HC Deb 16 January 1984 vol 52 cc17-8
28. Mr. Ioan Evans

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what further consideration has been given to providing additional aid to Grenada.

Mr. Raison

As I informed the House on 28 November, we have already provided a grant of £750,000 to help meet Grenada's immediate development needs, and plans for spending that sum are well advanced. We are also examining longer-term development requirements with the authorities in Grenada and will be making an early assessment of the needs for additional assistance, taking account of the attitude of other donors and multilateral agencies.

Mr. Evans

On reflection, does the right hon. Gentleman not think that it was wrong for the Government to have stopped aid to the previous Administration? Would not such aid have prevented the developments that have taken place on the island? Are the Government getting their priorities right when so little is spent on overseas development compared with the £2,000 million to be spent in the next three years in the Falkland Islands on military purposes?

Mr. Raison

No. I believe that the decision to reduce substantially our aid programme to Grenada under its previous Government was right, because that regime was not interested in either human or political rights. As to the scale of our present level of assistance, we are not providing that sum of money to the Falkland Islands in development terms. In Grenada we are coming forward with a sensible and practical programme that will be of direct and real relevance.

Mr. Budgen

Will my right hon. Friend explain how he comes to the view that overseas aid is to be justified on the grounds of its popularity?

Mr. Raison

I think my hon. Friend must be aware that, while not everybody in this country is over-keen about overseas aid, there are nevertheless very large numbers of people, often, but not always, closely associated with the Churches, who are very firm in informing me and, indeed hon. Members, of the importance of our aid and development programme.

Mr. Allan Roberts

Will the Minister confirm that Plesseys will be allowed to finish building the airport in Grenada? Will he give an assurance that it will not be used for military purposes by the Americans?

Mr. Raison

I certainly hope that Plesseys will be able to finish the contract for the airport in Grenada. Talks are going on with the Grenadian authorities, I understand, and with the Americans to that effect.