§ 3.26 p.m.
§ LORD TODD rose to call attention to the problems arising out of the provision of technical assistance to developing countries; and to move for Papers. The noble Lord said: My Lords, I feel that it is only proper in opening this debate, to indicate briefly why I feel it is necessary to draw the attention of your Lordships to the problems of technical assistance to developing countries. We all know, of course, that the developed countries in the world—notably those in Europe and North America—have devoted, partly directly and partly through United Nations Agencies, very considerable sums since the last war to the assistance of underdeveloped countries. We in the United Kingdom, for example, have been doing this for a long time —indeed, ever since the passing of the Colonial Development Act in 1929; and 175 the amounts we have been spending in this way have increased steadily. Today, we are spending something like £190 million per annum, of which about 10 per cent. is multilateral aid and the rest is bilateral aid, the main channel for this being the Ministry of Overseas Development, whose very existence, I take it, is a measure of the importance the Government attaches to these operations.
In a White Paper published some months ago, Cmnd. 2736, entitled Overseas Development: The Work of the New Ministry, there are set out the aims that we have in this field. These are:
…to do what lies in our power to help the developing countries to provide their people with the material opportunities of using their talents, of living a full and happy life and steadily improving their lot.
I have no doubt that these are the aims of all countries that give aid to the underdeveloped countries. They are brave words. But what is the actual situation? We are now about half-way through the United Nations Development Decade, and instead of pushing forwards, a substantial number of underdeveloped countries are going backwards. The rate of economic growth in the underdeveloped countries as a whole, measuring this by the gross domestic product per capita, rose substantially in the early 'fifties, but began to decline again after 1955, and the decline has been particularly marked since 1960.
§ The really alarming thing (and your Lordships will find the figures in the White Paper to which I have referred) is that in all the four main areas concerned—that is, Africa, the Near and Far East, and Latin America—the growth in agricultural output has in recent years actually fallen below the rate at which the population is increasing. This means, presumably, that there are no easy ways left by which food production in these areas can be increased, using only their present agricultural practices; and certainly the gulf between the developed and underdeveloped countries is steadily widening, despite all the efforts we have made. And the position, I think, is likely to get a good deal worse unlesss something is done very quickly.
§ If we take the present population trends as a guide, it is to be expected that the 176 population of Africa will have doubled by the year 2,000—which it must be remembered is only 34 years away; that of Latin America will have trebled, and that of the Near and Far East will have risen by a factor of about two and half. If even the present totally inadequate diets of the inhabitants of these areas are to be maintained, food production will have to rise at the same rates; that is to say, 2 per cent., 3¼ per cent. and 2¾ per cent. per annum. With present agricultural practices in these areas, increases of that magnitude are just out of the question. For most of the immediately usable land is already under some form of cultivation, and the increase in population is likely to lead to conurbations which may even reduce the land available. The result of that, I fear, would be misery and starvation, with all that it means in the dangers of disease, social upheaval and war.
§ I want to make it clear that in this matter I am not being led away by the fascination of exponential curves of population growth. I know that if you take present growth rates and simply extrapolate them, you come up with a finding that in a few hundred years there will be so many human beings on this planet that nobody will be able to sit down. Clearly, this will not happen. Even if we had plenty of food and took no voluntary steps to control the population, biological forces would do so long before we reached such a position. I firmly believe, however, that if we are to contain the world population, both in developed and underdeveloped countries, within limits which permit an acceptable standard of living and avoid misery and starvation, we must take action to control it. Your Lordships will notice that I have said in both developed and underdeveloped countries, because we have to remember that population is rising in the developed areas of the world too, although not at such a rapid rate.
§ I should also like to point out that, although in the context of my remarks concerning underdeveloped countries I may seem to be coupling the need for population control simply with food supplies, there are other reasons, entirely apart from food, which must make us take this question of population control seriously, because the biological forces that are likely to operate in the face of 177 the rise in population, even with ample food resources, would create among human beings conditions which I do not think that any of us would wish to tolerate. Population control, of course, is possible. It is possible now, with the newer contraceptive methods—and I include the use of the intra-uterine devices which are now available, and which have successfully been introduced in South Korea and Taiwan. Part of our programme overseas should, and in my opinion must, be the promotion by every means of population control in the developing countries. For if they do not adopt it, then only disaster lies ahead for them.
§ Nevertheless, education leading to the widespread implementation of population control will take time, and so far as the predicted population increases which I have already quoted are concerned, we have to remember that most of the people who will be responsible for these increases have already been born. And this means that, unless there is some very rapid action, nothing that we may do will make much difference to the population increase which is predictable for the next 20 to 25 years. So the problem that I enunciated at the beginning remains.
§ All concerned with the problems of underdeveloped countries are well aware of the situation I have outlined. The primary problem is food, and the right kind of food. It is not elaborate industrialisation on sophisticated Western patterns. What is more, with the aid of scientific and technological knowledge which we now have, this problem can be solved. Only when it has been solved can the development of complex advanced economies really begin in any of the countries with which we are concerned. Its solution, in my view, will come in the first place by the application of conventional agriculture; by the growth of vegetable and animal foodstuffs on little more land than we know is available now, and to a substantial extent by the development of fisheries. Even if they could pay for it, developing countries cannot be fed indefinitely by food sent to them from the developed areas of the world, especially since the population of these areas is continuing to grow. These developing countries must in the main produce the food they 178 need themselves. The reclamation of deserts and the like by irrigation or other methods is essentially an expensive and a long-term procedure, and although I do not by any means suggest that it should be ignored. I think only short-term methods will get us out of the mess we are in now.
§ Equally, I believe that unconventional foods which would be manufactured by industrial methods—for example, the production of protein from petroleum by micro-organisms—are again long-term projects, and we have to remember that unorthodox foods such as those produced by them face pretty formidable problems of consumer resistance. Man is excessively conservative in his food habits. There are lots of examples of this. Recently one has seen it in the difficulties encountered even in the introduction of the high protein preparation "Incaparina" in Central America, despite its easily demonstrable effect on local children, and the unacceptability of fish meal, despite its high nutritional value. These things will come, but their time is not yet.
§ Fortunately, however, we know that the application of available scientific and technological knowledge could treble agricultural output; we have the evidence before our eyes in the performance of the Western world in this century. Although to achieve the whole of that rise would be difficult and would need the development of the best varieties of plant and animal species for particular areas—a matter which takes time—and even bearing in mind that tropical conditions are very different from those in temperate regions, I believe that agricultural production could at least be doubled within the time scale available by the proper and massive use of fertilisers and pesticides and by easily attainable improvements in cultivation methods—even the substitution of steel for wooden hoes would make an appreciable difference. I shall not attempt to elaborate on these improvements, but we should need to call on private industry to help in the crash campaign which is needed, for, although in time each country ought to produce its own artificial fertilisers itself, in the first place it would be necessary for the underdeveloped countries to import them in very large amounts, and initially 179 pesticides would be largely purveyed by the Western chemical industry, either by export or by local manufacture.
§ But if this is to be done we have a formidable job of education on our hands. On the one hand, we must educate the farmers away from purely subsistence farming and have them sufficiently literate to accept the use of fertilisers, et cetera, and put the knowledge given them into practice. And, on the other hand, we have to generate the technical manpower which is necessary to sustain the technological effort involved. This means that the education of very large numbers of technicians for the technology involved in the kind of agricultural improvement I have been talking about is nothing very glamorous, nor is it very advanced. It needs carpenters and mechanics rather than B.Sc.s and Ph.D.s, and it is for this reason that I believe we need to have more emphasis than we now have on technical schools and colleges in the developing countries.
§ On all counts, my Lords, I believe we have to concentrate first and foremost on the question of agricultural development, and that development will bring in its train all kinds of intermediate technology—the production of plants for water power, solar energy plants, simple tractors and the like, and obviously it will have to involve the development of simple road systems. As a programme on these lines gets under way the production of more consumer goods becomes necessary, and probably initially they will be produced as a result of foreign investment.
§ To a very considerable extent, of course, the kind of thing I am talking about can be seen if one looks at the development of Mexico in recent years, which is now at what I believe is called "the point of economic take-off". In emphasising that we can so very much do with existing knowledge, I do not underestimate in any way the need for research. There are many areas where research is necessary: the utilisation of natural resources, the control or elimination of diseases or vectors of diseases such as trypanosomiasis and bilharzia, large-scale desalination of water for agricultural purposes, and so on. In these fields we can do a great deal by providing personnel and we can do, and indeed are 180 doing, a good deal by the kind of work which is going on in this country already, in places like the Tropical Products Research Institute, but it still remains true that a considerable amount can be done straight away by applying simply what we know already.
§ In this connection, the excellent report of the United Nations Advisory Committee on the Application of Science and Technology to Development, to which my noble friend Lord Bessborough is drawing attention in his Motion, recommends a number of research projects which would be of real value to developing countries and also emphasises a number of points which I have been making this afternoon. The report makes a number of excellent proposals, and I should like to think that they are going to be pursued with vigour, but this is just where I am worried. I am not so sure about the degree of vigour with which they will be pursued. One of the troubles is that nearly all the points I have mentioned and the proposals which may be found in the report are already to be found buried somewhere in the numerous programmes of United Nations Agencies, and yet the plain facts are that all the assistance given to developing countries has not resulted in the improvements we wanted. I myself incline to the view that the impact of many of these programmes has been weakened by political considerations, as regards their scale, their location and, in many instances, the quality of their staffing. In general the effort has been spread much too thinly so that hardly any of the projects ever get off the ground. I realise the difficulty of concentrating efforts, but I really do wonder whether there would not be something to be gained by mounting a particular effort in one region and perhaps through that geting the experience which would enable one to repeat the project very rapidly in other places.
