HC Deb 29 June 1967 vol 749 cc726-8
14. Mr. Hooley

asked the Minister of Overseas Development what emergency aid the Government will now give to relieve the plight of refugees from the west bank of the Jordan.

Mr. Bottomley

I would refer my hon. Friend to the replies which my hon. Friend the Under-Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs and I gave to my hon. Friends the Members for Hornchurch (Mr. Alan Lee Williams) and for Brighouse and Spenborough (Mr. Colin Jackson) on 19th June, and also to the answer which my right hon. Friend the Minister of State for Foreign Affairs gave to the hon. and gallant Member for Lewes (Sir T. Beamish) on 26th June.—[Vol. 748, c. 178 and c. 197.] [Vol. 749, c. 16–17.]

Mr. Hooley

I thank my right hon. Friend for that reply, though I cannot carry the figures in my head. Will the British Government's contributions be over and above the aid programme already budgeted for this year?

Mr. Bottomley

No, I cannot say that it will be over and above the aid programme; it has to come within the ceiling of the aid programme as at present fixed.

Mr. Tilney

Is there any scheme for those who want to volunteer from this country to help the refugees?

Mr. Bottomley

I am sure that the voluntary organisations which undertake this work would be willing to consider any proposition put to them.

Mr. Shinwell

Will my right hon. Friend take it that we shall all welcome whatever aid can be provided for those Jordan refugees on the west bank, but has he any information about the amount and nature of aid being provided by Arab countries, particularly those in possession of oil revenues, which are, in fact, responsible for much of the trouble?

Mr. Bottomley

The part that concerns me is the aid which Her Majesty's Government are prepared to give, and I can say that in the case of Jordan we have given as far as it is possible for us to do so.

Mr. Onslow

If this sum comes from within the budget already provided for this year, what cuts are being made elsewhere to compensate?

Mr. Bottomley

It is not a question of making cuts. It is a question of looking at the programme as a whole and slowing down the programme to meet any other further calls which may be made upon it.

23. Mr. Judd

asked the Minister of Overseas Development on what aid development criteria the Government grant of £500,000 to the Jordanian Government following the recent Arab/ Israeli conflict was based.

Mr. Bottomley

For many years past Her Majesty's Government have helped the Jordan Government to maintain essential services and to develop the country's resources in accordance with accepted aid criteria. I am sure that my hon. Friend will agree that in the situation which has now arisen, and to enable the Jordan Government to resume that development, there is pressing need for the supplementary assistance which we have offered them for rehabilitation and reconstruction projects.

Mr. Judd

Does my right hon. Friend agree that, however urgently needed and important this grant was, it was motivated by political factors and had very little to do with overseas aid and development, and therefore should not have been offered through his Ministry?

Mr. Bottomley

That is partly so, but I did tell my hon. Friend that the aid was for rehabilitation and reconstruction, and is therefore concerned with development work.

Mr. Crawshaw

Does my right hon. Friend agree that whilst most countries can find unlimited money to finance wars they seem little prepared to find money to remove the causes of those wars? Whilst one appreciates the help being given in this instance, could not we do more to try to solve the problem so that the seeds of a future war are not kept there in the Middle East?

Mr. Bottomley

Those are sentiments that could be uttered by us all.

Dr. Ernest A. Davies

In view of the present difficulties in Jordan, will the Minister say if there are any particular purposes for which the grant is being used in the short term?

Mr. Bottomley

As a result of a request from the Jordan Prime Minister, we have agreed that the first instalment of £250,000 should be spent on the construction of agricultural roads in the areas where refugees are being sheltered.