HC Deb 30 January 1974 vol 868 cc437-9
30. Mr. Barnes

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth affairs what proportion of British aid to Bangladesh during 1974 will be in the form of commodity aid.

Mr. Wood

The total of commodity loans, outstanding and under consideration, is about £6 million. I hope to offer a further loan this year. These loans are likely to provide most of our aid to Bangladesh, but I cannot give a precise proportion.

Mr. Barnes

Does the Minister agree that economic recovery in Bangladesh is seriously hampered by acute shortages of goods and services essential to the economy? Can he give an assurance, even though project aid, which I know the Government are keen to encourage, is important in the longer term, that while these shortages persist commodity loans will be maintained at a high level?

Mr. Wood

I can give the hon. Gentleman the assurance, as I have said already, that we are considering a further commodity loan, and about £3½ million is at present available from past and present loans for disbursement for purposes of this kind in Bangladesh.

Mr. Edwin Wainwright

Will the right hon. Gentleman seek the aid of his right hon. Friend to make certain that the Western European countries increase the aid not only to Bangladlesh but to India, to ensure that that part of the world can progress in social affairs? There is too much poverty there, more than we realise.

Mr. Wood

We are anxious that our partners in the Community and other aid donors should increase their aid to these very poor countries that will suffer great burdens from the increased oil prices.

Mr. Douglas-Mann

Will the Minister bear in mind, having regard to the answers he has given not only to this but to the preceding Question, that, although there are immense demands from every part of the world, the particular problems of Bangladesh in the immediate situation resulting from oil prices and from the disasters of the past two years justify special attention, particularly as, if additional aid is not forthcoming, the population of that area is liable to explode even faster?

Mr. Wood

I am well aware, as the hon. Gentleman knows, of the problems of Bangladesh, which I was considering with the High Commissioner only yesterday. But I think he will know that in the past two years we have pledged a large sum in relief aid and in commodity aid. As I told his hon. Friend, we are prepared to consider another commodity loan in the near future.

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