HC Deb 14 May 1980 vol 984 cc1487-9
10. Mr. Goodlad

asked the Lord Privy Seal what consultations he has had with United Nations agencies about the recommendations of the Brandt commission.

Mr. Hurd

My right hon. Friend had a short exchange of views with the Secretary-General of the United Nations on 16 April. This is likely to be taken further when the Secretary-General visits London next week.

Mr. Goodlad

In view of the grave threat to world development and, potentially, to stability that is posed by the enormous increase that is taking place in the world's population, will my hon. Friend promote the objectives of the United Nations fund for population activities, not least by working to restore the British contribution to the fund, since it is no longer underspent on its budget as it was when the decision to halve our contribution was taken?

Mr. Hurd

I know of my hon. Friend's interest in this matter. We contributed £2 million to the fund last year and are contributing a further £2 million this year. I do not think that that is too bad in the light of our circumstances.

Mr. James Lamond

As the Brandt Commission's report deals at length with the great increase in expenditure on arms throughout the world, would it not be difficult for the Government to accept some of the recommendations for reducing the total amount of spending on arms, since that would fly in the face of the decisions that were announced recently when we debated the Defence Estimates?

Mr. Hurd

Certainly some of the recommendations are difficult for us to accept. We have had one debate in the House, there has been a debate in another place and I understand that my right hon. Friend the Leader of the House has promised a fuller debate in Government time before the end of June. I think that these matters will be best thrashed out then.

Mr. Whitney

In considering a response to the Brandt commission report, will my hon. Friend bear in mind that some of the more important recommendations are potentially of considerable inflationary impact and that if fuel is added to the world inflation it will result in great harm being caused to developing countries?

Mr. Hurd

The Brandt report is a powerful piece of analysis, but of course my hon. Friend is right in pointing out that some of the proposals cause practical difficulties for us. We are not in the business of saying that we shall do things if we cannot do them. That is why we must look at the report carefully and together.

Mr. Shore

Does the hon. Gentleman agree that the Brandt report addresses themes of immense importance, not only to the international economy, but to the question of political stability in so many regions? Does he agree that it will require careful handling and a carefully thought-out programme if we are to make a worthwhile response? Does the hon. Gentleman also agree that not only should United Nations agencies, which may have useful comments to make, be consulted, but that the subjects should be seriously considered in the OECD, which is the major forum of the developed countries?

Mr. Hard

Yes, indeed, and that is now happening. We have to prepare for the special session of the United Nations General Assembly which will certainly concentrate on many of those matters.

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