HC Deb 30 January 1991 vol 184 cc997-1039
Madam Deputy Speaker (Miss Betty Boothroyd)

I have to inform the House that Mr. Speaker has selected the amendment in the name of the Prime Minister.

7.12 pm
Mrs. Ann Clwyd (Cynon Valley)

I beg to move, That this House believes that the Government's famine relief efforts are totally inadequate to meet the plight of 20 million people threatened with starvation in sub-Saharan Africa; demands that the Government allocate forthwith additional resources for emergency relief; and calls on the Government to initiate a concerted international initiative to avert a devastating human disaster and to build the foundations for reconstruction and development throughout Africa. Ever since last summer, many voices have been warning of disaster in Africa. Calls for immediate international action have multiplied, but the famine threatening 27 million people in sub-Saharan Africa continues to pass unnoticed, while the world is busy elsewhere. The international community has the resolve to fight military aggression, to fight for liberty and security in the Middle East, but that sense of responsibility and solidarity should extend across the world to the poorest countries, as well as to the oil-rich countries. It is time for an international attack on hunger and famine.

The situation in Africa is desperate. Last night, revised and terrible famine predictions were issued by the World Food Programme—27 million people in 25 countries are threatened with famine, and 3.9 million tonnes of food aid are needed. Food stocks have run out in the Sudan, and are about to run out in Ethiopia. If pledges of food are not made in the next few weeks, and delivered promptly, people will starve to death. They may not be starving on our television screens, because all the camera crews are in the Gulf, but hundreds, then thousands, and possibly hundreds of thousands of people, will die from lack of food. Indeed, relief workers are warning that this year will be even worse than 1984–85, when 1 million people died.

In western areas of the Sudan, 85 per cent. or more of the crop has failed and now water sources are drying up. Already, people are scavenging for berries. The World Food Programme estimates that 7.5 million people face food shortages. There is no time to lose. This is the second year of drought and crop failure in north-eastern Ethiopia. Some 6 million people are at risk of famine. In Liberia, up to 400,000 people are trapped in Monrovia, the capital, where food stocks are exhausted. Outside Monrovia, 1.7 million people have fled their homes and need assistance. In Angola, this is the third successive year of drought and the worst in 40 years. Some 15 years of war between the Government and UNITA have brought virtual economic collapse. Nearly 2 million people are at risk, and last October it was estimated that 11,000 people had died of hunger.

In Mozambique, one quarter of the population are affected by drought and war. An emergency appeal was launched in April and, since then, the situation has worsened dramatically. At least 2 million people need feeding, but the appeal has not been fully met. The number of people at risk is rising all the time—30,000 Somalians have fled their homes and taken refuge in Ethiopia. Other countries in the Sahel such as Mauritania and Burkino Faso have suffered drought and face food shortages. In all, 25 countries are affected.

The Gulf crisis is making the situation even worse. It has diverted the attention of western Governments, journalists and the public. The pre-Christmas oil price rise made it even more expensive to ship food in, transport it by truck on long and tortuous journeys or fly it by plane to regions cut off by fighting. In total, the World Food Programme estimates that it needs $300 million just to transport the necessary food to the Sudan. With donors providing only a fraction of the cost needed, higher transport costs mean fewer journeys and more deaths.

A bold international initiative is needed now. By now, there should be hundreds of relief workers in place and food sorties every day. Trucks and planes should be carrying loads of food to every remote and hungry region. There is no doubt that the international community has the capacity and generosity to respond. We have seen this not only in the Gulf but in eastern Europe. The European Community allocated £525 million worth of food to the Soviet Union at the first hint of food shortages there. That much would meet half the needs of Ethiopia and the Sudan.

The response to the problem in Africa has been pitiful and donors have been unbelievably slow to react. The food crisis there has been emerging since last summer. Early warning systems are in place and all the worst fears were confirmed by the December crop report issued by the Food and Agriculture Organisation exactly one month ago. Still, the international response has been almost deafening in its silence.

Emergency aid given in 1984–85 was too little and too late to save 1 million lives. This year's response has been even smaller. Can the Minister explain why so little action has been taken? The situation in the Sudan is particularly urgent, yet it is ignored. Even if the aid is allocated now, it will take months to arrive. As chair of the donor group in Khartoum, the Government have a special responsibility to initiate international action, so what exactly are they doing?

There is no doubt that the Sudanese Government's ruthlessness and intransigence hampers international relief work. But, with an effort, agencies can still reach hungry people. It has been reported that the Sudanese Government's support for Saddam Hussein has left western Governments unwilling to make that effort. Will the Minister confirm or deny those reports? Can he give an assurance that food aid will be given according to people's needs, not the Government's political stance?

The urgency of acting now simply cannot be exaggerated. However great our concern about events in the Gulf, 27 million people must surely deserve our attention, too. With a crisis on this scale, the Government's response so far—£20 million—is completely inadequate.

The Minister for Overseas Development gave an assurance in a letter to The Independent on 10 January that a Gulf war would in no way affect the Government's readiness to continue to provide emergency aid for famine stricken countries, and insisted that sufficient funds could be found from within the overseas aid programme of £1.6 billion. But if that is true, can anyone explain why she has apparently resorted to allocating money out of next year's budget?

When we first heard of the Minister for Overseas Development's announcement yesterday in Addis Ababa of £8.5 million of famine relief for Ethiopia, naturally we all welcomed it, although other countries desperately need aid as well. I had every confidence that the aid would be distributed as quickly as possible and would mean the difference between life and death for many Ethiopians.

But now it has been suggested that the money is out of next year's ODA budget and will not be available until April. Nothing could be clearer proof that the Treasury appears to have refused additional funds and the ODA itself does not have the money. As the Minister for Overseas Development admitted yesterday in a written reply to me, the ODA's contingency reserve has all been used up, and only 1.5 per cent. of the humanitarian relief budget is unallocated.

The Select Committee on Foreign Affairs recommended in 1988 that, in exceptional emergencies, such as that in Ethiopia, the ODA budget should be increased as necessary. But perhaps the Government do not consider famine facing 27 million people an exceptional emergency. The starving in Ethiopia will have to wait until our next financial year rolls around and the starving in other countries will have to wait even longer. I warn the House that many will not survive the wait.

An emergency on such a scale deserves an exceptional response. We do not expect the Ministry of Defence to deal with the Gulf crisis from existing budgets. We should not expect the ODA to cope with a famine crisis without new money. The ODA has already taken £60 million out of the pot for developing countries to give to Egypt, Jordan and Turkey. But if this year's budget had already been spent in famine-stricken countries, would the Government have told Egypt, Jordan and Turkey to wait until April?

The £20 million of famine relief so far sounds like a lot of money until one considers how much there is to be done. I challenge anyone to say tonight that we cannot afford to do more. The £20 million allocated so far is less than the cost of just one of the Tornados lost in the Gulf war. The cost of all five Tornados lost in action, at more than £100 million, would buy enough grain to feed for one month all the 27 million people facing starvation. It is estimated that the total cost of emergency relief to see 10 million Ethiopians and Sudanese through to the next harvest is just over £1 billion—the estimated cost to the United Kingdom of the Gulf war so far.

Of course, money alone is not the answer. It must be well spent and carefully distributed. Maximum diplomatic pressure must be maintained on Governments and rebel forces to reopen or to keep open the supply routes. Every available supply route must be used. I am concerned that the £2 million-worth of non-feed assistance announced by the Minister in Addis Ababa yesterday will all be used for transport on the Ethiopian Government's side and none will go to support the cross-border route. Can the Minister give us any assurance tonight that every route is being supported?

Given the demands for food aid elsewhere in the world and the cost of transporting food, I hope that the ODA is considering buying food from other countries in Africa, such as Kenya, that have a surplus this year. Buying such surplus promotes African agriculture in one place while feeding hungry mouths in another.

Mr. Jim Lester (Broxtowe)

I am following the gist of the hon. Lady's argument, but I find it hard to reconcile what she is saying with what the Minister said in Addis Ababa when announcing £8.75 million for immediate—immediate—food into Massawa. We all know that Massawa is in rebel hands. Therefore, the food will be shared between Government people in Asmara and the others in Eritrea. It can hardly be the case that we are denying people in Eritrea the food that they need, because part of the agreement to use Massawa as a port to bring food to the area means that it is shared between both sides, and it is immediate.

Mrs. Clwyd

I hope that the hon. Gentleman is right. I wish that the Minister for Overseas Development were here tonight and had made her statement in the House so that we could have questioned her. But the news that we have from some of the aid agencies is that they have already been told that the money will not be available until April. If the contrary is true, I expect that the Minister will say so.

Given the demands for food aid elsewhere in the world and the cost of transporting food, I hope that the ODA will obtain food from every available country in Africa. There is no point in supporting people during this year's famine if we do nothing to ensure that next year they can support themselves. After last year's drought in northern Ethiopia, many families had sold their tools and animals and eaten their seeds and were particularly vulnerable to this year's drought. They must be helped to restock next time round.

Once the emergency is over we cannot simply sit back and wait for the next one to strike. I know that many hon. Members on both sides of the House and many people in Britain are asking how it is possible that famine is here again and whether emergency appeals will be made year after year. The public want to save lives now, but they want to know what can be done to prevent emergencies in future. What have we learnt since 1984 and what should we do differently? To answer that, we must look at the causes of famine.

Drought is certainly one factor. Since the 1970s, Africa's rainfall has been half the level of that in the 1950s, but not every drought causes famine and, as in Liberia and Mozambique, not every famine follows a drought. Conflict has caused much of the present crisis. Years of war have destroyed agricultural production, roads, railways and markets and have left millions of people homeless and landless. In southern Africa, conflict and destabilisation have left 1.5 million dead and 8 million homeless and £34 billion-worth of damage. Ending the conflict is a precondition for stability and prosperity. Every ounce of diplomatic energy should be invested in peace negotiations in Mozambique, Angola, Liberia, Ethiopia and the Sudan.

Another major factor is the decline of agriculture across much of Africa. In the 1960s Africa grew more food than it needed. Now it imports 55 per cent. of its wheat. The number of hungry and undernourished people in Africa has nearly doubled since the 1970s to more than 150 million.

The weather is part of the problem, but so is the total environment. Eighty per cent. of Africa's soil is fragile and easily damaged. Half its forests have disappeared this century—70 sq km fall prey to the desert each year. Grinding poverty has left the poor with no option but to overcrop and overchop trees. Governments have paid little attention to tree planting, land terracing and local water management. The result of years of neglect is all too apparent in the Ethiopian highlands. Forests have disappeared and the best soil has eroded, and it is estimated that that loss of soil and nutrients is reducing Ethiopia's annual agricultural output by at least 1 million tonnes—the amount of food aid needed this year.

Revitalising the country's agriculture will require a massive shift in priorities by African Governments and by donors. It will require investment in local initiatives, by women farmers in particular, in environmental protection, local marketing and distribution, training, and new technology. Agricultural research must focus on the basic crops of life—wheat, rice, millet, maize, sorghum, roots and tubers. It must build on the farmers' existing needs and skills.

The macro-economics pursued by African Governments has squeezed agriculture through low food prices, and inadequate levels of investment must be corrected. Is agricultural investment a priority in all the British Government's policy dialogues with their African counterparts? The west has dumped its surplus food where it is not needed and has kept world prices artificially low. The European and American Governments' subsidies have have put African farming families out of work. At the same time, the richer countries of the world are pouring carbon emissions into the atmosphere and causing global warming. The consequences will hit African agriculture particularly hard.

It is a matter not just of how food is produced but of the way in which it is distributed. It is crucial that it is available to the poor at a price that they can afford. After all, there is plenty of food in the world. In 1990, cereals output reached a record, yet there is hunger on a massive scale. Five hundred million people live at a dangerous level of hunger. Last year, an estimated 51 million people died of hunger, thirst and related preventable diseases. The reason was that they were poor.

United Nations figures released two weeks ago show that last year, average incomes in Africa declined for the twelfth successive year in a row. The provision of jobs, incomes and basic social services for the poor should be not just one more objective but the objective.

It is not only the poverty of the people but the poverty of Governments that undemines food security and allows shortages to develop into famine. In Asia, where half the world's hungry live, much greater falls in food output have not led to famine, because Governments there were able to afford to invest in food stocks, distribution networks, and large public work programmes in providing incomes for the most vulnerable. They also had the foreign exchange to import food rather than wait for donors to pledge food aid.

In Africa, where a region's debt can equal its gross national product, debt servicing takes one third of all export earnings, and trade amounts to only 2 per cent. of the world's total. Governments there cannot afford to protect their own people from famine.

When International Monetary Fund resources were expanded last May to cover lending to eastern Europe, countries in arrears were told to pay up or face expulsion and a place on the international financial black list. They included Liberia, Sudan and Somalia—all of which are in the grip of famine.

Unless there is a greater reduction of multilateral debt in particular and a liberalisation of western markets, African recovery and reconstruction will be impossible. Politics as well as economics plays its part. Those who have studied the history of famines claim that there is hardly a case in which famine has occurred in an independent and democratic country that has an uncensored press. Pressure from a free press and an unbridled opposition is one way of making Governments listen to the voices of those who are suffering.

Over the past 20 years, development policies on Africa have failed to promote reconstruction and to focus on the fundamentals of soil, food, and incomes for the poor. Structural adjustment programmes have slashed Government investment, social services and imports—leaving the poor without jobs, health care, education and essential materials such as fertilisers. In the 1980s, drought and economic crisis derailed development, making sheer economic survival the top priority. The United Nations Under-Secretary-General, Professor Adediji, emphasises that we can no longer put on hold Africa's long-term development. Economic diversification, agricultural investment, health and education must be the foundations of a new era of regional growth and development—but recovery, let alone reconstruction, will be impossible unless international donors are committed to playing their part.

Over the past few weeks, there has been much talk of a revamped role for the United Nations in promoting peace and prosperity throughout the world. No continent is more in need of an international reconstruction effort than Africa. There is a need now for a partnership between the Governments and citizens of Africa and those of the west. Signs of political change are already emerging. Multiparty democracies and peace negotiations are increasing and apartheid is crumbling. There could be no better time for promoting economic revival, hand-in-hand with political and social transformation.