§ All these matters about which I have been speaking come under the heading of technical assistance, and when we look at our own bilateral expenditure on overseas aid it is a little disappointing to find that only 15 per cent., or £27 million, out of the total is devoted to technical assistance, and of that less than half goes to agriculture. Is this really enough, in view of the situation we are 181 facing? We have our own economic difficulties, I know, and it may be we are unable at present greatly to increase the amount of money we spend; but surely in that case some re-examination of the present distribution of our aid is called for. In addition, the Ministry might be asked whether greater concentration of effort might not also help.
§ Again I have stressed that education, and particularly technical education, is vital, and I feel that some further expansion of Government effort in these directions is called for. I know, of course, that the Government are already involved in a good many educational projects. I know that they are, for example, pursuing the study of modern techniques in education in Africa. An example of that is the Centre for Educational Television Overseas, which is being carried on partly with the help of charitable foundations, such as the Nuffield Foundation and others. The charitable foundations, of course, are deeply interested in the underdeveloped countries. As a managing trustee of the Nuffield Foundation I can vouch for that Foundation's interest in the matter, but of course support, which will continue to be gladly given by these foundations, does not absolve the Government from accepting the prime responsibility in this matter of education.
§ One suggestion I might make in connection with education is that we have seen, particularly in the case of certain medical schools, an interesting and, I believe, successful collaboration developed between universities in this country and in Africa. I should like to see this extended a little. I wonder whether perhaps the staffs of some of our technical colleges might not be enlarged to the point at which a member of the staff from the appropriate department in such colleges could always be in underdeveloped countries on secondment for a period of perhaps two or three years, helping to develop the technical schools and doing there the type of thing which he is doing at home. This would mean that one would not interfere with the programme of teaching here at home in the technical colleges but would send out men who would do a very good job, say in Africa, and would then return to the original college to carry on with their career; 182 because in this matter, as in many others, my Lords, I believe you will get very much better recruits for overseas work if you provide them with a home base and a home career structure.
§ We are, relatively speaking, a small country, and the amount of money we can provide may seem ridiculously small in relation to the immensity of the problems that confront us, particularly—shall we say?—in Africa, where naturally enough we feel perhaps a special responsibility for the new African States. But many of these States are, like ourselves, members of the Commonwealth, and I should like to remind your Lordships that the Colombo Plan in Asia, perhaps the most successful of all the co-operative efforts to date in the field of technical assistance, was due to Commonwealth initiative. What I should like to ask for is a Colombo Plan for Africa, a plan in which all the Commonwealth countries, including those in Africa, would band together as partners in a major effort to speed development in that continent. With the pool of scientific knowledge and expertise which is available through the scientific, agricultural and medical organisations of the Commonwealth countries, large and small, we have the means, if we organise ourselves properly, to make a major contribution to the development of Africa and the welfare of its peoples.
My Lords, I have already spoken perhaps long enough, but to conclude I should like to return to what is, after all, my basic thesis, and it is a very simple one. We should take note of the appalling situation as regards food in the underdeveloped areas, and in the matter of technical assistance we should concentrate our primary effort on the problem it presents. I read recently a fascinating article in the December, 1965, number of the American journal International Science and Technology in which the world's food problem is set out in a very direct and challenging way, and I should like to quote the final paragraph:
Here are the options: In a nation with a primarily grain-based diet and a population growth rate of 2¾ per cent. it will take only 5 years without significant increase in total production to drop a 2,000-calorie diet to one of 1,850 calories. On the other hand, to increase the grain-based diet by 10 per cent. and provide enough feed grains to add just 12 grams"—
that is, a little bit less than half an ounce—
of animal protein per day will require a production increase of almost 20 per cent. over the same five years. The first route is easy but it leads to catastrophe. The second is hard but its end is hope.
§ My Lords, I beg to move for Papers.
§ 3.52 p.m.
§ THE EARL OF BESSBOROUGH had given Notice of a Motion to call attention to the Second Report of the United Nations Advisory Committee on the Application of Science and Technology to Development; and to move for Papers. The noble Earl said: My Lords, I am most grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Todd, and also to the Government, for having agreed that my Motion relating to the United Nations Committee's Report should be taken on the same day as the noble Lord's. I agree very much with what the noble Lord has said in his penetrating speech, and if I differ from him at all it is more on matters of emphasis than anything else.
§ I agree it is certainly alarming if the growth in agricultural production in the main areas concerned has in recent years fallen below the rate at which the population is increasing. I realise, of course, that the figures on which the noble Lord bases his remarks apply only to the poorer countries. For in so far as the world as a whole is concerned, according to the calculations of the Food and Agriculture Organisation, between 1952–53 and 1962–63, that decade, food production rose by about 31 per cent.; that is to say, about 2¾ per cent. per annum; whereas the United Nations' estimate of population growth in the world for the period 1960 to 2000 is only 1.9 per cent. per annum. Therefore, if you take the world as a whole, the position perhaps might not be so pessimistic as the noble Lord suggests. However, unless the world distribution of foodstuffs to the poorer countries can be increase in living standards, and what I culation, be extremely serious. We must take into account, too, of course, the increase in living standards, and what I might describe as the non-correspondence of the geographical areas of growth of food production and of population.
§ I agree with the noble Lord that there seem to be no ways left by which food 184 production in these countries can be increased using present agricultural practices, and it is distressing indeed that the gulf between the developed and the underdeveloped countries seems to be steadily widening, despite all our efforts. As Sir Alec Douglas-Home said in a remarkable speech in New York only about a week ago, technology is apt to confer on him who has rather than on him who has not.
§ We must remember, however, that while it is true that the rate of economic growth in the underdeveloped countries rose substantially in the early 1950s, it began to decline again after 1955. But, of course, the terms of trade have also altered adversely, and these countries are getting less for their exports. I agree that the situation is a very serious one. In all these matters concerning technical aid, it seems to me most important that our policy should be to help those countries who help themselves. It is easy enough for us to say, and I have no doubt we should say it in regard to the population explosion, that newer contraceptive methods should or, indeed, must, be used, and that every possible means should be taken to promote population control. But we cannot, of course, dictate to the countries concerned in these matters. They are independent countries, and they must themselves decide the best action to take.
§ I am glad that the noble Lord, Lord Todd, agrees that the research projects recommended in the United Nations Report should be of real value to developing countries, and that it makes a number of excellent proposals which he considers should be pursued with vigour. In this connection, I think we would all like to pay tribute to Sir Norman Wright, the present Secretary of the British Association for the Advancement of Science, who is in fact the United Kingdom member of this Committee, and also his American colleague, Professor Carroll Wilson, who, with Dr. Thacker, of India, and others, played such an important part in drafting the Report.
§ I should like to refer to the Resolution of the United Nations General Assembly which was adopted on December 20, 1965. I do not know, but I think possibly the noble Baroness, Lady Gaitskell, may have been there on that occasion; I know she was a delegate to the General 185 Assembly. This Resolution was passed, as I say, just before Christmas, and in that Resolution the General Assembly generally commends the view of the Committee that science and technology can make an outstanding contribution to the economic and social development of these countries. In expressing its appreciation of the very comprehensive response made by the Committee, the Assembly asked it to examine the possibility of establishing a programme of international co-operation in science and technology, and to explore further suitable solutions.
§ The Assembly also approved the Committee's plans for the next phase of its work, and they were grateful for the Committee's efforts to draw the attention of world opinion to its work, and I hope that any noble Baroness or noble Lord who may at any time have been on our delegation to the United Nations will assist us in drawing attention to these problems. The Assembly considered that the Economic and Social Council itself should be the appropriate body to initiate and guide the programme, through its links with organisations within the United Nations family, the specialised Agencies, nongovernmental organisations, together with the International Atomic Agency. Earlier last year, at the meeting of the Economic and Social Council, all delegates praised the Report, referring to it as objective, workmanlike, realistic—I underline the word "realistic"—and a valuable guide to action, and as one of the most outstanding accomplishments by any subsidiary body of the Council in recent years. At the same meeting, that great American Mr. Adlai Stevenson, in the last speech which he made at the United Nations, the very last, said that the Report was clear, precise, professional, and high testimony to the quality of work that can be done in our international community.
§ In view of this general endorsement of the Committee's proposals, your Lordships may like to know very briefly what they are. Generally speaking, the Committee calls for a concerted attack, pitting, as they say, the tools of modern science and technology against selected high priority problems; and I think the merit of the Report is that for the first time a well-qualified international body and, indeed, the Assembly itself, agrees what these priorities are. The eight most urgent fields recommended for early 186 action are, as you might expect from what the noble Lord has said, the provision of adequate foodstuffs, including, of course, water; the improvement of health; a more complete understanding of population problems; the most effective exploration and utilisation of natural resources of developing countries; industrialisation; better housing and urban planning; improvements in transportation and, finally, raising the levels of education.
§ I cannot, in a debate such as this, go into the detailed action proposed in each case, but I should like to say something, first of all, about the tools to be used in this concerted attack, and then something about a few of the specific objectives. The tools to be used would include electronic computers, combined with weather satellites in orbits designed to benefit storm-prone tropical countries; underwater television to track schools of fish; transport vehicles able to operate where roads are poor or non-existent, and atomic radiation to reduce food losses and seek out additional water supplies. Solar energy devices could also be employed. In this connection, I would urge the Government to look at the work of the Industrial Research Laboratory at Lagos in Nigeria. Then there is the use of nuclear power to supplement conventional fuels. Other tools would include mass communications and also educational techniques.
