HC Deb 08 July 1991 vol 194 cc644-5
37. Mr. John Marshall

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what is the level of aid given to Zimbabwe since its independence.

The Minister for Overseas Development (Mrs. Lynda Chalker)

Gross bilateral aid disbursements totalled over £257 million up to December 1990, including loan disbursements by the Commonwealth Development Corporation.

Mr. Marshall

I thank my right hon. Friend for that answer and congratulate the Government on the amount of money given to the people of Zimbabwe. Does my right hon. Friend agree, however, that the most effective growth policy for Zimbabwe would consist of the adoption of a social market economy and the abolition of price controls?

Mrs. Chalker

My hon. Friend is right. That is why we welcome the commitment of the Government of Zimbabwe to the economic reform programme. They have a hard road ahead, but during my talks last week with the President, the Minister of Finance and others I was convinced that the proposals that will emerge on 25 July will encompass exactly what my hon. Friend wishes to see. It is good news that the lifting of the price freeze which began in 1988 is to be extended.

Mrs. Clwyd

Does the Minister agree that the best way in which to bring immediate and significant benefits to third-world countries such as Zimbabwe would be to roll back restrictions on trade and address the debt crisis? Will the right hon. Lady ask the Prime Minister, at the G7 summit next week, to urge positive action to help developing countries, by implementing and extending the Trinidad terms, relieving debt owed to the World bank and the International Monetary Fund, setting in train a new international initiative on reducing commercial debt and reducing interest rates worldwide?

Mrs. Chalker

On the subject of trade, the hon. Lady will have heard me say in the debate on 14 December last how critical it is for developing nations that the GATT round should give them the opportunity of access to all the major markets of the world, particularly those of the EC. The Government are actively pursuing that aim.

I can tell the hon. Lady, too, that, as it was my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister who first proposed the Trinidad terms, she need have no fear that we have not been working non-stop to try to ensure that they will not only be discussed at the G7 meeting but, I hope, accepted, even by those nations that were not so committed as we have been from the beginning to relieve debt and to extend the relief for those countries that are undertaking economic reforms so that they can have a real chance for the future.