HC Deb 03 July 1989 vol 156 cc16-7
59. Dr. Kim Howells

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what plans he has to increase development grants to Peru.

The Minister for Overseas Development (Mr. Chris Patten)

I have no plans at present for an increase. It is likely that we shall maintain our programme of technical co-operation to Peru at approximately current levels for the foreseeable future.

Dr. Howells

Given the way in which certain British companies are growing fat by tearing the mineral wealth and the rain forests out of South America, why do we allocate such miserable amounts of aid to countries such as Peru, which are struggling democracies attempting to rebuild their economies? As those countries are trying to prevent themselves from becoming dominated by the drugs barons who grow drugs there and since the British Government set up such a hue and cry about fighting those drugs barons when the drugs come into this country, why is more money not given to help those struggling democracies to overcome the problem at source?

Mr. Patten

The hon. Gentleman has covered a broad waterfront. with a number of non sequiturs en route. I shall be interested to discuss the problem of tropical rain forests with him when I return from Brazil in a week or two.

On the hon. Gentleman's point about the total size of our programme in Peru, we have never had large programmes in Latin America—under Governments of either party—because much of our aid is concentrated on Commonwealth countries and on the poorest countries. We have a programme of about £1 million in Peru, but I remind the hon. Gentleman that there are 77 countries poorer than Peru.

Mr. Jacques Arnold

Does my right hon. Friend agree that one of the biggest difficulties about development programmes with Peru is that country's inability to sort out its international financial affairs? Is it not high time that the Peruvian Government buckled down to sorting out their debts and financial position, as much of the rest of Latin America has already done?

Mr. Patten

Peru's best chance of getting more capital aid lies in reconciliation with the multilateral banks with which it is at present in arrears.