§ 6.46 p.m.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, That this House do now adjourn.—[Mr. Ioan L. Evans.]
§ The Minister of Overseas Development (Mr. Reg. Prentice)rose——
§ Mr. Cranley Onslow (Woking)
On a point of order. I draw your attention, Mr. Speaker, to the fact that this is an important and long overdue debate which inevitably will not last for very long in view of the preceding business and the extraordinary failure of the Government to suspend the 10 o'clock rule.
I therefore submit that as we have only just over three hours available, and as about half of that time must inevitably be taken by Front Bench speakers—with the result that there will be very little time for back benchers and even less time for those who hold so-called minority views on the subject—this would be an appropriate occasion for both Front Benches to forgo their right to wind up and reply to what must inevitably be an extremely perfunctory and unsatisfactory debate.
§ Mr. Prentice
I am glad that we are having a debate on overseas aid, but I share the regret of the hon. Member for Woking (Mr. Onslow) that it will not be as long as many hon. Members might have hoped. It would be appropriate, I suggest—I have discussed this with the Front Bench opposite—for the debate to be opened and closed on both sides. This would give more shape and tightness to the debate, but I appreciate the remarks of the hon. Member for Woking and accept that there is an obligation on all hon. and right hon. Members to be perhaps even more brief than in a debate lasting a full day.
I would like to say a great deal about the work of the Department, which I took over eight months ago, but, for the reasons I have just given, I will confine my remarks to two things. First, I wish to give an outline of the shape and size of the aid programme as it will operate in the next year or two, with some indication of the priorities that we will have 281 in mind. Secondly—I will begin with this—I wish to answer a question which is often asked of us, and particularly of me as Minister. It is why Britain should, in view of its economic difficulties, provide aid for other countries at the present time. This is not a controversial question in the House. The British aid programme has grown from £52 million 15 years ago to £205 million in the financial year which h as just ended. It has grown under Governments of both parties and with the support of all parties. The question I have just posed is frequently asked outside and it deserves an answer.
The first point to remember is that the question does not apply only to Britain. Sometimes the wrong impression is given that Britain is in some way uniquely generous in its aid programme. The fact is that the programme last year of £205 million represented about 0.6 of 1 per cent. of our national income, which is about the average figure for aid donor countries in the non-communist world. The Development Assistance Committee of O.E.C.D. obtains these figures and we see that the average figure for these countries is almost the same as the British figure.
The fundamental question is this: why should the relatively well-to-do countries—those which have industrialised and have built standards of living based on industrialisation—provide a flow of aid, as they have been doing for some years, to the less developed countries?
There are three main reasons. The first reason is simply that it is right to do so, that there is a moral duty here which one cannot avoid. If one were to stand, as I did a few months ago, in a slum area of Calcutta, and were to see, hear, smell and feel the conditions in which people are living and in which children are growing up, one could not escape the moral challenge to the people of Britain, France, the United States, the Soviet Union, and everyone in countries where there has been an industrial revolution and these problems have been solved.
As the late President Kennedy said:We pledge our best efforts to help them help themselves for whatever period is required, not because the Communists are doing it, not because we seek their votes, but because it is right.The second reason is that we in the developed countries have a joint interest 282 with people in the developing countries in the growth of the world economy. It has been said that poverty anywhere is a threat to prosperity everywhere. The corollary to that is that the growth in living standards of the poorer countries will help to provide new trading opportunities for other countries, and there is, therefore, no conflict between the dictates of the moral argument and the argument for enlightened self-interest.
The third argument is that the world is more likely to live at peace, and our children and grandchildren are more likely to inherit a peaceful world, if there is a civilised relationship between the richer and poorer countries, which includes a transfer of resources to help them with their development. There are no absolute guarantees on that aspect. Peace has been upset in the past, and may be in the future, by developed as well as underdeveloped countries. I merely point to the fact that, if the gap in living standards between the northern hemisphere and the southern hemisphere is to continue to grow, and if that gap is to be exacerbated, as it will be, by the population explosion, taking place in a revolutionary situation of rising expectations, following political independence and the scientific and technical advances that have taken place in advanced countries, then there is bound to be a growth of tension, and there is bound to be a threat to peace.
The Pope, in a famous message to the world a few months ago, said, "Development is another name for peace", and I believe that he was right. It could still be said to me that this is all very well in the long run, but what about the position of Britain with her balance of payments difficulties in 1968? Even if everything that has been said so far is true, ought we not temporarily to reduce, or even to abandon, our aid programme as one step towards helping to solve our balance of payments problems?
This point of view was put by my hon. Friend the Member for Bosworth (Mr. Wyatt), in an article in last Friday's Daily Mirror from which I will quote two sentences. My hon. Friend had been giving figures for the grants and loans from Britain to developing countries over the past 10 years. He went on to say:If we had done neither of these things"—283 that is, made neither the grants nor the loans—we would have had no balance of payments problem whatever. The gnomes of Zurich would be off our necks.That is arrant nonsense, and I am very surprised that any hon. Member, let alone an hon. Member on this side of the House, should have written in those terms. First, it simply is not true that the flow of aid is the cause of our balance of payments difficulties. Secondly, I believe that our balance of payments difficulties would be greater today if we had not had an aid programme for the past 10 years. I will give some facts to support that.
First, of the aid that we are dispensing, taking the figure for the last year of £205 million, about two-thirds of it is spent on goods and services from this country. In other words, the amount that goes across the exchanges is about £70 million. Second, there is a flow back to this country of repayments of previous loans. Approximately half our aid programme has been in the form of loans, and we are now receiving back nearly £60 million a year in the form of repayments, including interest, on old loans. There is a very small difference between the outflow of £70 million, approximately, and the £60 million, approximately, that is coming in.
That is not the whole story. There are other factors in the situation, some of which cannot be precisely measured. One factor in the situation which might count against one is this. Supposing that we had not provided aid to the countries concerned, they might have bought some of the same goods with their own resources and paid for them. I submit to the House that as these countries are poor countries with very limited resources to spare for imports, this would in fact have been a very small figure.
The next factor to recognise is that if Britain had had no aid programme in the last 10 years, this would not have been an isolated decision by us. The fact that we have provided aid has influenced other countries' flow of aid. As I said earlier, our performance is about average, and we are getting orders for our goods which are financed by other countries' aid. At present, we are providing about 8 per cent. of the flow of aid from the Western industrialised countries to the developing 284 world, but we are providing about 13 per cent. of the imports that the developing countries take from the Western industrial countries. We are getting a larger share of their imports than the share we provide in overseas aid.
There is another consideration which I think is the biggest one, and that is this. It has often been said that trade follows aid. An aid programme provided by us has after-effects which can be good for our trade. For instance, if our resources help to finance the establishment of a factory, a harbour or a technical college and then, in later years, the country concerned needs replacements, spare parts and equipment, it is likely to turn to this country for those goods. If we bring students and trainees to this country for courses and they go back home and, in due course, become managers, responsible for buying programmes, they will tend to buy goods from this country.
These are factors which cannot be precisely measured. My proposition is one that cannot be proved statistically. I merely say, from a close study of the programme over the last few months, particularly when I have been concerned in it, that I am quite convinced that, if we had had no aid programme in the last 10 years, our balance of payments problem would have been worse today than it is. If we were to stop our aid programme now, then our balance of payments would be worse in the 'seventies for that reason.
I will give the House some information about the shape and the size of the programme in the next two years. I have already referred to the fact that the figure for 1967–68 was £205 million. In January, when the Cabinet was considering the whole range of Government expenditure, the aid programme was carefully studied, with every other item of expenditure. The decision that was made in relation to the aid programme was that the basic framework of our aid at the moment should continue in the next two years, 1968–69 and 1969–70, at a figure of £205 million, within which we would have to absorb any rising costs, including the costs resulting from the devaluation of the £.
I do not want to weary the House with too many details, but there were some specific costs which went up as a result of devaluation. For instance, we had to increase the allowances of technical assistance personnel serving in countries that 285 had not devalued. We also had to increase our subscriptions to international bodies where those subscriptions were measured in dollars. The total effect of absorbing the costs of devaluation is probably about £10 million.
On the other hand, the Cabinet decided that three items should be added to the basic programme. These were items which had arisen for special reasons. First, under the Food Aid Convention, concluded at the same time as the Kennedy Round cereals agreement, we were committed to £6 million worth a year for three years for aid in the form of cereals—either providing cereals or providing cash to buy them. The second item is replenishment of the funds of the International Development Association, which is an affiliate body of the World Bank and a major source of loans to developing countries.
Over the last three years, the I.D.A. has been financed at the rate of 250 million dollars a year, and this is to be increased to 400 million dollars a year for the coming three years. I welcome this development very much. Indeed, as I have said previously, we were prepared to go to a higher figure and suggested that the sum be doubled. However, this represents a 60 per cent. increase and, therefore, a very important increase for the Association. Part of the funds needed for the additional replenishment of the I.D.A. will be in addition to the aid ceiling.
The third additional item is the special economic assistance which we shall be granting to Singapore and Malaysia related to the rundown of the number of troops in those countries. I cannot give details tonight. We have put proposals to the two Governments concerned as to the amount and terms of the aid. We are still in touch with them on these matters. Because that item cannot be quantified yet, I cannot give the total aid figure for 1968–69. If we take into account the fact that we have to absorb the rising costs and that we have the additional items, it will be a larger figure in money terms than previously. It will probably be about the same in real terms.
§ Mr. Philip Goodhart (Beckenham)
Will the sum now being negotiated with the South Yemen People's Republic come out of the total aid budget, or will it come out of some other budget?
§ Mr. Prentice
The £12 million worth of aid which the Republic received, and is still receiving up to this month, was partly within the aid budget. It depended whether it was for civil or military purposes. We had better discuss what will happen in future when we know the outcome of the present negotiations.
§ Mr. Onslow
Is the right hon. Gentleman saying that the cost of aid to the British taxpayer, which is what matters to many of us, will increase, and that the increased overseas aid, which was specifically listed by the President of the Board of Trade among the reasons leading to devaluation, will be increased still further and thus create still further current account problems?
§ Mr. Prentice
First, the hon. Gentleman has not interpreted correctly the speech of my right hon. Friend the President of the Board of Trade. Secondly, the money costs will be higher, but I should think that in balance of payments terms some of these developments are very helpful. It has been calculated that we get approximately 30s. worth of orders for every £1 we subscribe to the I.D.A. I think that the hon. Gentleman should think through the effects on the balance of payments before he makes remarks like that. If he is saying that the money must be found by the taxpayer, that is correct.
§ Mr. Prentice
Aid represents a transfer of resources. It must be paid for. Of course, it represents an element of sacrifice by the donor country. But at the moment the sacrifice works out at about 1s. 5½d. a week for every person in this country, and I do not think that that is an unreasonable sum in relation to the scale of world poverty. If the hon. Gentleman wants to say that it is unreasonable, he will have a chance to argue his case, but I am sure that most hon. Members on both sides of the House will disagree with him.
I should like to indicate briefly a few of the trends in our aid programme to which I pay particular attention and on which I wish to see growing emphasis placed in future. I have said that perhaps the most important job which falls on me and my Department is the efficient management of the programme. It is our 287 duty to get the maximum value for money—and I use the phrase "value for money" as meaning development which will help people.
This is one of the basic reasons why the Government were wise to establish the Ministry of Overseas Development instead of scattering the aid programme around a number of Departments. The new Ministry has been able to concentrate experience and expertise in one Department and to establish a strong, economic planning staff able to evaluate development and the relationship of our aid programmes to the development of the countries concerned. It is clear that this is already producing results in terms of greater effectiveness.
I should like to mention two aspects. First, we have evolved new techniques of project evaluation. I now have a high—level committee studying major new projects within the Department and reporting to me on them so that we can have a common set of criteria which governs our decisions about advancing money for new projects. One of our full—time advisers is concerned with following the progress of the projects and with liaising with people on the staff of our overseas missions, in the High Commissions or embassies concerned about the progress made.
The other development is that we have now operating two development divisions which are not based in this country: one in the Middle East, which has been going for some years, and one in the Caribbean area, which began its work a year ago. I was able to visit the Caribbean development division a few weeks ago and to see the very important impact it has on the affairs of that area. Not only is it providing the Ministry with a flow of information which is helping us to plan and assess our programme in that area, but it is becoming an important source of advice to the Government in the area. There are Ministers and officials visiting the office of the Caribbean development division in Barbados who come from all over the Caribbean. They are on the telephone asking for advice and asking whether someone can come over and help with a particular problem. This is a very practical and economical way of helping in a region of that kind.
§ Mr. W. R. Rees-Davies (Isle of Thanet)
I am just back from convalescing in that part of the world. Will any of the projects for the future take into account the possibly great expansion of tourism in the Caribbean to the mutual advantage of those countries and this country?
