HC Deb 11 July 1983 vol 45 cc599-600
58. Mr. Barnett

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs when he intends to publish his response to the Brandt Commission's report entitled "Common Crisis".

Mr. Raison

My right hon. Friend the Foreign and Commonwealth Secretary hopes to lay the White Paper before the House before Parliament rises later this month.

Mr. Barnett

I am pleased to hear that a White Paper will be placed before Parliament shortly. Are the Government prepared to reply positively to the request in "Common Crisis" that over a five-year period we should raise our total official aid to 0.7 per cent. of GNP? Many hon. Members are concerned by the apparent drop in aid figures just prior to the general election, and which were announced in April. Secondly, many hon. Members are disturbed by the Government cuts and I seek confirmation that overseas development will not be affected by those cuts.

Mr. Raison

I am unable to give a firm undertaking that the 0.7 per cent. target will definitely be achieved within five years. My right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer announced a reduction in the overseas aid budget for the current year, but there will be an 8 per cent. increase in cash terms over last year's budget, and that will be ahead of the rate of inflation.

Mr. Forman

As financial indebtedness is a major problem highlighted in "Common Crisis", do the Government intend to make clear in their response to the document that the idea of a country such as Brazil going into a salutory default would not be in the interests of the developing countries or the developed countries?

Mr. Raison

I sympathise with my hon. Friend's comments, but he must await the publication of the White Paper.

Mr. Loan Evans

In the light of the tremendous support by the public for the original Brandt report and the Government's lack of reaction, will the Minister ensure that the Government will examine the major questions raised in the second report and put before the House proposals that will go some way towards dealing with the problem of world poverty?

Mr. Raison

A full and constructive day's debate has taken place on the second Brandt report. The new Foreign Secretary took action at the International Monetary Fund interim committee earlier this year, which was of great value. The Government will set forth in the White Paper a detailed response to the proposals.

Mr. Prentice

If further cuts in public spending are to take place in the autum will my right hon. Friend ensure that his senior colleagues are aware that many of my hon. Friends would be bitterly opposed to any further reductions in the overseas aid budget?

Mr. Raison

I shall certainly stick up for my own programme and I shall ensure that suggestions by my right hon. Friend and others are considered carefully.

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