HC Deb 27 October 1980 vol 991 cc23-4
36. Mr. Ioan Evans

asked the Lord Privy Seal what representations have been received to increase expenditure on overseas development in developing countries.

The Minister for Overseas Development (Mr. Neil Marten)

The Government have received a number of representations arguing for such an increase.

Mr. Evans

Does not the Minister realise that there has been disappointment on both sides of the House at the Government's response to the Brandt Commission report? Will a more favourable response be included in the Queen's Speech?

With regard to Government expenditure, does not the Minister realise that the cause of world peace would be better served by dealing with the cause of world poverty than by increased expenditure in the arms race?

Mr. Marten

Regarding the hon. Gentleman's second point, that view has been expressed. With regard to his first point, I suggest that he awaits the Queen's Speech.

Mr. Budgen

Will the Minister confirm to the House that aid to overseas countries is now running at almost the same level as our contribution to the EEC? Does he not agree that the Government's response to the Brandt Commission report should be firm and negative and that we should indicate clearly that the time has come to cut these contributions?

Mr. Marten

The Government's response to the Brandt report has been justified as correct.

Mr. McElhone

The Minister must surely be aware that his answer is totally unacceptable to Labour Members. Having regard to the 14 per cent. cut that he announced earlier this year, will he assure the House that he will not accept further cuts in the aid programme?

Mr. Marten

I am aware of the first point raised by the hon. Gentleman, and I cannot comment on his second point at this stage.

Mr. Dykes

Would we not show our enthusiasm for the Brandt exercise if we were to take a full and active part in the forthcoming world summit on aid to the underdeveloped countries?

Mr. Marten

We shall play our full part in the forthcoming summit on the Brandt report.

Mr. Foulkes

Will the Minister either confirm, or preferably deny, the weekend reports that overseas aid is being considered as one of the targets for he further round of Government expenditure cuts? If this is so, will the Minister give an assurance that he will resign his position?

Mr. Marten

There is not much future in commenting on highly speculative press reports.

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