§ Mr. Prentice
Clearly, tourism is a very important part of the development of those countries, and the British aid programme is geared to their development plans. To take a very small area in terms of population in the Caribbean, a good deal of private investment is taking place in the British Virgin Islands in relation to tourism which is being supported by infrastructure projects financed by my Department—the enlargement of the airport, improving the roads and other developments related to the potential growth of tourism as well as the general needs of the community. There are many other examples of that kind.
One thing which I wish to see increased is the support which this country is able to give to the development of family planning. The world population is increasing and will continue to increase for many years. It is increasing fastest in some of the poorest countries, partly for reasons which we would all welcome, such as the conquest of epidemic diseases, the growth of public health services, the fact that people are living longer and that more babies are surviving to become adults and have families of their own. This makes it all the more urgent that any development plan should include a policy for family planning.
It is very difficult for a member of a Government in one country to lecture other countries on precisely what they should do. One has to take into account religious factors and social attitudes and we must not be too dogmatic. For that reason there was very little discussion in United Nations Agencies and other places where development was discussed a year or two ago, but discussion has increased in the last few years. People generally have become less inhibited about this subject and we in this country did a little more to help than we have in the past.
We are making an annual grant of £50,000 to the International Planned Parenthood Federation and we are giving 289 technical advice to a number of Commonwealth countries when we are asked. We provide training in this country for a number of people when they ask for it. I propose to set up within the Ministry a new population bureau, which will be part of the Ministry but which will have a small expert staff which will be able to provide a focus for knowledge and work in this field. The total cost of this is very small—I think that it should be larger—but it will be very important in terms of the good that it can do.
I strongly support the view expressed often in the House that we should see over the years a shift in emphasis away from bilateral aid towards multilateral aid. I recognise that for many years to come there will be plenty of room for both. For many years probably the greater part of the aid programme will take a bilateral form.
§ Mr. Henry Clark (Antrim, North)
Does the right hon. Gentleman say that in the light of the Fletcher-Cooke Report on the working of the F.A.O.? The cost efficiency of the F.A.O. in the light of that Report looks very bad indeed.
§ Mr. Prentice
If one were to take a view of all the United Nations Agencies such as the World Bank and I.D.A. one would say that some are more efficient than others. Certainly. I think that a number of changes need to be made in the organisation of the F.A.O. I said this at the annual meeting, a few months ago, but there has been a new Director-General since the last meeting and he is taking urgent action to improve the efficiency of the organisation of the F.A.O. It has done a tremendous amount of good in the world in recent years and it can do more if its work becomes more efficient.
Multilateral organisations are better able to take a world view both of the needs in a particular problem and the availability of aid to meet them. Also, from the point of view of the recipient country itself the relationship is the furthest possible removed from any suggestion of neo-colonialism. Those of us who say that we want to strengthen the United Nations and the authority of world organisations have to put that policy into practice by backing world organisations and taking steps to increase their scope. The efficiency of the organisation is important. That is why I wel 290 comed the intervention of the hon. Member for Antrim, North (Mr. Henry Clark).
It would be wrong to load these organisations with more work than they can cope with. This is a slow process, but it is one which ought to be encouraged. Last year, 11 per cent. of the British aid programme went through multilateral agencies and in the current year I expect it to be about 15 per cent. The biggest element is replenishment of I.D.A. and there are other elements which represent a trend slowly by stages towards the use of other multilateral bodies.
There are two other matters I could mention. There is the importance of technical assistance in the programme and the growing emphasis on rural development, but I have discussed these matters with my right hon. Friend who is to wind up the debate and he has agreed to say something about them if he succeeds in catching your eye, Mr. Speaker.
Before I conclude I wish to refer to the recent U.N.C.T.A.D. Conference in New Dehli. This is a big subject which would merit a debate on its own if business allowed it. My hon. Friend the President of the Board of Trade made a statement on it recently and was questioned by hon. Members about it.
I do not want to go over the same ground, but I pose the question to the House and to myself: was the conference a failure? A number of people have suggested that it was and a number of heads of delegations at the end of the conference said that it was. My answer is a qualified no. It was a conference which inevitably led to a great deal of disappointment. The developing countries had met before hand at Algiers and produced the Charter of Algiers in which they made a list of demands—I think that is the right word—on donor countries and a list of proposals which they hoped would be made at the conference.
In the nature of things, most of these were disappointed. Given the preoccupation of the United States and the United Kingdom and other countries with balance of payments difficulties and with their economic problems, this was not a year in which a major advance could be expected either in terms of trade assistance or in terms of extra aid.
§ Mr. Nicholas Ridley (Cirencester and Tewkesbury) rose——
§ Mr. Prentice
I have been on my feet for half an hour and I promised to be brief. I shall be finishing my speech in a few moments.
I return to the argument I deployed earlier about what we are doing and the pressure on donor countries to do more. I think that this was something which, in the nature of things, was bound to be resisted by the donor countries at a conference of this kind. Nevertheless, after many weeks of very detailed and tortuous arguments a number of advances were made—some on the trade side, to which my right hon. Friend referred in his statement.
On the aid side there were two specific things. On was that some progress was made over the vexed question of supplementary financial measures. This followed a proposal by Britain and Sweden at the first U.N.C.T.A.D. meeting that there should be new financial arrangements to help countries which suffer a fall in their earnings in their first years of independence. This matter dragged on for a long time and finally a resolution was passed at New Delhi which gave directions to the governmental group to produce a report by the summer of next year. During the discussion the attitudes of the countries towards this problem came together and some progress was made.
The other and larger question, the aid target, was redefined in the resolution which was passed in the last few days of the conference. The proposed aid target was 1 per cent. of national income. The new aid target agreed at New Delhi is 1 per cent. of the gross national product. I shall not weary the House with the technical differences between the two, but the change from one to the other means that the new target is about 25 per cent. above the old. This is a very important commitment. Clearly, its practical effect depends on if and when it is met, but it is very important that the countries concerned should have agreed to it.
Her Majesty's Government made clear at the conference that our first priority had to be the strengthening of our balance of payments and that we were not able to give a date when we could 292 meet the new target. But, clearly, we have an obligation, which I hope is recognised by both sides of the House, to use our best endeavours to achieve this new target as and when we can. I think that the discussion on this whole subject is too often conducted with a sense of hopelessness. The very fact that we have to talk about the appalling degree of poverty affecting two-thirds of the world sometimes leads us into the error of believing that no progress at all is taking place.
It is very important that we recognise that economic development does work and is working in many parts of the world. The 'sixties were designated by the General Assembly as the United Nations Development Decade, with a target of 5 per cent. annual rate of growth throughout the developing world. That 5 per cent. has not been achieved, but the average figure, in fact, is about 4½ per cent. This represents progress and, in many of the countries concerned, a much faster rate of progress than they have ever had before. Twenty countries have reached a progress rate of 6 per cent. or more. Nine of the developing countries will have doubled their gross national product during the 'sixties.
The countries that have done that have done it, first and foremost, by their own efforts; their own greater efforts have been the most important factor. But a flow of overseas aid of the right kind, intelligently and effectively used, has also played an important part in the process. We need to get a wider understanding of that in this country and a wider understanding, also, of the fact that this aid is not money which disappears, but money which is used constructively and has a real impact on the living standards of people.
I spoke earlier of the critics of our programme. I think that we in this House ought also to recognise that there is growing support in this country for an aid programme, particularly among young people. I would pay my tribute to organisations such as Christian Aid—and I remind the House that next week is Christian Aid Week, to which we can all contribute—Oxfam, War on Want, the United Nations Association and others which are having a growing impact, particularly on the younger generation. When they organise something in a school or college, young people respond to it 293 become interested and wonder what it is all about. As those young people grow up and become part of the adult population a growing number of people will be demanding of the Government of the day that we have a substantial aid programme—no doubt much more than we have at the moment. I was very glad to see that the youth organisations of the three main political parties got together a few weeks ago and issued a joint manifesto demanding that the Government do more in this respect.
Those of us in the House—and there are many on both sides—who see the importance of this subject have a particular duty to contribute to the public debate on these matters. With vigorous public concern and awareness of what the problems are, and with an increased amount of information going to our constituents, in that climate of opinion, this country can and will make an even bigger effort in the years ahead.
§ 7.23 p.m.
§ Mr. Bernard Braine (Essex, South-East)
I too regret that the time allotted to this debate has had to be curtailed, particularly as we on this side, and indeed Members on all sides of the House, have been looking forward to it. We welcome the debate for two reasons. First, a considerable time has elapsed since this important subject was last debated. We are currently spending more than £2 million of the taxpayers' money annually and it is only right that the principles governing our overseas aid programmes and the way the money is spent should be examined and discussed in Parliament. In passing, may I say that I think there is a case for devising some new machinery of Parliamentary control whereby our aid programmes and perhaps the wider question of how we are discharging our responsibilities to our remaining colonial dependencies can be subjected to close and continuous scrutiny.
The second reason for welcoming this debate is that it provides an opportunity to establish clearly where we all stand on one of the most pressing and crucial issues of our time—namely, what to do, or whether we should do anything, about a situation in which, in strictly relative terms, the rich countries are getting richer and the poorer countries are getting poorer.
294 We start with the fact that, contrary to the high expectations of the United Nations when it instituted the Development Decade in 1960, the gap between the richer and the poorer nations is not being bridged. I understand that the annual increase alone in the per capita income of the advanced industrial nations of the world, of which ours is one, is about five times greater than the total per capita income of the so-called developing countries. The right hon. Gentleman talked quite correctly about the successes of the Development Decade. Brazil, I suppose, is one and Mexico another. But we are concerned here with the countries to which British aid is given, and there I fear the decade of development is in large measure fast becoming a decade of disillusionment.
We should recognise that there is grave danger in this situation. Across the world awareness is growing that for the first time in history man's inventiveness and skill, when properly organised, enable him to raise his fellows out of the rut of poverty. Knowledge knows no frontiers, and men whose fathers once meekly accepted the fact that hunger, sickness and early death were part of the natural order now know that this need not be so. They are impatient for change and, to use Adlai Stevenson's vivid phrase, they are caught upin the revolution of rising expectations.Yet if knowledge knows no frontiers, neither does it take much account of ideologies. In their different ways, both Western capitalism and Communism are making two ears of corn grow where one grew before; are concerned with improving material standards of living, and in large measure both are succeeding.
It seems inevitable that if the poorer peoples of the earth are not helped by the affluent West in their quest for a better life, they will turn elsewhere. We should never allow ourselves for one moment to forget that it is the crux of the Communist argument that this is precisely what they will do. On the other hand, if we apply our minds intelligently to the problem, there is no need for pessimism. This awakening of perhaps two-thirds of the human race, this revolution of rising expectations, is not merely a challenge; it holds within itself the seeds of infinite promise. The advanced industrial countries of the West, including ourselves, have everything to gain from efforts to raise the 295 living standards of the poorer peoples. Higher levels of consumption mean more trade, and more trade will bring greater prosperity for all. Moreover, there is no country in the world which stands to gain more than Britain because so high a proportion of our trade is with the developing countries.
So much for the need; so much for the challenge. But it is perhaps in the field of aid that the truism that all generalisations are dangerous is most apt. We are dealing here with the economies of 85 countries, all of them divergent in political, economic and geographical terms. We are dealing here with basic human needs and aspirations of many different kinds. We are dealing here with complex world economic and political cross-currents which it is given to very few to comprehend in toto. And so we are dealing with problems to which there is no simple solution or facile answer.
Of course, since we are practical men of politics, we must concern ourselves with the economic climate here in our own country. Obviously there has to be a limit to the amount of aid we can provide in any one year whatever the economic situation. If we are in an economic mess, as we are now, clearly there must be less money available than there would have been had our economy been flourishing. The Government admitted this when they cut aid in 1966—a cut which, I say sadly, ran contrary to the high promises which the party opposite had been making for many years.
Aid was also cut as a result of devaluation. I know that the Government deny that and say that aid has been one of the few fields of expenditure to escape the axe, but I would refer to the recent report of the Overseas Development Institute, which asserts that real aid was in fact cut, taking everything into account, by £8 million to £14 million a year. There is, of course, a strong argument that if we must tighten our belts, aid also should suffer. I think it was the Prime Minister who said loftily that nothing was sacrosanct, but the economic crisis which made that necessary was of the Government's own making.
Leaving aside the size of the aid programme, we should be clear about the 296 principles governing the giving of aid. I hope that that is what the debate will be about. One of the most significant developments of the post-war world has been what I would describe as extraterritorial acceptance of economic responsibility—starting with the brilliant and imaginative Marshall Plan which put a war-devastated Europe on its feet, and the Colombo Plan, which owed so much to the vision and energy of the late Ernest Bevin; continuing with the Development Assistance Committee of O.E.C.D., the two U.N.C.T.A.D.'s, and innumerable international organisations and bilateral arrangements. Generally speaking, the richer industrial and developed nations have accepted some economic responsibility for their less fortunate fellow nations.
