HC Deb 10 April 1989 vol 150 cc571-2
71. Mr. Greg Knight

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will make a statement on British aid to Ghana.

Mr. Chris Patten

The United Kingdom continues to be a major supporter of Ghana's economic recovery programme, for which we announced on 1 March a pledge of a further £20 million of balance of payments finance. This brings the total of our balance of payments support to Ghana since 1983 to £92.5 million.

Mr. Knight

Does my hon. Friend agree that those figures show that the Government's record of aid to Ghana is excellent? However, does not the success in Ghana show that African countries that follow a sensible reform programme—for example, that suggested by the World Bank or the United Nations— do better than those which do not?

Mr. Patten

Yes. The World Bank and the United Nations development programme have just issued an encouraging report underlining the point made by my hon. Friend. I hope that other countries will draw confidence and inspiration from what Ghana has achieved in the past few years. I hope that they will also follow Ghana in attempting to design good social programmes to accompany the economic reform programmes.

Mr. Boateng

Given the outstanding success of the British Council library and reading rooms in Ghana, will the Minister consider extending aid and assistance to the British Council so that it can open similar libraries and reading rooms in southern Africa, particularly in Namibia, where they are much needed in the run-up to independence?.

Mr. Patten

I endorse what the hon. Gentleman said about the important role played by the British Council. I am delighted that the amount that it can do in developing countries will have increased during this year. It has an important job to do in countries in the front line in southern Africa, as the hon. Gentleman said, and I am sure that we particularly need to go on training, teaching the English language and providing as much assistance as possible in Namibia as it moves towards independence.

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