HC Deb 16 January 1980 vol 976 cc1637-8
33. Mr. Welsh

asked the Lord Privy Seal what proposals he has with regard to aid directed towards children in developing countries.

Mr. Neil Marten

Children should benefit directly and indirectly from much of our aid expenditure. So far as concerns programmes specifically directed towards children, I intend to continue aid to education and child health, to support international organisations such as UNICEF and the organisations concerned with population questions and to contribute to suitable projects designed for children put forward by British voluntary organisations.

Mr. Welsh

I thank the Minister for his reply. Is he aware of the great disappointment both inside and outside the House about the way in which the Government's expenditure cuts affect aid to underdeveloped countries? Will he assure us that any further cuts will not interfere with the programmes for children in the Third world?

Mr. Marten

I can give no assurances because the aid framework is not finally agreed. The right hon. Member for Lanark (Dame Judith Hart), my predecessor, will, perhaps, explain to the hon. Gentleman exactly what that means. The programme will continue, but at a possibly slightly reduced level. We simply must understand that our duty is to get our economy right first. The latest report of the World Bank said that, unless countries such as Britain do that, it is the developing countries that will suffer.

Dame Judith Hart

Can the Minister give some assurance that at least another side of the question is being put by himself and his colleagues in the Foreign Office? As he well knows, there is another side of the case, as I think the Brandt report will show when it is published. Is he aware that one of the solutions to our economic problems is the promotion of development in the Third world? Are the Minister and his colleagues in the Foreign Office pressing for minimum reductions in the aid programme and the earliest possible increases?

Mr. Marten

It is natural that we should do so.