§ Regarding the increase in water resources needed in agricultural development, I should like to emphasise the possibilities offered by radio-active tracers and the co-operative use of electronic computers to help in processing hydrological data. It seems likely, too—and this is most important—that desalination processes may ultimately become cheap enough to provide water for irrigation. One American estimate says that in certain circumstances, and coupled with the use of nuclear power, the cost of desalinated water might be brought as low as 22 cents per 1,000 gallons, about one-third of present costs. I believe there have been some optimistic estimates in this country, too. I am glad that the noble Lord, Lord Balfour of Inchrye, will be speaking on this matter this afternoon, for it is an extremely important one. I suspect that I shall probably be in general agreement with the proposal 187 which he intends to make, with the aim that British industry should remain well to the fore in the manufacture of desalination plants.
§ Incidentally, I was hoping to offer the noble Earl the Leader of the House, some desalinated water to-day. Unfortunately, the nearest potable or drinkable desalinated water comes from Guernsey, and the sample has not arrived. However, I would emphasise that in speaking of such water I am thinking more of its use for agricultural purposes and irrigation than for human consumption. But even for drinking purposes, I think that if the noble Earl were stranded in the desert and unable to find even a brackish water hole, he would in those circumstances find such water as agreeable as the best class of vintage port in New College, or perhaps those even more superb vintages such as the noble Lord, Lord Todd, knows at Christ College, and even at Trinity College, my own University.
§ Certain desalted water is quite drinkable. Obviously its use is highly thought of in certain circumstances. One of the more advanced recommendations included in the United Nations Report concerns the improvement in weather forecasting through the wider use of satellites—that is something which the United Nations urges and which may perhaps be of interest to your Lordships; they make some proposals which have perhaps not been widely publicised before—and electronic computers in a bid to help reduce storms and flood damage to crops. At present, forecasts based on satellite observation deal mainly with the temperate regions in which the satellite-owning countries are located; and the Committee expresses the hope that such countries will consider adapting their observations and computations to the tropical areas in which most of the developing countries are situated.
§ My Lords, we must become masters of our environment if we are to help the impoverished two-thirds of the world population. In this connection there is a most interesting passage on pages 17 and 18 of the Report on weather modification and control. The Committee believes that if the world's food supplies are to be increased sufficiently to provide even a minimum satisfactory diet for the world's population by the turn of the century, such control will have to be developed 188 in further directions, of which the weather might well be the most important in view of its effects on plant growth and animal survival. I should also mention the possible rôle of weather control in the case of typhoons and other climatic hazards. When we think of the terrible losses last year, running into millions, as a result of Hurricane Betsy, we cannot afford to ignore these possibilities.
§ The United Nations Committee does, however, agree with the National Science Foundation in America that any attempted modification of the weather, consisting as it does of tampering with atmospheric interactions, may produce unsuspected, irreversible or even harmful effects upon the environment, and that this danger can be minimised only by understanding the phenomena themselves and their reactions to the artificially induced effects. But the Committee agrees broadly with the Foundation's three main goals: that is to say, first, to attract new talents to weather modification research; secondly, to broaden the attack on weather modification research by supporting theoretical and field research, and thirdly, to shorten the time gap between development and theory and the start of field research so that new techniques may be tested as soon as a sound theoretical basis is established. But careful assessment must be made of the balance between possible risks and possible benefits.
§ I know that in regard to food supplies the noble Lord, Lord Todd, with his great knowledge as a chemist and of the world—he is widely travelled—agrees that protein supplies could be dramatically increased through greater use of fisheries, and I believe that world-wide surveys of fishery resources should be made as a first step, with the devices such as I have already mentioned. In so far as fishing is concerned, we must think more in terms of farming than random hunting, and take into account, for example, the fisheries research which has been conducted in Malaysia.
§ Incidentally, although I have to disappoint the noble Earl in regard to desalted water, if he would care to taste the fish flour concentrates which are being hailed as a tremendous breakthrough in the search for a cheap, abundant and acceptable protein, I have 189 arranged, through the courtesy of the American Embassy, for some of these to be made available in the Restaurant Department. But, of course, the difficulty with these protein concentrates—I should like to sit down with the noble Earl and see what he thinks of them—as the noble Lord, Lord Todd, says, is that there is considerable consumer resistance; and although, for example, margarine has taken on in India, it may be some time before these concentrates are considered to be generally acceptable. It is difficult to change people's food habits, and I fear that some older people might rather starve than take them. However, much could be done by introducing them to the younger generation at an early age, and I hope some thought will be given to this matter.
§ Then, of course, meat supplies could certainly be expanded by better control of livestock diseases. Food losses could also be minimised through better storage and preservation techniques. Control of the tsetse fly and other disease-carrying insects would also open large areas to further food production. In all these, the United Nations Committee urges additional training for scientists and technicians in the countries concerned, especially in Africa where the supply of qualified manpower is less than in India. Speaking of Africa, I would endorse what Lord Todd said about the possibility of a Colombo Plan for Africa, which would be inspired in the first place by the Commonwealth and in which other countries might join. I wonder whether the Commonwealth Secretariat, with which we were dealing two days ago, might not have a rôle to play in this and also in the pooling of our scientific and technical resources.
§ The methods by which health in these countries can be improved are well known —at all events, the noble Lord, Lord Todd, knows them well. They include the need for pure, community water supplies, the lessening of protein malnutrition and the control of certain insect-borne diseases. The World Health Organisation recently estimated that 500 million people in the world suffer from water-borne diseases. The noble Lord, Lord Todd, also referred to the problem of achieving a more complete understanding of the population problems, but, as I have said, we cannot enforce a wider 190 use of these new devices; we can only advise on these matters. Then in regard to natural resources the Report, while noting the importance of energy in economic development, recommends further investigation of the possible uses of solar and geothermal sources—that is to say, underground heat and steam—where conventional fuels are missing.
§ The sections on industrialisation, housing and urban planning are also well worth studying. But I am sure noble Lords would agree that in most of the countries concerned increased agricultural production is what is most needed at this time. However, I would not underestimate the possibilities of using what Dr. Schumacher describes as "intermediate technology" in the development of small-scale industries, as opposed to industries requiring high-cost capital equipment and little or no skilled labour. Sir John Cockcroft gave an extremely interesting lecture on this subject last night at the Overseas Development Institute. I recommend your Lordships to obtain a copy when the lecture is published. It is very down-to-earth. He concentrates on the simple things that can be done, such as their making their own small tractors, or even bicycles, and he lists a number of the things they could do.
§ On education, the Committee place the highest priority on measures designed to raise education levels throughout the developing countries, and I was glad that Lord Todd mentioned the work of the Centre for Educational Television Overseas. I know that he is one of the managing trustees of the Nuffield Foundation. I happen to be a member of the Centre's Advisory Committee, and I can vouch for the excellence of their work. I entirely agree with the noble Lord that the work of these charitable foundations should not be taken to absolve Governments from promoting educational projects of this kind to the maximum possible extent. I was disturbed to hear recently—I address this to the noble Earl, as I believe he is interested in the subject—that the Centre for Educational Television Overseas was likely to be seriously short of funds, and that if further money could not be raised the Centre would have to close in April next year. I sincerely hope that the 191 Government will not allow this to happen.
§ We should also remember that cheap, simplified television sets, receiving their signals from communications satellites, could change the whole political and cultural pattern of the world. This was a point made by Arthur Clarke when he was guest speaker at a recent UNESCO meeting in Paris. I was interested to see that just after Christmas the Communications Satellite Corporation invited firms throughout the world to propose design studies for a multipurpose satellite with at least twenty times the communication capacity of Early Bird. Is this an intimation of the first global educational television system which might be used primarily for the teaching of English throughout the world? I would also agree generally with the noble Lord, Lord Todd, about enlarging the staffs of a number of our technical colleges so that closer links may be established between certain universities in this country and the new universities, especially in Africa. This obviously presents many difficulties, but we must see what can be done.
Finally, I should like to refer to the figures quoted by Lord Todd regarding our own bilateral expenditure on technical assistance which, as he rightly said, and as is clear from Table I of the White Paper, amounts to only about 15 per cent. or £27 million out of a total bilateral aid of £172 million under this heading. With the noble Lord, I would ask whether this is really enough in view of the situation we are facing. I know that we have our own economic difficulties, but the Labour Manifesto definitely stated—and I quote—that
Labour will increase the share of our national income devoted to essential aid programmes.
And in paragraphs 3 and 92 of the White Paper (Cmnd. 2736) it is stated that the Government intend to give the highest priority to technical assistance. Despite this, I find that in the National Plan aid to developing countries is to be restrained. Your Lordships will see this from the check list on page 17 and the other references mentioned there. This seems to me to be in contradiction to what was said in the Manifesto and in the White Paper and might well be considered to be a
broken pledge—one, I fear, in a long series of broken pledges.
§ I am sorry the Government find themselves in this position, and I sympathise with them. But, in my view, this White Paper is really rather feeble and has no definite figures or plans for the future. Surely, what is needed is not yet another Ministry, but more aid. In fact, the new Ministry has increased overhead costs while restricting aid. Like the Ministry of Technology, this again looks to me like a costly piece of political window-dressing.
§ It is not only on this side of the House that we are disturbed, for I find that Peter Williams, writing in the Fabian Society Bulletin, Venture, says that there is great disappointment in Socialist circles about this. In his article, Peter Williams says that on developing countries the tone of the National Plan is utterly negative, and there is no echo of the declaration of the aid White Paper that the basis of the aid programme is a moral one, and no recognition that countries such as Britain have any sort of obligation to increase their help to developing countries. I certainly commend that Fabian article to noble Lords opposite, and I hope that the noble Lord, Lord Beswick, or the noble Earl, Lord Longford, will be able to give some reply on this point. Mr. Williams has done excellent work with the Overseas Development Institute, of which the director is Mr. William Clark. I think that we should all like to pay a tribute to the work which he and his colleagues have done in analysing the problems for us.
