HC Deb 03 July 1989 vol 156 cc18-9
62. Mr. Sheerman

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what steps he is taking to increase aid to the Andean group of countries.

Mr. Chris Patten

I have no plans at present to increase aid levels to the Andean group of countries. I expect our aid programmes to those countries to be maintained at approximately current levels for the foreseeable future.

Mr. Sheerman

I congratulate the Minister on his promotion. Is it not about time that he seized the opportunities of his office and started to do something for undeveloped countries, notably those in South America where, after 10 years of Conservative Government, only a measly £10 million flows from this wealthy country to countries that are struggling for democracy and struggling to fight drugs and poverty? When will the Minister do something?

Mr. Patten

I will answer that question as though it were a string of compliments. I know of the hon. Gentleman's interest in the region and his particular interest in Peru, which is as welcome in that country as in this. I repeat what I said earlier. We have traditionally concentrated our aid programmes on the Commonwealth and on poorer countries. If we are likely to do more in Latin America, it will almost certainly be due to our growing interest and concern about environmental issues. That is one reason why, as I said earlier, I am going to Brazil later today.