HC Deb 03 July 1989 vol 156 cc17-8
60. Mr. John Evans

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what proportion of the gross national product is accounted for in non-commercial aid to developing countries in (a) 1975, (b) 1980, (c) 1985 and (d) 1989.

Mr. Chris Patten

United Kingdom net official development assistance and grants by United Kingdom voluntary agencies represented 0.41 per cent. of GNP in 1975, and 0.37 per cent. in both 1980 and 1985. The figure for 1989 will not be available until next year. The provisional figure for 1988 is 0.35 per cent.

Mr. Evans

Will the Minister take this opportunity to deny the scandalous story in yesterday's edition of The Observer to the effect that recent British non-commercial development aid to Malaysia was tied to the purchase of British armaments?

Mr. Patten

I have denied that story many times. It is quite an old story. It first surfaced in The Guardian in June last year and has since been recycled in The Observer. I denied it most recently and explicitly in evidence to the Select Committee on Foreign Affairs.

Mr. Jack

I wish my right hon. Friend well on his forthcoming trip to Brazil. Will he confirm that one of the most effective ways in which Britain can help with non-commerical aid is by making expertise available to countries such as Brazil to help them deal with their forestry problems?

Mr. Patten

My hon. Friend is entirely correct. We have as much expertise on tropical forestry matters in this country as exists anywhere else in the world and some splendid experts, such as Dr. Prance, a member of our recent environmental mission to Brazil.

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