§ I have said enough to give, an indication of the wide range of research and aid which I believe to be necessary and which the United Nations itself considers desirable. I should be glad to know whether the Government intend to press ahead on the lines of some of the recommendations. I was glad to read recently of the Government's plans, announced on January 18, for alleviating the famine which faces India this year. At the same time, I should like to draw attention to the four-point programme proposed a fortnight earlier by my right honourable friend the Leader of the Opposition in another place to help India overcome its present food shortage. He stated that Britain could contribute to the foreign exchange cost of additional shipping 193 needed to rush food shipments to India. Secondly, it could expand the capacity of Indian ports by providing additional floating elevators. Thirdly, it could make arrangements to supply pesticides and fertilisers; and, fourthly, to supply vitamin tablets for the famine-hit areas. I hope that the Government will give full consideration to these proposals.
§ May I say that the only permanent solution to this problem, and to the many other problems facing the developing countries, lies in securing the greatly increased application of science and technology within—and I repeat "within"—the developing countries themselves. It is for that reason that I have drawn attention to the Report which forms the subject of my Motion.
§ 4.21 p.m.
§ THE PARLIAMENTARY UNDERSECRETARY OF STATE FOR COMMONWEALTH RELATIONS AND FOR THE COLONIES (LORD BESWICK)
My Lords, I am sure that the whole House is grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Todd, and the noble Earl, Lord Bessborough, for the authoritative and constructive way in which they have called our attention this afternoon to what is one of the most basic challenges facing mankind to-day. I think that if we look at the scene as a whole, and at what other people are doing, we have no need to be ashamed of what Britain as a nation and the British people are doing to help close the gap between the material standard of life of the developed countries, and the vast majority of those living in the developing countries.
We have to-day—and I am rather sorry about what the noble Earl, Lord Bessborough, said about the new Ministry—some most devoted people in Government service working on these problems, led, and given every encouragement, by the present Minister. We need not be ashamed of the British effort, but I agree that we must not be complacent, either. The gap is wide; it ought to be closing, but in fact it is now growing wider. If complacency has not been shaken by what has already been said by the noble Lord, Lord Todd, and the noble Earl, Lord Bessborough, I would recommend that those tending to be complacent should read a factual article by Mr. George D. Woods, headed, "The 194 Development Decade in the Balance", just published in the Foreign Affairs Quarterly. Mr. Woods points out—and this supports what has just been said by the noble Lord, Lord Todd—that the faltering economic growth of the poorest developing countries means that the per capita income is currently rising by only 1 per cent. or less.
In those countries, therefore, with a per capita income of 100 dollars a year —and that includes countries with 990 million people—the income level by the year 2,000 will have risen by only 170 dollars. On the other side of the gap, however, in the United States, for example, with an average present per capita income of 3,000 dollars a year, at their current growth rate there will be an increase of 1,500 dollars a year by the end of the present century. In other words, a gap which is now wide will be by the end of the century 1,300 dollars a year wider, and with that kind of gap I ask the noble Lord, Lord Todd: What can be the prospect for world peace? What, indeed, can be the prospect for individual peace of mind?
Let me put on record something of what we are doing to meet this challenge. I accept the emphasis which the noble Lord, Lord Todd, placed upon the problem of food production. In the developing countries as a whole, as I have already indicated, productivity has faltered in recent years, and total production is practically static with a population ever increasing. I agree with him that the immediate task is to try to secure the application of known means of increasing production, and to this end we need more effective education and training. Lord Todd said he was disappointed that the present proportion of our aid effort devoted to this kind of training and technical assistance generally was too low; and the noble Earl had something to say about this, also.
The noble Lord gave a figure of £27 million as representing the amount which we were spending. In fact, this amount, under the heading which he gave, will increase during the current year to over £30 million, and it is fair to add to that figure our contribution to the United Nations Development Programme, which is another £4 million. Moreover, the further sum of £11½ million a year which we contribute to multilateral aid will 195 include expenditure on projects which inevitably involve instruction and the giving of technical know-how to local workers.
So that in a total aid programme this year of £210 million, the true proportion devoted to technical assistance is rather more than the percentage quoted by the noble Lord, Lord Todd. But I hope with him that, as our resources increase, and as we gain more flexibility through the completion of old commitments, we can improve still more on these figures. We want to see greater support, for example, to the multilateral programme of the United Nations and the Specialised Agencies, and this intention was declared by the British Representative at the first meeting of the Governing Council of the United Nations Development Programme in New York a few days ago.
Moreover, whilst it is true that within the developing countries as a whole food production is lagging lamentably behind needs, in the over-fed countries there is often an embarrassing surplus. It ought to be noted in this context, as we are talking about our effort, that we shall have contributed this year more than £1 million to the World Food Programme for financing the transfer of part of these surpluses to those countries which are in need. But I agree with the noble Lord, Lord Todd, that this is really only first-aid treatment for what is a serious wound.
I have given some detailed financial figures, and I propose to say something more on finance in reply to the criticism made by the noble Earl, Lord Bessborough, in the latter part of his speech. But let me say here that it is not only a matter of sums of money, but of human skills and personal service. As the nature of our overseas responsibilities has changed, we can no longer offer professional people a lifetime career in the service of developing countries. The help now wanted involves assignments on a comparatively short-term basis, and Lord Todd has reminded us of what was proposed in last year's White Paper to make good this demand for skilled overseas service.
Through the initiative of the Ministry of Overseas Development, additional posts are being created in Government Departments, universities, training colleges and other suitable national institutions 196 which should make available, when necessary, at least 400 professional and technical staff for periods of service overseas. In this, I assure the noble Lord, Lord Todd, that the Minister of Overseas Development has the co-operation of the Department of Education and Science, to ensure that technical colleges and colleges of further education can make an increased contribution within this programme.
In agriculture, animal health and forestry, there are specific actions that we are taking. Lord Todd asked especially about the possibility of making available teaching staff for overseas universities. I am glad to say that, in fact, this is being done. Glasgow University gives assistance to the Veterinary Faculty in East Africa, and there is a similar association between the University of Edinburgh and the Veterinary Faculty at Ibadan, Nigeria. The Ministry of Overseas Development has made possible the appointment recently of four additional senior lecturers in veterinary medicine at Edinburgh University. The idea here is that which he was expressing: that not only will Edinburgh be able to accept more overseas students in this Faculty, but the increased establishment will enable them to lend staff for service in overseas universities. In another field, the Imperial College has found it possible to make available professors to the Delhi Institute of Technology. I understand that at the present time some eight professors are serving there.
Our technical assistance to the Commonwealth covers a particularly wide field, and under the Overseas Aid Scheme and other similar programmes we provide not only advisers, experts and teachers, but also we sustain operational and executive staff, many of whom are in the administrative, legal and other key posts of the Civil Service of the Commonwealth Governments they serve. Of course, the emphasis on the Commonwealth here results from our close links with those countries arising from past history and from a similarity in administrative and legal practice and methods. I have no doubt that my noble friend the Secretary of State for the Colonies will want to stress later the importance of the technical assistance effort to our remaining colonial territories. To them, of course, we have a special obligation; though, I would add, this should not be 197 taken to mean that we underestimate the effort which we should also try to make elsewhere in the world—in the Latin Americas, for example.
A further important measure by the Ministry of Overseas Development towards increasing the volume of human skills available overseas is the creation of a corps of specialists, including experts in the development of natural resources, agricultural economists and statisticians. This corps will be used to enable younger men with appropriate qualifications to devote a period of service to the problems of developing countries. The intention is to build up this corps to about 100 members over the next two or three years. I should not like the House to believe that our total effort in this aspect of aid can be expressed only in terms of hundreds of people. Under our bilateral programmes alone, there were in 1965 12,000 people from this country serving the Governments of developing countries under arrangements wholly or partly financed by the British Government.
My Lords, if we add to these figures the numbers of British people overseas under other auspices, engaged in technical assistance work, mainly in the field of education, the total rises to over 17,000 people. In addition, we have some 800 skilled British people serving overseas to-day on assignments under United Nations Agencies. In all, we can claim that in overseas service there are a greater total number from Britain than from any other country in the world. Very properly, I think, this must be counted as part of our contribution to world development. To sustain this effort we now recruit over 2,000 people a year directly through the Ministry of Overseas Development, and over 3,000 if other bodies associated with the Ministry are counted as well.
These are substantial claims on British resources of skill and manpower, but if any look upon it wholly as a net drain from this country I think they should refer to the Report presented by the Committee under the chairmanship of Professor Sir Willis Jackson—a Committee which has been studying our manpower resources for science and technology, and which comments on the value to us of the experience gained from periods of service spent overseas. 198 If I had time, I should like to add to this list (which is not one, I think, of which we need be ashamed) an account of the great numbers of overseas people who have come here for industrial training. One example may suffice. In the Indian steel industry to-day there are over 400 engineers who have received specialist training in this country.
In all this work there has been the willing co-operation of many organisations throughout the country. Maybe, because I have rather closer personal knowledge of it, I could give the example of the British Co-operative Movement. In West, East and Central Africa, in India, Pakistan and South-East Asia, there are now small farmers and peasant producers who get a fair price for their products through co-operative marketing organisations. I have seen many peasant communities who have been able to throw off the grip of the moneylenders because, by the provision of co-operative credit societies, they can now buy their seeds and fertilisers without getting into debt with the moneylenders. Our great contribution has been in training and sharing experience. Since 1948, the Cooperative College at Loughborough has offered a special overseas course, and this year 40 students from 28 countries are attending.
