HC Deb 28 February 1973 vol 851 cc1496-7
30. Mr. Pavitt

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will give additional technical assistance to assist in the financing of the required infrastructure of co-operatives as recommended in the resolution adopted at the UNCTAD session on 15th May 1972; and if he will make a statement.

The Minister for Overseas Development (Mr. Richard Wood)

British aid to co-operatives is already substantial. In addition to technical assistance, capital is provided to help establish new co-operatives. We are, for example, contributing £7 millions towards the cost of the fertiliser complex at Kandla which will be run by the Indian Farmers' Fertiliser Co-operative.

Mr. Pavitt

Does the acceptance of the resolution represent any change of balance for a greater proportion of aid to go to this type of infrastrucure financing? Although I do not expect the Minister to give me an off-the-cuff answer, will he give me in writing a breakdown of the way in which, after the passing of the resolution, there have been policy changes?

Mr. Wood

I will certainly do that.

32. Mr. Douglas-Mann

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs whether he will give an assurance that in the discussions about a common EEC policy on development cooperation he will seek to ensure that all developing countries are treated on the basis of their needs.

Mr. Wood

Yes, Sir. We aim to encourage the wider acceptance of the general principle that both the distribution and the terms of aid should be related primarily to the needs of individual developing countries. We also recognise the importance of trade and are discussing with our partners ways of improving these countries' export opportunities.

Mr. Douglas-Mann

I appreciate the Minister's reply. Will he take note of the fact that because a country is an ex-colony or an ex-member of the Commonwealth it does not necessarily indicate that it is in need of assistance? Is he aware that the test of whether Europe will be an inward-looking or an outward-looking organisation will be in its approach to assistance to developing countries. Is he aware that the continuance of the Yaoundé pattern is unlikely to be encouraging if that is what is contemplated?

Mr. Wood

I think my agreement to the hon. Member's proposition was implicit in the answer that I gave. Certainly, however, we recognise a need to achieve a balance between the two objectives contained in the communiqué of the Summit last October, one of which spoke of the advantages enjoyed by countries with which the Community has special relations and the other of the need to fulfil the expectations of all developing countries.

Mr. Body

Does the Minister agree that there is growing concern among developing countries about the list of excluded commodities in the Yaoundé Convention, and is there any hope that the Government will take the lead in shortening that list?

Mr. Wood

These matters will all be discussed when the negotiations begin, which will be shortly.

Mr. Callaghan

Is there any prospect of reviewing the servicing of debt by the developing countries, which seems to be eating up more and more of the aid that is being voted every year?

Mr. Wood

That is an immensely important question. We intend to take every opportunity to discuss both remedial and preventive measures to try to avoid these problems getting completely out of control.

Forward to