HC Deb 04 February 1991 vol 185 cc16-7
36. Mr. Pike

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what developments have there been in aid to Namibia since independence.

The Minister for Overseas Development (Mrs. Lynda Chalker)

On Namibia's independence last March, we announced £10 million of aid for commitment over three years. We have agreed with their Government that education should be the first priority. A number of initiatives are already under way. We are also helping with police training, public-sector reform and the resettlement of returnees, and we are exploring the possibilities for assistance in other sectors, including agriculture and health.

Mr. Pike

I thank the Minister for that answer. Does she, however, recognise the importance to Namibia of development of its fishing industry, which provides employment prospects and also increases public revenue? Will she consider giving aid for the development of that industry, and confirm that she recognises the associated problem of Walvis bay and what it means to Namibia?

Mrs. Chalker

I have just returned from Namibia. While I was there, I was able briefly to discuss the whole question of fisheries. The hon. Gentleman may remember that, just before independence, Dr. John Beddington of Imperial college, London undertook a study and made some preliminary recommendations on fisheries management. We want to explore the scope for further support in that regard; we have offered the Namibian Government further assistance, but they have yet to respond.

As for Walvis bay, we voted on Security Council resolution 432, advocating its integration into Namibia. We continue to believe that the issue can best be dealt with by means of low-key bilateral negotiation, but we have offered to help and have put in the right words in the right places.

Mr. Burt

Is my right hon. Friend aware that many of us believe that our development aid has been very well spent in Namibia, helping to fashion the possibility of success from a near-disaster? Does she feel that there are any lessons to be learnt that will be helpful in the development of the new South Africa, where aid and assistance will also be needed to help the people emerge from another near-disaster into success?

Mrs. Chalker

I thank my hon. Friend for that question. He knows that we began English language teaching for Namibians long before independence. In South Africa we have been providing teacher training for English language and other subjects through the Molteno project for about four and a half years. By giving English language and other educational training, we are laying the foundations, but we must build on that through projects such as public sector reform, which we are carrying out in Namibia. We must also ensure that each programme is tailored to needs. I assure my hon. Friend that I shall be looking at the projects in South Africa which now amount to about £10 million of aid to black South Africans.

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