HC Deb 11 December 1995 vol 268 cc688-9
28. Mr. Spring

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs to what extent aid to southern Africa is oriented towards the provision of education. [3312]

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Mr. Jeremy Hanley)

Support for education is one of the focus areas for our bilateral aid programme to South Africa, the priorities of which have been agreed with the South African Government. In 1994-95, implementation of our education projects involved expenditure of more than £6 million, some 38 per cent. of total expenditure. We plan to maintain a substantial programme in the education sector.

Mr. Spring

Does my right hon. Friend share my view that, following the royal visit to South Africa and the visit made by my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister, relations between our two countries are of the highest order? What progress has been made following the signing of a memorandum of understanding by my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister and President Mandela?

Mr. Hanley

I agree with my hon. Friend. Relations between South Africa and the United Kingdom are excellent: we are even allowing the South Africans to draw at cricket, to avoid—of course—a defeat for them.

My hon. Friend mentioned the memorandum of understanding signed by my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister and President Mandela in relation to our bilateral aid programme. It represents some £60 million of the bilateral aid commitment over three years, and projects valued at more than £37 million have already been approved and are being implemented. Of that £37 million. just over £12 million is for natural resources, over £10 million for good governance, £6.5 million for health, £4.5 million for small-scale enterprise development and about £3 million for education.

Mr. Campbell-Savours

May we have an assurance that the moneys allocated to the South African authorities for higher education will not go to institutions that provide such education predominantly for whites?

Mr. Hanley

Education, including higher education, is one of a number of priorities that we have assessed. We do not sub-allocate to any particular sectors in any one year. We are trying to help South Africa to reform its education policies, and ensuring that it becomes free and fair and reverses the problems and disadvantage caused by apartheid. That is part of our policy.

Mr. Simon Hughes

Will the Minister assure us that, despite the 7 per cent. overall cut in the bilateral aid budget that has been announced, there will be no cut in education provision for either South Africa or southern African in general?

Mr. Hanley

The aid budget will be maintained as the fifth biggest aid programme from the fifth biggest economy. I cannot give specific assurances about the individual items because they still have to be worked out.

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