HC Deb 24 April 1972 vol 835 cc1050-2
35. Mr. Douglas-Mann

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what was the average increase in the per capita income of developing countries and the developed countries, respectively, during the 1960s, or any other recent similar period for which figures are available.

Mr. Wood

It was 2.1 per cent. and 4.2 per cent., respectively, between 1960 and 1968, at constant factor prices.

Mr. Douglas-Mann

Does the right hon. Gentleman agree that those figures indicate that the under-developed world has suffered a relative decline in its overall position? Are not the trading policies being adopted by the developed countries most unsatisfactory and will the Government support policies at UNCTAD which will reverse that relative trend in the next decade?

Mr. Wood

This is naturally a matter which gives us all the deepest concern, on whichever side of the House we sit because we want to try to narrow the gap between the developing and the developed countries. I hope that the present discussions at UNCTAD will suggest ways by which we can make progress. The Government have been doing their best to make progress, for example by accepting a target for aid and by taking steps to increase the flow of private investment to the developing countries.

Mrs. Hart

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that the increased gap between the developed and the underdeveloped countries to which he referred is causing great concern and distress and that it appears that Her Majesty's Government at UNCTAD in Santiago are doing nothing but uttering a lot of words without taking any concrete steps to support the vitally important proposals which are being made there by the developing countries?

Mr. Wood

As the right hon. Lady knows, we shall have later in the week a chance to discuss all these matters at length, and I hope that on that occasion it will be possible for Ministers to explain in detail the sort of things we have in mind.

Mr. Tugendhat

Is it not a fact that some of the developing countries could do their own cause a great deal of good and greatly accelerate the rate of growth of their economies if they took steps to encourage private investment to a greater extent, in conjunction with the steps that are being taken by the developed countries?

Mr. Wood

That is an important factor. I am sure that my hon. Friend is aware that the developing countries have made and are making great efforts to improve their growth rates and that some have been remarkably successful.

Mr. Edwin Wainwright

Will the right hon. Gentleman give greater consideration to the kind of aid we give to the developing and under-developed nations? Western Europe helps them by giving them technical advice, but the situation is not satisfactory when it comes to purchasing the goods they produce. At one time we received a ton of cocoa from some of the developing countries as the price of every tractor we sold to them, but now we receive five tons. Is that how we help them?

Mr. Woods

Questions of trade with the developing countries are obviously strictly the responsibility of my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry. But if the hon. Gentleman considers the matter he will realise that our own trading policies have been among the most liberal of the developed countries.