A former president of Nigeria described Africa in the 1980s as a continent of dereliction and decay—a continent moving backwards as the rest of the world forged ahead; the third world of the third world. The Africa of the 1990s must be different—and it can be, if its reconstruction is a genuine priority for north and south. Democracy, prosperity, peace and equity are essential to the harmony of today's interdependent world. We have realised our interdependence with eastern Europe, and the new European bank for reconstruction and development represents an imaginative response. We have long realised our interdependence also with the middle east. Why do we remain blinkered when it comes to Africa?

No continent is more deserving of an international effort under the new-found leadership of the United Nations. Poverty, hunger and a massive waste of human lives and potential ought to be the first targets for the new international community that is emerging. The Government talk every day about international co-operation and a new role for the United Nations. Are they ready to translate their words into action for the benefit of the poorest people in the poorest continent in the world?

7.38 pm
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs (Mr. Mark Lennox-Boyd)

I welcome this opportunity to focus the attention of the House on the appalling food crisis that confronts sub-Saharan Africa. I will deal first with one or two points raised by the hon. Member for Cynon Valley (Mrs. Clwyd). My right hon. Friend the Minister for Overseas Development was told yesterday by World Food Programme officials in Addis Ababa that the food pipeline in Ethiopia is full for the first quarter of 1991. The 10,000 tonnes of food that was the subject of her announcement is available immediately, to go through Massawa in 1990–91. The remaining 25,000 tonnes will be provided throughout 1991, and we shall need to feed people until the harvest in October of next year.

Of the £8.75 million which was announced yesterday by my right hon. Friend, £2 million is available immediately for the non-governmental organisations—both for people in government areas and for those in rebel areas. The £1.5 million in food aid for Massawa is available now. There will be a 50:50 split of all the food for people in government and Eritrean People's Liberation Front areas. Aid worth £250,000 will be available immediately for Somali refugees in Ethiopia, and £5 million-worth of food aid will be available throughout 1991, from 1 April.

As for the surplus of food from other countries, all avenues for providing food swiftly are being explored by British NGOs and international relief agencies, and there are no restrictions on buying from other countries.

I thought that it would be helpful to give those facts at the outset. I recognise that I have not answered all the questions asked by the hon. Member for Cynon Valley (Mrs. Clwyd). She will realise that I am not the greatest expert in the Foreign and Commonwealth Office on these matters. I hope that, with the leave of the House, I shall have an opportunity to say a few words at the end of the debate, when I shall be able to deal with any further matters.

Mr. Peter Bottomley (Eltham)

I am sure that the House will be grateful to my hon. Friend for his opening remarks in response to questions raised by the hon. Member for Cynon Valley (Mrs. Clwyd). In case there is a difference of opinion between Christian Aid and other aid organisations, and the World Food Programme, would it be possible for the Minister to suggest that, in the next few days, officials have discussions to ensure that there is a common understanding of the facts? I am sure that the Government would want to continue to respond if it turns out that there is a deficit.

Mr. Lennox-Boyd

I am grateful to my hon. Friend for that helpful suggestion, as it makes obvious sense, and I can reassure him and the House that my right hon. Friend the Minister and officials from the Overseas Development Adminstration have regular discussions with NGOs and other voluntary agencies.

Mr. D. N. Campbell-Savours (Workington)

Is the £2 million that the Minister announced today available out of this year's allocation, or will it be subtracted from next year's allocation?

Mr. Lennox-Boyd

It comes from the allocation which was announced yesterday—I cannot answer that question specifically now, but I shall seek the opportunity to deal with it later.

I am grateful for this debate, because it gives me a chance to state clearly how the Government view the situation in sub-Saharan Africa, and how they have responded. In my remarks, I shall restate some of the points made by my right hon. Friend the Minister for Overseas Development in her statement on 19 December.

I make no excuse for doing so. Of course she is sorry that she is not able to be here today to take part in this important debate, but I know that hon. Members are aware of her present mission, and I am sure that they approve of her actions.

The second reason that I welcome the debate is that, at a time when—as the hon. Member for Cynon Valley said—minds are quite understandably on the Gulf, and the safety of our forces engaged in the conflict there, it is helpful that our discussion should take place and help to focus attention on other regions of the world where people are living in misery and danger, where our help is badly needed and where we are playing a major role.

Mr. Tam Dalyell (Linlithgow)

The Minister will understand that we are often asked, perhaps in simplistic terms, how the United States and Britain can spend all this money on arms, but at the same time not help Liberia, the horn of Africa and other countries. How does he answer that question?

Mr. Lennox-Boyd

I am sure, Mr. Deputy Speaker, that you would not wish this debate to stray beyond the areas in question. The hon. Gentleman will understand from the remarks that I am about to make that we are giving a substantial amount and that substantial sums of money have been announced recently to deal with the problems.

As I am sure the hon. Member for Linlithgow (Mr. Dalyell) will agree, it is important to demonstrate that, in spite of the Gulf, famine in Africa is not forgotten. It is certainly not forgotten by the British people, who are responding generously and will no doubt respond even more generously to the crisis in the horn.

Mrs. Clwyd

The Minister said that the food pipeline in Ethiopia is full for the first quarter. If that is the case, why give all the £8.5 million to Ethiopia, when the food pipeline in Sudan is nearly empty? The Minister also said that some food aid is available now, and some will be available after April. Does that mean that the £5 million will come out of next year's budget, and if so, does he admit that the Overseas Development Administration has run out of money?

Mr. Lennox-Boyd

I shall deal with those questions in my concluding remarks.

The British people have already given more than £3.5 million to the appeal launched on 8 January by the Disasters Emergency Committee, and I am sure that they will want to do more.

This year there are serious food shortages throughout sub-Saharan Africa, but it is clear that by far the greatest problem is in the Horn of Africa. There is a growing risk of tragedy in Ethiopia and Sudan, and possibly also in Somalia, on a scale even greater than that of 1984–85.

Mr. John Bowis (Battersea)

I am grateful that my hon. Friend has mentioned Somalia. However, a new situation is arising there—parts of north-west Somalia have been untouched by aid agencies for the past two years, and it is possible that the population there will face severe difficulties, especially after the exit of President Barré, and the attempt to form a new government. Perhaps some refugees will go back into the country. I do not expect him to make a cash commitment today, but would he and his colleagues consider Somalia's needs carefully and bring forward a programme as urgently as possible to meet the needs of that especially devastated country?

Mr. Lennox-Boyd

I assure my hon. Friend that it will be considered carefully. The situation is highly uncertain in Somalia, especially as the departure of President Barré has added to the anarchy which already exists in Mogadishu. Clearly my right hon. Friend has always said that policy throughout sub-Saharan Africa will be considered in the light of developments, and as the situation becomes clearer, I am sure that she will attend to that matter.

I am sure that hon. Members will understand if I do not give way too often, as I have already given way several times and I do not want to prevent other hon. Members from making speeches.

In 1984–85, between 5 million and 8 million people were at risk in Ethiopia, and, as the hon. Member for Cynon Valley said, about I million people died. The United Nations World Food Programme now estimates that at least 20 million people are at risk of starvation through sub-Saharan Africa in the next few months—up to 14 million of them in the horn.

After the disaster of 1984–85, the Foreign Affairs Select Committee pointed out in its excellent report on famine in the horn of Africa that the underlying causes of famine were clear. They described recurrent drought, high rates of population growth, poor farming techniques, misguided, wrong or unsuitable agricultural policies, and environmental degradation. All these set the scene for a perennial threat to the adequacy of food supplies, and to the well-being of those in the affected areas.

Both 1989 and 1990 were extremely bad years. A fragile region like the horn simply cannot sustain two successive years of poor rains and crop failure, especially when the situation is aggravated by continuing civil war.

In both Ethiopia and Sudan, the parties concerned in the conflicts have, in the past, given priority to military, rather than humanitarian considerations. In Somalia, as has been said, widespread violence and disorder are making any relief effort impossible to mount at present.

In Ethiopia, nearly 6 million people face the threat of famine over the coming months. The threat is greatest in the north, and Eritrea is most at risk. Crops have failed for the second year in succession. Farmers have no reserves on which to draw. Traditional ways of coping, such as seasonal migration to the coastal areas to benefit from the coastal rains, are not possible, because of the security situation. Signs of severe food shortages are emerging: in Eritrea, the market price of grain is extremely high, and livestock sales have increased. There are similar problems in Tigray and north Wollo, as well as in other regions that are not traditional famine areas.

The position is equally grave in Sudan, where there has been a poor cereal crop for the second successive year. There are food shortages in all regions except the east, but the situation is most severe in Darfur, Kordofan and the Red sea hills area. A total of 7.5 million people are at risk.

The scale of the problem in the horn is, without doubt, greater than 1984–85, but we are better prepared now than we were then to cope with it. Since the famine of 1984, national, international and Brtitish relief agencies working in Ethiopia and Sudan have established excellent field reporting systems. To those have been added sophisticated techniques, such as satellite imagery. Together, those gave us earlier warning of the serious crop failures in 1990, and of impending food shortages in 1991.

Mr. David Alton (Liverpool, Mossley Hill)

Last year, the NGOs were aided very successfully by the disaster unit of the ODA, and a magnificent job was done in providing transport to take relief aid and food from this country to Sudan. Because of the efforts being put into other areas in the horn of Africa, the NGOs, especially Christian Aid and the Catholic Fund for Overseas Development, fear that the money will run out and that food will be prevented from reaching the parts of Sudan that are not at present highlighted as a priority. Can the Minister give as an assurance—if not immediately, in his concluding remarks—that, if it is a question of money, the money will be provided by NGOs in this country, at least for the transportation of food?

Mr. Lennox-Boyd

I shall deal with that in my concluding remarks.

The improved techniques have allowed a greater lead time, which has enabled the donor community to pre-position food stocks and organise transportation to keep the food pipelines full and moving until the end of last year. Undoubtedly, that helped to minimise the mass migration that contributed so heavily to the tragedy of 1984. It has saved lives. The challenge now is to keep the food pipeline evenly stocked through to October, and to ensure that food is distributed to those who need it and for whom it was intended.

In 1991, nearly 1 million tonnes of food will be needed for Ethiopia and 1.2 million tonnes for Sudan to feed those at risk until the next harvest. About a third has been pledged so far, but, even with guarantees for all the food needed, we would still need to tackle its distribution, and that is no easy task.

In Ethiopia, the problem of food distribution is compounded by the fact that the regions hardest hit by drought are in the areas where the military conflict is most intense. Thanks to strenuous negotiations over the past year, we have achieved major improvements in the channels for transporting food to these communities.

At the end of 1989, we faced the prospect of delivering all relief supplies to Eritrea and Tigray from Sudan, which posed formidable logistical problems. Early last year, under pressure from the international community—my right hon. Friend the Minister for Overseas Development played an important part in this—Government and rebel sides agreed to open the southern line. The line is now working remarkably well: it is approaching its monthly target of 15,000 tonnes and, in all, has moved 110,000 tonnes of food. Government and rebels have recently agreed to allow trucks to distribute food off the main route, which will significantly improve direct access to those in need.

Throughout 1990, an expensive but necessary airlift was mounted to reach the vulnerable groups in the Asmara area. It has reached up to 700,000 people, and has helped to keep many alive. We have provided £450,000 towards its cost. But perhaps the most important recent breakthrough in the relief effort has been the reopening of the port of Massawa. Relief operations were greatly hampered when the EPLF took the port in February last year; negotiations to reopen it continued throughout the year, under United Nations auspices. In December, both sides agreed to accept a United Nations vessel shuttling between Dijbouti and Massawa with food shipments.

The first relief vessel arrived in Massawa on 8 January. The food has been unloaded and trucked to Asmara, and the boat is returning for its next delivery. The opening of Massawa is a major breakthrough in the relief operation, and we shall be pressing for greater use of the Massawa route.

The machinery for relief is therefore operating reasonably well in Ethiopia, and is ready for the major relief effort that will be needed in 1991. The prospects for Sudan, however, are very much worse. The Government there have a record of economic mismanagement; the security situation is very poor, as is the Government's human rights record.

The Sudanese Government have only just acknowledged that they have a food crisis. They have hampered Operation Lifeline Sudan—the existing relief operation to the war-torn south—and there is little evidence that they will co-operate fully in the major relief effort needed for this year. They have been slow to give assurances on the distribution mechanisms to be used for relief supplies. Those are essential: without them, relief supplies simply cannot be delivered.

The British Government's response to the crisis emerging in the horn has been a major one. We have provided food and relief assistance from our aid programme, and have acted through diplomatic channels, with our European partners and others, to try to ensure that supplies get through to those at risk of starvation. Our actions have been both prompt and effective, thanks in large measure to the close working relationships we have with the main British voluntary agencies that are working in Ethiopia and Sudan.

Mr. Tony Worthington (Clydebank and Milngavie)

The Minister keeps telling us, with a gravity that I am sure we all share, just how much worse the present situation is than that of 1984–85, In his concluding remarks, will he tell us the scale of the resources that have been made available this time, and how much was made available in 1984–85?

Mr. Lennox-Boyd

I shall do so if there is time—well, there will be time.

The agencies to which I have referred have a vital role to play in getting the aid to the hungry. My right hon. Friend has sent me a message from Addis Ababa specifically to ask me to pay tribute to the dedication of the British and other NGOs working in Ethiopia, and to the courage and selflessness of the staff of the United Nations agencies in Ethiopia, which has been crucial in opening up the Massawa-Asmara route. I am very happy to do so, and I know that hon. Members on both sides of the House will wish to join me.

In 1990, we made available over £28 million to Ethiopia and Sudan in food and emergency aid, including assistance for refugees. In addition, we contributed to the cost of relief aid provided by the European Community. We responded quickly to immediate needs as they arose. In the autumn, the World Food Programme launched an interim appeal for 100,000 tonnes of food for Ethiopia to cover the first quarter of 1991. We were one of the first donors to respond with 5,000 tonnes. We also gave £500,000 to help with transport. In Sudan, we provided 10,400 tonnes of food to Kordofan.

