HC Deb 23 June 1986 vol 100 cc17-8
39. Mr. Tom Cox

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what discussions his officials have had with the organisers concerning the distribution in Africa of funds raised by Sport Aid.

Mr. Raison

I understand that the funds raised by Sport Aid for Africa are being divided equally between the Band Aid organisation and UNICEF. My officials have had discussions with Band Aid about its plans, and have offered to make available to it any technical advice which it may need. I congratulate all those who contributed to Sport Aid on their fine achievement.

Mr. Cox

I welcome the Minister's comments, but is he aware that, in the eyes of the British people, the standing of Bob Geldof on issues of aid is higher than that of his Department? Against that background, should we not be working in the closest possible co-operation with him, and, to set a real example, should not the Government match pound for pound the moneys that the British people have contributed through Sport Aid? Would that not show real commitment on the part of the Government?

Mr. Raison

I have the greatest respect for what Bob Geldof has done personally and what Band Aid and many other agencies have done. Regarding matching moneys, I understand that so far Band Aid has spent £28 million on relief in Africa. Over the past couple of years the British Government have spent £190 million one way and another on relief in Africa. Therefore, I am not sure that matching would be appropriate.

Mr. Hirst

Bearing in mind the difficulties that aid agencies have encountered in distributing aid in Ethiopia, does my right hon. Friend find it both disturbing and strange that the Marxist regime there apparently cannot feed its people, but is offering food, shelter and training to so-called freedom fighters for southern Africa?

Mr. Raison

There are many disturbing occurrences in Ethiopia. We have given great help to that country, and we are thinking about what more we can do. However, we must recognise that we do so against a difficult political background.

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