HC Deb 29 February 1968 vol 759 cc1726-7
1. Mr. William Price

asked the Minister of Overseas Development whether he will list the countries which will receive aid in 1968; and the amounts in each case.

The Minister of Overseas Development (Mr. Reg Prentice)

The Estimates for Overseas Aid (Bilateral) will when it is published shortly show amounts of aid for specific countries in cases where those amounts have been settled. Further information will be made available as subsequent allocations are determined.

Mr. Price

What can the Minister do to combate the widespread prejudice and ignorance about overseas aid, much of it fostered by hon. Gentlemen opposite?

Mr. Prentice

All of us who believe that the aid programme is a proper and necessary part of our policy ought to do everything that we can to speak, write and argue in favour of it in every way possible.

Sir E. Bullus

What is the global total likely to be?

Mr. Prentice

The basic aid programme will be £205 million. There will be certain additional items. I have described those in answer to previous Questions. The total of the additional items cannot be announced, because some are still being negotiated.

3. Sir J. Langford-Holt

asked the Minister of Overseas Development what criteria are taken into account before it is decided to give Government aid to a foreign country.

Mr. Prentice

The main criteria are the needs of the countries concerned and their capacity to make effective use of aid. While the main motive is to raise the living standards of the developing countries, we recognise that donors and recipients share mutual benefits, e.g., by the promotion of trade.

Sir J. Langford-Holt

While accepting the need for overseas aid, would the Minister not think that one of the criteria and conditions which we should impose is that of friendship?

Mr. Prentice

That would need closer definition. Clearly, political relationships play a part in determining the pattern. If a country breaks off diplomatic relations with us, that has an effect. I hope that the hon. Gentleman is not suggesting that we should turn aid on and off like a tap because of temporary difficulties.

4. Mr. Costain

asked the Minister of Overseas Development if he will name the countries now in receipt of British aid which have no normal diplomatic relations with Her Majesty's Government.

Mr. Prentice

Tanzania is the only country receiving significant assistance though we are also continuing to assist four trainees from Syria.

Mr. Costain

Has the Minister any policy on this matter? Does he also include countries which have defaulted on repayment of loans to us under this heading?

Mr. Prentice

There are some countries in the latter category. I cannot give details without notice. I answered a Question on this point a few weeks ago. Most countries in that category would be receiving technical assistance only, and the sums would not be very large.

Mr. James Johnson

Will the Minister look at the other side of the medal where, as in the case of Somalia, we have exchanged ambassadors in the last week or two after five years in the wilderness? Is there not a case for sympathetic consideration concerning Somalia? I hope that the Minister will bear this in mind.

Mr. Prentice

I will bear it in mind. I think my hon. Friend will appreciate that the present financial limits on the aid programme do not leave much room for manœuvre.