With assistance from the O.D.M., the Plunkett Foundation next month is arranging a training course in Iran. Last year, a 12-week course in agricultural marketing was held, with the co-operation of Nottingham University. I hope that my noble friend Lord Peddie, who is Chairman of the Ministry's Co-operative Advisory Committee, will be able to tell us of a similar course to be held this year at Newcastle University. I should also mention that next month the Cooperative Movement, together with OXFAM, will launch a special appeal designed to raise funds to start seven consumer co-operative societies in Bechuanaland.
May I turn for a moment to health problems? At the Commonwealth Medical Conference held at Edinburgh last October, itself a landmark in technical assistance, we were able to offer, in spite of domestic shortages, a significant increase in the assistance we will give to post-graduate training in Britain for doctors from developing countries. A 199 new scheme of Commonwealth medical awards has been planned to improve the numbers and qualifications of teachers of medicine overseas, matched by an increased capacity to second British medical teachers to overseas institutions. In an effort to improve the supply of general duty doctors in service overseas, a new scheme, commonly known as the Young Doctors Scheme, has been announced under which recently qualified medical men will be offered a further period of specialist training at the expense of the O.D.M. in return for an undertaking to serve a period abroad. The Ministry will be submitting evidence to the Royal Commission on Medical Education, which sits under the chairmanship of the noble Lord, Lord Todd, with a view to improving the country's capacity to meet overseas medical needs.
The noble Lord, Lord Todd, referred to what he called the excellent report of the United Nations Advisory Committee; and, of course, the noble Earl, Lord Bessborough, dealt fully with this document. Let me say at once that the Government welcome this report, and we take legitimate pride in the fact that Sir Norman Wright, to whom tribute has already been paid, with which I should like to be associated, was invited to be a member of the Committee. Much of the material in the report was prepared by the Department of Technical Cooperation at Sir Norman's request. Not only did we co-operate to the fullest extent in the preparation of the report, but we have consistently supported its recommendations in the various bodies to which it has been referred at the United Nations. I have noted the reservations made by Lord Todd about the vigour with which the recommendations are being pursued, but I can fairly claim that we, Britain, have backed the Committee in its request for the resources which it needs in its continuing task.
The noble Earl gave us an interesting promise about some specially attractive protein food, and no doubt we can pursue our researches into that at some later date. To date, so far as this matter is concerned, the Government have specialised in giving support to the Director-General of the Food and Agriculture Organisation, who has asked for a greater international effort and an expansion of 200 F.A.O.'s programme for the development of the supply of protein foods from world fisheries.
A second priority recommended by the Committee was a greater attention to tropical meteorology. We are making our contribution here in one very special way. The Anti-Locust Research Centre, maintained in London by the Ministry of Overseas Development, provides an international Desert Locust Information Service, covering the movements of this pest in the whole range of its activity from Pakistan to Morocco.
This Service is provided, in co-operation with the F.A.O., with financial support from the United Nations Development Programme and from some 40 countries directly concerned with the control of this locust. As a result of research, the relationship between weather and locust migration is now sufficiently established to enable weather maps to be used to help in the prediction of swarms' movements. Such charts are now prepared daily at the Centre on the basis of data received through the Telecommunications Centre of the British Meteorological Office. Amongst the data so used are the observations of the Tirosweather satellites, which often provide essential supplementary information for areas where ground meteorological stations are few or absent. On the basis of this work, cabled warnings of locust invasion, the great majority of which have proved to be reliable, are sent out to the countries concerned.
But as the noble Earl said, food losses do not arise only in the fields. Foodstuffs in store in developing countries are particularly at risk, and losses can be as high as 40 per cent. A special unit has been built up in Britain by the Ministry of Overseas Development, the Tropical Stored Products Centre, to carry out research at home and overseas and to advise developing countries on the protection of their food in store. Fifteen specialists in the past year have visited as many countries to investigate local problems and advise local Governments on methods of protection. One of the interesting developments of which I have been told has been an inflatable plastic warehouse devised by the Centre and brought to the development stage with the help of the National Research and 201 Development Corporation. Field trials are now proceeding in six overseas countries.
The Advisory Committee rightly point to the fact that the tsetse fly still dominates some 4 million square miles of the African Continent, and is a most formidable obstacle to the development of potentially productive land. British scientists have been in the forefront of research designed to make these areas habitable to men and cattle, and much success has been achieved, as I am sure the noble Lord, Lord Todd, will agree, so far as the control of human trypanosomiasis is concerned. The same degree of permanent success has not yet been gained in relation to cattle, and in the current year, both overseas and at home, the Ministry of Overseas Development is devoting over £100,000 to continuing investigation of these problems. A particular British contribution has been to bring the tsetse fly itself within range of the most complicated and costly scientific equipment available. In conjunction with the University of Bristol, the Ministry has established a special research laboratory there which breeds tsetse flies in a controlled environment, and it was a British scientist who evolved the technique of freezing the trypanosome and flying it here from its native haunts. For an important part of the research in this field we no longer need take the electron microscope to Africa.
Another vector-borne disease to which reference has been made is bilharzia, which is identified by the Advisory Committee as an enemy to human productivity in the tropics. Again, British scientists have contributed outstanding work on this disease. Two points of attack are dominant. One is to diminish the population of water snails which act as an intermediate host for the organism causing this disease. The other is to find effective new drugs to cure it in the human patient.
A promising new drug, which I am told is now in production in Britain, is now under trial in many parts of the world, and British teams are conducting field trials in Tanzania.
In the processing of tropical products for their economic use, we have a unique institution, the Tropical Products Institute of the Ministry of Overseas Development, which has done notable work in 202 recent years on improving the machinery needed for the early stages of processing tropical products, and has found new uses for by-products which have previously been regarded as waste. For example, noble Lords may be interested, as I was, by a technique of using waste groundnut shells for the manufacture of board for tropical building, and the use of rice husks to lighten concrete blocks for the same purpose.
The Tropical Division of the Building Research Station tackle other problems of design and construction indicated by the Advisory Committee as worthy of priority consideration. Our Road Research Laboratory has also specialised in problems of economical road construction overseas and, by its investigations in many developing countries, has placed at the disposal of their Governments an inventory of the most suitable road-making materials available and the minimum standard they need aim at in improving their communications.
The noble Earl, Lord Bessborough, asked about the possibility of desalinisation. In this, as I think he knows, the Ministries will be assisted by Sir John Cockcroft, who has made a preliminary survey to aid identification of the more promising lines of progress. I think we can claim here more solid achievement than any other country, and not less than £1½ million has been devoted, in collaboration with industry, to the continuing research and development of desalinisation in this country. I hope my noble friend will be able to add more to the work being done in that field.
I was especially interested by what was said by the noble Lord, Lord Todd, about the possibility of a Colombo Plan for Africa as a whole; and on this the noble Earl also expressed a good deal of interest. I can say that the suggestion he made, and the possibilities he has opened up, will be carefully considered. One of the difficulties, so far as the African Continent is concerned, is that we do not as yet have the possibility of any adequate resources in manpower that will enable transfers to be made from one African country to another, as was envisaged within the countries forming part of the original Colombo Plan. But certainly I promise him that the proposal he has put forward, especially in 203 conjunction with matters now being considered in relation to the famine relief programme in Africa, will be considered.
The noble Lord, Lord Todd, stated his firm belief that if we are to get a balance between the volume of food and the number of people, we must not only increase the volume of food, but restrict the number of people. I think the noble Lord will agree that the movement of world opinion is towards that view, but I think we should get our emphasis and our motives right. If we are setting out on a mission to improve the quality of living, we must not appear to be denying the value of human life. On this matter, I think the practice and stated policy of our Government is probably nearer the view expressed by the noble Earl, Lord Bessborough. When approached by countries who know their own problems and social conditions, we make freely available our medical knowledge on birth control methods. But we do not regard it as our responsibility to press upon these peoples practices of this kind unless a request is made.
Then there was the point raised by the noble Earl, Lord Bessborough, about pre-Election promises about sums which he said had been promised should be used on overseas aid. My Lords, I do not really think this is the occasion for debating pre-Election promises. On another occasion I should be glad to debate this.
THE EARL OF BESSBOROUGH
My Lords, if I may interrupt the noble Lord, it was not only a pre-Election promise; it was a promise in the White Paper published in August last year.
§ LORD BESWICK
The noble Lord referred to promises which had been made in the Manifesto for the Election. So far as that is concerned I will content myself by using only one more figure, the figure of £700 million—a figure which is universally recognised now as the deficit left to this Government by the Administration of which the noble Earl was a member. When we have fulfilled our pledge to put right the damage done by them to our balance of payments, we can move on to fulfilling completely other pledges. Meanwhile we are spending more this year than last year on overseas aid, and we shall spend more next year than this year.
204 I recognise that I have not answered all the questions which were raised, but the real value of this debate will be, I think, the stimulus to new thinking, I hope over a wide area, which the two noble Lords will have started. For it is not only changes in agricultural methods which are required if we are to face this problem. There are also changes necessary in social attitudes and standards of values. I recall that before Christmas I heard a bitter complaint in your Lordships' House that we were not spending enough on university education. Last week I listened to a really moving plea from a delegation from South Arabia for more money for development in their poor country. I had to explain our financial difficulties, but they said to me, "You are spending £250 million a year in your country on university education alone—£5 million a week. Yet you hesitate to make available to us £100,000 for primary education in our poor country." My Lords, it was difficult to answer a protest of that kind. We have still a long way to go before we get a full understanding between the minds of those in the developing countries, and those in developed countries; between the minds of those who have and the minds of those who need. I say again that we are grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Todd, and to the noble Earl, Lord Bessborough, for the help they have given towards a fuller understanding of this problem by putting down the Motions for debate this afternoon.
§ 4.54 p.m.
