HC Deb 01 March 1982 vol 19 cc17-8
41. Mr. Nelson

asked the Lord Privy Seal what is the value of the United Kingdom's contribution to the sixth replenishment of the International Development Association of the World Bank; and to what extent this will finance the export of British goods and services for schemes backed by the International Development Association.

Mr. Neil Marten

The value of the United Kingdom's contribution to the sixth replenishment of the International Development Association is £555 million.

There is no formal link between contributions to multilateral agencies and procurement return, and it is impossible to predict what success British firms will have in international competitive tendering. Their past average achievement overall for IDA projects has been about 14 per cent. of total foreign procurement.

Mr. Nelson

Will not that substantial and welcome funding go directly to assist the poorest nations of the world? Does my right hon. Friend agree that it would be much easier to obtain support for our substantial funding of the IDA if it were seen to be of direct benefit to British industry and trade? Is there no way in which our contributions to the IDA can be tied to trade with contributing countries?

Mr. Marten

I am afraid not. It is a question of industrialists going to foreign countries and doing their best to obtain contracts. We have recently appointed a new commercial officer post in the British embassy in Washington to assist business men to obtain these contracts.

Mr. McElhone

Will the Minister answer the most important question on the IDA that he failed to answer in the debate on 11 February, namely, why was it necessary for the Government to copy the savage cut of 25 per cent. in IDA funding by the United States? Would it not be better to copy Norway, Sweden and Denmark and refuse to make any cuts which would have a disastrous effect on orders and jobs in this country and in the poorest countries of the Third world?

Mr. Marten

The answer is that we and other major donors are concerned to preserve the principle of burden-sharing—presumably Norway is not—basic to the IDA six replenishment, whereby IDA commits contributions pro rata to the unqualified commitments of any member responsible for a shortfall if that member is contributing more than 20 per cent. of the replenishment.

Mr. Welsh

Does the Minister agree that even 14 per cent. could create a tremendous amount of employment in Great Britain? Seen even from a selfish angle—and parliamentarians may do that—would it not be as well to carry on the loan agreed by the 1980 Parliament, if only for the sake of creating employment in this country? Would that be a reasonable approach to the subject?

Mr. Marten

It might be, but we have agreed to contribute £555 million.

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