HC Deb 02 May 1967 vol 746 cc304-5
Q4. Mr. Whitaker

asked the Prime Minister whether he will ensure that the next National Plan provides for an increased amount, relatively and absolutely, of the gross national product being devoted to overseas aid and development.

he Prime Minister

We shall continue to make the maximum possible contribution to overseas aid in keeping with our economic situation.

Mr. Whitaker

Is my right hon. Friend aware that while the concept of a National Plan was very widely welcomed for enabling discussion of economic priorities, there was very much criticism of the smallness of our proposed contribution to overseas aid? Does he agree that the problem of the widening gap between poor and rich countries dwarfs our own economic preoccupations into insignificance?

The Prime Minister

I hope my hon. Friend will always express concern, as I always will, at any level of aid which is not the maximum, but I feel that what we are doing is reasonable in view of the present economic situation. We all want to increase it, but it is right to keep this in perspective, and in last year's report of the Development Assistance Committee on the aid programme of donor countries we appeared as one of the four countries which had consistently reached or exceeded the 1 per cent. target of 1962 to 1965, the others being France, Belgium and Portugal.

Mr. Longden

Will the Prime Minister do what he can to ensure that the next National Plan will not be like the last, a brown study with purple patches, green in judgment yet red all over?

The Prime Minister

I would not attempt, not having spent quite so late last night polishing up an answer to that question, to compete with the colourful nature of the hon. Member's observations.

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