§ LORD BALFOUR OF INCHRYE
My Lords, the Motions of the noble Lord, Lord Todd, and the noble Earl, Lord Bessborough, provide the first occasion for a debate when the Leader of the House will speak from the Government Box as Secretary of State for the Colonies. I am sure that we all wish him success and happiness in his tenure of that great office, although I cannot wish him a very long tenure.
My Lords, there is one political aspect of technical assistance and aid upon which I feel that I must touch. It is one that we must face. It is axiomatic, on the one hand, that technical assistance and aid must go where it benefits most, and, on the other, that aid can be provided only in accordance with our resources and as paid for by the taxing 205 of our own people. The present position is that technical assistance and aid is obligated by us to Commonwealth countries, some of which have broken off relations with this country, and some of which are threatening to leave the Commonwealth. About them I would make two observations. First we hope and pray that the difficulties within the Commonwealth, and the threats which I have cited, are of a temporary and passing nature, and that the unity of the Commonwealth will be fully restored in due course. The second point I would make is that we do not condition our aid to the political policies of the countries to which we give assistance.
Having said that, I think it is right to add that those countries should be warned that Brawn cannot go on giving aid indefinitely if these threats about breaking off diplomatic relations and leaving the Commonwealth continue—or, indeed, are implemented. Let me repeat that I hope that this will not happen—I pray that it will not. I would not ask for any change of policy about continuing our aid to these countries at the present time, but we should warn them that the patience of the taxpayers of this country, like our purse, is not entirely limitless. In my view, it would be intolerable for any Government of this country to propose that the citizens should continue indefinitely to be taxed in order to provide aid for those who revile our policies, abuse us as a nation, withdraw their representation and, in fact—not to put a fine point on it—"kick us in the teeth." As I have said, I hope that such a situation will not arise, but I believe it is right, both for the sake of the taxpayers of the country and for the sake of those who would not be able to continue receiving aid indefinitely, that that point should be made, and that such a warning would not be inappropriate. I speak for myself, but I believe that I also speak for some others.
There is only one other subject upon which I wish to speak. It is of tremendous importance in relation to providing technical assistance and aid to developing countries; it offers tremendous hope for economic and agricultural development in faraway countries, and it has been touched on by the noble Earl, Lord Bessborough, and by the noble Lord, Lord Beswick. I refer to the conversion of sea water to fresh water. This is not new. The first 206 conversion plant was made in 1884 by a firm called G. & J. Weir who are still, I am glad to say, leading technicians in that field.
World attention is now being given in an ever-increasing degree to this conversion process. In October there was an international symposium at Washington at which Britain had representatives. New processes are arriving and old processes are being improved. Costs are coming down and, related to the production of atomic power, conversion offers real hope for curing the world's shortage of water, from which our own country will not be isolated in the not too distant future. We are going to have to face considerable water shortages in the coming years, as our domestic demand increases by 4 per cent. per annum. However, at the moment, we are not debating water supplies in Britain. What I am saying is that this process offers tremendous hope for the underdeveloped countries.
I am no technician, but I have listened and tried to learn from the experts. Much has been achieved here and in the United States. I am told that to-day throughout the world about 50 million gallons of water is converted every day from salt to fresh. One is proud to know that 60 per cent. of that conversion is carried out by British-made plants, and the firm, Weir-Westgarth (and let me hasten to say that I have no interest to declare), have no fewer than 21 plants in operation in nearly as many countries. Conversion costs are, of course, high, but all the time they are coming down. In some arid places, like the Persian Gulf, 10s. per 1,000 gallons, compared with half-a-crown in this country, may seem expensive, but it is not expensive compared with water at £170 a ton by ship. I remember Sir Waley Cohen's dictum on values:A commodity is worth what it will fetch on the open market.And on the open market, water at 10s. per 1,000 gallons is sometimes a very economic proposition.
Let us not be timid about price. The United States are getting some conversions at the equivalent of 3s. 4d. per 1,000 gallons. Certainly the United States realise the prospects for their domestic use and in the export of technique and plant. In the United States we have very big rivals challenging our present lead. 207 It is interesting to note that President Johnson recently signed a 185-milliondollar Desalinisation Research Bill, and called upon industry and science to develop by 1970 plans for plant of 100 million gallons per day. He called for several plants of 10 million gallons a day by 1968, to serve the smaller cities and towns in the United States. I should like to give your Lordships his words. The President said that desalination is nota far out and far distant goal.He considered the Research Bill to be the most historic of major legislation,not for what it provides but for what it promises";and he added:Our success could well change the position of man all around the world.The United States are spending 70 million dollars a year on this line of research. In the United Kingdom, we are allocating £500,000 for three years to the Atomic Energy Authority. When, last summer, in a debate in your Lordships' House, the noble Lord, Lord Snow, speaking for the Government, was asked whether we could not do more, he replied that he thought that £500,000 for three years seemed enough for the first phase, but that future needs would have high priority. That is all right. But I would put this thought to the Government: are we not now leaving the first phase and coming to the second phase? Has not the time come for the Government and industry to combine in one big, but pretty sure, step forward, the success of which might well shape the form of technical aid of immense value to underdeveloped countries throughout the world?
I am told that plans have already been prepared, and, I believe, submitted to Her Majesty's Government, for commencing a 10-million-gallon a day plant attached to a reactor of the Dungeness type. In fact, this could be the first of a battery of six, each with an output of from 10 to 12 million gallons a day, giving a total of between 60 and 72 million gallons daily. At the present rate of domestic consumption that would provide water for about 800,000 people, and it is roughly the same as the Thames Conservancy Board get daily from tapping the Berkshire Downs. By building 208 the first unit of 10 million gallons a day, the teething troubles would be worked out and a complete battery of six could be built, and we should then have a prototype for world export.
The capital cost of the first unit, I am told, would probably be around £10 million and the cost of a complete battery of six, with a 72-million-gallon daily capacity, would be around £66 million. That is a formidable sum, but is it not small when compared with the monies we are spending on other projects? If my memory serves me correctly, we are responsible for about one-half of the £270 million for the Concord project, and we are spending many millions a year on space research. These are admirable projects, but I wonder whether they will contribute as much to world happiness, and as materially to British exports, as expenditure on one conversion plant such as I have described, as a pattern for further plants throughout the world. I suggest that if we turn down this possibility, while proceeding with these other projects, we have not got our priorities quite right. This is a worthwhile venture, if we are big and bold, as Her Majesty's Government claim to be.
Too often, it seems to me, "the Noes have it", when we wonder whether we can embark upon new scientific ventures. The "Ayes" seem so often to be shouted down by the professional and expert "Noes". When the Wright Brothers flew in 1905, which of the experts, many of whom decried man's conquest of the air, thought that only 60 years later we should fly around the world in jets in a matter of hours? And some of the Admirals and Generals, in those early days of flying before World War I, decried the possibility of air power as a factor in modern warfare. My Lords, the "Noes" have had it too often. Here is a case where I hope that the Government and the Secretaries of State for the Colonies and for Commonwealth Relations and the Minister of Overseas Development will go with the "Ayes" and reject entirely the mentality of the "Noes".
§ 5.10 p.m.
THE LORD BISHOP OF WORCESTER
My Lords, in a recent Review a missionary from India writes that the price of a quarter pound slab of chocolate at home 209 would pay for food for a family for a day; the price of a "hair-do", which one may reckon at 15s., would provide 70 children with a meat meal, and a joy-trip to Paris would pay a child's boarding school fees for five years. In simple terms, this easy-to-understand statement explains the nature of the concern which we are considering in your Lordships' House this afternoon.
We all know the causes which impede the struggle for emergence of countries in the less developed areas of the world —for example, Asia, Africa and Latin America. Many of these countries are without the basic necessities to develop industrial, agricultural and technological enterprises, without which they are quite unable either to raise the standard of living for the masses of their own people or to compete in the world of economics and political balance of power. Very often in your Lordships' House when we are considering vital social problems it is asked: What is the Church doing? What contribution is the Church making? These are questions which, it seems to me, it is perfectly legitimate to ask and, therefore, I propose to say a few words on this subject.
It is, I think, well known that through the British Council of Churches a not insignificant contribution has been made, and is being made, to the Freedom from Hunger Campaign. Here let me say that the Churches have no desire whatever—and it would be foolish to do so—to try and work in isolation. This problem is so great that we see it as a total effort in which the Government, voluntary agencies and Christian missions should tackle the job together. Within this framework many Christian organisations to-day are involved in projects which vary widely in scope, and which I think fall into four main groups. The first is education and training; the second is research; the third is involved with pilot and demonstration projects, and the fourth with development projects.
If I may be allowed, I should like to mention one or two of these projects which are actually being developed at the present time. The first is a farm scheme in Uganda. Gayaza is one of the leading boarding schools in Uganda, with 175 children, and a secondary school of 210 girls. There in Uganda, where traditionally the women grow the crops 210 for food while the men look after the crops grown for cash, 90 acres of bush have been cleared, and the girls have a daily period of work on the farm, where they are learning modern methods of horticulture and agriculture. The Church Missionary Society is now planning for a trained extension officer to keep in touch with the girls when they go home, and so through them to apply what they have learned at school to the needs of their own local communities.
The second project to which I should like to draw attention is in Southern Rhodesia. This is a scheme which has been worked out by the London Missionary Society, aimed at conquering hunger by the right use of land and water in Matabeleland in Southern Rhodesia. Briefly, the scheme is as follows. In this community each tenant will have eight acres of arable land and a quarter acre for vegetables. He will have seven head of cattle, a bull will be bought to improve stock, and the women will be trained in poultry production. Two dams are to be built, one for watering cattle and the other for irrigation. The whole project is estimated to cost over £2,000.
