HC Deb 08 July 1991 vol 194 cc645-6
38. Mr. Andrew Mitchell

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs whether he will make a statement on progress in implementing the policy on good government since his speech to the Overseas Development Institute in June 1990.

43. Mr. Mans

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what progress has been made in implementing the policy on good government since June 1990.

Mrs. Chalker

As I said in my speech at Chatham House on 25 June, a copy of which is in the Library of the House, good government in support of sustainable development is an essential approach in our aid programme. Other donors, including the EC and multilateral agencies, are following similar policies. We are committed to a target of £50 million in the coming year for direct assistance towards projects promoting good government.

Mr. Mitchell

My right hon. Friend will receive and deserve the support of hon. Members on both sides of the House for this important initiative. Is she achieving any success in persuading her counterparts in the EC to adopt a similar policy on a co-ordinated basis? Will she note that, although the policy has been extremely successful in respect of Ghana, it has been most unsuccessful in respect of Burma?

Mrs. Chalker

We spent Saturday and Sunday discussing good government and aid in an EC context at an informal Development Ministers meeting in Holland. I am glad to say that our concern that good government should be encouraged is shared by all our 11 partners in the European Community and even more widely than that. The Scandinavian nations, the United States of America, Canada and nearly all the major donors now believe that good government must be among the ways in which we encourage developing countries to improve their performance. It is true that Ghana has made some brave steps and there are encouraging signs, particularly now that the Provisional National Defence Council has invited political exiles to return. With Burma, in respect of which we have no Government aid programme, the outlook is very bleak indeed.

Mr. Mans

Does my right hon. Friend agree that, apart from promoting good government, the initiative also means that money from the British taxpayer is more likely to be spent correctly in third-world countries than was the case in the past?

Mrs. Chalker

My hon. Friend is absolutely right. If we can get recipient Governments to show positive accountability to the people and to be transparent in their conduct of affairs, we can be far more sure that our money has reached the place for which it was intended.

Mr. Sedgemore

Would not it aid good government and sustainable development if Britain gave humanitarian aid to Cambodia rather than military aid to the allies of the Khmer Rouge? Is not it a scandal that Treasury counsel spent five hours in the High Court of Justice on Friday arguing that details of the military aid given to the allies of the Khmer Rouge should be kept from the British public?

Mrs. Chalker

I suppose that I should no longer be surprised at the hon. Gentleman. All that I can say to him is that the British Government have never supported the Khmer Rouge and never will support the Khmer Rouge. The British Government help the people of Cambodia through some non-governmental organisations. We do not have a government-to-government aid programme. I only hope that, with other donors, we shall soon be able to help the Cambodian people as a result of the comprehensive political settlement on Cambodia that we hope will be achieved.

Mr. Mullin

The right hon. Lady is being disingenuous. She knows as well as everyone else in the House that the Government have been providing military and other aid to terrorists who are allies of the Khmer Rouge. I appreciate that that is not directly her responsibility, but when will we start aiding the people in Cambodia who are helping to rebuild that country rather than the people who are helping to destroy it?

Mrs. Chalker

The hon. Gentleman obviously did not listen to a word that I said in response to the hon. Member for Hackney, South and Shoreditch (Mr. Sedgemore). I have said, and I repeat, that we are ready and willing, with other donors, to help the people of Cambodia in the context of a comprehensive political settlement. We have never given aid to the Khmer Rouge. We will not give aid to the Khmer Rouge. That is exactly what I said to the hon. Member for Hackney, South and Shoreditch and I have said it before in the House.

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