HC Deb 27 June 1994 vol 245 cc549-50
29. Mr. Spring

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what assistance the ODA is providing to the newly elected democratic Government in Malawi.

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

We are increasing our aid to Malawi to help the new Government to pursue their economic and political reform programmes and to mitigate the effects of poor rains.

Mr. Spring

Given the attention that has recently been paid to the arrival of another democracy in Africa, will my hon. Friend join me in welcoming the establishment of democratic government in Malawi? What discussions have taken place with President Muluzi about furthering relationships between the United Kingdom and Malawi?

Mr. Lennox-Boyd

I am happy to endorse my hon. Friend's words. The new president was in Britain recently and met my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary and other Ministers. We wish to encourage the new Government, and this year we are increasing substantially our bilateral aid—of which we are the largest donor—to some £30 million.

Mrs. Dunwoody

The Minister will be aware that awards given to Malawi in the past for medical help are being altered substantially. Will he undertake to look closely at the way in which overseas aid is granted? The fact that the people of Malawi were so determined to vote in their general election, and that it was such a fair and free election, is to their enormous credit and we must do everything that we can to help them.

Mr. Lennox-Boyd

I know of the hon. Lady's great interest in health matters in Malawi and her specialist knowledge of them. As she knows, we are making changes, with the aim of giving more emphasis to primary health care in rural areas, and we will be developing plans to do just that.

Sir David Steel

May I press the Minister to do more than simply welcome the election of the democratic Government in Malawi under President Muluzi? When will the British Government restore fully the cuts made on human rights grounds during the time of Dr. Banda?

Mr. Lennox-Boyd

We have substantially increased our aid this year and I understand that it is as high as it has ever been, if not higher. That is as a result of the recognition that we should help that country, which, as the right hon. Gentleman knows, we encouraged to hold elections. I think that we have honoured what he pressing me on.