HC Deb 21 January 1969 vol 776 cc221-2
3. Mr. Boyd-Carpenter

asked the Minister of Overseas Development what proposals he has for assisting the economic development of the Falkland Islands.

8. Mr. Dudley Smith

asked the Minister of Overseas Development whether he will make a substantial grant to the Falkland Islands to enable the islands to further develop local resources.

The Minister of Overseas Development (Mr. Reg Prentice)

The current allocation under the Colonial Development and Welfare Act is £40,000 for each of the United Kingdom financial years 1968–69 and 1969–70. This is being spent mainly on the improvement of roads, Government housing and the telephone service. Technical assistance is also being provided mainly to help meet the costs of British expatriate staff. We have agreed to provide a team of five experts to undertake a study of the sheep and cattle industries and to assist with the completion of a new geological map of the islands.

Mr. Boyd-Carpenter

In addition, is the expertise of the right hon. Gentleman's Department being used for survey work in the Falkland Islands Dependencies, which are believed to have considerable potentialities?

Mr. Prentice

Yes, Sir; that is so. I should add that in relation to the population of the, islands, which is quite small, the aid I have described is on a fairly generous scale. I am sure that both sides of the House would wish to be aware of that.

Mr. Dudley Smith

Even so, would it not be better if far more aid were concentrated on people like the Falkland Islanders rather than on some of those countries which are so consistently ungrateful when they receive it?

Mr. Prentice

I do not agree that there are countries which are consistently ungrateful. That is a misapprehension on the hon. Gentleman's part. As I pointed out in my previous Answer, the aid per head in the Falkland Islands is very high compared with our efforts elsewhere.

Dr. Gray

If the Government accept the suggestion for a wealth tax, made by the T.U.C., will my right hon. Friend see that a portion of the proceeds is earmarked for development in the Falkland Islands and all other under-developed territories?

Mr. Prentice

The question of a wealth tax goes rather wide of my responsibilities, but I am always willing to consider the apportionment of extra taxes in the future to increase the overseas aid programme.