HC Deb 30 June 1969 vol 786 cc5-7
11. Mr. Judd

asked the Minister of Overseas Development what adjustment he proposes to make in the figure of £235 million, reported in Command Paper No. 3936 as planned overseas aid expenditure in 1970–71 at 1969–70 estimated prices, to take account of increases in the prices of aid-financed goods.

Mr. Prentice

None, Sir. The figure of £235 million is in cash terms.

Mr. Judd

Would not my right hon. Friend agree that if only £235 million is allowed in the Estimates for 1970–71 this will be less in real terms than that provided for in the White Paper?

Mr. Prentice

Yes, this is true, and I am glad my hon. Friend has called attention to this matter for the sake of clarifying it. There is in fact a reduction of something like £5 million or £6 million a year in real terms on recent experience. The real value of the programme is bound to go down as long as it is couched in the same level in cash terms.

13. Mr. Hooley

asked the Minister of Overseas Development what estimate his Department has now made of the net cost across the exchanges of the British aid programme during the current financial year.

Mr. Prentice

A recent study of the economic planning staff of my Department confirms previous estimates that the foreign exchange costs are about one-third of the whole. This estimate takes no account of the repayment of past aid loans, which benefit the balance of payments; nor of the export orders which result from other countries' aid programmes.

Mr. Hooley

In the light of that reply, which I very much welcome, will my right hon. Friend make the most powerful representations to the Treasury that it cannot argue that exchange considerations should in any way hold back expansion of our aid programme?

Mr. Prentice

I cannot reveal to the House what I might or might not say to the Treasury, but I think my commitment to the concept of an expanding aid programme is well known.

16. Mr. Bidwell

asked the Minister of Overseas Development what is the value of official aid at constant prices for each of the financial years 1966–67 to date.

Mr. Prentice

Taking as the base year 1966–67, when official aid was £216 million, the £215 million of aid provided in 1967–68 was worth £210 million and a provisional figure of £212 million provided in 1968–69 was worth £201 million.

Mr. Bidwell

Noting the trend of these figures, may I ask whether my right hon. Friend would agree that overseas aid amply repays this country, even if one looks at it simply in a Scrooge-like way, and certainly repays those who think they have some moral responsibility to assist less fortunate peoples in the world?

Mr. Prentice

Yes. Taking that second point about our self-interest, I think that if one looks at the effect on our balance of payments, long-term or short-term, it is clear that our balance of payments would be worse if we had had no aid programmes in the last ten years.