The motivation behind this acceptance of responsibility is often mixed. It varies greatly from country to country and from year to year. Idealism and self-interest are intermingled. In so far as we want to get the argument about aid into the clear, let me say that there may be some danger in stressing idealism too much at the expense of honest self-in-terest. This is not only because the developing nations do not welcome the overtones of charity which a purely idealistic approach engenders. It is also because it is more likely to be discarded when the shoe pinches. Nothing is more disillusioning than that. This is a fact of life and cannot be ignored. I am not in any way discounting the value and civilising influence of idealism in deciding priorities in the use of economic resources. What I stress is that in this case idealism and self-interest combine to lead to the same general conclusion. The right hon. Gentleman quoted President Kennedy's inaugural address in 1961. The President also pointedly added this:If a free society cannot help the many who are poor it cannot save the few who are rich.A positive approach to aid or, as I prefer to call it, development assistance has always been Conservative policy in the past, and it remains so today.
§ Mr. Ridley
Has my hon. Friend considered that we have to borrow at high rates of interest across the exchanges to produce money to give or lend in aid? Does he think that it is wise to do that? Should not we leave it to those who 297 have the money available to lend to us to lend on their own account to developing countries?
§ Mr. Braine
I wish it were quite as simple as that. If my hon. Friend will allow me to develop my argument, he will see that the fact that we are in difficulties at the moment in one respect should not cause us to take a shortsighted and selfish attitude about our long-term obligations and our long-term interests. Perhaps this is the point at which I might define some of the reasons for maintaining a British interest in development assistance.
Perhaps the best way to approach the question is to examine what would happen if we were to take my hon. Friend's advice and cut off all aid overnight, and this example was, indeed, followed by others. The total flow of official financial resources to the developing countries from the developed countries in 1966 came to nearly 6½ billion dollars. That may be a drop in the bucket, because that is all it is, to the rich countries; but to the poor countries it means irreplaceable technical assistance in raising food production, in eradicating disease and illiteracy, in sparking new economic activity, and in bringing new life and hope where often only poverty and misery obtained before.
§ Mr. Onslow
Is not my hon. Friend falling into the quite common and extraordinary error of presuming that, if all official aid were cut off, there would be no private aid to take its place? If taxation were reduced to correspond with the reduction in official expenditure, there might be more private money available and put to better use at that.
§ Mr. Braine
I am half way with my hon. Friend. If he will allow me to develop my argument, he will find that I shall say something about this; only now I shall take just a little longer about it. The fact of the matter is that Britain could not cut off all official aid without immediate repercussions being felt, especially if our example were to be followed by others. Let us consider the effect upon Britain, which is more dependent than any other major industrial country upon overseas trade. In the developing countries themselves economic depression would spread—unevenly per- 298 haps, but it would spread very quickly. Some countries inside the Commonwealth are receiving budgetary aid at the moment. For them a cutting off of aid would be complete catastrophe. Their governments would collapse, and chaos would intervene. Presumably, such normal trade as we do with those countries would come to an end.
The effects would be felt immediately in Britain, and more sharply than elsewhere, because, as I have said, we do a higher proportion of our trade with developing countries than almost any of our major competitors. Nor would the effects be confined to the economic sphere. The political repercussions would be serious, and they would be immediate. We must recognise that economic, like political, inter-dependence is now a fact of life.
Given that development assistance is, as I believe that it is, essential, can we be satisfied that it is being given and directed in the best way? Here I begin perhaps to find some common ground with my hon. Friend the Member for Woking (Mr. Onslow), because I believe that here there are grounds for criticism. I am not referring to the arguments for and against an increase in multilateral, as opposed to bilateral, assistance or for project as opposed to non-project aid. I believe that each case must be viewed on its merits. Within the present allocation of aid I do not believe that there is much room for tying more aid, unless we were to cut down on technical assistance. Any examination of the programme would show that, if we did that, it would cause difficulty, and even hardship, in many areas.
In an ideal world general untying of aid by everyone would undoubtedly be to the British advantage, since we would probably gain more export orders than we would lose. As it is, in the past we have, as the right hon. Gentleman said, secured 30s. worth of exports for every £ contributed to the funds of the International Development Association. But we do not live in an ideal world, and in the Present international climate it is unlikely that agreement would be reached for the further untying of aid.
In these circumstances, it is only sensible that we should aim at the maximum benefit to the developing countries, together with the minimum loss to our own economy. In giving aid, therefore, 299 we should have regard not only to the way in which it is used by the recipient countries but also to what I would call the totality of British interests. There is no virtue in unnecessary sacrifice. A masochistic delight in the pain of giving may satisfy the conscience of those with highly developed guilt complexes, but it has no place in a rational policy.
Here I come to one of the cruxes of what should be British aid policy. Surely what matters to the developing countries is the total flow of resources to them and the way in which this can quicken their economic life in all its aspects. The fact is that about one-half of the total flow of aid from Britain to the developing world consists of private investment. This costs the taxpayer nothing and it can be of actual benefit to our balance of payments, since it brings a return to the investor. I was very interested to see from a Parliamentary Answer given on 27th March that the President of the Board of Trade said that of the £244 million of private overseas direct investment made by Britain last year, only a small proportion involved the outflow of new funds. So we had virtually no money going out and interest coming in.
It is true that the cost to the balance of payments of official overseas aid is much less than is commonly supposed. About two-thirds of it comes back to Britain in the form of exports. In 1966 about £58 million came back in interest on loans and repayment of capital out of the gross figure of £209 million.
I know that there are complicating factors. It does not follow that goods supplied under aid programmes could not be sold elsewhere; one cannot be sure about this. It is true that official aid must represent some drain on the balance of payments. But surely it must be to our economic advantage if the proportion of the total outflow of resources is tilted more towards the flow of private capital?
I recognise, of course, that it is not as easy as all that. Official aid and private investment are complementary; both are required—official aid for developing the infrastructures and providing technical assistance, and private investment for developing raw materials, food production and starting new manufacturing industry. Nor can one generalise. In 300 some countries, in a very early stage of development, private investment would not meet the requirement. Here, at least in the early stages of development, official aid is essential, and in all developing countries, even those reaching the point of take-off, technical assistance is a continuing need, although the contribution to technical education which private overseas corporations are making or could make is often overlooked.
What co-ordination is there between the Ministry of Overseas Development and private enterprise in this country? Was it not extraordinary that in his opening speech at U.N.C.T.A.D. the President of the Board of Trade made no reference to the rôole of private investment and the valuable part it could play in the developing countries. That omission has been defended on the grounds that private investment did not feature much at U.N.C.T.A.D. What a poor excuse, coming from the representative of one of the world's greatest trading and investing nations! Did we not have the comprehensive and fascinating report made by Dr. Stikker for the conference, which made a number of far-reaching recommendations for stimulating private investment? Why did not the Government insist that this matter be given the priority it deserves? We require an answer.
The sorry fact is that the flow of British private investment to the developing world decreased in 1966 as compared with 1965. The sorry fact is that Britain, when compared with other developed countries, has made virtually no effort to conclude treaties concerning the treatment of private investment in developing countries. Take the question of insurance against political risk. Britain is one of the few great trading countries with no scheme of this nature. Why? Why should British firms be put at a serious disadvantage compared with their American, German and Japanese competitors, who are covered by bilateral insurance schemes? We require an answer to this as well.
I am well aware that some developing countries are fearful of becoming too dependent on foreign enterprise. Equally, potential investors are easily frightened off where there are possibilities of expropriation. These are precisely the sort of fears on both sides which could be 301 removed if investment treaties were made with the developing countries, and the wise advice of Dr. Stikker were taken.
For those of us who attach high importance to the Commonwealth relationship it has been sad to see, as we have recently, the actions of Tanzania and Zambia, which must have an adverse effect on the flow of private investment to those countries. If, however, we are to continue to give aid, it is reasonable that there should be some protection for British investors. Clear-cut rules should be agreed between both sides which would be to the advantage of all concerned.
In short, it is our view on this side of the House that the Ministry of Overseas Development should be concerned not only with technical assistance and other forms of official aid but with the wider task of bringing every kind of expertise, especially that provided by private enterprise, to the service of the developing countries. I am not convinced that it is. Lord Cromer's Report shows only too clearly the lack of co-ordination in these matters and the needof a readily and clearly identifiable point of focus in the governmental machine to which the industrialist, banker and others can turn to seek support and advice.The right hon. Gentleman talked about setting up a high-level committee. We were delighted to hear this, but who composes it? Certainly, there is need for new machinery which can bring together the C.B.I., the B.N.E.C., Lord Cromer's Committee, the City, the C.D.C. and the Government. In our view, there should be no dichotomy between the public and private sectors. Given the right kind of machinery, official aid could act as a catalyst to promote new avenues of opportunity in developing countries for private enterprise especially in joint ventures between ourselves and the nationals of those countries. In the long run this reduces the need for official aid and releases resources for activities which the private sector cannot undertake. I believe that an approach of this kind would dispel a great deal of the hostility to aid which one finds in business circles in this country.
There is, too, a need for greater coordination of policy and effort in another matter. Aid, vitally important as an 302 instrument for improving and diversifying the economies of the developing countries, cannot do the trick alone. We know only too well that falls in commodity prices in any one year can offset many times the aid a particular country is receiving. These countries need an expansion of their trade and easier access to markets. We must recognise that their trading pattern, like ours, has been changing. The importance of their raw materials has been declining while their exports of manufactures has often been hampered by inability to compete with the products of advanced industrial countries. Because of their relatively weak position, the terms of trade have shifted against them. Ironically, too, it was richer countries that derived the greatest benefit from the recent substantial tariff cuts of the Kennedy Round. In our view, therefore, trade and aid are two sides of the same medal.
Finally, we should ask ourselves what is the aim of development assistance. What are we trying to do? Are we trying to reduce the disproportion between the living standards of the developing and the developed world? Are we aiming more specifically to bring the developing countries to the point of economic takeoff, or just trying to salve our consciences?
The two U.N.C.T.A.D. conferences were attempts at defining needs, but were successful only in the sense that a confrontation between the rich and poor nations was achieved. At such conferences there is so much special pleading, so much bargaining, so much controversy, that this is not, perhaps, the best method of taking a cool and dispassionate look at what can and should be done over, say, the next two decades.
Therefore, I commend to the Government the speech of Mr. George Woods, the President of the World Bank, in Sweden last October. He proposed that the developed countries should invite a dozen or more leading experts to study the results of the past 20 years of development assistance, assess the results, clarify the errors, and propose the policies which will work more effectively in the future. He quoted the example of the body under Lord Franks which preceded the highly successful Marshall Plan, but added his impression that one of the 303 principal obstacles was not so much the physical difficulty of making more resources available as a scepticism about the general effectiveness of aid. Mr. Woods is absolutely right. We should not underestimate the scepticism that exists. Many of my constituents do not understand how we can provide aid when we are borrowing ourselves. That was the question my hon. Friend asked——
§ Mr. Prentice
I am sorry to interrupt the hon. Gentleman. In an effort to cut down what I had to say, one of the bits that I crossed out of my notes was that reiterating what I had said before, that the Government support Mr. George Woods' proposal and have been in touch, and are still in touch, with others about implementing it.
§ Mr. Braine
I am delighted to hear that, because I was going to ask the right hon. Gentleman what he had been doing about it.
We must face the fact that there is a general scepticism in the country among those who say, quite properly, "How can we give aid when we are borrowing money ourselves, and why give aid at all to countries which use a stick to beat us with at every opportunity in the United Nations?". There is need for a new appraisal of aid, for a study of the lessons of the last two decades and for an appreciation of the benefits to donor and recipient alike.
I was at the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association Conference at Kampala last year, just after Mr. Woods spoke. Ministers from developing countries told me that they welcomed his initiative. It was interesting to hear what they had to say. They welcomed his initiative not only because there was a need to take a fresh look at aid but because they themselves considered that the recipient countries should apply new disciplines in regard to the use of aid. I am glad to hear from the right hon. Gentleman that the Government are looking into Mr. Woods' proposal.
I am sure the right hon. Gentleman will agree that the trouble with development assistance at the moment is that it is run on an ad hoc basis. Developing countries do not know what aid they can expect from one year to the next, al- 304 though they know that they will be required to devote a high proportion of any financial aid they receive to the repayment of loans. Contributions are often made in response to immediate or short-term needs. There is no real long-term strategy behind the aid given by this country or any other. Moreover, although the I.D.A. fund has been replenished, it has only been done by allowing the Americans to tie their contribution to American goods because of their balance of payments difficulties.
§ Mr. Prentice
The agreement is that there will be arrangements for postponement of drawing down contributions from a country in balance of payments difficulties. This was done at the American request. However, all aid through the I.D.A., once it is there, will still be untied to any country's goods.
§ Mr. Braine
I am grateful to the right hon. Gentleman for that clarification.
