HC Deb 30 May 1968 vol 765 cc2115-6
17. Mr. Whitaker

asked the Minister of Overseas Development what aid is being offered to Singapore and Malaysia to help offset the effects of the planned withdrawal of the British forces.

Mr. Prentice

Her Majesty's Government have offered £50 million to Singapore and £25 million to Malaysia for commitment over the next five years. As much as possible of the aid will be directed to the provision of British goods and services. Initially expenditure will be met as necessary from the Civil Contingencies Fund and supplementary estimates will be presented to the House in due course.

Her Majesty's Government have also undertaken to hand over, without charge, all defence lands and fixed assets required by the two Governments for their economic or defence plans, together with any surplus non-operational movable equipment needed to maintain these assets as going concerns. These lands and assets will thereafter become the responsibility of the Governments concerned.

Mr. Whitaker

I thank my right hon. Friend for that reply. Is this aid coming out of the overall normal aid budget or is it additional?

Mr. Prentice

My Department will be responsible for this programme and the aid will be on our Vote, but it will be above the £205 million normal aid programme; it will be additional to that.

Mr. Braine

The right hon. Gentleman has just said that the bulk of this aid he hopes will be devoted to the provision of British goods and services. In the light of his previous Answer, can he tell the House at what stage there is consultation between his Department and British industry in this country and British commercial interests in Malaysia and Singapore?

Mr. Prentice

As I have already told the hon. Member, there has been a good deal of consultation already, and this will continue. There will also, of course, be direct discussions, in which we are engaging, between the Governments of Singapore and Malaysia and commercial interests. For example, the Prime Minister of Singapore, who has been in London for the last few days, has had meetings with the C.B.I. and other industrial interests.

Captain W. Elliot

Is no British lien to be maintained over these defence facilities, because these are very solid assets which we are giving away?

Mr. Prentice

That is a question for my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Defence.