HC Deb 24 October 1983 vol 47 cc17-8
54. Mr. Canavan

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what subjects he expects to discuss at his next meeting with the Commonwealth Development Corporation.

Mr. Raison

I have no immediate plans for such a meeting, but I meet the chairman frequently.

Mr. Canavan

On the matter of the CDC involvement in the NGPI project at Agusan Del Sur in the Philippines, why did the British authorities exert pressure for the non-renewal of the contract of a British VSO worker who was investigating allegations of the violation of human rights in the area where CDC involvement is planned?

Mr. Raison

I shall look into the matter and write to the hon. Gentleman.

Mr. Alton

When the Minister next meets the chairman of the CDC, will he also discuss the representations that Mr. Frank Judd of the VSO has made to many hon. Members about the organisation's fears and worries concerning the continuation of its programme? Will the hon. Gentleman also consider the possibility of removing full-cost fees for students from Commonwealth countries?

Mr. Raison

If I were to discuss those matters with the chairman of the Commonwealth Development Corporation he might think that I was out of my mind. They have nothing to do with him.

Mr. Tom Clarke

When the Minister meets the chairman of the CDC, will he draw to his attention the fact that hon. Members, while having a high regard for the CDC, will exercise the right to criticise individual projects if they feel that they are unworthy? Had we not done so, certain improvements in human rights in Mindanao would not have taken place.

Mr. Raison

Of course hon. Members have the right to discuss and to criticise. After all, it is a free country and a free House. I am prepared to accept that some of that discussion has been of value, but the important thing i s that the steps that are taken now are effective.

Mr. Moynihan

Does my right hon. Friend agree that the safeguards built into the proposed oil palm development project in Loreto in the Philippines are not only unprecendented, but are recognised as being highly effective in safeguarding that potential project as a viable and important one for the CDC?

Mr. Raison

I know that my hon. Friend has just been out there to look at these matters on the ground. I am grateful to him for what he says.