I do not pretend that there is an easy answer to any of these problems. But they do underline the need to take a completely new look at aid generally, beginning with the imaginative proposal made by Mr. Woods. We need too to take a much clearer look at our own aid programme to see what we are trying to do and how we hope to achieve it.
We on this side want a much more businesslike approach. Instead of talking about aid—a much misunderstood term—let us talk about development assistance, for what we are concerned with mainly is promoting development and economic growth. We believe that the Government must enter into a working partnership with private endeavour. If aid policy is to get the approval of the nation, it must have regard to the totality of British interests so that it can be directed, as far as possible, where it is most effective in promoting mutual advantage.
If the debate is to serve any useful purpose, let the message go out by all means that we recognise that the developed world has responsibilities to the poorer nations and at the same time not try to conceal from our own people that, in the short term, development assistance means some sacrifices on our part, but against this let us make it plain that it is much to our long-term economic and political advantage to help those less fortunate than ourselves.
305 Finally, to excite and to hold the interest of our people in the adventure—for that is what it is—of overseas development, let us make it plain that the case for development assistance is not based on bribery, or fear or charity, but on a common sense realisation that the world is now so small that extremes of wealth and poverty are no longer acceptable, are unhealthy, and cannot be ignored, and that it is in the interests of all of us to reduce them.
§ 7.55 p.m.
§ Mr. Arthur Bottomley (Middlesbrough, East)
There are some of us—and this is not confined to one side of the House—who believe that the present emotive debate on the colour issue is linked with the giving of aid to developing countries. Indeed, the gap between the "haves" and the "have-nots" is, in some ways, a clash of colour. The richer nations tend to be white and the poorer non-white. We cannot conduct our lives as though the problem did not exist. Over the next few decades, the greatest problem facing the world win be that of enabling those who have not the resources to have a richer and fuller life and we cannot isolate ourselves front it. It ill becomes anyone to encourage hostility towards aid giving, and I wish that they would face up to the moral, political and economic issues involved and try to deal with them realistically.
Of course, no one would suggest, as the hon. Member for Essex, South-East (Mr. Braille) has just said, that we should help beyond our means. We cannot help ourselves, let alone others, if we put ourselves in a state of bankruptcy. But does anyone suggest that we cannot afford l½d. in the £ as our contribution towards helping to solve the problems of poverty in the midst of plenty? Two-thirds of the people of the world live in circumstances of starvation and squalor and their lives are only relieved by premature death. Morally, there is an overwhelming case for us all to do everything possible to help those less fortunate than ourselves.
Of course, many people are facing this. As my right hon. Friend has said, there are all the voluntary organisations and the churches which are doing such excellent work. There are the British volunteers overseas—young people who go abroad to help others, thus spreading the best traditions of this country. Their conduct 306 is exemplary and they are able to undo much of the harm done to the British image during the struggle for independence by the newly emerging countries. They come back better equipped in knowledge and experience to serve our country. Incidentally, they have helped, in my judgment, to consolidate and strengthen the Commonwealth. On my own behalf and, I am sure, that of everyone else, I should like to thank these young people who are doing so much to help to promote peace and security in the world.
I have said that moral leadership is very important and I am fortified in this by an experience I had when talking to a leading diplomat in London. He said, "It is a pity that Britain cannot do more to help a world in distress." I said, "We have to face the fact that Britain no longer has the military might or the economic resources to enable us to give the leadership we used to give." He replied, "You are making a mistake. Britain has one quality which it can give to the world—moral leadership." I believe that giving aid to those less fortunate than ourselves is the kind of leadership by which we can make the greatest contribution today.
I said earlier that 1½d. in the £ of our national income is the cost to the nation of giving aid. Actually, it does not cost as much as that because, of the £205 million which is in the overseas aid budget, about £60 million comes back in repayment. This means that there are substantial returns to the taxpayers. The aid takes many forms, in grants, loans and bilateral arrangements with developing countries and in contributions to multilateral agencies. We assist the British Council and there is also the Commonwealth Development Corporation, which is a very successful business undertaking and brings back large returns to this country. All of these bodies are conducted under the aegis of the aid programme.
There are the experts and the technical services and the other items which help to raise the cost of the aid programme, but the cost in foreign exchange is not as high as is sometimes thought. It has been calculated that about one-third of the cost of the aid programme results in a burden on our foreign exchange.
307 The Minister said that just under 90 per cent. of aid was given on a bilateral basis and more than 10 per cent. to the multilateral agencies. It is suggested by some that money given for aid purposes is wasted, that some grandoise scheme is developed and that the aid is wasted in other directions. Those who say that do not know the facts. As the former Minister, it was my responsibility to conduct negotiations with other Governments. We decide the level of aid at the very beginning. We also say how we will finance a particular part of a country development. We agree the terms and schedules and then arrangements are made for letting and supervising the contracts. Our own experts make an evaluation of the scheme to be undertaken.
The aid which we give is concerned mainly with agriculture and irrigation and, in its support, electricity, communications, roads, ports and railways, and scientific and technical experts and teachers are provided to assist in the development. I sometimes feel that there is too much emphasis on the supply of teachers, that some countries place too much reliance on teachers from Britain when teachers in their own country should be trained to teach their own people. The kind of education provided by teachers from our country tends to encourage too many indigenous people to seek the kinds of jobs which as yet are not available, and this in turn tends to discontent in the overseas country. The wealth of Britain came not from the academics and white collar workers, but from the skilled craftsmen and labourers who were able to use available resources.
When I was at the Ministry, I tried to encourage the extension of a service to provide for sending overseas craftsmen and skilled labourers to show less developed countries how to help in building up their economies. I was pleased to have the opportunity to open two centres in Colombia. In one, foundry workers showed the men of Colombia how to do foundry work, and that was a much more solid contribution towards building up the economy than any kind of lecture, however valuable it might have been. Another example of practical help was the way in which some fine British sheep were sent to Colombia to be crossed with indigenous sheep.
308 In addition, the indigenous people were shown the shearing of sheep and how the yarn was made and the woollen fabrics produced. That does more to create affluence in that part of Colombia than other methods which might have been employed. I hope that the Parliamentary Secretary, who was entrusted with this kind of development, will be able to say that this kind of scheme is being still further explored and developed.
It has already been said that aid helps to lay the foundation of later trade. This is most important to Britain, because we are a great trading nation. Aid helps to promote exports of plant and equipment. It ensures supplies of replacements and spares, and it enables us to sustain a scale of work and a quality of product competitive with other countries fortunate enough to have a much larger home market than we have. It also provides us with an intimate knowledge of markets and prospective markets, and it gives us the opportunity to carry out research on a world-wide basis. It means ultimately that people who have used British goods and found them to be of good quality and value, or who have been trained to buy British, will seek to place orders in Britain for a long time ahead.
I am delighted to hear that there is to be a greater contribution to the multilateral agencies under the aegis of the United Nations. Bilateral aid creates an over-sensitive relationship between benefactor and recipient and perpetuates the struggle between East and West.
The Colombo Plan is a good example of how by bringing together donors and recipients on an equal basis suspicion of each other's motives can be reduced, and it contributes to the best interests of both. Bilateral aid tends to be the worst form of aid, because the countries giving it want it to be tied aid. This damages both the giver and the receiver in the long run. It is short sighted and it will slow down the development of world trade and aggravate existing differences between developed and less developed countries.
As an illustration, the interests of India and Britain are damaged by the tied aid which is given to India by the United States. The I.C.I., which happens to be a constituency interest of mine, has always supplied fertilisers to India at competitive rates, and India has been well served. 309 However, because of the tied aid, the Indians are having to pay for fertilisers prices higher than those which they would have to pay to I.C.I.
Another indication of how Britain benefits from multilateral trade comes from the World Bank and its infrastructure, the International Development Association. For every £100 which we put in, we get in return about £130 worth of services and goods. As a great trading nation, it is in Britain's interests to do all we can to strengthen the multilateral agencies.
It has already been said that the struggle today is not so much of ideologies as between the haves and the have-nots. It was my good fortune in 1963 to go to the Soviet Union when I had the opportunity to discuss aid. I suggested that the Russians, the Americans, the British and the other developed nations should contribute generously to the United Nations. Unless we do this, those who happen to be nonwhite will point to the standards of living of the British and the Americans and to the Russians trying to overtake them and if a time comes for a struggle to take place they will not distinguish between the white Russian, the white Englishman and the white American. I hope that all of us who are living in the privileged section of the world will do what we can to help others before they organise by force to take that which they cannot secure by peaceful means.
There is one other question which cannot be ignored in connection with the developing world, and it is basic to the whole problem. It is a question of the world population and its excessive rate of growth. It was Malthus who said that all species of plants and animals, including man, tend to increase faster than the means of subsistence. The checks on a growing population, as the Minister mentioned, such as epidemics and wars, are fortunately, now coming to an end. We do not want that kind of check. But checks have to be made.
We have to face the fact that a hungry man lacks the strength to work. He is not capable of resisting the inroads of disease. A hungry woman cannot bear a healthy child and nuture it to maturity. This calls for family planning, and I am delighted to hear that this is being tackled energetically within the Department. I had an opportunity of starting the investigation and urged that something should 310 be done. One of the first decisions that I took on becoming Minister was to say that family planning should be looked at responsibly, as part of the aid programme. We have to take a pride in the knowledge that there are those of us on both sides of the House who insist on humanity and goodwill being shown towards the deprived people of the world.
Poverty, like peace, is indivisible. In the early days of our industrial development, we found that epidemics were no respecters of persons. Insanitary conditions in the poor quarters of our cities were a danger to everyone. Therefore, the rich were, very reluctantly, forced to support and encourage measures safeguarding the health of the community as a whole. In the same way, we cannot have a world half rich and half poor. Misery, disease and illitracy anywhere are a danger to us all. To fail in our duty to the poorer countries constitutes not only a reproach to us all, to our humanity, but a serious threat to the peace and security of the world.
§ 8.12 p.m.
§ Mr. James Davidson (Aberdeenshire, West)
A total of 121 nations were represented at the recent United Nations Conference on Trade and Development which took place in New Delhi from April to March of this year. I was extremely disappointed at the outcome of the Conference. It was a Conference of procrastination and anti-climax. Some of the things which seemed to come out of it were the caucus-like behaviour of both rich and poor countries, failure to agree on general trade preferences to developing countries and the principle—if one can go by the reports of the Conference—that as long as no agreements were so binding that they had to be implemented the countries concerned were prepared to accept them.
Perhaps it would be going a little too far to say that it was a flop, but it would be just to say that it further damaged the relationship between developed and developing countries. Certain agreements were reached. There was an agreement reached to increase the export earnings of the developing countries by lower tariffs and giving them higher prices there was an agreement to promote their industrialisation by more technical aid and equipment and there was an agreement to accelerate their rates of economic 311 growth, to improve liquidity, make capital more easily available, and improve training, technical aid and intermediate aid of one sort or another.
Perhaps the most outstanding single achievement of the Conference was the establishment of a Special Committee on Preferences as a subsidiary organ of the Trade and Development Board. In practice this may not achieve very much. The first meeting of this Committee is not to be held until November, and the second will not be held until the first part of 1969. It is all going to take a very long time. Certain measures which were taken seem to have been extremely limited. There was a declaration on trade expansion, and the Conference reaffirmed trade expansion and economic integration among developing countries and the need to make a contribution towards their economic growth.
There was a declaration on the world food problem, urging developing countries to pay special attention to the agricultural sector in their economic planning. There was another resolution, in which the Conference asked countries participating in east-west trading to continue efforts to expand their trade. There was also a resolution, adopted towards the end of the Conference, urging governments of developed countries to avoid exchange restrictions on tourism. These were all very disappointing. Most of these things and facts were well known in advance and it is hardly surprising that the President of the Conference, Mr. Dinesh Singh, India's Minister of Commerce, noted that the Conference had not fulfilled the hopes expected of it, and said that instead of negotiations with a view to international co-operation, there had been confrontation and bargaining.
Moreover at the time of the Session, he said, an unusually large number of tensions and conflicts had clouded the international scene and this naturally had also affected the working of the Conference. It is hardly surprising that in his closing statement the Secretary General of U.N.C.T.A.D., Raul Prebisch, commented that:…a great vacuum has been left in our taskinasmuch as the Conference had failed to prepare a strategy of development for 312 the second Development Decade. This reflects the disappointment that I have heard expressed by people whom I have met and talked to about the Conference, and in the many letters which I have received.
I would like to point to the failures, and suggest some of the things that might be done. I have no doubt that the outcome of the Conference was not a disappointment to certain people, possibly to the merchants of the "Backing Britain" movement who no doubt regard overseas aid and development as a form of charity which we cannot afford. I put it to the House that it is nothing of the sort. It is not charity. At its very worst, overseas aid and development is a form of insurance. At its best it is a moral obligation. I think of the cotton industry of Lancashire and the jute industry of Dundee, and how both these two massive industries in the past were built on the under-recoupment of the producers of primary products overseas.
