HC Deb 25 July 1973 vol 860 c1605
18. Mr. Michael McNair-Wilson

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what representations have been made at the United Nations by the United Kingdom delegate to improve the United Nation's ability to assist with disaster relief.

Mr. Amery

Britain played a major part in the establishment last year of the office of a UN disaster relief co-ordinator.

Mr. McNair-Wilson

Can we offer either finance or relief supplies to the United Nations relief co-ordinator, or to the United Nations development programme?

Mr. Amery

Our experience has been that it is better to proceed ad hoc on these matters. There is no great difficulty about assembling supplies. Difficulties usually arise in distribution and transport.

Mr. Pavitt

Does the right hon. Gentleman recall that the Inter-Parliamentary Union, on the initiative of the United Kingdom delegation, put forward a strong resolution, which was subsequently adopted by the United Nations, about 24-hour first-aid relief? What has happened about that? Has the scheme of computerisation for immediate relief been achieved?

Mr. Amery

All these matters are being studied at present by the coordinator, who has three functions: first, to act as a focal point for the co-ordination of relief; secondly, to act as a clearing house for information; thirdly, to stimulate pre-disaster planning in countries that are subject to earthquakes and other likelihoods of disaster.