HC Deb 14 July 1980 vol 988 cc1050-1
65. Mr. Ioan Evans

asked the Lord Privy Seal if he will take action to assist in increasing food production in the Third world.

Mr. Neil Marten

Yes, Sir. We wish to see developing countries give greater priority to agricultural and food production in their investment plans, and we shall continue to do what we can in answer to their requests and encourage international bodies to follow suit.

Mr. Evans

Would not that policy be better carried out if, rather than reducing overseas aid and increasing arms expenditure, the Government sought to reduce arms expenditure and increase overseas aid? When will the Government make known their views on the proposals in the Brandt Commission report relating to this problem?

Mr. Marten

I do not agree with the first part of the hon. Gentleman's question. As for the second part of it, the Government's views on the Brandt Commission report have gone to the Select Committee. I think that the Select Committee will put them in the Vote Office during the middle of this week.

Dr. Mawhinney

Will my hon. Friend consider giving an increased proportion of overseas aid in the form of agricultural machinery, which will not only assist in increasing food production in the Third world but will help British manufacturing industry, including Perkins of Peterborough, which makes excellent diesel engines for such machinery?

Mr. Marten

That is always a consideration, especially the export aspect of it. Whether a developing country is suitable for a particular piece of Perkins machinery is open to the developing country to decide.

Mr. Greville Janner

What assistance does the Minister expect to give India during the forthcoming year? Will he re-examine the arrangements that may be made for matching grants in so far as people in this country are prepared to make gifts to India and other countries, which in turn could be matched by the Government?

Mr. Marten

As I have told the hon. and learned Gentleman in correspondence, it is very much a question for the Indian Government to approve the gifts from this country first. That is the first priority.