HC Deb 30 June 1975 vol 894 cc1015-6
55. Mr. Bryan Davies

asked the Minister of Overseas Development whether he intends to maintain the priorities established in Government overseas aid policies of concentrating aid on the poorest countries in the world and the poorest sectors of those countries.

Mr. John Grant

Yes, Sir.

Mr. Davies

I very much welcome that assurance. May I suggest to my hon. Friend that the issue of overseas aid, particularly to the poorest people in the world, is one area in which moderation is considerably less important than Socialist solutions to these problems?

Mr. Grant

I am glad that my hon. Friend approves my answer. I assure him that we shall pursue that policy. Indeed, perhaps I may tell him that it was pursued in Rome last week, when we were able to announce to the World Food Council that we would give an extra 100,000 tons of fertilisers to the most seriously affected countries. That is about another £15 million worth of fertilisers. That was welcomed, and it is a positive sign that we are fulfilling the kind of policies that my hon. Friend has in mind.

Mrs. Kellet-Bowman

Is the hon. Gentleman aware that in these countries it is also very important to encourage private investment, which provides jobs and food just as surely as do any Socialist solutions?

Mr. Grant

I doubt very much whether they do it as surely. It is primarily a matter for private industry, but when we can facilitate this sort of arrangement we do so.

Mr. Cryer

Will my hon. Friend make strong representations to aid the developing Countries through the EEC by getting rid of some of the food mountains which exist in spite of the referendum? Meat is going rotten, and there are 400,000 tons of skimmed milk. That is the kind of vital protein food that is needed for the underdeveloped countries. Will my hon. Friend make these representations urgently?

Mr. Grant

A considerable quantity of skimmed milk has been sent to the developing countries, but this comes back to what I said earlier—that we are pressing for a general increase in food aid in line with the Commission's proposals. I hope that when the Ministers meet again to discuss this subject we shall get a more positive response.

Mr. Wood

Can the hon. Gentleman say what proportion of our bilateral aid is now going to the least developed countries? If he cannot answer that question without notice, will he let me know in due course?

Mr. Grant

I shall let the right hon. Gentleman know. I should not like to give a positive answer now.

Forward to