HC Deb 20 July 1987 vol 120 c17
61. Mr. Holland

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what measures he is taking to ensure that overseas aid spending through the aid-trade provision serves the development needs of the overseas countries concerned; and what share of official development assistance has been absorbed by the aid-trade provision in the latest available 12-month period, relative to 1979–80.

The Minister for Overseas Development (Mr. Chris Patten)

Our appraisal procedures are designed to ensure that ATP projects represent a sound investment for the recipient country. In 1979–80, expenditure on ATP was approximately £29 million, or about 3.5 per cent. of the total gross aid programme. In 1986–87, expenditure on ATP was approximately £81.3 million, or about 65 per cent.—I meant to say, 6.5 per cent.—of the total gross aid programme.

Mr. Holland

We hope that the ATP will not rise to 65 per cent. of the aid programme. However, it is clear that the long-term trend under the Government is that it has risen, is rising and is likely to rise still further. I commiserate with the Minister, granted the attack by the Minister for Trade on the development criteria for ATP, as reported in Wednesday's edition of the Financial Times. He should be concerned to ensure that development context of ATP provision. If he does, I am sure that he will have the support of both sides of the House and of my hon. Friend the Member for Eccles (Miss Lestor), whom we welcome to the Front Bench.

Mr. Patten

I wish the hon. Gentleman well, although not too well, in his new responsibilities. I read the characteristically supportive speech by my hon. Friend the Minister for Trade, to which the hon. Gentleman drew attention. As I said at our previous Question Time, we shall respond to the report of the Select Committee on Foreign Affairs in due course. I know that the Department of Trade and Industry will make a valuable contribution to the Government's response to that report.

Mr. Raison

Does my hon. Friend agree that it is much better that decisions about the allocation of ATP money should be made by him, with proper regard to developmental considerations, than by my hon. Friend the Minister for Trade?

Mr. Patten

I note my right hon. Friend's remarks. As I said, we shall respond to the FAC report in due course, but I should not want in any way to criticise my hon. Friend the Minister for Trade.