HC Deb 25 October 1976 vol 918 cc24-5
43. Mr. Canavan

asked the Minister for Overseas Development whether he will offer development aid towards assisting Arab refugees in the Gaza Strip.

The Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Overseas Development (Mr. Frank Judd)

I think that we can best assist in this field through the substantial contributions we already provide to the work of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA). Britain expects to contribute some £3.75 million directly to the agency in 1976 and we also bear our share of the European Community contribution to it.

Mr. Canavan

Since that refugee problem has existed for almost one-third of the century, and since thousands of people are living in absolute squalor in one of the most densely populated areas in the world, will my hon. Friend assure us that he will continue to do all in his power to assist in rehabilitation programmes to try to rehouse these refugees and their families?

Mr. Judd

We deeply appreciate the reasons for my hon. Friend's anxiety. The British Government are the second largest cumulative contributor to the agency after the United States, with the basic contributions that I have just outlined.

Sir John Hall

What contributions are being made by the oil-rich Arab countries to helping Arab refugees?

Mr. Judd

UNRWA is an international institution, which draws its support from the world community as a whole.

Mr. Heffer

Is it not a scandal that the oil-rich countries should not make a real contribution towards helping the Arab refugees? If the Government are making any representations, is it not time that they made them to those who are very rich indeed, and asked them to help the poor people of their own nationality?

Mr. Judd

I am sure that my hon. Friend, with his concern about this matter, will agree that the lead given by the Government on this issue is one of which the whole international community should take note.