HC Deb 14 May 1990 vol 172 cc592-4
54. Mr. Eadie

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will make a statement on the United Kingdom's response to the emergency appeal of the United Nations and Mozambiquan Government.

The Minister for Overseas Development (Mrs. Lynda Chalker)

As I told the House on 26 April, the Government have just pledged a further £3.5 million in emergency relief and 10,000 tonnes of food aid in response to the 1990 Mozambique emergency appeal.

Mr. Eadie

Although I appreciate the right hon. Lady's reply, is she aware that 4 million people were displaced in Mozambique and that one in three children there aged under five die? The Minister will be aware that the Mozambique Government's $136 million appeal has been underfunded. In view of her reply, and as the matter is becoming more urgent, will she re-examine that very serious problem?

Mrs. Chalker

Since 1987, we have pledged more than £55 million in emergency assistance, comprising emer-gency relief and food aid, and some £10 million last year —which included aid to Mozambique refugees. Particular attention was paid to the children among them. I will consider the hon. Gentleman's comments. Certainly we keep in regular contact, to ensure that we can help by every means available—including Operation Hunger, a non-governmental organisation which is very active in the area, particularly in relation to children.

Mr. Burns

In view of the importance to Mozambique of prawn exports, what action are the Government taking to assist that important sector of the country's economy?

Mrs. Chalker

Forty per cent. of Mozambique's export earnings come from the prawn industry. We are providing over £3.5 million to rehabilitate the prawn fishing fleet, modernise its processing facilities and build a jetty. Mozambique's prawns are fished by European Community fishing vessels which land the prawns as EC products. Therefore the hon. Member for Cynon Valley (Mrs. Clwyd) need have no fear that the prawns from Mozambique do not meet EC standards. The onus is already on those who contribute to the Mozambique economy through their fishing licences to reach the necessary standards. They do so. We hope that the industry will continue to be viable and to thrive.

Mrs. Clwyd

As Mozambique has the second highest death rate in the world, will the Minister condemn a new health threat facing Mozambique and other Third world countries? The vigorous promotion of very cheap and strong cigarettes by British American Tobacco will put an even greater strain on countries that are still fighting diseases such as malaria and tetanus. Will the Minister admit that the absence of international rules enables British American Tobacco to tell blatant lies about the safety of smoking? Is she prepared to join me in calling on BAT's shareholders to object at the annual general meeting on 31 May to BAT's making money by wilfully damaging the lungs of people in the Third world?

Mrs. Chalker

I am not sure that the hon. Lady's question has anything to do with the emergency appeal of the United Nations and Mozambiquan Government, but never mind. The hon. Lady knows that I share her concern about smoking. I shall look into what she said. In a free world it will always be up to the individual, but I understand her concern.

Mr. Teddy Taylor

How can the Minister say that she will look into this matter when she is well aware that every year at European Community meetings she and her colleagues have approved the spending of £600 million solely to subsidise the growing and dumping of high-tar tobacco in Third world countries? Would not it be a good idea if the Minister tried to do something about such a scandalous abuse of public money—the spending of £600 million of British and European taxpayers' money solely for the purpose of producing tobacco that no one in Europe wants, which we then dump at crazy, low prices in Mozambique and other Third world countries?

Mrs. Chalker

I note what my hon. Friend says, but he knows full well that this country does not support that sort of dumping. The matter is of considerable concern and is being dealt with.