HC Deb 27 October 1980 vol 991 cc24-5
37. Mr. Spearing

asked the Lord Privy Seal if he will make a statement concerning developments in aid to Zimbabwe.

Mr. Neil Marten

Britain is providing the £75 million already announced, and implementation of programmes within this is under way. In addition, we are spending £6 million this year in training Zimbabweans already on courses before independence, and we have forgone payment of £22 million of official debt.

Initial pledges by other donors and pledges by the international community amount to about US $400 million. Longer-term assistance, and membership of the European Community and the World Bank, should increase this sum substantially. We are continuing to encourage generous aid from the international community.

Mr. Spearing

Will the Minister tell the House what approximate proportion of the £75 million is being spent in kind on assisting Government services and agencies, and what is being spent on new and additional projects that might not otherwise have taken place?

Mr. Marten

We are discussing with the Zimbabwean Government the quantity of aid for land resettlement. The discussions have not yet been completed with the Zimbabwean Government. When agreement has been reached I can give an answer on the balance that will be available.

Mr. David Steel

If, in the Minister's words we are encouraging generous aid from other donors, should we not begin by setting a better example ourselves? Does not the Minister agree that the aid quotas for Zimbabwe fall far short of the sums that were discussed prior to independence?

Mr. Marten

Yes, but the previous Anglo-American proposals were a different ball game. There was no international reaction to the figure that was proposed then, which, I think, was plucked out of the air. Our pledge of £75 million is generous, and it will be one of our largest aid programmes in Africa.

Mr. Paul Dean

As one who visited Zimbabwe during the Summer Recess—as, I believe, did my hon. Friend the Minister—may I ask whether he recognises the political significance of the British aid programme in assisting that country to resettlement? In view of that, will the Government consider the possibility of making the £75 million available over an 18-month period, rather than over a three-year period?

Mr. Marten

No, we have budgeted for the £75 million to be spent over three years, and that has been accepted by the Zimbabwean Government.