HC Deb 13 February 1989 vol 147 c17
71. Mr. Greg Knight

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs when he last visited Malawi; and if he will make a statement.

The Minister for Overseas Development (Mr. Chris Patten)

I visited Malawi at the end of last month. I saw a range of British-financed development projects and technical projects and technical experts, and confirmed to Malawian Ministers our continuing commitment to help Malawi's development programme. British aid to Malawi, including help for Mozambican refugees, amounted to £25 million in 1987, the latest year for which full figures are available.

Mr. Knight

Is not one of the biggest problems facing Malawi its need to improve transport links to the coast? Is there anything that the British Government can do to assist in that matter?

Mr. Patten

I wholly agree with my hon. Friend. I saw for myself the importance to Malawi's economy of improving transport links. That is why we intend to spend just over £13 million on the northern transport corridor linking Malawi to Dar-es-Salaam. We have also made a contribution to the rehabilitation of the Nacala line, and will probably be able to do more to support that project as well.

Sir Jim Spicer

My hon. Friend will know all our aid is directed on a bilateral basis where it is most needed. Why does the European Community, particularly in the case of black South African townships, insist on feeding its aid through a third party, which then has the power to direct where the aid should go? Would not our approach be more satisfactory?

Mr. Patten

We are pressing, both through our own bilateral contributions to projects in South Africa and through the European Community, to ensure that that aid goes to education and social projects where it is most needed. We shall, as my hon. Friend suggested, be spending on our own substantial programme and we have already committed about £25 million to bilateral projects in South Africa in the five years to 1992.

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