We also alerted other donors to the impending crisis. My right hon. Friend the Minister for Overseas Development raised the issue at a meeting of Ministers of the European Community's development council in November. She warned that only an effort by the international community as a whole would avert a major crisis this year.

In December, we received the preliminary findings of the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation on likely food needs in Ethiopia and Sudan in 1991. As my right hon. Friend reported to the House on 19 December, the assessments were bad, and she immediately made a further £5 million available to those two countries as an initial response to the new crisis.

My right hon. Friend the Minister for Overseas Development has been in Addis Ababa. During her she discussed the crisis with President Mengistu. She also met Ethiopian, British and international relief workers, who underlined the need to keep the food pipeline full arid to provide more help with trucks and spares. As a result, as hon. Members know, she has announced a package worth £8.75 million. That package comprises 35,000 tonnes of food aid for 1991, which is worth £6.5 million, including the immediate shipment of food for the newest relief route through Massawa; £2 million for non-food items, including transport; and £250,000 to be provided through the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees for the growing number of Somali refugees who are fleeing to Ethiopia from the appalling conflict in that country.

Mr. George Foulkes (Carrick, Cumnock and Doon Valley)

The Minister has already said this.

Mr. Lennox-Boyd

I know, but I wish to state it clearly in my speech.

The new package brings to more than £46 million the total of relief aid provided to meet needs in Ethiopia in the past two years. It will not be the last in the current crisis. We are prepared to provide more emergency aid as further needs emerge.

Mr. Dennis Canavan (Falkirk, West)

Will the Minister address the points made by my hon. Friends the Members for Cynon Valley (Mrs. Clwyd) and for Linlithgow (Mr. Dalyell)? The Government are said to have committed £20 million in relief for the people of sub-Saharan Africa since October last year. That amounts to less than £1 per starving person. On average, British taxpayers are spending £20 million a day on lost equipment and spent ammunition in the Gulf war. Is the Minister proud to be a member of a Government whose priorities seem to be weapons of war and mass destruction rather than putting food in the mouths of starving people?

Mr. Lennox-Boyd

The hon. Gentleman respects the democratic process. He must accept that the will of the British people is clearly to deal with the situation in the Gulf, although he disagrees with the conduct of the war. He must accept that. I must show today—I do so without shame, regret or reservation—that the Government's contribution to the crisis in the horn of Africa is substantial. If it is met by other countries that are capable of giving similar amounts, the problems will be tackled.

It is less easy to see what we can do for Sudan. We have helped in Kordofan. As part of the £5 million package announced on 19 December, we shall provide food aid arid help with transport in Darfur and the Red sea hills. We are prepared to provide more help under the 1991 food aid programme, but we must have some assurances on distribution. We are working very closely with international and British voluntary agencies to secure those assurances and to see what more we can sensibly do.

Britain is taking a lead in mobilising the new relief effort for the horn, but a long-term solution to the problems of the horn, as hon. Members know, depends on ending the civil wars. The drought and crop failure in Ethiopia have not been caused by civil war, but civil war has crippled the efforts to help. We have, as the hon. Member for Cynon Valley urged, taken every possible step to urge all the parties in both countries to seek early peaceful solutions to their differences, and we shall continue to do more where we can.

The rest of Africa poses grave problems, and we must not overlook what is happening in other countries. In Mozambique and Angola, disaster threatens. Years of internal conflict have brought misery to millions and made refugees of thousands more. They have wrought havoc with the economies of those countries and crippled agricultural production. Poor rains have added to the problems.

Provisional figures in Mozambique show that it is likely to need 350,000 tonnes of food aid for free distribution in the coming year. Another 700,000 tonnes will be needed for sale in local markets. The cost of transport, distribution and associated relief activities is estimated at nearly $100 million.

In Angola, until recently the conflict has made it difficult even to begin calculating the extent of the need. The United Nations estimates that up to 2 million people—a fifth of the population—are at risk. Food aid requirements for the six months to the end of March have been estimated at more than 100,000 tonnes.

In response to last April's emergency appeal for Mozambique, we pledged 10,000 tonnes of food aid and £3.5 million-worth of other relief assistance. We announced a further £500,000 of food aid in December. In the same period, we pledged a total of £4 million, through the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, for the support of refugees from Mozambique in neighbouring countries. Since 1987, we have given nearly £60 million in response to that emergency.

It has proved far more difficult to get assistance to those in need in Angola. For that reason, we warmly welcome the agreement that was reached last year by both sides to the conflict on the United Nations special relief programme for Angola. We responded promptly to the subsequent United Nations appeal, pledging £700,000 for food aid and a further £500,000 for other relief needs. We have also agreed to help to meet the cost of a team of UN relief co-ordinators. Our assistance since late 1989 totals £2.2 million. We regret the recent decision of the Government of Angola to suspend the special relief programme. I hope and believe that that is a temporary setback. We have urged the Government to reinstate it as soon as possible.

In Angola and Mozambique, we shall continue to do what we can to assist, and my right hon. Friend the Minister for Overseas Development is considering what further help she can provide under the 1991–92 food aid programme.

Another major emergency where we are helping is in Liberia. As it attempts to recover from appalling civil strife, the international agencies have been providing considerable emergency aid. Since February last year, Britain has provided more than £2 million. We are probably the second largest contributor to this emergency. We have fully funded a relief team provided by the United Nations disaster relief organisation and the first six months of operation of a new emergency aid programme set up by the Save the Children Fund.

We have also contributed to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees to help with its programmes for more than 1 million Liberian refugees who have fled to surrounding countries.

I have recited many grim facts and figures, and I should like to end more positively. As I have already pointed out, peace and reconciliation are preconditions before we can hope to see an end to recurrent famine and a beginning to real improvement in the situation of those at risk. In Ethiopia, the peace process is progressing slowly. Agreement between the Government and the EPLF on the reopening of Massawa was a major step forward. It was not an easy decision for either party. Let us hope that that signals a new effort to reach a just and lasting settlement in that country.

In Angola and Mozambique, we have seen real progress in recent months towards ending the years of conflict and laying the foundations for a just and enduring peace. We welcome those developments whole-heartedly, and shall do all we can to encourage further progress. We stand ready to play our part in the task of reconstruction and rebuilding, which peace will make possible.

8.10 pm
Mr. Mike Watson (Glasgow, Central)

We are considering a problem of grave proportions, as both my hon. Friend the Member for Cynon Valley (Mrs. Clwyd) and the Minister recognised. I look forward to the Minister's response and he will have to be moreforthcoming and revealing than he was in his opening remarks which sorely disappointed Opposition Members.

Since last October, when there were warnings of widespread food shortages, the Government have, prior to today's announcement, come up with just under £20 million, most of which has gone to Ethiopia. As my hon. Friend the Member for Cynon Valley said, that totally underestimates the scale of the problem and works out at about £1 for each person facing starvation.

During the crisis in Africa in 1984–85, which received so much publicity and to which the people of Britain and the rest of the world responded so well, the Government provided aid of £36 million at today's prices. In that famine 1 million people perished. It is suggested that as many as 27 million might perish in the present famine. However, the Government have made available not much more than half the funds—at 1984–85 prices—that they made available during the last famine. That simply is not enough.

Mr. Lester

The hon. Gentleman is referring to the amount that we spent over the whole of the 1984–85 period. That was the total sum at the end of the emergency. We are now talking about initial sums at the beginning of an emergency. The two sums are not comparable.

Mr. Watson

I do not accept that. I quoted the figure for the period to October 1989.

We are approaching the end of the financial year, and the Minister has just announced that he is not aware whether the £8.7 million announced yesterday will come under this year's budget or next year's budget. It is a safe assumption, although I should be glad to be contradicted about this, that that sum will come from next year's budget. My comparison was relevant. We hope that much more will be made available.

The cost of our efforts in the Gulf is also relevant. At this time, our efforts are costing in excess of £1 billion. It has been calculated that that money could feed for the next year the 10 million Ethiopian and Sudanese people who face starvation. We must look at what is happening in terms of priorities and ask bluntly whether it is more important to spend money dropping bombs on Iraq or on feeding the people in Ethiopia and Sudan. I am concentrating on Sudan and Ethiopia, although 1 am aware of the problems in other countries.

A primary aim should be for our Government to provide more emergency aid, notwithstanding what they have done so far, because the present situation is special. Additional ODA funds should be made available and we must be absolutely certain what year those funds refer to. It is not good enough to say that more money is being made available unless it is clear where that money is coming from.

The United Nations should also be involved, as we are not simply talking about a United Kingdom effort. The effort should be worldwide. For the first time, there appears to be unity within the United Nations. We should use that new-found unity to promote a reconstruction effort in the horn of Africa. We should use that unity and influence to bring about ceasefires in the civil wars that have ravaged Liberia, Mozambique, Ethiopia and Sudan and which have such catastrophic effects on attempts to feed the populations in those countries.

We should use the United Nations in the way that it was intended to be used when it was established. Why cannot the United Nations encourage broad-based development in economic terms? We are aware of the role played by the World bank. However, we should use the unity in the United Nations to bring together nations that can afford to contribute and which have surpluses available that the countries in sub-Saharan Africa so desperately need.

The most extreme example of need is Mozambique. Mozambique is far and away the world's most aid-dependent economy. The official development assistance given to that country accounted for 76 per cent. of its gross national product in 1989—in comparison to the 11 per cent. average for sub-Saharan Africa. That gives us an idea of the scale of the problem facing Mozambique. That country is still ravaged by civil war and refugees are still flooding both ways across its borders. At least 60 per cent. of the population of Mozambique live in what is officially described as absolute poverty. Ironically the demand for aid would increase if a peace agreement were reached, because of the development aid that would then be necessary.

The announcement by the Minister for Overseas Development in Addis Ababa today is welcome, but it is not enough simply to highlight what the United Kingdom is doing. The Government have a broader role in bringing together an international response.

So far, the international effort has been woefully inadequate. For example, the World Food Programme has estimated that 1.2 million tonnes of food are required for Sudan alone this year and yet by the middle of January only 10 per cent. of that had been pledged. With the Gulf war raging, there is no sign of that increasing dramatically. However, it must increase and the Government should be taking a lead to ensure that that happens.

The Government pledged £5 million last year, but that is not enough for Sudan. The Foreign Secretary is shuffling back and forth across Europe with a begging bowl seeking financial assistance for our efforts in the war raging in the Gulf. That may be necessary, but is it any more necessary than the need to rattle the can for those who desperately need food in Africa?

What efforts are the Government making? Are the Government and the Minister for Overseas Development going to demand that other western nations put their hands in their pockets, not just to buy bombs and planes and make up some of the billions of pounds that we are spending on the Gulf war, but to feed the starving people in sub-Saharan Africa? When the Minister replies, I invite him to tell us what efforts we are to make with our European and western colleagues in that respect.

At a time when relief agencies around the world are overstretched simply dealing with the refugee problems emanating from the Gulf—problems which are likely to get worse before they get better—it is clear that they do not have the resources, unless there are additional funds, to begin to tackle the problems.

The Minister for Overseas Development was reported as saying on 10 January that the war in the Gulf would have no effect on the amount of ODA money that will be made available. Today's announcement and the fact that there appears to be a knock-on effect into the 1991–92 budget makes it clear that, while additional funds can be found for the war in the Gulf, no attempt is being made to do the same for overseas aid, particularly for Africa.

I cannot state too strongly that I believe that special aid must be made available to deal with the problem in sub-Saharan Africa. I want to finish by quoting one of those people who face starvation. Goodness knows, he may have already died. I refer to a farmer in Adi Caieh, southern Eritrea. Only two months ago, he told a Christian Aid programme officer: My fields are as though they have been freshly planted. I have harvested dust. It rained only twice in the whole year—on 5 July in some villages and on 8 August in another. We are depending on God's will and on those who bring us food. The Government must not only answer that desperate cry but ensure that their colleagues in the EC and in the western world do so as well.

8.19 pm
Sir Timothy Raison (Aylesbury)

The House is completely agreed about the desperately serious situation that faces us and about the vital importance of the United Kingdom playing a substantial part in meeting it. There are shades of difference among hon. Members, and one concerns the Gulf. It is completely understandable that everybody should feel that it is a tragedy to have to spend money on bombs when we might spend it in a more constructive way. However, if we do not stand up against the regime that is embodied by Saddam Hussein, we shall create exactly the sort of conditions that we are lamenting in Africa. There is an overwhelming priority to resist Saddam Hussein and to carry out the United Nations mandate.

It would be a pity if that matter were to distort or muddy our important debate on what is going on in the horn of Africa and in other parts of Africa. We are all acutely aware of the irony that we are beginning the international decade for natural disaster reduction. We can see what an enormous task lies ahead of us during the decade.

We are grateful to the Opposition for the debate—it is extremely timely. It is sad that my right hon. Friend the Minister for Overseas Development is not present. I am sure that she would like to be with us, but we must understand the value of what she is doing. The House genuinely appreciates that she is deeply committed to solving the problems of Africa. No one could question that for one minute.

The situation is clearly becoming desperate, and it is crucial that there should be an adequate and substantial relief operation to meet it. The value of this debate is that we are able to say that clearly. We will, of course, continue to say that clearly during the months to come, but we have heard from my hon. Friend the Minister a helpful elucidation of what the Government are doing.

When I was Minister for Overseas Development, one had to bear in mind the fact that there is often a limit to the rate at which one can disburse aid. It is perfectly reasonable to say that some money is to be spent this year and some in the next financial year, and to relate that to the practicalities and logistics of what can be done. So far, I have heard nothing to suggest that the Government are handling the matter in a way that is inept or incompetent, or which shows a lack of will. Of course, it is the job of the House to keep up the pressure on the Government to make sure that they do what must be done.

The aim of the debate is to make sure that none of us—the Government, hon. Members or the public at large—forgets Africa when we are obviously preoccupied with the Gulf. The debate is therefore valuable from that point of view. It would be unforgivable to forget Africa. There are all sorts of reasons why we should not do so. Fine moral reasons dominate the debate. There are historical reaons of every kind why we should continue to be involved in Africa. In the long term, there are even reasons of self-interest. Although it cannot be said that we can see much net gain out of parts of Africa such as the horn in the short term, there is great potential in Africa, and it would be very sad if we did not do our part to try to bring out that potential. The present situation is dire, and the minds of people such as myself are bound to go back to 1984, to which comparisons have been made.

