HC Deb 19 March 1970 vol 798 cc580-1
2. Mr. Kenneth Lewis

asked the Minister of Overseas Development whether she will adjust foreign aid downwards to those countries which carry out discriminatory practices against holders of British passports.

The Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Overseas Development (Mr. Ben Whitaker)

No, Sir. These are quite separate elements in the complex of our overseas relationships and cannot be automatically linked.

Mr. Lewis

That is an extraordinary reply, since the Home Secretary recently said that the Government would have to look at aid to countries which are making difficulties for us by forcing people to come to this country without entry permits, and the British taxpayers—

Mr. Speaker

Order. The hon. Member must put a question.

Mr. Lewis

Is the Minister aware that the people of this country are getting fed up with having to pay out aid to countries which are adding to our difficulties?

Mr. Whitaker

The primary purpose of aid funds is to assist the development of countries overseas. It would be extremely harmful, both to the British suppliers who benefit under such aid programmes and to the British people providing technical assistance in developing countries, if we switched aid on and off like a tap.

Mr. John Lee

While dissociating myself from the more tendentious aspects of the hon. Gentleman's Question, may I ask my hon. Friend whether he agrees that the behaviour of some East African countries should not be regarded as enhancing their chance of receiving aid?

Mr. Whitaker

All relevant considerations are taken into account in deciding aid programmes, but the internal policies of independent countries overseas are matters for them.

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