HC Deb 29 February 1968 vol 759 cc1729-30
6. Mr. Hooley

asked the Minister of Overseas Development what will be the value of the British contribution to the world food programme in 1968; and how this compares with the contribution in 1967.

Mr. Prentice

The disbursements to the World Food Programme in 1967 and 1968 are not separate contributions but form part of a pledge of $6.2 million covering the whole of the three year period, 1966–68. Disbursements in any one of the three years are not comparable since they reflect the rate at which the World Food Programme is able to take up the total pledge. The disbursements in 1967 totalled £410,000; in 1968 they are expected to be £1.2 million.

Mr. Hooley

Can my right hon. Friend say whether he is having any discussions with the Minister of Agriculture to determine in what way we could contribute to the food programme without putting any stress on our own balance of payments?

Mr. Prentice

My Department keeps in touch with the Ministry of Agriculture about the nature of our pledge. Half of our pledge is in commodities, and those that we offered are dried eggs, dried milk and canned fish. These commodities represent the kind of things that we can offer with the least strain to ourselves, as well as being useful in terms of the needs of the programme.

Sir C. Osborne

As world population is rising much faster than world production of food, can the Minister say what steps have been taken internationally to reduce the growth in world population and to increase world food supplies?

Mr. Prentice

The hon. Gentleman will appreciate that the World Food Programme is an official one and only part of the total effort being made. Concerning population control, it is clear that increasing attention is being paid to that by the developing countries, and in various ways countries like our own are able to help to a great extent. Certainly we want to do more than we are doing and we are making it clear to many countries concerned.