HC Deb 25 April 1983 vol 41 cc597-8
43. Mr. Woolmer

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs when he expects to meet the leaders of British voluntary aid agencies to discuss the level of central funding of the agencies.

Mr. Raison

I have, of course, had contacts with the leaders of a number of voluntary agencies; and I expect to have further meetings at which funding will no doubt be discussed.

Mr. Woolmer

When the right hon. Gentleman has his next meeting, does he expect to be in a position to outline any possibility of increasing Government aid to the agencies for such schemes as the pound for pound scheme aimed at assisting the poorest of the poor nations, which I understand to be the basis of the Government's approach to these matters?

Mr. Raison

I should like to have the possibility of increasing support for the pound for pound scheme, but I do not think that that is possible in the current year. Overall, our total assistance to the voluntary sector has gone up by 14 per cent. since last year and by 56 per cent. since 1979.

Mr. Sever

Having accepted what the Minsiter said about modest increases, may I ask him to undertake wherever possible to provide at least some additional hope to the leaders of those charitable institutions which do this wonderful job in overseas aid? Is it not true that the Third world's development problem is getting worse rather than better and that meagre increases on what was a meagre starting point are insufficient?

Mr. Raison

I am very committed to the importance of the voluntary sector. I might add that in the volunteer programme there has been an 18 per cent. increase on last year's provision and an 81 per cent. increase since 1978–79.

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