HC Deb 31 October 1979 vol 972 cc1226-7
41. Mr. Deakins

asked the Lord Privy Seal if he will now specify details of the £50 million cut in the overseas aid programme.

The Minister for Overseas Development (Mr. Neil Marten)

The £50 million reduction in this year's programme as planned by the previous Administration has meant both deferment and some curtailment of that expenditure. In reshaping the programme we have had to take account in particular of the heavy expenditure commitments that we inherited for 1979–80. Where necessary, discussions have taken place with recipients about revised levels or rephasing of expenditure, but it is not the custom, as the right hon. Member for Lanark (Dame Judith Hart) will know, to provide advance details about individual programmes.

Mr. Deakins

Is it not deplorable that Britain, one of the world's richest countries, should seek to resolve its economic problems by measures which, at least in part, will adversely affect the interests of some of the poorest countries in the world?

Mr. Marten

No Sir. I would not agree. If the hon. Member reads the latest development report of the World Bank he will see that the point is made that the industrialised Western countries must ensure that their own economies are strong.

Mr. Churchill

Bearing in mind the vast amount of development aid that has gone from this country to most of the front-line States in Central and Southern Africa over the past 15 years, when Zimbabwe-Rhodesia has not been in a position to benefit, will my hon. Friend confirm that the Government are prepared to start a programme of substantial aid to Zimbabwe-Rhodesia as soon as there is a return to legality?

Mr. Marten

Yes, Sir. That is so. But we must await the establishment of the legal Government in Zimbabwe-Rhodesia. Only when that is established can we work out precisely what is needed.

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