The third scheme is one that is actually going forward now in East Pakistan. This is the establishment of an agricultural and village improvement centre sponsored by the Baptist Church. The centre is under the supervision of an agricultural missionary; and I imagine that the definition of an agricultural missionary is one who, while he carries the Bible under one arm, carries the most up-to-date book on farm methods under the other. His wife is a trained nurse.
I have given a brief outline of these schemes, but, as I do not wish to detain your Lordships, I will merely mention several others without giving a long explanation of what is involved. The Church of Scotland in their South Arabian Mission plan to conquer hunger among children by teaching mothers how to use food properly. The Christian Council of Madagascar have developed 3,000 acres as a farm school. In Korea the Church are aiming at settling a hundred families on the land, and have already found after three years that they can become self-supporting. In Eastern Nigeria, the Christian Council run literacy classes and thrift societies and are 211 helping with projects as diverse as the building of roads, dams, fish ponds, bridges and agricultural development. In Sarawak, the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel is running an agricultural school; and here the missionary in charge and his assistant both have agricultural degrees. A very similar scheme is being run by the Young Men's Christian Association of India and Ceylon near Bangalore. Christian aid through the British Council of Churches is also being given in places as widely apart as Chile, East Africa, and the Middle East. The Roman Catholic Church, as we know, also have many similar projects.
I trust that this brief summary will show that the Church is involved very much in the problem of providing technical assistance to developing countries; and if I may presume to add this, it also gives a much truer idea of what is involved by Christian mission than is the one which is usually held. For the Church is concerned with persons, because persons matter, and is thus involved in the wellbeing of man, body, mind and spirit.
I should also like to mention here the valuable contribution being made by the Young Farmers' Clubs of this country. Many of our young people are much criticised to-day, but young farmers are giving us a spendid example. In my own county branch, where I have the honour to be the president, we are supporting this national scheme of helping young farmers in the West Indies, and indeed, we sent out some of our young farmers to help them in their work.
I have confined my speech to saying what the Church is doing, which I hope may be of some interest and a contribution to this debate. But on the wider subject of the whole question of the application of science and technology to development, I should like to say that I believe there is a close parallel between theology and science. A theology which concerns itself only with the problem of discovering the truth about the nature and character of the Creator and is not concerned with the creation, may well be an interesting intellectual exercise for the specialist, but it does little to help ordinary people with their problems and perplexities to realise that the Creator is very much involved with his creation. 212 The examples that I have presumed to give show, I think, that the Church to-day in its theology is working out the theology of involvement. Belief, if it is to mean anything, must be expressed not only in terms of a creed, but in terms of daily bread.
So with science, which has as its aim, I take it, the discovery of truth. But this in the abstract has little significance unless it is seen to apply to the solving of the social and political needs of mankind. In the underdeveloped countries, I suppose the basic need, when you analyse it, is the need for power. They need the knowledge and equipment which will enable them, first, to generate their own power, and, secondly, thus to be able to solve, to a large extent, their own economic problems. Our scientists have made, and are making, a great contribution in the provision of technical assistance, but I believe that for the future safety and sanity of mankind this should now be made our first and most important priority.
§ 5.20 p.m.
§ VISCOUNT SIMON
My Lords, I should like to bring to your Lordships' attention one aspect of these very important matters we have been discussing. Before doing so, may I express my apologies to your Lordships, and particularly to the two noble Lords who introduced these Motions, in that I am afraid that a long-standing engagement will make it impossible for me to remain until the end of this debate.
I was immensely grateful, as I am sure all your Lordships were, to the noble Lord, Lord Todd, and to the noble Earl, Lord Bessborough, for bringing this matter before us. I am particularly grateful to the noble Earl for calling attention to this interesting Report by the Advisory Committee of the United Nations, because if he had not done so I am sure that I should never have seen it; and I have found it a most fascinating and interesting document. However, it has puzzled me in one respect. This is a Report of the Advisory Committee on the Application of Science and Technology to Development, and at a fairly early stage in the Report the Committee record in very definite terms the considered view that, in present circumstances, the wider and more intensive 213 application of existing knowledge provides the best prospect of securing rapid advancement. That appears in paragraph 12 of the Report. Yet after paragraph 13 the Committee abandon that line and deal in an interesting way with all sorts of matters in which further knowledge may be sought through research—and the noble Earl outlined some of these in his speech. I am a little concerned lest what I regard as the fundamental task, the application of these discoveries to development, may be submerged in the search for new methods and new processes.
There is a rather illuminating passage which caught my eye, only because I am particularly interested in transport and in ports. In paragraph 110 there is a passage dealing with ports, and the Committee, after taking note of the fact that the rapid turn-round of shipping is a vital problem, say that they had difficulty in deciding how far the solution to this problem may lie in advances in the fields of science and technology, and how far it is primarily a problem of organisation and management. It seems to me, my Lords, that the application of science and technology to development is all the time a problem of organisation and management. It is not enough to discover new processes by which benefits can be brought to the developing countries. Somehow these new processes must he stimulated in the countries where this development is to take place. As I see it, that is a problem basically of organisation and management, or even, one might say, a problem of administration.
The noble Lord, Lord Todd, said—and I am sure we all agree with him deeply—that one of the first problems is that of improving food production. The scientists and the technologists can produce new strains of grain and new methods of cultivation, but they are of no use at all until they are applied; and the application of these methods is not a problem for the technologist but one for the administrator and for the manager. Here, it seems to me, we come up against a real difficulty, because the developing countries, often having newly-won political freedom, are particularly sensitive to any suggestion that they are to be taught the ordinary things of life. They are prepared to accept scientists 214 and technologists, because they regard them as experts; but they find it much more difficult to accept managers, and still less, perhaps, advisers in administration. Yet I do not see how the enormous advantages that science and technology can bring to the developing countries can be properly exploited unless we can find a solution to this problem. Moreover, it must be a solution that suits the countries themselves.
In this connection, I was a little frightened by some of the things said by the noble Earl, because he was speaking about highly sophisticated means of applying these new ideas, means which I should have thought were very difficult to implement in a country just emerging from a primitive state. I understand that not long ago, in a television interview (I did not hear it myself, but I was told of it), President Nyerere was asked why he was flirting (if that is the word) with the Chinese, and his answer, I think, was most significant. It was:The Chinese are making technological advances in circumstances much more like mine than are the circumstances in America or in England or, for that matter, in Russia".What we must do, if we are really to help the developing countries, is to find means by which, in their own surroundings, they can make these new technical advances work.
There is, I think, a real difficulty about sending people out to these places. Not only is there the difficulty of the reception which they might receive, but there is also the difficulty that we in this country, perhaps, have not so many people trained in those arts as to be able to spare them. There is the added difficulty that a man who knows something about the management and organisation of these matters may find it difficult going out to a strange country, to adjust his ideas to the new conditions. If I may offer a suggestion—one that I know is recognised in some quarters—it would he that the way to help in this field is to make sure that the opportunities we have in this country for training our own young managers are also open to people coming from the developing countries. If they can get the benefit of training here, they can then, with the background they already have of their own country, go back and try to apply to their own circumstances what they have learned here.
215 Somehow, my Lords, I feel—and this is really all I had intended to say—that we must find some means of translating the schemes which the scientists and the technologists develop, and the ideas which they put forward, into real, practical terms. Perhaps I may illustrate my point, because I think there is some difficulty in the use of words. To a scientist the word "application" may mean merely converting science into a technology. To me, "application" means the practical application of these things to the facts of life. As an example, let us take a simple case in the field of agriculture. The scientists may discover, and the technologists may develop, a new method of cultivating some crop; but, somehow, that must be got over to the cultivator, and somebody has to decide in what area of the country it is suitable for this crop to be developed. He has then so to organise the life of the people that the farmers in that particular area get the help they need, and to see that the help is not dissipated among farmers in an area where they do not need it, and where it would be inappropriate. All these are things which have to be done before the technological advances which can, and are, being made can be applied usefully to the territories about which we are thinking.
If I may, in a sentence, sum up what I feel, it is this. The scientist and the technologist, between them, can advise what to do, but it is somebody who is not nearly so highly qualified, yet who has a deep knowledge of the country itself, and some training in the organisation of resources and men, who has to decide how to do it.
§ 5.30 p.m.
THE EARL OF SELKIRK
My Lords, I think we are all deeply indebted to the noble Lord, Lord Todd, for the extremely able way in which he has presented this Motion. It is a pretty depressing afternoon. Little has been said from any side which is very encouraging. I am not going to be any more encouraging. I think the situation in certain facets is even worse than that put by the noble Lord, Lord Todd. First of all, this subject represents the most remarkable development in international relations which has taken place since the war, something that previously has never 216 happened to this extent. It is a subject which the Economic and Social Council have been examining studiously since the United Nations was formed, and a lot of things have been done, but frankly the results are still wholly inadequate. Not only that, but I believe people are losing faith in this subject. Mr. George Woods, when he came here recently, said: "Aid is on the defensive".
May I look at one or two reasons why this should be so? In the first place, I think there is a measure of illusion, or there was a measure of illusion, as to the sort of speed which could be achieved. We forget too easily the 200 years in which industrial development took place in this country, since the days of James Watt or Arkwright—and in agriculture, too. We put too much faith in this concept of a breakthrough in science. We have had one recently in gas, in two senses. The breakthrough we have had is a breakthrough scientifically, and that it should have teething troubles is perhaps natural enough. But science should not be regarded as a Fairy Godmother to take Cinderella to the ball. What we want to do is to apply what is known, and the gap between what is known and what is applied is a very wide gap indeed. It is wide in this country, and it is far wider in many countries.
