HC Deb 12 January 1987 vol 108 cc19-20
66. Mr. Nicholas Baker

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will expand schemes for the provision of administrative and technical services to developing countries.

Mr. Chris Patten

In recent years we have devoted increasing resources to the provision of skilled manpower and training in technical, administrative and other areas. Our programmes of technical co-operation are designed to build up the human resources of individual developing countries and are planned in close consultation with their Governments.

Mr. Baker

Is my hon. Friend aware that such programmes are strongly welcomed on this side of the House? Will he also see whether he can achieve a substantial expansion in the Voluntary Service Overseas programme for young people from the present figure of about 1,000 a year?

Mr. Patten

I hope that I can satisfy my hon. Friend on that. Our aid to the British volunteer programme has been increased by 113 per cent. in real terms since 1979 and it will increase by a further 11.5 per cent. next year, taking it to £8.6 million as opposed to about £2 million in 1979. That is a formidable record.

I am sure that the House is aware of the murder of the VSO's field director, Mr. Paul Hitchman, in Uganda last week. That was a reminder of the brave and committed work of many of our young volunteers overseas, and I am sure that the House would want to offer its condolences to Mrs. Hitchman.