At its lowest this is a form of insurance for our children, because if the widening gap between the poor and the wealthy countries is permitted to go on widening at its present rate, the rift may be so great in 20 years' time that it will be impossible to heal, and the only way it can be relieved will be by massive cataclysm, some use of force which will involve young people the world over. I certainly hope that it will never reach that sort of situation.
I would like to underline the point already made by the Front Benches on both sides, that we should regard overseas aid as a form of enlightened self-interest. We should decide in our own minds what we should aim at, what we should give and exactly how we are to try and achieve this. I was a little disturbed to hear from my hon. Friend the Member for Roxburgh, Selkirk and Peebles (Mr. David Steel) who visited the United Nations less than six months ago, that apparently this country is falling behind in its contributions to the United Nations development programme. I would like to hear from the Minister in his reply whether this is the case. I was very relieved to hear the statement that the Government appear to support the view that we should have a target of 1 per 313 cent. of gross national product as our aim for overseas aid.
If I may bore the House with a few statistics, the average income in the richer countries—that is, in Europe, North America and Russia, down in the Antipodes, South Africa and Japan—will, according to calculations, rise from 1,300 dollars per annum to over 3,000 dollars per annum over the next 20 years. In the poorer countries it will only rise from an average of 133 dollars to 255.
By 1935 the average United States citizen will, therefore, earn 30 times as much as the average Indian citizen. The dangers are obvious. The present terms of trade are tipping the balance against the poorer countries. This is a vicious circle, as has been pointed out, that prevents the poorer countries from creating the wealth that provides the food, the energy and the initiative to create further wealth. If it is allowed to persist, the dangers will be incalculable in years to come.
I believe I am right in saying that Britain, in terms of percentage of national income, is about fourth in Europe in her contributions. We come somewhere after France, Belgium and the Netherlands. Those figures were taken from 1965. The figure was 1.17 per cent. of national income compared with 1.88 per cent. for France. I was surprised to see in the list of figures that Canada, a wealthy country that is growing rapidly, apparently contributed only 0.43 per cent. of her national income.
§ Mr. Davidson
This was before the Liberal Government came to power. These figures are for 1965. Canada's contribution was lower than any in Europe. This was a percentage of national income, not a percentage of gross national product.
It is also interesting to observe—although it may be slightly misleading—that the war in Vietnam costs the United States 82 million dollars per day. If this could be put straight into the Mekong Delta project, it would pay for the reclamation of 150,000 acres of agricultural land a day. Put in different terms, so that non-farmers might better com- 314 prehend, it would pay for the establishment and building of 1,000 schools per day, each capable of taking 50 pupils. This is what could be achieved if the money spent on maintaining the war in Vietnam were put into more constructive channels.
We acknowledge that private enterprise plays its part in aid and development. I understand that the United Kingdom is the fourth largest investor, the first three being the United States, France and Italy. Having said what I have about Vietnam, it is fair to say that the United States are far and away the biggest overall donors of overseas aid both in the private and public sectors.
The question of the advantages of bilateral aid, on the one hand, and multilateral aid, on the other, has been raised. The British programme is overwhelmingly bilateral, but the percentage of multilateral aid is fast growing. Most developed countries allocate a higher proportion of multilateral aid than we do. Scandinavian countries contribute something over 50 per cent. of their contribution in the form of multilateral aid. The Communist countries, on the other hand, rive very little in the form of multilateral aid. They put almost the whole proportion of their aid through bilateral channels.
I suggest certain steps on common aid and co-operation which we might take. We should give priority to those countries whose economic significance justifies major international effort. It would be right to announce proposed aid in advance for the coming year and to stick to it. We should develop much closer relations with the World Bank for this purpose. It has already expressed its willingness to finance development. We might make a contribution by placing economic staff in British diplomatic missions overseas where they can be used for channelling aid both economically and aptly in the place to which they are posted. We should also make certain that the countries to whom aid is being channelled know what is available, because in some cases they do not know what they can get.
We are right to aim at 1 per cent. of gross national product. This should preferably be without conditions and without interest and preferably, as I have 315 said, through multilateral agencies. If my calculations are correct, this means that over a period of time we should raise our sights considerably from the present figure of £205 million per annum to about £350 million per annum. It might be apt to point out in passing that this is less than a third of the revenue from tobacco duty which this country collects annually.
We might also consider sending more aid to South-East Asia and Latin America. Our present concentration is on the Commonwealth and Commonwealth dependents. About 80 per cent. of the aid we give goes in that direction. If all developed countries increased their target to 1 per cent. of gross national product this would achieve £1,500 million per annum in foreign exchange to developing countries, which is what they could usefully use at the present time. Anything more than that might at this moment be surplus to their requirements.
Should there be international co-operation in this sphere or should there be competition? I am afraid that there is competition, whether we like it or not. One of the most disappointing features of the U.N.C.T.A.D. conference was the failure of the Communist countries to co-operate with other developed countries in the aid programme. In this respect I should like to quote from a publication which states:The delegation from the developing states can hardly have left the conference table under any illusion that the Socialist countries of Eastern Europe will not shrink from the logic of their constant assertion that they do not, in the words of a Soviet delegate, bear either moral or material responsibility for the grave economic situation of developing countries.In other words, they do not accept this responsibility.Regarding the statement on increased aid to developing countries: On this statement the Soviet delegate asked for an extra section to be added stating that the document expressed the concerted view of the market economy countries and the developing countries and, as follows naturally from that, not the view of the Communist countries.The Soviet group abstained on the major aid resolution recommending that developed countries should aim at a minimum net transfer of financial resources to developing countries equivalent to 1 per cent. of gross national product. It seems they did very little to co-operate.
316 At this point I draw the Minister's attention to a few statistics which should be well known to the House. It is obvious that the Communist countries are using their aid as a tool of foreign policy. In the period 1954 to 1966 they sent 45 per cent. to Asia, 35 per cent. to the Middle East, 16 per cent. to Africa, and only 4 per cent. to Latin America. By 1967 the emphasis had changed completely although their total contribution per annum had dropped slightly. To Africa they sent 41 per cent. as against 16 per cent. previously. To Latin America they sent 37 per cent. as against 4 per cent. previously. To the Middle East they sent only 10 per cent., and to Asia only 8 per cent. There was a remarkable shift in emphasis of which we should take note.
I shall not bore the House with a list of the major recipients, but certain countries have received rather more in aid from the Communist countries than they have from us. I have in mind to mention a few, Guinea, Mali, Afghanistan, Burma, Ceylon, Nepal, Iran and Iraq. Perhaps the Minister will tell us whether there is any special policy of not sending aid to those countries in anything like the quantity that it has been provided by the Communist countries.
I propose now to stress what I think needs to be done if we are to approach the figure of 1 per cent. of gross national product, to see that it is fairly and properly distributed, and to see that U.N.C.T.A.D. fulfils its proper functions. I have mentioned that capital is to be made more easily liquid, and more easily obtainable, and I think that I should stress the importance of agriculture. We know that one-fifth of the world is starving, and that three-fifths suffer from malnutrition, facts which have been quoted several times during the debate, but there are reasons for agriculture being important, quite apart from the rapid increase in the world population.
It is the dominant sector in the economies of many developing countries and therefore it is by far the most direct way of raising living standards. In India 75 per cent. of the population is dependent on agriculture of a sort. A rise in rural incomes is needed to expand the market for manufactures. It is no good expanding the market for manufactures unless a preponderance of the population in the 317 rural areas can afford to buy them. It is a source of saving for investment in industry. It is also a contribution to the foreign exchange earnings of these developing countries which can then use the savings to finance imports of capital and other goods. Finally, it is a way in which the skills of a vast labour force can be increased at fairly small expense by the use of modern tools, implements, fertilisers, and seeds.
I think that in future when there are U.N.C.T.A.D. conferences to which we send delegations it would be a great advantage if we could have more than just the Board of Trade and the Ministry of Overseas Development represented. It is right that the functions of overseas aid have been concentrated within one Ministry, but many others are involved—for example, the Ministry of Education, and the Ministry of Technology, and I think that it would be a good thing if we could send a composite delegation representing all the Ministries involved in aid and development overseas. It should be led try the most suitable junior or senior Minister from any of the Ministries concerned who is available at the time.
The present system of economic international relations is rather biased against the developing countries. There is a need for a comprehensive plan of mixed remedial measures. On the question of primary products, we have to tackle the question of tariffs and lower duties. In certain cases quotas may be appropriate, and in certain cases we must consider removing subsidies on our own competitive products. I think that we should seriously consider raising commodity prices when we are purchasing primary products from developing countries. We should consider, too, various ways of providing supplementary finance. The S.D.R. scheme will be of great assistance in that respect. We should give greater publicity to and promote the exports of developing countries, and, as I have said, reduce the tariffs. We should raise our sights to at least 1 per cent. of gross national product, and that could embrace income from tourism and transport.
The figure of £1,500,000 per annum is a rough figure which the developing countries could usefully use now. That would be the output if the developed countries were to raise their contributions to 1 per cent. of gross national product. 318 There is a great need for emphasis to be laid on multilateral aid, on international schemes, and on fairer distribution. There is a need for greater technical assistance, particularly in agriculture and birth control.
We need to increase trade with the developing countries and adjust the terms of trade to overcome the balance which is tipping against them. We should note that only half the 6 to 12 age group in the developing countries are being educated, and this is obviously a crying need.
Finally, the reorganisation and coordinating function of U.N.C.T.A.D. must be stressed so that the result of the next conference is not so disappointing as that of the last.
§ 8.36 p.m.
§ Mr. James Tinn (Cleveland)
It is time that a short speech was made in this truncated debate, and I will do my best to make it. Like the Minister and other hon. Members, I have seen the need for overseas development and the work which is being done, and I should have liked to speak about the Ministry's work on both aspects, but I will confine myself to two main points. First, the second United Nations Conference on Trade and Development, as was said in The Scotsman, disappointed even those who had expressed only the most cautious hopes. Perhaps its most substantial achievement was the consumption of 55 tons of documents, from which a lesson could be learned about its procedure.
One of the ominous features of the conference was the change from a polarisation based in ideology to one based on North and South, the haves and the have-nots. This is a portent for the future which we cannot disregard. My right hon. Friend the Member for Middlesbrough, East (Mr. Bottomley), who was the Minister, referred to tied aid applied either solely to goods of the donor country, or, even more tightly, to particular products from that country. I entirely share his and the Minister's views about the desirability of untied aid, but I am inclined to agree also with the hon. Member for Essex, South-East (Mr. Braine) that we must be practical and realistic.
I draw particular attention to the position of British fertiliser firms which have been heavily penalised by the prevalent 319 foreign practice, at least of our major competitors, of tying aid. If we were to retaliate, this would not necessarily harm the receiving nations because they—particularly India, which will receive the largest amount of our aid this year—will probably be compelled to take their entire consumption of nitrogenous fertiliser from the United States at higher prices. And India takes 38 per cent. of the total of all fertiliser sold to developing countries.
The United States has increased the amount of its aid which is tied to fertiliser to no less than 300 million dollars. Three-quarters of the nitrogenous fertiliser sold to developing countries is sold through this process. I have no thought here of exploiting the developing countries through restricting some of our aid to purchases of fertiliser from this country. Our fertiliser industry is second to none and is well able to compete on equal terms, if it were allowed to do so, but since the principal competitors, Japan and the United States, tie their aid, surely we cannot indefinitely see our markets taken over not only at our expense but at that of the developing countries themselves.
I am glad that Ceylon, an important market in this respect, and Malawi have been able to resist this pressure, despite the tying of American aid, and are still—this proves the competitiveness of British industry—buying United Kingdom fertilisers, using untied aid.
If we do not see the reality of this problem and do something about it, there could be a grave consequence. The principal producers, such as I.C.I., will be driven, as they are being driven, to seek outlets in "residual" markets, such as China, Egypt and Cuba. In Cuba, a £3 million contract was negotiated over three years with 12 months' unsecured credit, which illustrates the fact that, in these markets, conditions, financial and political, are such that the British industry can not permanently seek them as outlets.
There is the risk that the industry might then have to cut back on its capacity, with the result that the world would be the poorer because, as I said, the British industry is producing—and will go on producing in this way because we are continually pioneering new 320 methods—fertilisers at a price lower than any of our competitors.
Aid mistakenly untied in this connection could contribute to unemployment in Britain through a cut-back in production. On the other hand, if my suggestion were adopted the opposite would be the case and we would be able not only to benefit the developing nations by sending them larger amounts of fertiliser at lower prices, but we would be helping our development areas.