We all remember the film that was made by Michael Buerk and Mahammed Karim, which focused public consciousness on what was going on in Ethiopia in 1984. Having been to the Korem camp, where the film was shot, I shall never forget what I saw. I flew over the completely bare terrain and saw nothing at all alive—a completely uncanny experience. I saw the desperate frailty of the children, their mothers and their grandparents. I heard—or rather, did not hear—the astonishing, uneasy, total silence that pervaded the camp. Nobody had the energy to talk, laugh or anything else. One smelt the all-pervading smell of dysentery. One was aware of the shortage of cover on cold nights, and saw the tantalisingly slow-moving queues for water. It is appalling to think that all that is happening once again.

Mr. Lester

My right hon. Friend quotes a moving example. One of the lessons that we learned from that experience is to continue food aid and to keep people in their villages. Since that experience, nobody has moved into camps to be fed.

Sir Timothy Raison

The world at large learned lessons. It has already been pointed out by my hon. Friend the Minister that we have learnt important lessons, and that is all to the good.

One cannot help recalling that the sheer indestructibility of mankind lies at the heart of the response. It was noticeable in Ethiopia and the Sudan that the people who worked as hard as anybody on relief work were the Ethiopian and Sudanese doctors. It was not a matter of help from outside—there was help among the people themselves. One was very moved on many occasions by the determination on the part of the people who were suffering so much to fight to try somehow to hold things together.

I remember at the Korem camp talking to one old boy through an interpreter. He was a Copt. He was sitting down quietly reading a book. I asked him what he was reading, and he said that he was reading the Bible—the story of David and Goliath. I could not help thinking that the determination to fight evil lay at the heart of what was done. Of course, help is desperately needed today, and it is crucial that we provide it.

There are, as the hon. Lady said, three main factors in the current situation. First, there is the drought—the sheer lack of rain. Secondly, and more important in some ways, there is the dire poverty of those areas. After all, if one has money, one can buy food. The world is full of food at present. The lack of resources to obtain food is crippling those countries. Thirdly—it is the great tragedy—there are the facts of politics and civil war. Goodness knows, they were bad enough in 1984–85, when civil war raged in Ethiopia, the Sudan and many other parts of Africa. Somehow or other, that aspect seems to have got more and more desperate since then, and is intractable in the Sudan above all.

We are determined to make sure that food is made available. We can draw on our transport experience. In the 1984–85 famine, we decided that it was through the provision of transport that we could probably make our greatest contribution. The most publicised aspect was the successful Hercules operation. There are many other ways in which we tried to help the railways and the ports to handle food, and with some success. It is essential that we should make sure that we have mechanisms for ensuring that food can not only be carried to starving countries but that it can be distributed within them.

It is encouraging that, by all accounts, the quality of the co-operation that is taking place has improved compared with the early days of 1984. It took some time to set up an effective system of co-operation then. A remarkable Finn called Kurt Jansson was in charge of developing a system of co-operation in Ethiopia. I always thought that he was the man of the match in that episode. We have learnt some lessons.

The situation in the Sudan is particularly appalling. For the time being we have had to end our development programme there. The tragedy is that, in 1989, we spent more than £30 million on aid in the Sudan. Because the Government there are so totally destructive, it is becoming almost impossible to do anything worth while.

It is hard to say what the answer is. However, we must do all we can to support the voluntary and international agencies and to keep up our own efforts. We must bring all possible political pressure to bear. Political pressure has had some beneficial results in the case of Ethiopia. As my hon. Friend the Minister has said, the Ethiopian Government have been making genuine and reasonably serious efforts to ensure that a certain amount of food gets across the line. In addition, the port of Massawa has become available. That is encouraging, but we shall have to keep the pressure up.

Somalia is another country in which the threat is very great. I do not think that anyone mourns the collapse of the Government of Siad Barré, which must have been one of the worst anywhere in Africa. Nevertheless, we must face the fact that, for a time, there may be chaos in their wake. That too, will make the problem more difficult.

We must recognise the crucial importance of this area. We have an overwhelming moral duty to try in every possible way to relieve it. Then we shall have to start thinking about the long-term prospects for more successful development than we have so far seen in these parts of Africa.

I do not have time to embark on a discussion of the different means of development. I believe that, since the 1986 United Nations conference in New York, there has been more wisdom in the African approach to development and to the approach in many other parts of the world. The Africans themselves have accepted that the economic policies that they were pursuing were likely to be disasterous—certainly they were ineffectual—and came to see the importance of markets, realistic currencies, and so on. They came to understand the importance of paying a proper price for food.

In Africa, there is now a better understanding of how the problem might be tackled. Both in the short term and in the long term, it is crucial that the Government continue to play as active a part as possible. I, together with many of my hon. Friends, will constantly remind them of their obligation.

8.32 pm
Sir David Steel (Tweeddale, Ettrick and Lauderdale)

I begin with a word of sympathy for the Minister. He told us that he was not the greatest expert on this subject, and it is hardly unkind to say that he went on to prove it. It is not easy to take on a brief that is not one's own. Indeed, the House ought to consider that it has had the benefit of dealing with a Minister outside the Overseas Development Administration. It is no bad thing if other Ministers in the Foreign Office are aware of the concerns of hon. Members about this very important topic.

I congratulate the Opposition warmly on having chosen this subject for debate. It is very disappointing that, amid the unfortunate alarums and excursions of the Gulf war, this issue should be so severely overshadowed, particularly in the news media. I welcome very much the speech of the hon. Member for Cynon Valley (Mrs. Clwyd), who opened the debate, though I cannot applaud her tactics. I agree with the right hon. Member for Aylesbury (Sir T. Raison) that our job is to keep up the pressure on the Government. We ought to ask ourselves quietly whether the best means of maintaining the pressure is to table condemnatory motions. I personally should prefer exhortatory motions.

The Minister of Overseas Development, amid the excitements in the Government party, indicated her determination not only to stay at the job but to do so on a full-time basis. We know of her personal commitment to these issues. Our job is constantly to propel her into the arms of the Chancellor of the Exchequer. Every time she comes out through the revolving door at the front of the Treasury we should shove her back and make sure that she stays even longer in the arms of the Chancellor.

It is unfortunate that the wording of the motion on which we shall have to vote implies that it is the Government who are responsible for feeding 20 million people in sub-Saharan Africa. We know perfectly well that it is an international responsibility. I think that I am right in saying that we in Britain are subscribing nearly one quarter of the £80 million that the European Community has given to Ethiopia. I agree that we should do more, but so should others.

It is a mistake to call for further emergency aid forthwith just a day after the Minister's announcement in Addis Ababa of a good dollop of extra aid. In spite of these complaints, we shall, with some reluctance, support the motion, with a view to keeping up the pressure on the Government. However, in future debates on aid it would be better to try to achieve a motion around which the great majority of hon. Members could rally.

Two hon. Members who are in the minority of 35 in respect of the Gulf war have referred to the costs of that war in relation to aid. According to the figures of the Ministry of Defence, the daily cost, before the war had actually started, had risen to £3.6 million and, in addition, non-recurring expenditure on equipment, transport, and so on which, by the middle of January, had amounted to £650 million. These are astronomical sums, and the expenditure will have increased since the war started. What these hon. Members have to ask themselves is whether, if the war had not happened—if this expenditure were not necessary—such sums of money would have been devoted to the solution of the problems of sub-Saharan Africa. We all know, of course, that they would not.

The answer to the question posed by the hon. Member for Linlithgow (Mr. Dalyell) is that, while there is an international will to deal with the problem of Saddam Hussein's invasion of Kuwait, the political will does not yet exist, either nationally or internationally, to deal sufficiently urgently with the problems of sub-Saharan Africa. That is very regrettable, and I hope that debates such as this will do something to generate the necessary public and political will to deal with these issues.

The Minister was absolutely right in saying that the problems of sub-Saharan Africa result from a combination of matters with which man cannot really deal, such as the unfortunate repeated drought, and those matters for which mankind, unhappily, is wholly responsible, such as the civil strife that exists throughout the continent. In a peculiar way, these two factors are often interdependent.

I am very struck by the fact that the peace accord that has been achieved in Eritrea between the Government and the rebels, with the help of the United Nations, means that food convoys are getting through to that province. However, I am told that there is a danger of a lack of fuel to get the food to where it is needed. There is a severe risk that, if the convoys fail to get through, the whole fragile peace will collapse. There is a relationship between the humanitarian effort to get food into these areas and the hope that, in time, there will be political stability and peace there.

In the Ogaden province, I understand, about 500,000 people are at immediate risk and distress sales of cattle are taking place, at which the sums raised are only about 10 per cent. of normal value. It is bad enough, as the hon. Member for Cynon Valley said, to sell tools and equipment, but, once the cattle have been sold, these people have nothing at all. Reaching that area involves a round trip by road that takes 20 days. I am told that, at the moment, only one aircraft is committed to carrying supplies for the area. My hon. Friend the Member for Liverpool, Mossley Hill (Mr. Alton) was right to refer to the importance of transport, in terms of the availability of vehicles and fuel and of aircraft for the remoter areas.

I am particularly pleased that the amount of aid announced by the Government yesterday, and enlarged on by the Minister today, includes a modest, but important, figure—£250,000, I think—for the Somali refugees in Ethiopia. The last time we debated these issues we had had to pull our limited number of aid workers out of Somalia altogether because of the deteriorating situation there. Like the right hon. Member for Aylesbury, I do not mourn the departure of the Government of Somalia. We wish the new President well in his efforts to restore stability quickly so that the aid programme, modest though it may be, can be started again.

Help for the refugees is important. I draw the Minister's attention to the need to give similar help to refugees from the Sudan who come into the southern part of Ethiopia. There are serious problems in providing water for those who have come across the border.

To continue on the theme of transport, Christian Aid says that there are also difficulties in getting food supplies to southern Sudan because of the costs of the operation. Similarly, in Mozambique the cost of fuel is the problem in the airlift to Nyasa province. The more that one examines the areas of conflict such as Somalia, Ethiopia, Mozambique and Angola, the more appropriate and timely seems the quotation: Man's inhumanity to man Makes countless thousands mourn! That is more true of Africa today than any other part of the globe.

I do not wish unnecessarily to repeat points that have already been made, but the United Nations programmes need to have an element of additionality when emergencies arise. I am told that at present the United Nations World Food Programme does not have that element and that the help that has been given internationally is simply coming out of routine resources. Particularly in Africa, far more must be done by the Finance Ministers of the world in their regular meetings, to deal with debt relief. I have not checked the recent figure, but a year or two ago sub-Saharan Africa was repaying in debt exactly twice the amount that it received in official aid from the developed world. That is outrageous nonsense. Debt relief, which the hon. Member for Glasgow, Central (Mr. Watson) mentioned, should have far higher priority.

We should, as the Minister did, give our unstinted praise to the voluntary and professional workers in the non-governmental organisations which are helping throughout Africa. I never cease to be amazed and full of admiration for the work that they do. The large organisations such as Oxfam, Christian Aid and CAFOD are well known, but no less valuable is the work done by the smaller organisations such as the Intermediate Technology Group and indeed, the small charity Africa Now, of which I, together with hon. Members from other parties, am a sponsor. Yesterday, I happened fortuitously to have a meeting with some people from that small charity who have come back from field work in Zimbabwe and Kenya—areas which are not the most affected by the emergency. They described work that is going on in a small way to encourage self help. The hon. Member for Cynon Valley referred to the importance of such work. Self-help and particularly women's groups are set up in rural areas of Africa. Basic elementary technology is produced, such as water tanks in villages. It is amazing how much one can enhance people's basic quality of life very simply by the provision of clean water.

Simple plants have also been established to turn milk into a transportable commodity. It is called Lala milk in that part of Africa. New manually operated presses have been produced to press oil seed. All these are basic pieces of technology which do not require much maintenance and which people can operate in self help groups.

Through the Minister, I want to send the message to the Overseas Development Administration that I hope that it will continue to give generously to small organisations engaged in such valuable fundamental work, because that work is continuing and, if encouraged throughout the continent, it can bring so much hope where at present there is despair.

8.43 pm
Mr. Jim Lester (Broxtowe)

I begin by declaring an interest. I am a member of the board of Christian Aid, I am on the advisory boards of CARE, and Save the Children, I work closely with Oxfam and I am also on the advisory board of the Hunger Project. I declare those interests because some of my remarks involve the non-government organisations and their work.

I agree with much of what the right hon. Member for Tweeddale, Ettrick and Lauderdale (Sir D. Steel) said and particularly with his comment about exhortation rather than condemnation. I should have thought that there was not an atom of difference between hon. Members who follow these matters and that we all agree that we must ensure that the famine of 1984–85 does not happen again. It is wrong to invent and bring in other issues such as the Gulf war, which is bad enough but is nothing whatever to do with our scheme to deal with famine in Africa.

It is equally important that we should recognise that in our Minister for Overseas Development, we have a committed person who is out there working day and night and whose energies and efforts are supported by everyone in the House. Any suggestion that we are back-sliding, that we are not generous enough or that we are not sufficiently involved is a mistake.

I am aware, because I am often involved, of the co-operation and shared intelligence between the NGOs—which are critical to our efforts to provide humanitarian relief—and the Government. All our humanitarian aid to Ethiopia and the Sudan goes through the NGOs. Therefore, it is important that we stay onside with them. I have attended many meetings at which they have shared their intelligence from the field and the Government have shared theirs. As a result, we have made progress together. We need one another.

I suspect that some of the criticisms made and the reasons behind this condemnatory motion are based on the fact that after my right hon. Friend the Minister for Overseas Development announced the £5 million of additional funds in December in response to the figures issued about the food required, many NGOs submitted schemes, not all of which have been accepted. I understand that £9 million-worth of requests were made for Ethiopia alone. Not all schemes have been worked out and not all are feasible. Some have been accepted. The additional £2 million that was announced in Addis Ababa for transportation is available immediately to fulfil other schemes. That may be the background to the debate. There is a great desire among certain NGOs to get on with the job and move ahead, but not all their requests have been met immediately.

