HC Deb 21 June 1993 vol 227 cc16-7
33. Mr. Enright

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what recent discussions have been held in the Development Council of the European Community on co-ordination procedures with other multilateral and bilateral donors.

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

The European Community Development Council on 25 May 1993 discussed the co-ordination of development policies between the Community and its member states.

Mr. Enright

The Minister will be aware that, despite pious promises, there continue to be discrepancies, even in Lome countries, where there is a real opportunity for complementarity. Will he therefore examine urgently how the council, alongside the United Nations Development Programme, can achieve more successful co-ordination? In particular, will he consider the poorest countries which simply do not have the administration to cope with the vagaries of different administrations? I would also include in that non-governmental organisations.

Mr. Lennox-Boyd

It is early days. The new system must develop properly, but the hon. Gentleman, whose considerable expertise in this matter I recognise, should accept that there has been some progress. A resolution on family planning was passed at the meeting of the Development Council in November under our presidency. That has been taken forward in terms of co-ordination through regular expert meetings and meetings at the margins of other international conferences. Co-ordination has begun to develop.

34. Mr. Merchant

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what proportion of the United Kingdom overseas aid budget is administered through multilateral channels.

Mr. Lennox-Boyd

Around 45 per cent. of total overseas aid is administered through multilateral channels, including the EC, the World bank, and UN agencies. This proportion is growing.

Mr. Merchant

In view of the increasing proportion of British aid channelled through multilateral sources, is it not increasingly important for Britain to work closely with those agencies to ensure that our aid is given through the most effective means possible?

Mr. Lennox-Boyd

Yes, my hon: Friend must be right. I have just answered a question on co-ordination in the European Community of that element of our multilateral aid programme, so it must apply to the other elements of that programme. We maintain close liaison with the international financial institutions and with the World bank, particularly with regard to its special programme of assistance for sub-Saharan Africa. That has been an invaluable mechanism for the support of economic reform programmes.