presentation of information in the detail for which the hon. Member asks will be both costly and time-consuming. I am therefore arranging in the interim to circulate in the OFFICIAL REPORT a statement covering the broad headings as far as practicable now, and I will write to the hon. Member in greater detail when it is possible to do so.

Mr. Godman Irvine

Would the right hon. Gentleman consider making this information available in the form of a White Paper, or some other convenient form, as it would be of very wide interest?

Mr. Greenwood

Yes. In the recent debate on the Overseas Aid Bill we agreed that we should issue some publication giving information on this kind. No doubt the hon. Gentleman is aware of the existence of a publication which appeared in June and which gave the statistics of official economic aid by this country to developing countries.

Mr. David Price

Would the right hon. Gentleman consider including in the White Paper the future cash flow position and the future commitments he has made so that we can know each year where we stand in terms of local and foreign currency?

Mr. Greenwood

In many cases that would be a departure from precedent, but I will certainly consider the point.

Following is the information: Estimates for the earlier years of the period do not clearly distinguish between economic and other aid, but on the basis of the best allocation now possible disbursements of economic aid in the period from 1st April, 1945. to 31st March, 1966, were as follows:
Grants 813
Loans 748*
Technical Assistance 168
Multilateral Aid 231
Total 1,960
* Includes interest-free loans of £68 million, and Exchequer drawings by the Commonwealth Development Corporation of £123 million.