Our position under the International Sugar Agreement is unique in that we are buying sugar from Commonwealth producers at what really amounts to a subsidised price, yet without any exchange in preference in the sale of fertilisers. As a result, we are supplying only 5 per cent. of their needs, compared with 32 per cent. from the other western European markets, 26 per cent. from the United States and 24 per cent. from Japan. I am asking for a practical measure—perhaps under Section 3 of the Export Guarantees Act—to be taken to benefit not only the developing countries but our own industry, which is predominantly sited in development areas which have high rates of unemployment.
§ 8.45 p.m.
§ Mr. Henry Clark (Antrim, North)
I congratulate the hon. Member for Cleveland (Mr. Tinn) on both the brevity of his speech and the degree to which he avoided platitudes. I will do my best to emulate him and I certainly do not intend to define in yet more harrowing terms what aid is about.
The House knows that I am deeply concerned with this subject. I do not begin on the premise that £650 million spent on aid in the last three and a half years is necessarily money badly spent. On the other hand, I welcome the scepticism which has been expressed about aid in this country. I want to ensure that before we spend our hard-earned money—and, whatever the Minister says, a good deal of it is foreign currency—we know that it will be well spent. I want to see that all Western aid achieves a worthwhile purpose, but there is reason to doubt that it is.
In my contacts with the Ministry of Overseas Development I have found it perhaps more complacent than any other Government Department. Some of its 321 utterances can only be described as smug. I was, therefore, pleased to hear the Minister's note of special pleading. I agree that there have been aid successes. The Minister quoted some, but how many of these have been due to the sudden discovery of oil or other minerals? How often when, according to United Nations statistics, standards have increased, does it only mean that men have moved from the comparative comfort of subsistence farming to the comparative slavery of modern industry in large towns. I am myself sceptical about the results that are achieved or that we pretend are achieved by the aid we give.
Merely to give is not enough. We want to see aid-receiving countries reach the point when they can generate their own growth, cease to depend on us and create their own development by pulling up their boot straps. That is the only way that the under-developed countries will, in the long run, grow rich.
Let us look at a few facts. We have heard talk about U.N.C.T.A.D. The hon. Member for Aberdeenshire, West (Mr. James Davidson) spoke at length—I thought rather impolitely, considering the shortness of the debate—on this subject. U.N.C.T.A.D., in Delhi, was at best a qualified failure. Again, I do not think that I know a single country which is in receipt of British aid which during the last 10 years has reached the take—off point at which it can begin to generate its own growth.
Much is said about commodity prices. Sisal is an important commodity and the price of this product has gone down probably more than any other in the last few years. However, our post offices no longer use sisal string to tie up our letters, they use nylon. This is a small point, but if one was producing sisal one would be extremely annoyed about this.
I have had the good fortune to visit a number of under-developed countries in recent years. I have noticed that one really worthwhile thing that is always mentioned is the Commonwealth Sugar Agreement. I understand that that does not even come under the Ministry and is not paid out of the Department's Vote, but by the British housewife by an additional ½d. or 1½d. per lb. of sugar. Is the money that we are giving away anything like as effectively spent as our Commonwealth Sugar Agreement money? 322 In East Africa, in areas which I have known well over a period of years, the change that is noticeable is not richer peasants and mare houses with corrugated iron roofs, it is the terrific increase in the number of civil servants going round the bush in Landrovers with heavily stuffed brief cases, adding not one cob of maize to the productivity of the district. The only increase in wealth to be noticed is that the palm trees and the cashew nut trees are more mature than they were during the colonial period. I am sorry, I am sceptical about what aid is achieving.
We have no reason for complacency. I have no doubt that at the micro-economic level there are dozens of successes about which excellent documents can be written, but at that micro-economic level there is no sign of success. I believe that this House would do far better to concern itself deeply with the strategy of aid and our own Ministry's policy on aid, rather than to talk about whether U.N.C.T.A.D. is a success, a part failure, or a complete failure. We have to look very much more carefully at the whole strategy.
The suggestiton by Mr. Woods, the President of the World Bank, of an international audit on the whole of aid-giving is one which we should support. If the Minister wanted to cut something out of his speech, why did he cut out Government support for that, since nothing could be more important?
Is this House really in a position to debate the record of the Ministry of Overseas Development? We get a very large number of public relations documents from them, perhaps too many. This debate, I presume, is based on the statistical paper which was produced last June and which gave statistics up to December, 1966. Is it not a little odd to have a debate before the next and up-to-date statistical document is produced? Can we have an explanation? We have nothing, apart from two statistical documents and two rather wishy-washy papers which do not give an insight into the general strategy, one of which is out of date and the other puerile in terms of modern thinking on the economics of development.
The House is entitled to more than a cut-down debate before the up-to-date 323 figures are published and without a proper statement of the Ministry's strategy. The money which is spent by the Ministry is spent so far away that we are entitled to a much greater insight than is provided by a selected set of statistics once a year, and a Blue Book when they feel like publishing it.
I am not entirely in favour of Select Committees, but overseas aid might well be the best subject for a Select Committee. I am convinced that a three-hour debate does not provide adequate investigation into the £200 million a year which is spent on overseas aid. The House is entitled to look at the subject much more carefully and with much better facts and figures before it. There should be a full-scale debate in this House for at least a whole day, so that the detailed points many hon. Members wish to make can be made in full, and dealt with in full.
I hope that the Minister will take the message back to the Leader of the House that this is not good enough. I am told that the Estimates Committee is looking into the Ministry. When that report is produced, presumably in the autumn of this year, with more up-to-date figures, and when a better policy statement is available, I suggest to the Minister that we should have the full debate that the House and this country, which is contributing the £200 million, are entitled to have.
§ 8.54 p.m.
§ Mr. Frank Judd (Portsmouth, West)
I start by congratulating the Government on having resisted some exceedingly ill-informed pressures, following recent economic difficulties, to cut the overseas aid and development programme. The leadership which they have shown in this respect has been exemplary, and I am sure that many hon. Members on this side of the House would want to place on record their appreciation of it.
As has been said several times, there are three good reasons for an overseas aid and development programme. First, there is the moral argument. This country has been mesmerised for too long in an orgy of introspective self-analysis. If we are so desperately concerned about protecting our society and the values on which it is based, we should ask our- 324 selves more frequently what those values demand of us in international action.
Secondly, there is the strategic argument. Thirty per cent. of the world's population has 60 per cent. of the world's foodstuffs. The average European or American can expect to earn 10 times the average income of an Asian. A most modest weekly wage in our country is similar to the annual earnings of peasant farmers in many parts of Africa. As a result of the revolution in communications, two-thirds of the world's population is becoming increasingly aware of the privileges of the one-third to which we belong. That two-thirds will not rest content.
It is no exaggeration to say that we are approaching a world revolutionary situation which may usher in an era in international relations which will make the cold war seem like child's play by comparison. None of us, especially in the light of recent events in this country, can overlook the fact that the gap between the two-thirds and the one-third is underlined by race. I do not believe that we have begun to understand the passions which this conflict may release in the international community.
In face of this challenge, do we realise that the West collectively still spends 600 per cent. more on the negative preparations for the containment of violence should it occur as it spends on the positive fight against ignorance, poverty and disease, which, after all, are the cause of instability and tension. None of us looking at the present international situation really fears a direct confrontation between the great Powers, but we all know that the real risk to international security is the possibility of escalation of some local conflict, and the problems of economic and social development are directly related to this.
Thirdly, there is the economic argument. However little we may know about economic theory in general, we all know that one of the fundamental points about the sustained economic growth of our community since the Industrial Revolution has been the increased purchasing power of the artisan and working classes. It is clear that the increased economic prosperity of the international community as a whole will be related to the increased purchasing power of the developing countries.
325 If we accept that point, it is clear, as Paul Hoffman is believed to have said in a recent discussion, that we should be setting aside a significant proportion of our annual budget for market development. It is plain that in the case of the International Development Association, for example, we are already getting the dividends, because for every £1 which we contribute we get 30s. worth of orders. It must be repeated that when the Government felt bound, unfortunately, just over a year ago to make a cut of £20 million in the overseas aid and development programme, the saving to our balance of payments was barely £7 million.
In determining the basis of our overseas aid and development programme, we should consider some of the problems of developing countries. Perhaps the most general and fundamental problem of a developing country is that the first flush of enthusiasm with political independence disappears as the realisation grows that economic domination by former colonial powers and others is as great as, if not greater than, ever. Sometimes when we react too spontaneously to events such as those in Zambia and Tanzania we should remember that the objective of the programme is to ensure that countries stand on their own feet and are economically self-sufficient. If we try to prolong a situation in which we maintain economic domination of their economies, we are working against the very objectives which hon. Members on both sides of the House have been expressing.
§ Sir George Sinclair (Dorking)
What examples has the hon. Member of this country trying to keep a country in modern times in a state of dependence so that we can exploit it? That sounds utter poppycock.
§ Mr. Judd
I am glad that the hon. Member agrees. This is not the first time we have agreed on matters of this sort.
326 We have to look at the problem of the rapid population explosion and the fact that it is overtaking improvements in the education and welfare services. Reference has been made to the U.N. Development Decade which had the objective of 1 per cent. of National income being contributed by developed countries to development programmes to secure a five per cent. growth rate in the developing countries but where there is a 3 per cent. to 3½ per cent. growth in population this would mean that the per capita income of developing countries would rise by only 1½ per cent. to 2 per cent. and it would take 35 to 50 years for them to double their living standards. In India the average per capita income would still only be about £50. Here we see the size of the population explosion.
Then there is the problem of neglect of agricultural programmes so that countries which previously were agriculturally self-supporting now have to import foodstuffs and agricultural products. There is also the large-scale migration to towns, resulting in the shanty towns which are built around them, often with disease as a result.
Illiteracy makes nonsense of development programmes because the people are not able to take advantage of what is planned and there are inadequate resources for administration. It is estimated that there are between 700 million and 1,000 million illiterates in the world.
The pressure for capital-intensive development may result in the creation of a technological élite at the actual expense of the majority of the population who find themselves relatively worse off than before. At the very time when developing countries are trying to secure outlets for their primary products there is an emphasis in developed counties such as ours on the production of synthetic and substitute goods.
There is the problem of shortage of capital for development of the right sort in the developing countries, and there is the dead weight of loan and interest repayment. All of us recognise that world trade still remains organised from the point of view of the older nations. Developing countries may find fluctuations in world commodity prices as large as 12 per cent. which can wipe out in one year the progress made in several previous 327 years. In the G.A.T.T. and U.N.C.T.A.D. we hear talk about overcoming these difficulties, but we want action and very few of us are convinced that following the U.N.C.T.A.D. Conference there will be action on the scale which is necessary.
Six points deserve priority, in our manifesto for economic and social development. First we must have relevant education. In the past there has been too much emphasis in developing countries on the syllabi and systems of education used in our own society. We even have examples of buttercups being flown out for use in biology examinations because they are not available in the country concerned. We must do a great deal of work in devising systems of education and syllabi directly relevant to the needs of developing countries.
I have recently come back from Botswana. There I have been delighted to see the work done at Swaneng Hill School, near Serowe. They have built the classrooms and dormitories and are running a school farm. They have also started a builders' brigade for unemployed young people living in the area of the school. Indeed, the students have now moved out of Swaneng to a place several hundred miles away where they are involved in building another secondary school which can begin to meet the needs of the community at Tonota just south of Francistown. This seems to me to be the sort of relevant application of education that is necessary. It is not just an academic process but is relevant to immediate needs.
§ Mr. Laurence Pavitt (Willesden, West)
Did my hon. Friend also see in Botswana the useful work going on in the co-operative societies aided by Oxfam?
§ Mr. Judd
I certainly did, and Oxfam has collected several laurels this evening. It is true also that Oxfam has been involved with others in support of the school at Swaneng.
Secondly, I think we must look at the problem of agriculture. We must give a great deal of attention to devising modern concepts of how we can get improvement immediately in the local situation of agricultural production. To take the example of Botswana, a country which I visited very recently, I was most intrigued to see an experiment carried out in which a 328 tractor and a traditional team of oxen had been given the job of cultivating a piece of land to see which was the better economic proposition. To the satisfaction of all concerned, it has been proved that in that situation the traditional team of oxen with a better and more efficient plough can produce better results than the tractor introduced to the situation.
The point is that we must look for small, relevant, technical improvements which can be grasped and mastered by the local people, and which can show positive direct results which can spread the value of economic growth to a wide cross-section of the population.
In this respect, all I can do in the time available is to commend to the House the work of Dr. Schumacher and the Intermediate Technology Development Group, which is paying a great deal of attention to the whole concept of how we can get relevant technical development which can be mastered by the local population.
The next point is that we have to face up to the problem of population control. It is nonsense to devote resources to development programmes if we are constantly to be defeated by this overpowering problem of the population explosion.
We must also look at the problem of world liquidity, and this concerns our own Chancellor deeply because of our own position in Britain. But if we are so preoccupied with our own needs in this respect, if we are trying to work out modern, relevant, international methods for dealing with the problems, let us look at the far greater needs of the developing countries and include them in our plans at this stage.
