HC Deb 29 June 1987 vol 118 cc249-50
55. Mr. Tom Clarke

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will state the level of emergency support being provided by Her Majesy's Government to assist with the present crisis in Mozambique.

The Minister for Overseas Development (Mr. Chris Patten)

We have committed nearly £14 million in emergency aid for Mozambique so far this year, including a pledge of up to 30,000 tonnes of cereals. In addition, our share of emergency and food-aid provided by the European Community this year amounts to nearly £3 million.

Mr. Clarke

Is the Minister aware that the consequences for Mozambique of war and drought are defence expenditure of 42 per cent. of the annual budget and, among other things, the highest rate of infant mortality in the world? What steps are the Government taking to end South African destabilisation in this region? As we now know that the Government's commitment to overseas aid has been reduced to the disgraceful figure of 0.32 per cent. of gross national product, will the Minister assure the House that that essential aid for Mozambique will not be taken from another part of the overseas aid programme; in other words, that the poor will not be asked to feed the poor?

Mr. Patten

In response to the last part of that rather long question, our major contribution to Mozambique comes out of the growing aid programme, for which I am pleased to be still responsible. On the first part of the hon. Gentleman's question, we endorse the Nkomati accord and, with other European Community Governments, have consistently pressed the South African Government to stand by it.

Mr. Wells

I congratulate my hon. Friend on providing emergency support for the starving people in Mozambique, on which I am sure the whole House will congratulate him, but can he assure the House and the country that, in the chaos in Mozambique, the assistance will reach the right quarters and feed starving women and children?

Mr. Patten

I very much hope so. My hon. Friend makes an extremely important point. The most recent aid package that we announced of £2 million will largely go towards precisely the priority that he has identified. Part of it will go towards improving facilities at Maputo port and part will go to the Save the Children Fund to help to improve its food distribution organisation in Zambezia, which is the province probably most affected in the current emergency.

Mr. Tony Lloyd

In response to my hon. Friend the Member for Monklands, West (Mr. Clarke) the Minister told the House of the Government's attitude towards South Africa, but the reality is that South Africa continues to be the major determinant of the crisis in Mozambique and continues to fund the terrorists fighting in that country. What practical steps will the Government now take to put realistic pressure on South Africa to stop this funding of terrorism?

Mr. Patten

I should have thought that the hon. Gentleman would know about the help that we are giving to Mozambique in the training facilities at Nyanga.

Mr. Fairbairn

Given the fact that, prospectively, Mozambique is the most prosperous country in southern Africa, that it has a minute population compared to this country and is seven times the size of France, given that it has a fence erected by the Marxist Government to prevent its people from getting out, and that they choose to go, not to any of the five African countries to the north, but to South Africa, can my hon. Friend explain why we should be concerned about helping the victims of a Marxist Government?

Mr. Patten

The economic policies now being pursued by Mozambique, after its agreement with the IMF and the World Bank, certainly do not seem terribly Marxist to much of the outside world. The reason why we are giving so much emergency relief to Mozambique is that there is such a sizeable and unattractive emergency there.