I am committed to the belief that the British Government and any other Government who seek to operate humanitarian relief in countries where we may not necessarily support their Government's policies cannot do without our British NGOs, which are an example throughout the world for their dedication, professionalism and work. I am sure that all of us who are involved with them would agree with that.

My hon. Friend the Minister was kind enough to refer to the Select Committee report of 1988. As one who has travelled in the area affected by the famine in 1984–85 and again in every year until 1988–89, I am conscious of the reasons for the problems. There was an illusion after 1984–85 and after people's enormous generous response through Band Aid and other organisations that we could cure famine and that the matter was finished. Yet those of us who have perhaps studied the subject over a longer period know that the problem is getting worse, not better. In our conclusion to the 1988 report, we said: But droughts will occur again—the rains have failed or been inadequate in three of the last four years—and, with a fast-growing population, poor farming techniques, widespread deforestation and land degradation, the consequent famines are likely to be increasingly severe. And by each successive drought the resilience of the people and of the land is diminished. It is a spiral which, if unbroken, must result in tragedy. That was the background in 1988, and we cannot be surprised that we now face a desperate situation in the horn of Africa.

We made recommendations in 1988 which reflected precisely what has been said in the debate today. We said that we should increase our effort to stop the conflicts and involve the United Nations, the Soviet Union and anyone else who might exert an influence on any of the warring parties in any country. We recognised conclusively that the cycle of drought and famine in northern Ethiopia will never be broken while military conflicts continue. There is an obvious reason for that.

We may want to get on with development aid and encourage Governments to invest in their own agriculture and infrastructure, but they will not do so if they are concentrating on a civil war and using their resources in that civil war instead of concentrating on the interests of their own people. The Select Committee recommended that as a result of Sudan's vulnerability to famine, it needed strategic food stockpiles. The Committee said: We recommend that the ODA in cooperation with other donors consider without delay how such stockpiles can be established. Stockpiles were established, but last year they were sold for hard currency by the Sudanese Government to propagate their war.

One could make recommendations from these green Benches. We may be concerned, but, unless we can bring about a fundamental change in attitude, both to the conflict and to their internal policies, our ability to break the spiral from getting worse is severely restricted.

As my right hon. Friend the Member for Aylesbury (Sir T. Raison) said, we learned a great deal from 1984–85. We have seen food distribution carried out in many areas in the horn of Africa, and we have seen the probity with which the people in the villages have been encouraged to stay in their homes. They come for their ration cards and collect food on a month-to-month basis so that they can stay at home. We learned that moving people into camps was one reason for the increase in deaths through disease and through sheer exhaustion.

We have learnt about food pipelines. My hon. Friend the Minister spelt out clearly that pledges are never complete at the beginning of a problem. They carry on month by month. It is essential that we do not have gaps and that we use all the port facilities. Many of us were disturbed, when we went to Massawa in 1984–85, to find that the port did not have the equipment to deal with the grain which was being landed in bulk; nobody had sacks to put it in. That is an example of the practicalities of ensuring that the food pipeline moves smoothly and that the food is distributed quickly and efficiently.

One central element is continued monitoring. All members of the Select Committee on Foreign Affairs who are responsible for monitoring both ODA and Government policy will continue to monitor on behalf of the House, with the background of experience which we have gained over the last 10 years.

We have just recently visited Mozambique and all the front-line stations. The lesson we learned is that Mozambique is an underdeveloped country with tremendous potential. It is only the conflict which has destroyed the will and the ability of the people to grow their own food. One has only to fly over the Zambesi to see the tremendously fertile delta which could grow enough food to feed not only the population of Mozambique but half of Africa if people could only get there and start to develop it. One flies over acres of coconut trees which are completely unharvested. We must recognise that all those countries, perhaps with the exception of Sudan, have the potential to grow their own food.

Ethiopia is relatively underdeveloped. Famine affects about 10 per cent. of its population who have traditionally lived in the high grounds of Tigray and Eritrea and traditionally have divided their land between their children, thereby impoverishing the soil, but there is plenty of fertile soil in Ethiopia. Many of us who have been to Diri Dawa in the south know that there are valleys with water, which have not been developed. Those valleys have a potential for growing food. One comes back to the necessity to break the spiral and end the wars.

In regard to money, I am prepared to accept the Government's assurance that funds will be provided as needed. It is a great mistake to get into the constraint of a narrow annual budget. What matters is whether the money is there to buy the food, to fund the transport and to make sure that it is delivered. Whether the money is in one budget or the next is not as relevant as whether the money is there when it is most needed.

All of us on the Select Committee have said repeatedly that a budget for disaster ought not to be solely a part of the ODA's budget, which can be stretched only so far in a disaster. We have repeatedly recommended that the ODA should be able to have a contingency fund for emergencies rather than just its budget. Although we are satisfied from our investigations that money is not necessarily diverted from the ODA budget, it is certainly diverted from potential development aid in order to satisfy the immediate demands of disaster. We have always had a tremendous regard for the disaster relief system within the ODA and its ability to move quickly to assist.

No one has yet referred to the international community and where food comes from. Famine was averted in 1987–88 because food arrived and was distributed. The Soviet Union was a major contributor of food aid in that emergency. Having regard to current events in the Soviet Union and eastern Europe, it is unlikely that the Soviet Union would be a major donor now. Therefore, the United Nations and the Food and Agriculture Organisation must ensure that the shortfall is picked up by others.

I assure the Government that the Select Committee will be keeping a close eye on developments. So will the all-party group and all hon. Members who take an interest in the subject. We are reassured that the Minister for Overseas Development is wholly committed and that the matter is being taken seriously. We are reassured by her understanding of what needs to be done in the long run if we are to break the cycle.

In 1984–85 there was a tremendous response by the public when they saw the photographs and the television coverage mentioned by my right hon. Friend the Member for Aylesbury. However, we are conscious that such a response will not be repeated continuously. There is a sense of donor fatigue affecting Governments who may say, "Not again; we have already given aid." I suspect that there is even greater donor fatigue among the general public, particularly when they see continuing civil wars.

The one message that comes from that is the definition of one's neighbour. In an interdependent and shrinking world, one's neighbour is not just the person next door in the street or in the next town; none of us would see anyone as close as that starve. In an interdependent world, one's neighbour is anyone who is hungry. I hope that that would be the response of a generous public who have already subscribed £3.5 million to the appeal of the major donors. That will be distributed.

There is a partnership between Government, the NGOs, and the public. There is an international partnership between the United Nations and the European Community. Only in that way can we fulfil our responsibilities to the poor people living on the fringes of society.

8.58 pm
Mr. Tom Clarke (Monklands, West)

A consensus appears to be emerging, but I fear that I must disappoint the House because I cannot go along with it. In recent weeks I have tried to be helpful to the ODA by tabling a question or two and the replies have led me to feel much anger. This debate is an appropriate occasion to express that anger.

I have seldom been disappointed by the speeches of the right hon. Member for Tweeddale, Ettrick and Lauderdale (Sir D. Steel), but I cannot go along with the remarks that he made tonight. I recall that he made good speeches as leader of the Liberal party and that he was one of the first to remind the British people that we were well behind in the objective of donating 0.7 per cent. of gross national product. I should have preferred to hear such a speech tonight.

Sir David Steel

I made it on 19 December.

Mr. Clarke

I am sorry that the right hon. Gentleman did not repeat it this evening. I think that he is mellowing in his new role of elder statesperson.

I shall refer to another knight who may have influenced the right hon. Gentleman's speech. Almost every right hon. and hon. Member who has spoken in this debate has referred to the crisis in the Gulf, as one might have expected. If my hon. Friend the Member for Cynon Valley (Mrs. Clwyd) has done the House a service by pushing for this debate and by her excellent speech, followed by a similarly excellent one from my hon. Friend the Member for Glasgow, Central (Mr. Watson), it is that she has encouraged the House to focus on a major issue—that 27 million people are in danger of dying now.

When the House returned after the Christmas recess on 14 January and the Leader of the House in a statement about the business for that week said that there would be a debate on the Gulf, I was given the opportunity to ask a question. I pointed out that we might be having a debate of this kind. That led the distinguished sketchwriter for the Daily Mail—we genuinely enjoy his contributions from time to time—Colin Welch, to tell his readers that I had helped to create some confusion. He did not see the link between the problems in the Gulf and 27 million people facing death or, at least, poverty and malnutrition.

I was anxious to remove any confusion, so I wrote to the editor, Sir David English, offering to do a piece which might help to remove the confusion which I had inadvertently caused. I received a courteous reply from him and the House may be interested to hear what he said. It tells us what the press are thinking during these difficult times. Sir David said—we seem to have a lot of Sir Davids in these debates— I understand the point that you make but let me tell you as a professional journalist that, at a time like this, the public are interested solely in the major event. There would be no interest in other crisis areas at this time. So I would not be interested in commissioning or publishing a piece such as you suggest. I am sorry. Yours sincerely, Sir David English". [Interruption.] Before my hon. Friend the Member for Cynon Valley returned to the Chamber, I said that I thought that she had done us a great service in initiating this debate.

If that is the thinking of the British press today, as Sir David indicates, it is all the more reason why we should address these issues, as our motion does in a modest way. I hope that the right hon. Gentleman will feel able to support us in the Lobby.

Sir David Steel

I have said that I will.

Mr. Clarke

I welcome the right hon. Gentleman's declaration that he will join us in the Division Lobby tonight.

It is clear that sub-Sahara has suffered from negative growth in recent times. Can we offer any great hope for the future? We are entitled to ask that question. According to the World bank, by the year 2000 there will be almost 250 million poor people in sub-Sahara—some 100 million more than in 1990. That contrasts with most other parts of the world, where poverty is stable or in steep decline. Therefore, this is an immensely serious issue.

We are told by the World bank that, by the end of this century, sub-Saharan Africa will account for 30 per cent. of the developing world's poor as against 16 per cent. in 1988. In some regions, only 10 per cent. of the rural population enjoy safe access to water.

In Sudan, the largest country in Africa, the life expectancy is 50 years and the GNP per capita is the price of an elegant dinner for four at some fashionable watering hole in the west end—I doubt that there are any such fashionable watering holes in that part of Sahel.

In the past decade the GNP in Sudan fell to levels well below those prevailing in the early 1970s—it is not a developing economy, it is a decomposing one. About 8 million people are now at risk, at this hour, from starvation. The famine is real, but the Sudanese Government, of course, prefer to fight their pathetic mediaeval battles than to demand help, while the west would prefer to turn its head away. It is a callous conspiracy resulting in a terrible silence—a famine with no voice, a pain that has no cry. It is a pain that leads me and my hon. Friends to the real anger that I expressed at the beginning of my speech.

Once again we are treated to one of those sounds as regular and as oddly comforting as a football roar—the familiar sound of Africa in agony. For the Sudanese people, the term "nouvelle cuisine" would mean actually finding something to eat. Children are being born in the Sahel now who will not see out the century with most of the rest of us, and for entirely preventable reasons. There is not much to show for civilisation so far, is there? We are entitled to repeat that question.

The United Nations world food programme estimates that at least 20 million people are currently under the threat of famine in Africa, perhaps many more. Despite many warnings, the west is slow to notice a famine. All the evidence suggests that that is so. We ignored the hunger in Ethiopia for three years until a British television crew filmed the famine camp in October 1984. After the famine of 1984–85, aid dollars flowed in, but agriculture received only one quarter of the total aid and less than 2 per cent. went into environmental restoration projects such as water conservation or irrigation schemes. That is not the way to solve such problems.

In 1989, the then Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, in his introduction to the 25th anniversary review of British aid, said: There have been many success stories and some failures. We and others have learned the lessons. How on earth can we have learned those lessons when famine threatens Africa yet again, and when our response has been so pitifully slow and inadequate, yet again?

As a result of answers that I have received to recent questions to Ministers I am forced to ask why, if Ministers are aware of the lessons of the past, do we give just 14p per head to the people of Angola, 25p to the Ethiopians, 26p to the Liberians and less than £1.50 each to the people of Mozambique and Sudan?

We have heard a great deal about so-called new aid packages. We have heard mention of the Toronto terms, the Trinidad proposals and the Baker, Brady and even Major initiatives. Ministers, economists and academics continue to fly the globe going from conference to conference, meeting to meeting—they are a sort of jet-aid set.

All this seems to make little difference to the people who, year after year, continue to starve. The Government public relations team is yet again swinging into frenzied action, and self-congratulatory press release are being fired out in all directions. We are, however, entitled to examine what they mean.

Let us put into perspective what the west has done. Africa's per capita incomes have fallen for 12 successive years. Last year its external debt rose to $272 billion—more than three times the value of its total exports. Seen against these statistics, even if development aid from all sources were divided equally, every African would receive just $20. That fact should shame us all, especially when we recall that, famine apart, last year almost 530 million Africans did not get enough to eat to stay healthy.

If the Government have learnt their lessons, as we have been told they have, why has per capita aid, including emergency relief to Ethiopia, been reduced by almost a third since 1985, as published figures show? That does not sound like learning lessons to me.

I did not know whether to laugh or cry at the proud boast of the right hon. Member for Wallasey (Mrs. Chalker), the Minister for Overseas Development, who told the House on 14 January: The World bank is the leading development institution and it is at the cutting edge of change for improvement in the social and economic conditions in developing countries."—[Official Report, 14 January 1991; Vol. 183, c. 696.] That statement will have been met with incredulity in the Third world as it continually struggles against debt, falls in commodity prices and conditionality.

The right hon. Lady must feel like the viceroy of a distant colony. She must keep up appearances and go through the motions, using the regal language of concern. It would be churlish to suggest that she does not do that well: she does.

Meanwhile, it must be said that the right hon. Lady's portfolio will be remembered more for the politicians who have passed through it in the last decade than for the money that passed on from it. It is widely assumed that the right hon. Lady will go on to greater things; so soon another Minister will come along ready to soothe the third-world lobby in the House and elsewhere, ready to treat us as if we were some sort of dead poets' society—worthy but peripheral, few but vocal, right but ignored. These debates are a metaphor for a society systematically taught not to care—a society taught by the right hon. Member for Finchley (Mrs. Thatcher) not to believe in itself. So how can we believe in other societies and their potential value to the universe?

