HL Deb 07 July 1965 vol 267 cc1315-8

2.45 p.m.


My Lords, I beg leave to ask the Question which stands in my name on the Order Paper.

[The Question was as follows:

To ask Her Majesty's Government what is the capital sum total of development schemes or defined projects of that character initiated by the Protecting Power (U.K.) presently in hand in the Protectorate of Basutoland; also what is understood to be the capital cost of comparable development being undertaken by the South African Republic in the Transkei.]


My Lords, the approved Development Plan of the Basutoland Government for the three years 1963 to 1966 provides for a total expenditure of about £5¾ million. Her Majesty's Government expect to contribute about £2½ million towards this total by way of grants and loans. In the same period we expect to provide budgetary grants totalling £5½ million and assistance of about £250,000 under the Overseas Service Aid Scheme and the Special Commonwealth African Assistance Plan. The development of the Transkei is not a matter for Her Majesty's Government.


My Lords, I thank the noble Lord for that reply. I see that the expenditure is averaged over three years, and my Question related to one year. Perhaps it has not come to his notice that the South African Government have announced that for the Transkei there is to be a special fund raised for this year of £500,000 sterling, that is 1,000,000 Rands. Would it not be possible to give an approximate figure for Basutoland, because one figure is for one year and the other is averaged over three years.


My Lords, I did not understand very clearly the gist of the question which the noble Lord put to me. Should I be interpreting it correctly if I say that he asked me whether it would be possible to state for one year our total grants and loans and development aid in general to Basutoland? If that were in fact the question that he meant to put, I would say that it would be possible but extremely misleading, to give it, because these development plans are often not plans which can be carried out within the twelve months of the calendar. They spread over a long period, and it would be misleading to divide the sum involved by three to arrive at an appropriate answer. Therefore, if the noble Lord, as I suspect, was anxious to find out what was the scale of aid which Her Majesty's Government were giving to Basutoland, my Answer was more accurate than if I had divided the sum by three, which I well could have done. I repeat once more that we are not responsible for the aid that the South African Government gives to the Transkei. I would point out to anyone who wants to make facile comparisons that the population of the Transkei is twice that of Basutoland.


My Lords, could the noble Lord say what the annual budgetary assistance was? That would surely be a definite figure.


Over the three year period we expect the budgetary assistance to be £5½ million. That does not mean to say that it would be slightly under £2 million per year, because it varies somewhat from year to year.


My Lords, would it not be likely that the relationship of the expenditure in Basutoland and in the Transkei on a population basis would be watched by the Government, because the South African Government has announced, on the basis of five years instead of three, that there is to be a fund of £57 million, and there must be some relationship between the expenditure for the Bantu population in the two areas?


My Lords, in arriving at our priorities for aid we are not motivated in any way by a desire to keep up with the Joneses or the South African Government. We do not look at the South African Government and say, "We must give more than they", any more than we look at the Chinese aid to Africa and say, "We must pre-empt that". We treat each case on its own merits, and try to hold a balance between many claimants.


My Lords, would it not be better, if we are comparing financial expenditure per head in these two territories, to include also a comparison for political liberties?


My Lords, would not the noble Lord agree that since Basutoland is an extremely poor country, with practically no natural resources of its own, it is likely to need a good deal more than that if it is to put itself on its feet?


My Lords, we should very much like to give more to a great many countries, but there is clearly a limit. We believe that this amount of aid will enable Basutoland to make very great progress. I dispute what the noble Lord said about Basutoland being entirely devoid of natural resources. It does have its own land, its agricultural potential, which can be increased considerably; it has considerable exports of mohair; it also has industrial diamonds in small quantities, and it has water, which may be a very saleable commodity to the surrounding areas. But I agree, of course, that it would be nice if we had unlimited resources and were able to give far more.