Of course, we must also face up to the issue of tariffs, because, again, it is nonsense to be devoting resources to the development of industries and productive capacity in a developing country if we then deny that country an outlet for its products into a developed market.
I believe, also, that as the Minister has suggested this evening, we must put more emphasis on the multilateral approach. I would say only one thing about this. I believe that it can be argued that the bilateral competitive aid approach has a divisive effect on a developing country because, at the very time when one should be trying to build up local planning resources so that the Government 329 and the Administration of the country are really in charge of their own priorities and the administration of their economy, one is building in a fragmentary process of different schemes which are uncoordinated and originate from different countries and organisations, paying lip service perhaps to the planning Ministry in a particular country, but not really building up a co-ordinated policy of economic control and development in that country.
Finally, I want to refer to one very important development which was well illustrated in the Algiers Charter but has been even better and more clearly put forward by the President of Tanzania in the Arusha Declaration. I believe that whatever our temporary political differences with that country, what was said at Arusha just over a year ago was of profound significance for all those who are interested in development. President Nyerere said on that occasion:…even if it were possible for us to get enough money for our needs from external sources, is this what we really want? Independence means self-reliance. Independence cannot be real if a Nation depends upon gifts and loans from another for its development. Even if there was a Nation, or Nations, prepared to give us all the money we need for our development, it would be improper for us to accept such assistance without asking ourselves how this would affect our independence and our very survival as a nation. Gifts which start off or stimulate our own efforts are useful gifts. But gifts which weaken our own efforts should not be accepted without asking ourselves a number of questions.This spirit emanating in the developing countries illustrates the real potential for the partnership in this operation which those concerned in the Ministry are seeking all the time.
My last thought is that, if we as politicians are occasionally tempted to be apologetic in presenting the case to the nation for an overseas development and aid programme, there is no need for apologetic attitudes, because basically there is one fundamental truth facing all of us. Britain has announced in terms of her foreign policy in recent months that she can no longer police her interests abroad alone. We have also seen in recent months that, economically, we are as dependent, if not more so, on international economic growth and economic stability as we have even been.
If this is so, we simply cannot afford not to give the highest possible priority 330 to overseas aid and development programmes. As has been said very clearly, this is an almost providential combination of morality and enlightened self-interest. I believe that it is on that basis that all of us should encourage the Government to state that the first opportunity, as our economic position improves, the present £205 million programme will be increased to £300 million.
I believe that this short debate has illustrated the farcical way in which the House is trying to interest itself in overseas aid and development programmes. It is exactly two years since we had a major debate on overseas aid and development. If this is, as I believe that it is, a central theme of foreign policy, it is disgraceful that in the allocation of our time we should devote three hours earlier this evening to Gibraltar, however important that subject may be, and three hours later to this whole problem which is so vital and significant in the whole realm of foreign policy. I associate myself with those who have argued that we should make strong representations for the early creation of a Select Committee on overseas aid and development.
§ 9.13 p.m.
§ Sir George Sinclair (Dorking)
I want to take up immediately the plea made by the hon. Member for Portsmouth, West (Mr. Judd) for a fuller debate on aid later this year and for the creation of a Select Committee to keep aid, its objectives and its methods under continuing review. We owe this to the taxpayers as a matter of good housekeeping and also to the public as a means of enlightenment on what we are trying to do on their behalf.
The vast amount of capital that is spent in the development of the developing countries is generated by themselves. Even in statistics, it comes to 80 per cent.; but we forget the amount of effort put in at village level that cannot be reflected in any statistics…No country, once it has become independent politically wants, wants to go on being economically dependent on people outside.
I am sad to think of the weak rôle our country played at U.N.C.T.A.D. this year. We failed to follow up the very bold initiative of my right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition when he went to the first U.N.C.T.A.D. in 1964. There has been a sad falling away over U.N.C.T.A.D., both in ideas and the 331 priority the present Government have given to the problems which this conference was trying to solve.
I am sorry that the present Minister of Overseas Development, who has his heart in the cause for which his Ministry was founded, has had so little scope for the expansion of aid and technical assistance that he would wish. It is the Government's fault, for they have made a real hash of the economy.
But I am interested in some of the new developments within the Ministry, which I welcome. First, there is the Population Bureau, which is at the heart of one of the problems we are all trying to solve, helping countries which are worried about their population explosion to deal with it. It is a long-term project, but something in which research and technical assistance can play a really important part. Its work is essential to the effectiveness of any aid we give, and I am delighted to see that such a bureau has been set up.
It is important to have a projects division to keep projects under review. I am also glad that we have development divisions both in the Middle East and in the Caribbean. I was pleased to hear from the Minister that they are being useful not only in keeping our aid under review but in acting as advisers, with real experience of similar problems elsewhere, at the request of the countries among which they are working.
We all welcome the new emphasis the right hon. Gentleman claims that his Ministry is giving to the rural sector of the developing countries, on which 80 per cent. of the world's poorer people depend. But I find it a little strange that, when a really imaginative attempt was made to help those rural sectors by the leaders of the Intermediate Technology Development Group, they received a limited welcome and little practical assistance when they first went to the Ministry. It has been a little more helpful since, but it missed a great opportunity when it gave such a tight-lipped welcome earlier and told us to pull ourselves up by our own boot straps. I declare some interest in this, as I am now associated with the group.
The low-cost simple techniques and equipment used in various parts of 332 the world which this group sponsors are important to rural development. Their task is the dissemination of knowledge about such equipment and the techniques for using them. And they are already achieving some promising results in countries which had never before thought of using such implements. It is a small but important adjunct to our technical assistance, and I am glad that it is being pioneered by private individuals who refused to be put off by bureaucracy, or complacency.
These new groupings within the Ministry are all very well, but they add up to more and more central control by more and more civil servants of things that happen far away. Control is necessary; it is our taxpayers' money. But I would rather see a greater effort by the Government to encourage the efforts of our private sector in territories overseas. From the other end, I have seen what private enterprise has done in practical terms in bringing not only economic development but the training of manpower and the transfer of more advanced techniques to the people who have welcomed overseas private enterprise into their countries.
One of the difficulties is that the efforts of this country towards the developing countries are too highly compartmentalised. I believe that aid is, on the whole, being fairly well used now and that technical assistance is having an impact. But there is no real co-ordination between, on the one side, our aid-giving and technical assistance—all under one roof—and, on the other side, our trade expansion through the E.C.G.D. and our overseas investment. These should all be elements of British overseas policy. On this much of our future prosperity, on this the good relations between us and the developing countries and on this much of the growth rate of developing countries depend. A great deal is bound up in all this.
§ Mr. Alexander W. Lyon (York)
Can the hon. Gentleman tell us how he proposes that private investment should be channelled into developing countries according to their need rather than according to the profitability of the enterprise?
§ Sir G. Sinclair
I was coming to that point.
333 In our trade, we have a most skilful and sensitive body in the E.C.G.D. Through that, with Government help, we encourage risk-taking in trade in certain directions. I am sorry that there is no similar body for investment, one that should be drawn largely from the skills and experience of the City and the C.B.I., to help overseas investment in much the same way as the E.C.G.D. helps with overseas trade. The E.C.G.D. is acceptable to our trading interests because it is sensitive and understands the processes. A similar body produced from similar sources for investment would, I suggest, have a useful rôle to play in helping to protect investment and secure some reciprocity between the capital-receiving country and the capital-exporting country.
My hon. Friend the Member for Essex, South-East (Mr. Braine) made the point that Britain is far behind the United States, Germany and Japan in securing bilateral agreements for the protection of our overseas investments against political risks. I know what efforts have been made to get multilateral agreements on these lines, but these efforts have not yet been very effective. We may, I suggest, be missing an opportunity by not having a body constantly responsible for helping and protecting our overseas investment. I should suggest an overlapping membership between the E.C.G.D. and any such new body, to see that there was proper co-ordination between the two.
§ Mr. Onslow
Not only am I most doubtful of the value of any such "little Neddy" as my hon. Friend suggests, but, more important, the contribution by private funds could be much greater if so large a share were not taken by public funds. The most effective way of increasing the amount of aid is to increase the private money available and not to set up another committee to cut the cake smaller.
§ Sir G. Sinclair
It is hardly a committee. I have defined the kind of body, a small expert body.
Of course, there are other incentives for overseas investment, and the most important is the framework of taxation. The Government have stacked the odds against overseas investments at a time when we ought to be seeing how we can make new investments more effective and how we can channel it to Commonwealth 334 countries, not, as was suggested by an hon. Member who spoke from the Liberal benches, to Latin America.
He asked why we should concentrate on the Commonwealth. My answer is that it is in the Commonwealth that we have the trading infrastructure which helps us to take advantage of the increased economic pace flowing from out investment and aid. This is a good reason for directing our aid to countries where it can be most effective and where, because of our knowledge and rapport with the people, it can also serve our common interest. It is in such countries that we have the infrastructure to help British exports and British investment.
Turning to U.N.C.T.A.D., I was glad to hear the Minister say that the Government had played some part in supporting the proposals for supplementary finance which, as he acknowledged, came from the first U.N.C.T.A.D. and was sponsored by my hon. Friend the Member for Bexley (Mr. Heath). However, I must say that nobody at U.N.C.T.A.D. is yet very heavily committed to this. There is a resolution on which action may take a long time. There were four years between the first and second U.N.C.T.A.D.s for the examination of this matter and it is now to be sent to a commission which is to report in the summer of 1969, five years since the idea was first put forward. The British and other Governments seem to have been extremely slothful about following up this excellent idea.
I notice, also, that the aid target has been redefined. When we put out this effort, it will be welcome because so much of it will come back.
§ Sir G. Sinclair
My hon. Friend always lies down and shouts "No", but equally good economists on our side have used the phrase, "so much of it comes back", and I believe that to be the truth of the matter.
There are two services, which are a form of technical assistance which are important to the countries to which they have been given. I refer to the B.B.C. Overseas Service and especially to the new contribution which it is hoping to make to the teaching of English. There is a tremendous demand for this service all over the world, and that Vote partly 335 comes under the Ministry of Overseas Development which controls aid.
My other point is the British Council. Whenever funds are running short their grant seems to be cut. The Council is carrying out a service in tremendous demand overseas—the teaching of English. This has an unmeasured effect on our prospects of improving relations with those countries, and in the end, marginally improving our trading and investment prospects. I would hate to see, under this Minister, any proposals to cut those grants further than they have already been cut. I would like to see them expanded. They may seem vague in their return, but I believe that the return in good will and positive effects through trade are good and worth while going for. I would commend to the Minister the support of those two Votes when he comes to fight for his funds.
§ 9.30 p.m.
§ Mr. Richard Wood (Bridlington)
I apologise for interrupting the debate in view of the powerful plea of my hon. Friend the Member for Woking (Mr. Onslow), whose distinctive contribution I should very much like to have heard. The length of our parliamentary life span is five years, or, as some of us fervently hope with this Government, something less. This must at least dispose us, as Members of Parliament to be rather short-term thinkers. I have been encouraged, listening to almost the whole of the debate, to see how many of my hon. Friends and hon. Gentlemen opposite have resisted the natural disposition of Members of Parliament, and have thought some way ahead. Clearly the main problems with which this debate is concerned are not short-term problems, important as those are.
All of us, if we peer ahead into the distance, can see the dim shape of mountains which make relatively insignificant the political and economic foothills which largely occupy our attention at present. I hope that I will be forgiven if I try to put into my own perspective one of the main problems which the human race simply has to solve. It is the problem touched on by the Minister when he began the debate, and also by his right hon. Friend the Member for Middles-brough, East (Mr. Bottomley) as well as other hon. Members.
336 Scientists tell us that this planet may be about 3,000 million years old. That may be a few million years out, but I do not suppose that it matters. Some kind of human beings may have existed on it for something like a third of that time and the scientists tell us—I do not know how they know—that the planet may be inhabitable for another 2,000 million years to come. Even if the scientists are a bit out, it is still true that man has a nice stretch in front of him, as long as he does not decide to commit mass suicide in the intervening period.
Meanwhile, the population of the world is increasing by something like 2 per cent. a year. That does not sound very much, but, like the story of the 32 nails in the horse's hoof, by the time one gets to the end of the story the change is quite considerable. Even at this apparently modest rate of increase, the world's population will put us in a bit of a jam, even at the end of this century. By that time man will only have served 32 of his 2,000 million years. I am told that by the end of this century, or soon after, there could be as many people living on this planet as the sum total of all the human beings who have lived and died up to that time. That strikes me as being a rather staggering thought.
The right hon. Gentleman has spoken of this problem as one of immense importance. His right hon. Friend, the President of the Board of Trade, at the U.N.C.T.A.D. called it the overriding problem of population control. Where we have a situation where man has the power and the will to go on driving down the death rate, together with the power, but not yet the will, to cut down on reproduction, this increase is bound to continue unless we are prepared to allow a fairly free hand to famine, disease and war to redress the balance.
