HC Deb 17 March 1986 vol 94 cc17-8
57. Mr. Janner

asked the Secretary of State for Commonwealth and Foreign Affairs what plans he has for the provision of aid to India during the years 1986, 1987 and 1988, respectively; and whether he will make a statement.

Mr. Raison

British aid is planned on a financial year basis. In 1986–87 we plan to spend about £108 million on bilateral aid to India, and at least £11 million more from the aid and trade provision. Figures are not available for subsequent years.

Mr. Janner

Is the Minister aware that some of us feel that that sum is totally inadequate to meet the vastness of the need and suffering in India? Now that, happily, the Indian aspect of Westland's affairs has been settled, what plans are there for discussions with the Indian Government in the immediate future regarding further needs and projects?

Mr. Raison

I share the view of the hon. and learned Gentleman that the signature of the Westland agreement is very much to be welcomed, from the Indian point of view, and of course from the point of view of the employees of Westland in this country. However, the hon. and learned Gentleman is wrong to suggest that our aid programme to India is inadequate. It is a very large aid programme. In my view it is extremely well constructed, and I believe that the Indians much appreciate it. We discuss regularly the composition of that programme.

Mr. Jessel

As so much of our EEC aid goes to Africa, is it not right that it should be balanced by our bilateral aid being concentrated largely on India?

Mr. Raison

Our bilateral aid goes to Africa in large quantities as well, but, as I have just said, we have a large bilateral programme to India. I am sure that it is absolutely right that we should.