How must the Minister feel in her heart of hearts as she reflects on the fact that her portfolio has been brutally disembowelled over the past decade, deprived of influence, cash and real meaning? How many civil servants ache with pride to recall that they worked at the ODA during the Thatcherite decade? Once it was a coup to get a big job there; now it is a cul-de-sac for politicians and officials alike.

Does it matter that the sub-Sahara is hell's soap opera—that it is a scene of indifference incarnate? Yet it is the sad duty of Ministers to abseil up and down a long marginalised policy, not to mention mobilisation, priorities and determination. But to escape, they use words such as "can't" or "won't". There can be fewer jobs less worthy of telling one's grandchildren about than having been an Aid Minister during Thatcherism—except to say, "I got in and I got out."

I end on this note. Lloyd Timberlake in his extremely informative book "Famine in Africa" wrote: Famine grows outwards like waves from a stone thrown into a pond. It is a haunting image. It is about life, and death itself. That should be reflected in the way in which we divide the House tonight.

9.14 pm
Sir Richard Luce (Shoreham)

I share the frustration expressed by the hon. Member for Monklands, West (Mr. Clarke) about the condition of Africa today. However, he is wrong to imply that the only or main way in which we can help to resuscitate the African scene is by the provision of aid. Unless African leaders are willing to solve their own political problems and to generate a climate that encourages economic growth and agriculture expansion, it will not be possible to achieve anything except a mitigation of the circumstances as best we can, with the humanitarian aid that we are rightly giving in the horn of Africa.

An interesting factor in our debate is the range of experience and knowledge of Africa across the Floor of the House. The right hon. Member for Tweeddale, Ettrick and Lauderdale (Sir D. Steel) had experience there in his younger days, my right hon. Friend the Member for Aylesbury (Sir T. Raison) was Minister for Overseas Development and my hon. Friend the Member for Broxtowe (Mr. Lester) and many others all have experience of Africa.

I had my school holidays in the Sudan, which in those days did not experience the starvation that we see today. I happen to have been the last European district officer in Kenya. The only time I have had any fame was when President Mubarak, whom I met when I was a Minister, said to me, "Ah, I am glad to see again the last British imperialist in Africa." Then, for two and a half years I had the privilege of being Minister with responsibility of African affairs, in the early 1980s. All of us with experience of Africa have a great affection for the African people. All of us who see their experiences agonise for them. The hearts of the British people, let alone those of Members of Parliament, go out to the people of Africa.

We have had much evidence of the conditions in the horn of Africa—about 14 million people threatened with starvation, the need of 2 million tonnes of food aid, the background of desperate civil war and disputes in the Sudan, Ethiopia and Somalia. The questions are: what can Britain do? What can the British Government do? The debate has rightly focused on humanitarian aid to deal with the immediate situation. We have heard that, in the past two years, we have provided £46 million to the horn of Africa, and my hon. Friend the Minister has set out the scene on that. We can debate whether that is enough, but, if we want to avoid returning to this Chamber in two, three or four years' time, to have exactly the same debate all over again, we must solve these problems in the long term.

I congratulate the hon. Member for Cynon Valley (Mrs. Clwyd) on her speech and on leading in this important debate. I am glad that she touched on some of the major longer-term issues. If we do not put our minds to them, starvation will continue. We need to do three things. First, as many hon. Members have said, we need to create a climate of political stability, which must include an element of democracy. By that, I do not mean Westminster-style democracy. I mean a system whereby the people of those countries can, by some mechanism, choose their leaders. Without that, all that one can forecast is that those who live by the sword will die by the sword, and violence will increase, as we have seen time and again in Africa.

Secondly, we must create in Africa the right environment for economic and agricultural development. Some African countries have done well in terms of agricultural development by the pursuit of sensible policies. For example, in recent years Ghana, Zimbabwe, Kenya and Malawi have done relatively well. If one examines their economic policies one can see that that success is because many of them have encouraged a good return on investment for the farmer and private ownership, and they give the incentive to those who own the land to earn a proper living. That increases agricultural production.

Thirdly, the African leaders need to show their willingness to accept external advice and help of a bilateral and multilateral nature if they are to help with the development of their countries.

How can we influence all this? If those are the three main factors that need to be dealt with in Africa by the African leaders and the African people, how can we in the west best help?

First, we in the developed world must with renewed energy, particularly at the culmination of the Gulf crisis, insist on a continuous dialogue between the developed countries and the leaders of the developing countries, through the mechanism of the United Nations and the EC and bilaterally, to see how we can discuss the best ways in which we can help them to solve their political and economic problems and obtain peaceful settlements of many of their internal problems. We are not imperialists. We cannot interfere. But we can offer our assistance and suggest ways in which we can help them if they can first help themselves.

Secondly, we should think seriously about developing the concept of a new corps of expert advisers from the developed world, willing and able to act in key positions in Africa and to give advice on practical problems, particularly economic problems, if they are invited to do so by African leaders. The United Nations can provide a good umbrella to assist that.

Lastly, the United Kingdom is well placed to play a prominent role in all this. We have a great deal of experience of Africa. Our voluntary bodies do a great deal. The British Council does a great deal. The Commonwealth Development Corporation does fantastically important work in terms of the economic development of those countries. Private investors can do a great deal, as can international bodies. I serve on the British committee of the United Nations International Children's Emergency Fund, which does an important job with, for example, its immunisation campaign in Africa, in saving the lives of many millions of children in that continent.

But at the end of the day none of that can succeed unless there is a will to achieve things among African leaders and their people. If there is no will, none of this can succeed in the long term, but given that will, we must make it plain that we in the west stand ready to help in whatever practical way we can to enable them to solve their longer-term problems so that we in this Chamber never again have to debate the great tragedy of starvation in Africa.

9.22 pm
Mr. Jacques Arnold (Gravesham)

This has been a useful debate on a matter of great concern to hon. Members on both sides of the House. Yet again, the horn of Africa is facing mass starvation and hon. Members who were in the House in 1984–85, as my hon. Friend the Member for Broxtowe (Mr. Lester) was, may well have a feeling of horrified deja vu.

I welcome the summary given earlier by my hon. Friend the Under-Secretary of State of the leading role that Britain is taking in the relief effort in sub-Saharan Africa, particularly in the horn of Africa. I was horrified, but not a little reassured, by the statement by my right hon. Friend the Minister for Overseas Development on 19 December last year in the House, when she catalogued the scale of the tragedy that is facing the horn of Africa, but also what Britain is doing to help, not least in mobilising action from our European partners.

It should be recorded that Britain was among the first to respond to the threat of famine when the first signs of the new crisis began to appear in autumn last year. When the Sudanese Government announced a food gap of no less than 75,000 tonnes at the end of October, it was reassuring that the Government announced on 6 November a grant of 400 tonnes of food aid for Kordofan. We have seen the practical results of that in the 5,000 tonnes from Britain that were delivered earlier this month.

Britain has also pledged 19,000 tonnes for Ethiopia to Food for Work through the World Food Programme, and a further 5,000 tonnes through CARE. Britain has also led the way in pledging food specifically for the new Massawa operation. I welcome yesterday's announcement in Addis Ababa by my right hon. Friend the Minister that £8.75 million will be made available to Ethiopia. Britain can be proud that the humanitarian aid that it has pledged to Ethiopia and Sudan since the beginning of last year totals £72 million.

I listened with growing incredulity to the hon. Member for Cynon Valley (Mrs. Clwyd), as she spoke about the need for freedom and democracy in Africa as though butter would not have melted in her mouth. I could not but agree with her sentiments, but they sit uncomfortably with the support given for decades by many Labour Members to African socialist regimes that increasingly relied on oppression and censorship to remain in power. They came increasingly to depend on the political and military intervention of the Soviet Union.

I ask right hon. and hon. Members to consider the very countries that the hon. Lady mentioned: Ethiopia, Somalia, Liberia, Angola, Mozambique, Mauritania, Burkina Faso, and Sudan. Almost every one of those countries has flirted disastrously with socialism, and not one of them is a member of the Commonwealth. Therefore, we cannot be blamed, as we usually are, for all their present problems. Nevertheless, we are here expressing our humanitarian concern, as we always do, and determining what Britain can do to help.

I agree with the hon. Member for Cynon Valley that Africa had a food surplus in 1960, but today it has a food deficit—which is a sad commentary on that unhappy continent. Almost all the countries she mentioned were administered by European powers in 1960. Today, they have under their belts 30 years of independence, but also a record of incompetence, corruption, human rights violations, armed conflicts, and inspiration by politics—and socialist politics at that.

Mr. Peter Bottomley

Most people will accept that my hon. Friend makes a fair point, but it is also fair to point out that, sometimes, the Afrikaner tendency in the Tory party supports countries that have not gone for democracy. What really works is democracy, and an avoidance of state socialism. Perhaps we can all learn from events of the past, and if the right wingers in the House attacked the right-wing regimes that are acting wrongly, and the left wingers attacked the left-wing regimes, that might be better than conducting a fight across the Floor of the House.

Mr. Foulkes

Hear, hear.

Mr. Arnold

I will answer my hon. Friend by saying that two wrongs do not make a right. I am restricting my remarks to the countries that the hon. Member for Cynon Valley mentioned.

In 1960—a year mentioned by the hon. Member for Cynon Valley—Angola and Mozambique were prosperous and their people were well fed, even if they were Portuguese colonies. With the collapse of the metropolitan power, those two countries did not achieve the democracy and freedom of which the hon. Lady spoke. Instead, they gained brutal Marxist regimes, economic destruction, and civil war. The Soviet Union dabbled in those troubled waters, frequently with the approval of Labour Members. If those countries are getting anywhere today, it is only because of western support and assistance—not least, British aid and technical assistance.

Ethiopia and Somalia are the most tragic of the countries mentioned by the hon. Lady, and they concern us most. They have also been the victims of socialism, repression, Soviet adventurism and civil war. At the time of the last famine in those countries in 1984–85, aid ships had to stand off from an Ethiopian port to allow Soviet arms ships to berth and unload their expensive and deadly cargoes. Those countries' economic infrastructures were neglected and destroyed, but Britain has again provided emergency aid. I should like to know what Italy, the former metropolitan power in Somalia, is doing to help. Mention was also made of Mauritania and Burkino Faso, which are both victims of drought and desert extension. What is metropolitan France doing to help them to overcome their problems?

Liberia, which was also mentioned, has long been a quiet country in west Africa. Uniquely, it has never been a colony of Europe, but was developed by former slaves from the United States. What are the United States Government doing to take a lead in trying to sort out that troubled country?

Like my right hon. Friend the Member for Shoreham (Sir P. Luce), I believe that the House will continue to suffer the harrowing experience of responding to disasters of this sort. Until Africa puts its own house in order, we shall not get away from this succession of debates. African countries need freedom, free enterprise, free trade and the scope to develop their traditional economic strengths. What they do not need is socialism, which has failed in Africa just as it has failed in Europe. Nor do they need political and military adventurism. All we can do in the House is to help, advise and finance practical projects, and I am reassured to note that we are giving an excellent lead in that regard.

9.31 pm
Mr. George Foulkes (Carrick, Cumnock and Doon Valley)

Notwithstanding more recent remarks, this has been an excellent debate. I should like to thank the right hon. Member for Tweeddale, Ettrick and Lauderdale (Sir D. Steel) for his generous thanks to the Opposition for choosing this subject. Special credit must go to my hon. Friend the Member for Clwyd—[HON. MEMBERS: "Cynon Valley."] I am sorry, I shall try again—I have made that mistake many times before. Special credit must go to my hon. Friend the Member for Cynon Valley (Mrs. Clwyd).

The debate has been notable for eloquent, powerful and knowledgeable speeches, especially from my hon. Friends the Members for Glasgow, Central (Mr. Watson) and for Monklands, West (Mr. Clarke). It would be churlish of me if I did not mention the excellent speeches by the right hon. Member for Aylesbury (Sir T. Raison), who made a moving contribution to the debate, and the wise remarks of the right hon. Member for Shoreham (Sir P. Luce), and the hon. Member for Broxtowe (Mr. Lester)—I was about to say "my hon. Friend"; sometimes in these debates we feel an affinity with him. When he declares an interest, as he did today, we know that it is a real and not a pecuniary interest.

We understand why the right hon. Lady the Minister for Overseas Development has not been here today, and we accept that the Under-Secretary of State has done his best.

Mr. Lennox-Boyd

I have not finished yet.

Mr. Foulkes

He still has more to do and we hope that it may be a little better. It would be an understatement to say that we were disappointed with his inability to answer any of the earlier interventions, and we hope that they will be answered in his reply.

When the Opposition have put up a member of the Shadow Cabinet, as we also did in the previous debate, we consider it disgraceful that the Government have treated such an important debate in such a shabby way. It is unfortunate that the Foreign and Commonwealth Office has not treated the debate with the seriousness that the subject deserves.

As many hon. Members have said tonight, the situation in sub-Saharan Africa might well be termed a life-or-death fight for food. The latest accounts show that the lives of 27 million people are at risk from starvation, and not 20 million as the Government said—it is ironic that the Opposition can get more up-to-date information about the situation than the Government. More than 4 million tonnes of food are needed, as well as a huge amount of transport and the logistics necessary to distribute it effectively.

By any standards, the situation is daunting and tragic, and it fully deserves the label, so over-used in another context, of a major international crisis. I respect the hon. Member for Tweeddale, Ettrick and Lauderdale, but I would point out to him that it is not merely a minority of Opposition Members who voted in a particular way on the Gulf, who will rightly raise that comparison. It is all hon. Members who genuinely think that the sense of priorities is unfortunate when we compare that effort with that put into the Gulf. I am not deriding or condemning that effort, but the right hon. Member himself contrasted it with the effort expended on the problem that we are discussing.

As many hon. Members have pointed out, the greatest difficulty faced by the emergency relief operation could be described as the competition for attention—the battle to rouse Government and public to act, in the shadow of events in the middle east. All the words that have been spoken on so many occasions about the importance of international co-operation and the need for collective action by countries must have some relevance outside the theatre of war.