It is obvious from what we have heard today and from what we know, that the prevention of famine, disease and war are three of the most important justifications for the right hon. Gentleman's Department, and for similar organisations, both public and private, the world over. He, and they, and their successors may be successful—I fervently hope they will be—in the next few decades in preventing a considerable proportion of the world's increasing population starving to death by the better organisation of the world's 337 food resources, by improved and new methods of extracting food from both the earth and the sea, and by the possible development of new forms of nourishment, especially from mineral oils. But without a solution to the problem of population, we shall merely postpone the day of reckoning, when our children and grandchildren, rather like Canning in reverse, might be forced to call into existence the old world of famine, disease and war, to redress the balance of the new. This is a very sobering thought, because mankind still has the time to avoid this looming disaster, but only if its collective efforts to increase the food resources of the world, to eliminate disease, and to preserve peace, are matched by its collective will to limit reproduction.
The right hon. Gentleman had encouraging things to say. I have no doubt that he has this problem very much at the front of his mind, because, in my opinion, at least as large a share of the right hon. Gentleman's attention should be directed to the solution of this problem as to the solution of the other problems which have occupied this debate.
I think that I have said enough to make plain that the objectives of development assistance will all be frustrated by a failure to solve what I believe is the central problem.
My hon. Friend the Member for Essex, South-East (Mr. Braine) mentioned three possible objectives of development assistance. I believe that without the solution of the population problem, it will be impossible, first, to reduce the disproportion between the living standards of the developed and the developing world. Secondly, it will still be extremely hard, if not impossible, to bring the developing countries to a state of economic "take-off". I think that was my hon. Friend's phrase. Thirdly, the avoidance of starvation in the immediate future will merely push the ultimate day of reckoning a little further away.
These are all objectives which I wholeheartedly support, and I am sure we all do. Therefore, I am anxious that we should dc all we can to help to create conditions in which their attainment becomes practicable. Even if—and it is a big "if"—the developing world can make rapid progress towards a solution of its population problems, I am certain 338 —and all I have heard in the debate makes me more certain—that a massive contribution in development assistance is necessary.
We have talked about the need for private investment, and the need for agreements between Great Britain, on the one side, and the developing states, on the other, to minimise the risks and free the flow of capital to the ultimate advantage of both this country and the countries to which our aid is going.
We have talked about bilateral and multilateral aid. I find myself in general agreement with the views expressed by the right hon. Member for Middlesbrough, East and the hon. Member for Portsmouth, West (Mr. Judd), but I find it less easy than they did to be completely dogmatic. We have talked about tied and untied aid. My hon. Friend the Member for Antrim, North (Mr. Henry Clark) made the broad suggestion that there might exist in this House a Select Committee on Development Assistance. I hope that the Minister will comment on the general suggestion that we should have rather more frequent opportunities to look at this immensely important problem than is afforded at the moment.
We have not talked very much about trade. The difficulty about the terms of trade, as my hon. Friend the Member for Essex, South-East said, is that the bargaining power of the developing countries is relatively extremely small. The rich countries have the power, if they want to exercise it, to force the developing countries to accept terms of trade which are to their disadvantage. It is clearly essential that developing countries should be able to sell their goods in the developed world at a reasonable price; and what my hon. Friend called the economic breakthrough will be impossible without some form of international action to ensure for the developing countries a fair return.
That is one reason why, quite rightly, that was one of the most important matters discussed at both the U.N.C.T.A.D. conferences, a leading part in the first of which was played by my right hon. Friend, as my hon. Friend the Member for Dorking (Sir G. Sinclair) said. Progress in this direction is extremely slow. The proposal for generalised preferences and supplementary finance had not yet reached final 339 agreement, nor has there been any great progress on commodity agreements.
Here, I must introduce one slight note of disharmony into the debate. In opposition, the Prime Minister was not backward in his attacks on my right hon. Friends for their failure to achieve this agreement. In office he and his colleagues have, no doubt, discovered the difficulties. I am aware of them, and I do not intend to criticise the right hon. Gentleman for not having achieved more, but I hope that his hon. Friend will give us an undertaking that the Government intend to continue this search for satisfactory agreements which will bring great benefit to the developing countries.
I do not intend this evening, because I think that there are other greater matters to occupy our attention, to criticise the Government for the cuts in real terms which the aid programme earlier suffered. I happen to hold the view that the right hon. Gentleman deserves some credit for salvaging as much as he has for his programme, from the midst of the economic turmoil which his right hon. Friends have created, as a result of which, as my hon. Friend said, many Socialist promises and many Socialist criticisms of my party's performance now sound a little hollow.
I should not like to end on a note of sourness in what has been a congenial and agreeable debate. I recognise that the right hon. Gentleman is only too well aware of the work that still needs to be done. If his economic colleagues have made it a bit harder for him to do all that he wants to do, I believe that he deserves our sympathy rather than our condemnation. This matter is too serious for easy debating points, certainly too serious for attempts to try to win some small party advantage. It seems to be far bigger than that, a great deal bigger even than individual nations, however powerful they may be, because this is an issue on which we in this country together with other developed nations can do something to shape the future course of the world.
I hope that I said enough at the beginning to make clear my deep conviction that the time may be dangerously short. I believe that the right hon. Gentleman deserves not our criticism, but our support, in what he has tried to do, 340 because if he and we fail we shall almost certainly bequeath to the next generation a situation which will be beyond the reach of human power.
§ 9.44 p.m.
§ The Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Overseas Development (Mr. Albert E. Oram)
When a subject as broad and as complex as international aid falls to be dealt with in such a short debate as this, all speakers and the House suffer, but I suggest that the Member who has to wind up the debate—in this case myself—suffers most, unless it be those who are excluded altogether. He who winds up faces the double danger of appearing discourteous to those to whom he does not reply and inadequate to those to whom he does. I shall do my best.
I welcome the general demand for further and fuller opportunities to debate these important matters, and I assure the House that my right hon. Friend has taken note of this insistent demand and will communicate it to the Leader of the House. He and I certainly will not be backward in seeking other opportunities for debate. I would point out that the I.D.A. supplementation, which was mentioned, will need legislation. This should be one further opportunity, and we can hope for others.
I agree with the emphasis which the hon. Member for Essex, South-East (Mr. Braine) put on aid being for development. I am sure that he knows that this has been the keynote in all our publications and speeches since the setting up of this Ministry. There are many other motivations. Trade has been discussed, and it is no secret that trade and aid are, rightly, linked. There was discussion, too, of the political purposes of aid, but the essential facet of aid is that it should serve the development of the recipient countries: this has always been the object of my Ministry.
I do not dispute that private investment is important in development and has to be complementary to official aid. The two are a partnership, and it is right that the Ministries—mine and the Board of Trade—should, in developing our aid programmes, ensure that private enterprise has full opportunity to take advantage of our aid operations to ensure trade developments. I assure the hon. Gentleman that, in both Ministries, there are 341 constant contacts with private trading interests to ensure that this parallel development of private investment and official aid goes forward.
My right hon. Friend the Member for Middlesbrough, East (Mr. Bottomley), dealt with two aspects of technical assistance. He was the only speaker who mentioned the great value of the young volunteers who go out to help in our programmes and I am sure that all who have visited developing countries, as I have, will have heard their hosts praise their work. We are told that it is invaluable and are, therefore, glad that our Ministry can provide much of the funds which enables them to serve in this way.
My right hon. Friend said that he hoped that the developing countries would get away from the demand for teachers and think more of the need to train teachers themselves. That is precisely the message which I tried to put across at the recent Common wealth Education Conference in Lagos, where we indicated in a number of ways that this different emphasis was the one which we would seek—the training of teachers rather than merely seconding them from this country, although I envisage that both processes will be necessary for many years because of the enormous demand.
My right hon. Friend raised a constituency matter similar to the point mentioned by my hon. Friend the Member for Cleveland (Mr. Tinn), but it relates to an important general question, the tying of aid. They mentioned fertilisers, but with a difference of emphasis. My right hon. Friend the Member for Middlesbrough, East resisted the temptation to suggest that aid should be specifically tied to the purchase of fertiliser, which is an important interest in his constituency, but I thought that my hon. Friend the Member for Cleveland would be in favour of this specific tying.
In the way we operate now, that it, with much of our aid tied, but not specifically to commodities, the fertiliser industry has already benefited. Of 50,000 tons of fertiliser purchased by India last year, for instance, about 30,000 tons was paid for out of aid funds, but not because that aid was specifically tied to the purchase of fertiliser. There was a general requirement to purchase in this country, but we are anxious to leave it to the 342 recipient country to use the foreign exchange which we make available in the way which suits it best. This tying to specific commodities was condemned at U.N.C.T.A.D. and we would deplore any extension of tying in this way.
The hon. Member for Aberdeenshire, West (Mr. James Davidson) made a long but, on the whole, constructive speech with a great deal of detail, and he will not expect me to answer on all the details. He referred to U.N.C.T.A.D. and he and others have said that the conference was a great disappointment—and disappointment is a word which we could all echo in this connection, I think. We should, however, remember that U.N.C.T.A.D. was convened—nobody can complain about this—at probably the most unpropitious time at which to convene a conference with the purposes of that one. Thus, one did not go into it expecting great miracles, and certainly no miracles were achieved.
On the other hand, it was not a complete failure. My right hon. Friend indicated some areas in which progress was made. He referred to the agreement in principle on a general scheme for preferences. Some progress was made on the question of supplementary financial measures and I believe that a satisfactory outcome to the conference was reached on the question of aid targets.
The hon. Member for Dorking (Sir G. Sinclair) suggested, on the question of supplementary financial measures, that we and other Governments had been slothful. I assure him that we have not been slothful in this matter. We have been pressing the initiative which we took at the first conference four years ago and we pressed it energetically at New Delhi. But at a conference where 100 other associates are involved, the activities of one Government cannot rule the day. However, I assure the hon. Gentleman that we have done everything we could in this respect.
The hon. Member for Aberdeenshire, West listed a number of practical proposals, many of which I assure him we are already implementing as part of the Ministry's activities. I will give only two examples of this; firstly, the question of staff at embassies—the numbers appointed for this purpose have been considerably increased—and, secondly, the question of interest-free loans. In 343 the past two years 90 per cent. of new loans negotiated with developing countries have been on an interest-free basis. I assure the hon. Gentleman that the same positive remarks could be made about a number of his other suggestions.
I apologise if I have not replied to all the points made in the debate. My hon. Friend the Member for Portsmouth, West (Mr. Judd) gave, in a vigorous speech, his view of the development problems facing the developing countries. Like others, he referred to the great problem caused by the population explosion, the need for agricultural development and the need for developing techniques particularly suited to the needs of those countries. I believe that the hon. Member for Dorking had this in mind when he referred to the work of the Intermediate Technology Group. I do all I can, in a variety of ways, to support the work of that Group.
In my concluding remarks, I give my attitude to the nature of the development which we should be seeking in the under-developed areas. We often speak of the developed world on the one hand and the developing world on the other. But it is wrong to go on from that to believe that we should aim at transforming the developing world into mere imitations of the developed world. The countries of the developing world must find their distinctive social and economic forms of development, and they will not necessarily be the same as those which we employed during our development.
§ Mr. Biffen
When the hon. Gentleman speaks of the distinctive social patterns of these countries, may we conclude that he does not concur with the argument that there is, as it were, an acceptable presumption on the part of the developed world to impose population control on the recipient countries of aid?
§ Mr. Oram
One does not want to impose that. However, we have said that this is a vastly important problem that they must tackle. We stand ready to provide technical assistance to them, and that is why we are setting up the Population Bureau. Throughout the world, and particularly in the developing countries, there is an awareness that this is of paramount importance, and I entirely share the excellent view put forward by the right hon. Member for Bridlington (Mr. Wood).
I was referring to the need to avoid a mere imitation of our development. The tragedy of much that is going on in the developing countries today is that perhaps they are imitating our mistakes. The shanty-towns may be a repetition of our industrial towns; and they were not the best way of housing our industrial workers. The neglect of African villages is paralleled in our neglect of our villages during our industrial revolution. Our population explosion at that time is perhaps being paralleled by the population explosion in the developing countries.
For these reasons the Ministry is devoting increasing attention to a whole range of problems, including the need for greater attention to be placed on rural development and on the right kind of education for rural development. We stand ready in these spheres of population control, agricultural education and so on to assist, we are increasing our resources for giving technical assistance, we welcome every request we receive from overseas and we are doing our best to be of assistance in these matters. We believe that this is the best contribution that we can make to uplifting the standard of living of the millions of people who have been at the centre of our thoughts in our debate today.
§ It being Ten o'clock, the Motion for the Adjournment of the House lapsed, without Question put.