HC Deb 08 February 1966 vol 724 cc177-9
1. Mr. Geoffrey Lloyd

asked the Minister of Overseas Development what requests he has received from the governments of developing countries in receipt of aid for the services of business experts to assist the private sector of their economies.

The Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Overseas Development (Mr. Albert E. Oram)

I call attention to my reply of the 1st February to the hon. Member for Birmingham, Hall Green (Mr. Eyre). Requests in this field are relatively infrequent. Our policy in such matters is broadly to respond to the requests for technical assistance which originate in developing countries, rather than to make specific offers ourselves.

Mr. Lloyd

Will the hon. Gentleman take note of the fact that while many of us admire the technical work of his Department, the purpose of this series of Questions by my hon. Friends and myself is to jog the Department out of its negative attitude on this matter, where the United States leads with the International Executive Corps?

Mr. Oram

I thank the right hon. Gentleman for the first part of his supplementary question, but I do not think that he is right in suggesting that we are negative in this matter. We recognise the importance of the topic which the right hon. Gentleman and his hon. Friends are raising, and I am considering ways and means by which such expertise can be mobilised.

2. Mr. Geoffrey Lloyd

asked the Minister of Overseas Development what steps he is taking to ensure by promotion of business efficiency that the £300 million per annum being granted to developing countries will be used to the best advantage.

Mr. Oram

I think the right hon. Member probably means £200 million rather than £300 million. As I said in reply to the hon. Member for Birmingham, Hall Green (Mr. Eyre) last week, we are ready to meet requests for assistance in this field. I do my best to promote efficiency in the use of our aid.

4. Mr. Eyre

asked the Minister of Overseas Development how many volunteers have been assisted by his Department to help private business firms in developing countries.

Mr. Oram

One, Sir.

Mr. Eyre

Is not this disappointing? Would not it be possible to change the emphasis of policy, perhaps to encourage an awareness of the economic possibilities for development and to provide chances for volunteers from this country to go to help?

Mr. Oram

As I said in reply to an earlier Question, I am considering ways and means of meeting the kind of point which the hon. Gentleman has in mind. The present voluntary organisations are not really engaged in this kind of work, but I agree that the general problem needs looking at.

Mr. Chataway

Will the hon. Gentleman study this American scheme whereby businessmen, some of whom are retired, are enabled to give voluntary service of this kind in the developing countries? I believe that in the United States it is popularly known as the "Paunch Corps". Will he consider whether a similar scheme might be encouraged in this country?

Mr. Oram

I have already given some attention to the American example. I do not think that it would quite fit our needs, but in the consideration which I am giving to this matter I will take the American experience further into account.

Mr. J. H. Osborn

Will the hon. Gentleman also undertake to consult British firms with overseas activities to see whether he can help them at the present time? There is a well-defined need.

Mr. Oram

Yes, Sir. I am seeking ways and means whereby discussions of the kind which the hon. Gentleman has in mind can take place.

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