HC Deb 09 May 1973 vol 856 cc487-8
30. Mr. Wilkinson

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what discussions he has held in the context of the Aid to Pakistan consortium; and when he expects to announce the United Kingdom's position with regard to the servicing of existing liabilities and future aid commitments to Pakistan by Her Majesty's Government.

The Minister for Overseas Development (Mr. Richard Wood)

We took part in the Pakistan Consortium meeting on 22nd and 23rd March and, with some other donor countries, made offers of development assistance for the coming year, depending on satisfactory progress in resolving external debt questions. Discussions are continuing with the World Bank and other donors.

Mr. Wilkinson

I am grateful for that reply and for the decision in principle by the consortium, made on behalf of Her Majesty's Government. Does my right hon. Friend recognise that the consortium members decided that previous aid disbursed to Pakistan would be the responsibility of Bangladesh and Pakistan, according to which wing of the unitary State it was previously allocated? In that circumstance, will he take a positive view in the forthcoming negotiations?

Mr. Wood

My hon. Friend goes to the heart of the matter. This is the problem that has to be settled. It would be wrong for Her Majesty's Government to try to intervene in a matter which concerns Bangladesh and Pakistan, but we look to both countries to honour their external obligations.

Mrs. Hart

Is the right hon. Gentleman in a position to tell us—roughly, perhaps —how, as a result of the recent talks, the British aid contribution to Pakistan is likely to compare with our aid to Bangladesh and India?

Mr. Wood

I could certainly give the right hon. Lady the figures as far as they are available but, in relation to what I have just said to my hon. Friend the Member for Bradford, West (Mr. Wilkinson), a certain amount of the aid programme both to Pakistan and Bangladesh must depend on a satisfactory settlement of the question that he has brought to the House's notice.

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