HC Deb 22 February 1988 vol 128 c17
62. Mr. Hannam

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he has any plans to provide textbooks for schools in Commonwealth developing countries; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Chris Patten

This year we expect to spend about £1.3 million from the aid programme on textbooks for schools in developing Commonwealth countries. I am also considering support for some interesting proposals to provide textbooks no longer needed in British schools to developing countries.

Mr. Hannam

I thank my hon. Friend for his helpful reply. Can he tell us whether the Ranfurly library is involved in the project? Can he also give some details of which countries are being considered for assistance?

Mr. Patten

The Ranfurly library service, which does such a magnificent job, is centrally involved in the proposals, which are being discussed with Rotary and the British Council. I very much hope that the scheme will get off the ground. If it does, it is intended to cover all developing Commonwealth countries.

Mr. Tom Clarke

Is the Minister aware that, in addition to the provision of textbooks, many developing countries welcome the provision of audio-visual aids, and that the British Council, which is doing splendid work in many countries, would be able to assist if more resources were made available?

Mr. Patten

Through the aid programme we have been making more resources available to the British Council, which has been doing a superb job in helping to manage our technical co-operation and training programme. Of course, audio-visual aids have an important part to play in education in developing countries, as do books, which is why we have increased spending on the books presentation programme.