As many hon. Members have pointed out—not least the hon. Member for Gravesham (Mr. Arnold) in his rather controversial speech—the United Kingdom is not solely responsible for feeding the 27 million who currently face starvation in sub-Saharan Africa. My hon. Friends and I believe, however, that we have a responsibility to take the lead in the international effort—to increase awareness in the European Community, the Commonwealth and the other forums in which we play such an important part. It is especially important to persuade the Japanese and the Americans to recognise their responsibility.

So far, the international response to this appalling situation has been inadequate. Much as we welcome yesterday's announcement of extra money for Ethiopia, the British Government's response has also been inadequate, as my hon. Friend the Member for Monklands, West so eloquently said.

On 17 December, the Minister for Overseas Development told the House, referring to 1985: We shall certainly at least match what we did that year." —[Official Report, 17 December 1990; Vol. 183, c. 291.] That would have Been £36 million, not the £20 million that has already been committed, as I think the hon. Member for Broxtowe would accept. Our fair share, however, is even more: our resources represent about 6 per cent. of the gross national product of donor countries, so we could reasonably be expected to provide 6 per cent. of the amount that is needed, which would be £60 million. Whatever the criterion, we are failing to make the contribution that we should be making to meet the minimum requirements.

The suspicion remains that the money that our Government are prepared to give to help to avoid millions of deaths denotes not the size of the problem but the size of the public outcry in this country. As I have said, it has been difficult to attract very much media attention to this huge tragedy, for several reasons.

The main problem, as many hon. Members have pointed out, is the current obsession with events in the Gulf; but, as the hon. Member for Broxtowe said, another is what might be described as compassion or donor fatigue—the feeling that, despite the effort and concern that have been expended in the past, nothing can be done to prevent famine from recurring in Africa. That is a great problem in an area where the concern and commitment of the public are crucial to the saving of lives; not just through direct action in the form of donations to voluntary organisations, but—even more important, in the Opposition's view—through galvanising Governments, especially the present Government, into action.

Although we must, honestly and forcefully, attempt to address the long-term causes of these man-made disasters, our top priority should be the provision of the emergency assistance that is so urgently and immediately required. We must not allow people to die of international neglect while we indulge—as we have done occasionally, even tonight—in a gloomy, pessimistic debate about the slim hope of our being able to deal with the long-term position.

As the right hon. Member for Aylesbury so vividly reminded us, we gave generously when, six years ago, we were shocked into compassion by the terrible scenes on television. Reports are now less prominent, but the stark fact is that this is the most serious famine ever in the horn of Africa, and more people are now dependent on food aid to survive than in 1984–85.

The response of donors so far has been too little and it may be too late. The British aid budget is not adequate. As my hon. Friend the Member for Cynon Valley rightly said, no genuine new money has been found. The already overstretched budget has been juggled, and money has been taken from contingency funds. If we take the money that is needed this year from next year's budget, then next year we shall be into the following year's budget, and where will that end? We must find additional resources. As my hon. Friend the Member for Cynon Valley said, if extra money can be found for the Gulf, it should and must be found for this emergency.

Mr. Peter Bottomley

As the hon. Gentleman cheered when I intervened, perhaps rashly, on my hon. Friend the Member for Gravesham (Mr. Arnold), does he agree that this issue was got going by my right hon. Friend the Minister for Overseas Development raising it in the House on 17 December, long in advance of the Opposition choosing to use half a Supply day? Does he further agree that it would have been better if the Opposition had tabled a motion which the House could vote for, rather than one which forces a Division? It saddens many supporters of both parties outside, who take this issue seriously, to see party politics being brought in by the terms of the motion.

Mr. Foulkes

I remind the hon. Gentleman that we are having the debate because of the Opposition. I respect the Minister for Overseas Development. As my hon. Friend the Member for Monklands, West said, she has done her best within the constraints of being part of a Conservative Government, but that was the first statement that she has made to the House in 18 months. My hon. Friend the Member for Cynon Valley has repeatedly asked for statements, and many have been made on other issues.

Sir Timothy Raison

I am grateful for the hon. Gentleman's kind words. Is not the problem, particularly in the Sudan and probably Somalia, the question how, even if an unlimited amount of money were made available by the Treasury, it would be spent effectively in those countries?

Mr. Foulkes

I was hoping to go into more detail on the Sudan. I do not want to take up too much time, because the Minister was unable to answer any questions in opening the debate, so he must have at least 15 minutes to answer them in reply.

The theme of the debate has been that famine is preventable. It is a symptom of a badly run state, not an act of God. Long-term analysis must include the connection between famine and repression and conflict. As long as repression and conflict continue, there will not be an effective solution to the problems in Africa. Guerrilla wars, by their very nature, involve attacks on a country's civilian population to try to erode popular support and practical support, which means food for the rebels.

As the right hon. Member for Shoreham (Sir R. Luce) so rightly said, we must recognise that the lack of democracy and of a free flow of information are key factors, because without them there is no pressure on Governments to deal with the problems that cause famine. That was said eloquently, sensibly and sympathetically by the right hon. Member, in contrast to the arrogant and insensitive way in which it was put by the hon. Member for Gravesham. I found the intervention in his speech by the hon. Member for Eltham (Mr. Bottomley) most refreshing. If more people had accepted the spirit of that intervention, we would have had more effective contributions from both sides of the House.

At its worst, what I have described results in the current position in Sudan where the Government repress even the truth about the nature of the impending disaster. In the longer term, we must address all those issues. Political change is necessary before economic reform can be effective.

The three points made by the right hon. Member for Shoreham are worth repeating. There should be economic and political reform to enable the sub-Saharan African economies to grow to the necessary level. Secondly, conflict should be eliminated and there should be an increase in regional co-operation. As my hon. Friend the Member for Glasgow, Central said, the United Nations must now have a more important and pivotal role to play in helping to end some of those conflicts. Finally, there should be meaningful debt relief and a real increase in development aid for donor countries.

While we are dealing with the immediate problem of famine, we must also consider a long-term solution around a political and financial negotiating table. That is the challenge for the international powers, but Britain must play a very important part.

Today we are talking about the problems of famine. We face a disaster that requires us to be less political. Emergency food relief enables people to survive. If that assists Governments whom we do not support politically, we must accept that, and I hope that the hon. Member for Gravesham will accept it as well. It is not just a matter of priorities, but of common humanity. The people need the food, not the Governments.

If only a fraction of the effort, determination and the money was devoted to solving this problem that has been devoted to mobilising the troops in the Gulf, we would have a chance of ensuring that famine does not in future stop the people of Africa.

9.46 pm
Mr. Lennox-Boyd

The issue of famine in sub-Saharan Africa has raised the gravest possible concerns on both sides of the House. As the hon. Member for Carrick, Cumnock and Doon Valley, (Mr. Foulkes) said, the debate has also revealed the great experience and personal knowledge of the subject that many hon. Members possess. In particular, I am aware of that experience among my colleagues. My right hon. Friend the Member for Aylesbury (Sir T. Raison) and my hon. Friend the Member for Broxtowe (Mr. Lester) are both experts in the subject. My right hon. Friend the Member for Shoreham (Sir R. Luce) has had many years experience of the Sudan.

I can take the gibes from the hon. Member for Carrick, Cumnock and Doon Valley, who suggested that I was not as expert in the subject as I should be. I take those gibes in good heart and I am friendly with the hon. Gentleman on other occasions. However, it has been a challenge for me and interesting to learn about the subject and become more identified with it than I was 24 hours ago.

I want to isolate two aspects of the debate that are of general interest and to which my hon. Friend the Member for Broxtowe referred. The terrible crises that we have discussed are continuing problems. We are not at the end of them, and any comparison with the amount of money that has been made available now with what was made available in 1984–85 must be seen in the context of what my right hon. Friend the Minister for Overseas Development has said she will be prepared, without naming figures, to provide as those tragic situations develop.

Secondly, the Government believe that we have a generous aid programme which recognises a great deal of need in the world and which we feel can be justified and sustained in argument. However, we also recognise that we cannot provide for all that on our own. Some hon. Members gave the impression that Britain should reasonably be expected to be the prime mover in many of these tragic situations which manifestly, as the right hon. Member for Tweeddale, Ettrick and Lauderdale (Sir D. Steel) said, is not a reasonable aspiration.

No one can say that we have been mean or ungenerous or have failed to recognise the problems of the Sudan, Ethiopia and the other three countries that have been mentioned. Since 1 January 1989, we have given £107 million to those countries. The hon. Member for Monklands, West (Mr. Clarke) touched on that point and suggested that the ODA was a cul-de-sac for Ministers and officials alike. I hope that I can reassure him that that is not the way in which the officials and the ODA view their responsibilities; nor do I, and nor does my right hon. Friend the Minister. If I am ever privileged to hold that portfolio, I certainly shall not view it in that light.

Mr. Tom Clarke

Lest my remarks be misunderstood, I have nothing but the highest regard for those officials. I just think that they should be asked to pursue better policies.

Mr. Lennox-Boyd

They will be grateful for that.

The hon. Gentleman asked why the per capita rate for Angola, the Sudan and Ethiopia are so low. I shall have to move quickly if I am to answer all the questions on which I have briefed myself. I hope that hon. Members will understand. Development assistance is not allocated on the basis of per capita calculations. On the face of it, that must be a reasonable proposition. We give aid where we can and where it can be used effectively to promote economic growth, reduce poverty and promote good government. It is not wise to view aid in terms of per capita provision.

Opposition Members and my hon. Friend the Member for Gravesham (Mr. Arnold) placed great emphasis on the fact that, in every way possible and as vociferously as possible, we must continue to press other countries to play their part. We shall press our European Community colleagues to maintain their participation as major players in relief and development work in the region. On her return, my right hon. Friend will report on her visit to Ethiopia and urge our bilateral colleagues in Europe and elsewhere to make generous provision.

Mr. Foulkes

Is the Minister giving a commitment that there will be a statement from the right hon. Lady on her return?

Mr. Lennox-Boyd

I am not in a position to give a commitment, but she will certainly see the Hansard record.

Several Hon. Members


Mr. Lennox-Boyd

I must make progress. In fairness to the House, I have several questions to answer.

The hon. Members for Workington (Mr. Campbell-Savours) and for Glasgow, Central (Mr. Watson) referred to Ethiopia and the sums that were announced yesterday. It was clear from what I said that £3.75 million of the £8.75 million is in this financial year. I said that the further £5 million was in the programme after 1 April next year. I therefore think that that point is clear. There is money in this financial year as well as the next.

The hon. Member for Cynon Valley (Mrs. Clwyd) raised several points. She asked whether aid programme money has run out. The aid programme is managed flexibly. My right hon. Friend has assured the House that she will respond appropriately to needs. She has the ability to do so. The £5 million that was announced for food aid after 1 April next year, to which I have just referred in relation to Ethiopia, was deliberately announced as early as possible to enable relief agencies to plan for their own work and to give the World Food Programme an early indication of our firm commitment to provide food throughout 1991 as it is needed.

The hon. Lady referred also to the food pipeline in Sudan and Ethiopia. Of course, food is not the only thing that Ethiopia needs. The £2 million that has been announced will be available for non-food items such as trucks. We have also provided food aid for Sudan. As the hon. Lady knows, no condition is attached to food aid in the case of Sudan or any other country. In November 1990, 10,400 tonnes of food were pledged for Kordofan. A total of 5,000 tonnes have already arrived, and £1.3 million of the £2.5 million pledged in December by my right hon. Friend is allocated to food aid. We are discussing with the non-governmental organisations what use that should be put to. The Government of Sudan have made it clear that they do not want the NGOs to have a role in food provision. We are trying to resolve that problem, but the Sudanese Government may not let the NGOs do what they want to do and what we want to pay for. That is a major problem.

Of the £2.5 million announced in December, £1.2 million has been provided for trucks and logistical help in the delivery of food. That is a matter to which the hon. Member for Liverpool, Mossley Hill (Mr. Alton) referred.

In reply to a point raised by the hon. Member for Clydebank and Milngavie (Mr. Worthington), I shall outline the difference between 1984–85 and 1990–91. In the earlier years we provided bilateral food aid and non-food emergency aid of £57 million—at prices prevailing then—over two years. Last year, we provided £30 million of equivalent aid to Ethiopia and Sudan. So far this year we have provided nearly £9 million. In all, we have provided nearly £40 million in 13 months, with 11 months still to go. As I have said, this is a continuing situation, and that is the important feature that must be well understood.

I do not have sufficient time to answer all the questions that were put to me but I should like to answer the question which was put by the right hon., Member for Tweeddale, Ettrick and Lauderdale (Sir David Steel). It was reported from Addis Ababa yesterday that the World Food Programme took delivery of 4,800 tonnes of diesel on 21 January—enough to keep all the trucks on the southern line supplied for about three months. Another 1,000 tonnes is being bought in Djibouti for operations elsewhere in Ethiopia.

I shall shortly have to bring my remarks to a close. What is important, in the context of the problems of war, is to look to the time when peace is not beyond the horizon. The recurrent droughts affecting the horn of Africa and elsewhere are the prime cause of famine, but the effects are worsened by overgrazing, poor agricultural techniques and misguided economic policies particularly in the agricultural sector. These are problems which must be tackled in the longer term. They are major concerns in our aid programme, and we are helping with them under our technical co-operation programme.

There are signs of progress. For example, in Ethiopia the Government are moving towards more liberal, market-oriented policies, particularly in the agricultural sector. But we must continue to strive for progress and encourage others to follow our lead.

Finally we must not forget the British public. Over the years, they have given magnificently to help avert the worst effects of disasters in Africa and elsewhere in the world. I believe that they will appreciate the Government's prompt and effective response to the current food crisis facing a number of countries in Africa. The public will see our record on this for what it is. The actions of a Government committed to respond speedily and effectively.

Question put, That the original words stand part of the Question:—

The House divided: Ayes 209, Noes 264.

