HC Deb 29 June 1967 vol 749 cc721-4
8. Mr. Luard

asked the Minister of Overseas Development whether he will now give a firm forecast of the figure of British foreign aid in the current financial year.

Mr. Bottomley

Our target for aid programme expenditures in the current financial year is £205 million, but the actual rate of expenditure during the year depends largely on the progress of projects and other factors in recipient countries, not under Her Majesty's Government's control.

Mr. Luard

Does my right hon. Friend recall that, when the Labour Government first came to power, one of their main claims was that they would undertake a continuing increase in the amount of money devoted to aid and development schemes? When the cuts were made last year, the impression was given that it would be a once-for-all cutback? Does my right hon. Friend realise that there will be widespread disappointment that there is not to be a restoration to the previous level in the coming year?

Mr. Bottomley

There has been a continual increase in aid commitments by this Government until the necessary cuts last year following our economic difficulties. I assure my hon. Friend that I have much sympathy with his point of view and will continue to press it.

Sir Knox Cunningham

Might not some of the aid which is being paid to Tanzania be used to compensate the owners of the nationalised property?

Mr. Bottomley

The aid is not being paid to Tanzania.

10. Mr. Wood

asked the Minister of Overseas Development where the cuts in overseas aid to developing countries for the year 1967–68 will be made.

Mr. Bottomley

I would refer the right hon. Gentleman to the replies given to my hon. Friend the Member for Portsmouth, West (Mr. Judd) on 24th October and to the hon. Member for Woking (Mr. Onslow) on 22nd November last.—[Vol. 734, c. 118 and 270.]

Mr. Wood

Does the right hon. Gentleman realise that disappointment at the reduced figure is increased by the rise in costs and, therefore, the reduced value of the aid below what it would otherwise have been? When may we expect to know about the prospects for 1968–69?

Mr. Bottomley

As regards the prospects, the Government are at the moment considering their estimates, and I hope in due course to be in a position to report to the House the result of the investigation.

18. Mr. Wood

asked the Minister of Overseas Development whether he will give an assurance that in accordance with the pledge given at the 1964 United Nations Commission for Trade and Development Conference, Great Britain will continue to supply financial resources to the developing countries of a minimum net amount of 1 per cent. of the national income in terms of the criteria agreed at this United Nations Commission for Trade and Development Conference.

Mr. Bottomley

We have consistently done better than 1 per cent. and our aim is to continue to do so.

Mr. Wood

Is the Minister aware that a number of us are becoming bemused by the different figures he has given to hon. Members, all of which in their turn differ from the figure given in the O.E.C.D. Development Review? May we have a single standard so that we can judge the Government's performance?

Mr. Bottomley

The reason is that the figures vary constantly in the official reports as well. Our performance in relation to the target for the years 1962–65 is as follows: 1962, 1.14 per cent.; 1963, 1.04 per cent.; 1964, 1.22 per cent.; and 1965, 1.26 per cent.

Mr. Boyd-Carpenter

Is not the Government's task in meeting the 1 per cent. target being made much easier by their failure to increase the gross national product?

22. Mr. Goodhart

asked the Minister of Overseas Development what is the value of the aid which will be given in 1967 to countries that have broken diplomatic relations with the United Kingdom or are boycotting British goods.

Mr. Bottomley

As regards the first part of the Question, I would refer the hon. Member to my reply to the Question by the right hon. Member for Kingston-upon-Thames (Mr. Boyd-Carpenter).

On the second part of the Question I understand that certain of the Arab countries have said they will boycott British goods, but the extent to which they are doing so is not clear.

Mr. Goodhart

While no one wants aid to be turned on or off in response to odd political speeches, does the Minister appreciate that the continued subsidisation of countries which show their continued hostility to us undermines public support in this country for the many worth-while projects he supports elsewhere?

Mr. Bottomley

Yes, Sir. That is so. I have drawn the attention of many of our friends overseas to this fact.

Mr. Pavitt

Will my right hon. Friend resist any pressures to have strings, political or otherwise, attached to the kind of aid which we give to all underdeveloped countries?

Mr. Wall

Does the Minister agree that, while aid is essential to the underdeveloped countries, it must be dependent on the proper treatment of British subjects and British firms?

Mr. Bottomley

Yes, Sir. We shall, of course, expect British interests to be suitably treated—certainly with justice.