HC Deb 17 June 1974 vol 875 cc27-9
51. Mr. Ioan Evans

asked the Minister for Overseas Development what further consultations have been held with organisations such as Oxfam, Christian Aid, War on Want, UNICEF, Save the Children Fund, World Development Movement and other organisations dealing with the problem of world poverty; and if she will make a statement.

Mr. William Price

My right hon. Friend and I have been seeing representatives of a number of voluntary organisations in order to hear their views and discuss how we can collaborate more closely in carrying out our respective responsibilities. We have had particularly useful exchanges about joint action in emergencies.

Mr. Evans

I thank my hon. Friend for that reply. Does he realise that the major problem facing mankind is the issue of world poverty and that as a nation we are not yet making the sort of contribution that we should? These organisations are doing a valuable job, educationally, in preparing the people of Britain to see that as a nation we make a greater contribution. While giving them general support, will my hon. Friend talk over some specific problems with them to ease the difficulties faced by some of these organisations? Will he consider the matter of rates on their gift shops, because these are educationally attractive, are doing good work, and need to be encouraged?

Mr. Price

Certainly we shall be considering the last matter with the voluntary organisations. I have never underestimated their value. The money that they raise and spend is important, but what is more important is the fact that they should arouse public opinion, particularly for the disaster organisations. We have worked closely with them in the last three months. We shall be asking them to attend a seminar later in the year to thrash out a determined policy for closer co-operation between them.

Mr. Biggs-Davison

I recognise the idealism behind many of these voluntary organisations, but is the Minister nevertheless aware that more than one of those mentioned in the Question is losing support and contributions because of the widespread belief that some of its organisers are politically motivated?

Mr. Price

I think that the hon. Gentleman would see a political bogy man among starving children in a refugee camp in Timbuktu. I do not think that his question deserves much of a reply.