HC Deb 16 February 1976 vol 905 cc937-8
47. Mr. Ronald Bell

asked the Minister for Overseas Development what evidence he has that there is a leakage of funds from recipient countries under the arrangements in the Lomé Convention to Communist organisations in Angola; whether he can quantify the leakage; and what actions he proposes to take in consequence.

Mr. Prentice

No funds have been disbursed and therefore the question of a leakage does not arise.

Mr. Bell

Even if the disbursements cannot be directly traced to funds from this country, is it not disturbing to the citizens of this heavily taxed country that territories receiving public money from Britain are also known to be giving financial aid or arms aid to the MPLA in Angola?

Mr. Prentice

The hon. and learned Gentleman began by talking about funds disbursed under the Lomé Convention, of which there have not yet been any. If the hon. and learned Gentleman is talking about British aid in general, I must make it clear that under this Government and under previous Governments British aid has gone to a wide range of countries. We do not require control of their foreign policy to make sure that they receive it. Countries with Governments of various political outlooks have received aid, and this is how it should be. We do not expect the sort of control which the hon. and learned Gentleman seems to be suggesting.

Mr. Whitehead

Does my right hon. Friend agree that we should not overlook the need for the new Government of Angola, as soon as it is established and if it is established, to become a member of the Lomé Convention? Does my right hon. Friend agree that to snipe at it constantly will drive the country further into the hands of the Russians and Cubans?

Mr. Prentice

Angola, geographically, will be eligible to apply for membership of the Lomé Convention. It is too early to say whether it will do so and what the reaction will be. That is a matter that will have to be considered if and when the application is made.

Mr. Cormack

Does not the right hon. Gentleman view with extreme alarm the activities of the Russians and Cubans in Angola? On behalf of the Government, will he condemn this way of aiding other countries?

Mr. Prentice

My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs has made his attitude and the Government's attitude quite clear. The hon. Gentleman has raised a matter which does not arise from the Question.