HC Deb 05 December 1994 vol 251 c18
39. Mrs. Roche

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will make a statement regarding the linking of aid with arms sales.

Mr. Baldry

There is no link between British aid and defence sales.

Mrs. Roche

Given the large amounts of aid to countries such as Indonesia, Malaysia and Oman, which are hardly among the poorest countries of the world, is it not clear that the links between British aid and British arms sales are rather more than the brief entanglement to which the Foreign Secretary referred in the Pergau dam scandal?

Mr. Baldry

There is no link between our aid programme and defence sales, and there never has been. It is absurd to suggest that our aid flows are determined by prospects of defence sales. All of our 10 biggest aid recipients are low-income countries—seven in sub-Saharan Africa and three in Asia. Nearly 80 per cent. of our bilateral aid to developing countries goes to the poorest countries. A recent OECD report recognised that our aid focuses on poor countries, and it acknowledged the quality of our aid to those countries.

Mr. Waterson

Is my hon. Friend aware that more than 400,000 jobs in this country depend on defence industries and that the people who work for companies such as Computing Devices in my constituency are becoming heartily sick and tired of left-wing pacifist Opposition Members attacking our arms industry and trying to produce a bogus link between arms sales and our aid policies?

Mr. Baldry

It would seem that the Opposition suggest that we should never contemplate defence sales to any country to which we give aid. That is a somewhat bizarre approach. How many employees of companies such as British Aerospace, GEC, Rolls-Royce, Racal, Perkins Engines, Vickers and hundreds of other United Kingdom defence exporters would accept losing their jobs for such a spurious policy?

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