Division No. 53] [10 pm
Abbott, Ms Diane Bellotti, David
Adams, Mrs. Irene (Paisley, N.) Benn, Rt Hon Tony
Allen, Graham Bennett, A. F. (D'nt'n & R'dish)
Alton, David Benton, Joseph
Archer, Rt Hon Peter Bermingham, Gerald
Armstrong, Hilary Bidwell, Sydney
Ashton, Joe Blair, Tony
Barnes, Harry (Derbyshire NE) Blunkett, David
Barron, Kevin Boateng, Paul
Battle, John Boyes, Roland
Beckett, Margaret Bradley, Keith
Beith, A. J. Bray, Dr Jeremy
Bell, Stuart Brown, Gordon (D'mline E)
Brown, Nicholas (Newcastle E) Leadbitter, Ted
Brown, Ron (Edinburgh Leith) Leighton, Ron
Bruce, Malcolm (Gordon) Lewis, Terry
Buckley, George J. Litherland, Robert
Caborn, Richard Livingstone, Ken
Campbell, Menzies (Fife NE) Livsey, Richard
Campbell, Ron (Blyth Valley) Lloyd, Tony (Stretford)
Campbell-Savours, D. N. Lofthouse, Geoffrey
Canavan, Dennis Loyden, Eddie
Clarke, Tom (Monklands W) McAllion, John
Clelland, David McAvoy, Thomas
Clwyd, Mrs Ann McCartney, Ian
Cohen, Harry Macdonald, Calum A.
Cook, Robin (Livingston) McFall, John
Corbett, Robin McGrady, Eddie
Corbyn, Jeremy McKelvey, William
Cousins, Jim McLeish, Henry
Crowther, Stan McMaster, Gordon
Cryer, Bob McNamara, Kevin
Cummings, John McWilliam, John
Cunliffe, Lawrence Madden, Max
Cunningham, Dr John Mahon, Mrs Alice
Dalyell, Tam Marek, Dr John
Darling, Alistair Marshall, David (Shettleston)
Davies, Rt Hon Denzil (Llanelli) Marshall, Jim (Leicester S)
Davis, Terry (B'ham Hodge H'l) Martin, Michael J. (Springburn)
Dewar, Donald Martlew, Eric
Dixon, Don Maxton, John
Doran, Frank Meacher, Michael
Dunnachie, Jimmy Meale, Alan
Dunwoody, Hon Mrs Gwyneth Michael, Alun
Eadie, Alexander Michie, Bill (Sheffield Heeley)
Eastham, Ken Michie, Mrs Ray (Arg'l & Bute)
Evans, John (St Helens N) Mitchell, Austin (G't Grimsby)
Ewing, Harry (Falkirk E) Moonie, Dr Lewis
Ewing, Mrs Margaret (Moray) Morgan, Rhodri
Faulds, Andrew Morley, Elliot
Fearn, Ronald Morris, Rt Hon A. (W'shawe)
Field, Frank (Birkenhead) Morris, Rt Hon J. (Aberavon)
Fields, Terry (L'pool B G'n) Mullin, Chris
Fisher, Mark Murphy, Paul
Flynn, Paul Nellist, Dave
Foster, Derek Oakes, Rt Hon Gordon
Foulkes, George O'Brien, William
Fraser, John O'Hara, Edward
Fyfe, Maria O'Neill, Martin
Galloway, George Orme, Rt Hon Stanley
Garrett, John (Norwich South) Patchett, Terry
George, Bruce Pendry, Tom
Gilbert, Rt Hon Dr John Pike, Peter L.
Godman, Dr Norman A. Powell, Ray (Ogmore)
Golding, Mrs Llin Prescott, John
Gordon, Mildred Primarolo, Dawn
Graham, Thomas Quin, Ms Joyce
Grant, Bernie (Tottenham) Radice, Giles
Griffiths, Nigel (Edinburgh S) Randall, Stuart
Griffiths, Win (Bridgend) Redmond, Martin
Grocott, Bruce Rees, Rt Hon Merlyn
Haynes, Frank Reid, Dr John
Healey, Rt Hon Denis Richardson, Jo
Henderson, Doug Robinson, Geoffrey
Hinchliffe, David Robinson, Peter (Belfast E)
Hoey, Ms Kate (Vauxhall) Rogers, Allan
Hogg, N. (C'nauld & Kilsyth) Rooker, Jeff
Home Robertson, John Rooney, Terence
Howell, Rt Hon D. (S'heath) Ross, Ernie (Dundee W)
Howells, Geraint Rowlands, Ted
Hoyle, Doug Ruddock, Joan
Hughes, John (Coventry NE) Salmond, Alex
Hughes, Robert (Aberdeen N) Sedgemore, Brian
Hughes, Roy (Newport E) Sheerman, Barry
Hughes, Simon (Southwark) Sheldon, Rt Hon Robert
Illsley, Eric Shore, Rt Hon Peter
Ingram, Adam Short, Clare
Janner, Greville Skinner, Dennis
Jones, Barry (Alyn & Deeside) Smith, Andrew (Oxford E)
Kaufman, Rt Hon Gerald Smith, C. (Isl'ton & F'bury)
Kinnock, Rt Hon Neil Smith, Rt Hon J. (Monk'ds E)
Kirkwood, Archy Smith, J. P. (Vale of Glam)
Lamond, James Snape, Peter
Soley, Clive Welsh, Andrew (Angus E)
Spearing, Nigel Welsh, Michael (Doncaster N)
Steel, Rt Hon Sir David Williams, Rt Hon Alan
Steinberg, Gerry Williams, Alan W. (Carm'then)
Stott, Roger Wilson, Brian
Strang, Gavin Winnick, David
Straw, Jack Wise, Mrs Audrey
Taylor, Matthew (Truro) Worthington, Tony
Turner, Dennis Wray, Jimmy
Vaz, Keith
Walley, Joan Tellers for the Ayes:
Warden, Gareth (Gower) Mr. Allen McKay and
Wareing, Robert N. Mr. Martyn Jones.
Watson, Mike (Glasgow, C)
Adley, Robert Davies, Q. (Stamf'd & Spald'g)
Aitken, Jonathan Davis, David (Boothferry)
Alexander, Richard Day, Stephen
Alison, Rt Hon Michael Devlin, Tim
Amos, Alan Dicks, Terry
Arbuthnot, James Dorrell, Stephen
Arnold, Jacques (Gravesham) Douglas-Hamilton, Lord James
Arnold, Sir Thomas Dover, Den
Ashby, David Durant, Sir Anthony
Baker, Nicholas (Dorset N) Dykes, Hugh
Baldry, Tony Eggar, Tim
Banks, Robert (Harrogate) Emery, Sir Peter
Batiste, Spencer Evans, David (Welwyn Hatf'd)
Beaumont-Dark, Anthony Evennett, David
Beggs, Roy Fallon, Michael
Bellingham, Henry Favell, Tony
Bendall, Vivian Field, Barry (Isle of Wight)
Bennett, Nicholas (Pembroke) Fishburn, John Dudley
Bevan, David Gilroy Fookes, Dame Janet
Biffen, Rt Hon John Forsyth, Michael (Stirling)
Blackburn, Dr John G. Forsythe, Clifford (Antrim S)
Blaker, Rt Hon Sir Peter Forth, Eric
Body, Sir Richard Fowler, Rt Hon Sir Norman
Bonsor, Sir Nicholas Fox, Sir Marcus
Boscawen, Hon Robert Franks, Cecil
Boswell, Tim Freeman, Roger
Bottomley, Peter French, Douglas
Bottomley, Mrs Virginia Fry, Peter
Bowden, Gerald (Dulwich) Gale, Roger
Bowis, John Gardiner, Sir George
Boyson, Rt Hon Dr Sir Rhodes Garel-Jones, Tristan
Braine, Rt Hon Sir Bernard Gill, Christopher
Brandon-Bravo, Martin Glyn, Dr Sir Alan
Brazier, Julian Goodhart, Sir Philip
Brooke, Rt Hon Peter Goodlad, Alastair
Brown, Michael (Brigg & Cl't's) Greenway, Harry (Ealing N)
Bruce, Ian (Dorset South) Greenway, John (Ryedale)
Buchanan-Smith, Rt Hon Alick Gregory, Conal
Budgen, Nicholas Griffiths, Peter (Portsmouth N)
Burns, Simon Grist, Ian
Burt, Alistair Ground, Patrick
Butler, Chris Grylls, Michael
Butterfill, John Gummer, Rt Hon John Selwyn
Carlisle, Kenneth (Lincoln) Hague, William
Carrington, Matthew Hamilton, Hon Archie (Epsom)
Carttiss, Michael Hamilton, Neil (Tatton)
Channon, Rt Hon Paul Hampson, Dr Keith
Chapman, Sydney Hanley, Jeremy
Chope, Christopher Hannam, John
Churchill, Mr Hargreaves, A. (B'ham H'll Gr')
Clark, Dr Michael (Rochford) Hargreaves, Ken (Hyndburn)
Clark, Rt Hon Sir William Harris, David
Clarke, Rt Hon K. (Rushcliffe) Haselhurst, Alan
Colvin, Michael Hawkins, Christopher
Conway, Derek Hayes, Jerry
Coombs, Anthony (Wyre F'rest) Hayhoe, Rt Hon Sir Barney
Coombs, Simon (Swindon) Hayward, Robert
Cope, Rt Hon John Heathcoat-Amory, David
Cormack, Patrick Hicks, Mrs Maureen (Wolv' NE)
Couchman, James Hicks, Robert (Cornwall SE)
Cran, James Hill, James
Critchley, Julian Hind, Kenneth
Currie, Mrs Edwina Hogg, Hon Douglas (Gr'th'm)
Hordern, Sir Peter Ross, William (Londonderry E)
Howard, Rt Hon Michael Rossi, Sir Hugh
Howarth, Alan (Strat'd-on-A) Rost, Peter
Howarth, G. (Cannock & B'wd) Rumbold, Rt Hon Mrs Angela
Howell, Rt Hon David (G'dford) Ryder, Rt Hon Richard
Hughes, Robert G. (Harrow W) Sainsbury, Hon Tim
Hunt, David (Wirral W) Shaw, David (Dover)
Hunter, Andrew Shaw, Sir Giles (Pudsey)
Irvine, Michael Shaw, Sir Michael (Scarb')
Jack, Michael Shephard, Mrs G. (Norfolk SW)
Janman, Tim Shepherd, Colin (Hereford)
Jones, Gwilym (Cardiff N) Shepherd, Richard (Aldridge)
Jones, Robert B (Herts W) Shersby, Michael
Kilfedder, James Skeet, Sir Trevor
King, Roger (B'ham N'thfield) Smith, Tim (Beaconsfield)
King, Rt Hon Tom (Bridgwater) Smyth, Rev Martin (Belfast S)
Kirkhope, Timothy Soames, Hon Nicholas
Knapman, Roger Speller, Tony
Knight, Greg (Derby North) Spicer, Sir Jim (Dorset W)
Knowles, Michael Squire, Robin
Knox, David Stanbrook, Ivor
Lamont, Rt Hon Norman Stanley, Rt Hon Sir John
Latham, Michael Steen, Anthony
Lawrence, Ivan Stern, Michael
Lee, John (Pendle) Stevens, Lewis
Leigh, Edward (Gainsbor'gh) Stewart, Allan (Eastwood)
Lennox-Boyd, Hon Mark Stewart, Andy (Sherwood)
Lester, Jim (Broxtowe) Stewart, Rt Hon Ian (Herts N)
Lilley, Peter Sumberg, David
Lloyd, Sir Ian (Havant) Summerson, Hugo
Lloyd, Peter (Fareham) Tapsell, Sir Peter
Luce, Rt Hon Sir Richard Taylor, Ian (Esher)
Lyell, Rt Hon Sir Nicholas Tebbit, Rt Hon Norman
Macfarlane, Sir Neil Temple-Morris, Peter
MacGregor, Rt Hon John Thompson, D. (Calder Valley)
MacKay, Andrew (E Berkshire) Thompson, Patrick (Norwich N)
McNair-Wilson, Sir Patrick Thorne, Neil
Madel, David Thurnham, Peter
Maginnis, Ken Townend, John (Bridlington)
Malins, Humfrey Tracey, Richard
Mans, Keith Trimble, David
Maples, John Trippier, David
Marland, Paul Twinn, Dr Ian
Martin, David (Portsmouth S) Vaughan, Sir Gerard
Maude, Hon Francis Viggers, Peter
Mawhinney, Dr Brian Walden, George
Maxwell-Hyslop, Robin Walker, A. Cecil (Belfast N)
Mayhew, Rt Hon Sir Patrick Walker, Bill (T'side North)
Meyer, Sir Anthony Walker, Rt Hon P. (W'cester)
Miscampbell, Norman Waller, Gary
Mitchell, Andrew (Gedling) Wardle, Charles (Bexhill)
Molyneaux, Rt Hon James Warren, Kenneth
Monro, Sir Hector Watts, John
Montgomery, Sir Fergus Wells, Bowen
Moore, Rt Hon John Whitney, Ray
Morrison, Sir Charles Widdecombe, Ann
Moss, Malcolm Wiggin, Jerry
Nelson, Anthony Wilkinson, John
Nicholls, Patrick Wilshire, David
Nicholson, David (Taunton) Winterton, Mrs Ann
Norris, Steve Winterton, Nicholas
Page, Richard Wolfson, Mark
Patnick, Irvine Wood, Timothy
Pattie, Rt Hon Sir Geoffrey Woodcock, Dr. Mike
Raison, Rt Hon Sir Timothy Yeo, Tim
Rhodes James, Robert Young, Sir George (Acton)
Riddick, Graham Younger, Rt Hon George
Ridley, Rt Hon Nicholas
Ridsdale, Sir Julian Tellers for the Noes:
Roberts, Sir Wyn (Conwy) Mr. John M. Taylor and
Roe, Mrs Marion Mr. Tom Sackville.

Question accordingly negatived.

MR. SPEAKER forthwith declared the main Question, as amended, to be agreed to.

Resolved, That this House welcomes the speed and effectiveness with which Her Majesty's Government has responded to the threat of famine in Sub-Saharan Africa through the provision of food and emergency aid; and endorses its diplomatic action to bring an end to the armed conflicts which have contributed to food shortages.