Here I think there is another problem which worries people. I believe we are in a state of schizophrenia as to whether it is a moral problem or an economic problem. The Ministry of Overseas Development sits nicely on the fence and says it is both: that is, it says it is basically a moral problem, but then goes on to say it is to our long-term economic advantage. I really do not think we can claim it is morally desirable that we should seek our long-term economic advantage. That is the sort of thing that possibly justifies the epithet "Perfidious Albion". Whatever economists may say about adding up the figures, I believe this is a sheer economic necessity; and whatever economists may say, if India, for instance, were to double her wealth, of course it would benefit every trading country in the world, of which we are one.
Your Lordships may remember what Lord Bruce of Melbourne used to say so frequently, and you will find it in a very impressive lecture by Dr. Horowitz 217 recently, in which he speaks of effective demand. This would transform world trade. In that sense we should, I think, regard this assistance as in the true self-interest of the world. If you like, it is a moral obligation for each country to maintain its own economy in good order. What is more important, I believe, is that if you put in a moral connotation, it necessarily demands a response of gratitude, and gratitude between nations is very difficult; no nation likes to be obligated, and obligation may even arouse resentment. I suggest, therefore, that we should regard it as certainly a mutually beneficial arrangement.
There is the other problem which comes before us and which makes many people think this is a labour of Sisyphus. That is the problem of population. It becomes quite frightening when the United Nations relates the population to square metres on the face of the globe. It postulates an utterly impossible position. There is no value simply in increasing the population of the world. What we are seeking to ensure is that those who are there should have a worthwhile life. The Ministry of Overseas Development refer to it—I think there is a small reference at the end in the last paragraph—but pretty shortly. I believe, on pure economic grounds—and this is a solemn thought—that perhaps half the resources devoted to aid should be applied to limiting population. I am not at all sure that on economic grounds this would not, over a reasonable period, be the most profitable and useful way for the world to use this money. In any case, let us be quite frank: any increase in population makes the need for intensive agriculture infinitely more important. If this does not happen there is only one place where people can live, and that is in increased conurbations. There is not very much which can give consolation in this regard. We can say there has been a growth of 4 per cent. in most developed and underdeveloped countries, but it was at the beginning negatived by population.
I think it is important that what is involved here should be understood, and I feel we are greatly indebted to the Overseas Development Institute for presenting, almost for the first time, a more or less complete picture. We should give them every encouragement to go on 218 with this work and make it clearer. I think personal experience helps people to understand this. Voluntary Service Overseas, I am glad to say, is extending, and I am sure that that is a tremendously valuable contribution. It is interesting that not only do we have the Peace Corps in America and some organisation from Russia, but I understand that Canada and Japan are also producing similar organisations of one kind or another.
If we look at the future, I think no one is prepared to say how the enigma of economic development can be resolved. Why is it that some countries go ahead and others do not? Japan has practically no natural resources, yet is now among the six big, powerful, free-world countries. Indonesia has any amount of resources and it has not succeeded in going ahead. Israel is another country which has gone ahead—perhaps faster than any other. It is true she has had great help from America, but she has been constantly in a state of war, she has no natural raw materials, and the problem of immigration into this country is absolutely nothing to what it is in Israel. The fundamental fact we have to face was well expressed by Mr. Escott Reid in an essay on the World Bank. He said:An underdeveloped country cannot be saved by outsiders. It must save itself. To save itself it must be proud, it must retain its self-respect.I am certain there is no way of getting round that, and, frankly, many countries have not reached the stage yet when they have appreciated this problem, though I think there are many which find the task of nation-building an extremely exciting occupation.
This leads me on to two points which have already been mentioned and which I would underline. The first is the importance of education and training. I do not mean simply reading and writing, but raising the general level of intelligence. I should hope for some better exchange of teachers. I did not get the figures the noble Lord gave, but I think the number of teachers going overseas is nothing like what it could be. The second point is the use of our university organisations in schemes. In America they associate the university with some particular project. I believe that this is a matter which could receive wider consideration, because its educational value 219 would be broadening on both sides, and would be of great mutual effect.
There is one thing one must emphasise: that the environment to meet development must be peaceful. Law and order, in this sense, must come before liberty. If I may recall to your Lordships the words of Danton,Aprés le pain, la liberté est le premier besoin du peuple."—"After bread comes liberty.I am certain that until the basic essentials of life are provided, liberty will remain an empty shadow. I say that because I believe that it is possible to misinterpret what I am saying; but I think it is proper that we should recognise the important rôle we are playing towards developing and maintaining stability in certain parts of the world.
In a way, I am sorry that the Government were not able to tell us something more. The noble Lord opposite made an admirable speech in which he told us that they were doing a great many things. I give them full credit for what is being clone. I noticed his reference to locusts. He told us that he could forecast locusts meteorologically, but he did not tell us he could kill the hoppers before they started flying, which seems to me to be a far more useful thing. I do not wish to cavil at the splendid work which is being done, yet it is obvious that what we are doing is still not enough; that what is being done by the world is still not enough. The nature of the requirement on a world basis is still far beyond being recognised.
Naturally we who have avenues not open to all have a rôle to play. Whatever may be the future of the Commonwealth, as an association or club, I have no doubt that, so far as anyone can see into the future, bilateral relations will continue. May I, in this respect, recall what Mr. George Woods, in a rather charming compliment, said of us in this country. He said:A great deal of the routine of the World Bank Group is simply carrying on—with you and others—some of the great works of construction which you started in the exciting days of Empire.This is, of course, true. We started some of this work a hundred years ago. Then there were the 1929 Act and—a particularly brave Act—the 1940 Act, which we passed in the middle of the war, by 220 which we undertook a long and considerable period of development. In many ways, we have done some of this development unconsciously in the many highly unsuccessful investments overseas which were carried out early this century.
We are, of course, deeply concerned at the present time with our economy; and rightly so. But we ought to remember, in this tremendous drive for modernising our industry, that by so doing we are increasing the gap between the developed and the undeveloped countries. The bigger the gap, the more we can do. But more serious, I think, is the restriction which is now being imposed on investments overseas. This restriction comes at a time when a similar restriction is being imposed by the United States of America. I would ask the Government: what is likely to be the result? I know that not all of this investment goes to undeveloped countries; but some of it does, directly or indirectly, and there is no distinction in the area of investment. I find it hard to believe that this will not have a cumulative effect in the sort of slowing-down of development to which the noble Lord, Lord Todd, referred. I know of, and one can read, the Government Plan. Of course, our home problems necessarily push these wider problems out of the way. But I would make a plea: that in this complex field we can find a common ground for national purpose, and decide that this is something in regard to which we can make a worthwhile contribution.
§ 5.45 p.m.
THE LORD BISHOP OF SOUTHWARK
My Lords, like the rest of your Lordships I listened with great pleasure to the noble Earl just now, but I do not think he would expect me to agree with him when he says that this is not a moral problem. I know that this debate is on technical assistance and its problems, and not on the broader subject of world proverty and how to overcome it. Even so, a purpose of technical assistance, perhaps the main purpose, is the removal of poverty; and it is a bleak thought that this debate on technical assistance, so far from being an academic discussion, is set this very night in a context of starvation in some areas of the world and of poverty in most.
At the same time, I think we must be careful not to exaggerate. An 221 impression is sometimes given that the West has been affluent for centuries and, like the priest and the Levite in the parable of the Good Samaritan, has passed by on the other side when faced by the poverty of the less fortunate countries. That, of course, is not so. Many of your Lordships, whose memories go back to the 1920s and beyond, will realise how recently this country has emerged from comparative poverty into comparative affluence. Hence, it is not surprising if we are at times a little halting in the discharge of our responsibilities to people elsewhere.
The new nations, however, are not particularly interested in our history. Instead, they look at us and note our affluence and see comparable conditions. We must try to meet their needs for two reasons: it is right and it is expedient. It is right because starvation and poverty are evils in themselves. It is expedient because our present disparities of wealth are prejudicial to peace and order and can create the conditions of war. This does not mean to say that we should assume the rôle of Santa Claus, even if we were in a position to do so. Apart from emergency action in the case of famine and flood, the way to help is, I think, by assisting a nation to raise its own standards by its own efforts. It is at precisely this point that technical assistance is of paramount importance.
If we are to succeed, then, what are the points that should engage our attention? First, the need to establish family planning centres. I do so agree with what the noble Earl said a few moments ago. We cannot fight this issue. Modern medicine assures the survival of more and more babies, many of whom live a life of under-nourishment and some of whom die from lack of food. The population problem cannot be ignored, as it is evident that the modestly successful efforts to increase the wealth of underdeveloped countries is being offset by more and more mouths to feed. The work so far done has achieved little more than to preserve the previous standard of poverty.
I know that there is a great work of education to be done, as has already been said in this debate. We cannot tell other countries to do as we want in this matter. We must see what we can do to educate them. Perhaps we do not always 222 realise what different standards exist. Only a week or two ago, when a young clergyman from overseas came to work temporarily in my diocese, I said to him, "Are you married?" and expected the answer, "No", because he was a young man—and a deacon, not even a priest. But he said, "Yes". I said, "Any children?" He said, "Ten". One realises that one can look at life in rather a different way; but there is a great deal of education to be done, even on my part towards him.
On the agricultural front, the nature and character of new techniques required are well known. Even though improvements are constantly being made, advance is frustrated by the deeply ingrained conservatism of peasant farmers and villagers. This was the bitter experience of revolutionary Russia. The habits of generations of country people had to be changed. The only way of doing this, apart from the sort of ruthless expropriation that occurred in the Soviet Union, is by sympathetic, personal contact. In the Philippines, for example, written propaganda is useless as so many people cannot read. So what happens is that hundreds of students are trained every winter to go out into the villages in their summer vacations to persuade the peasants to make simple changes in their way of life. There can be no short cut even when dealing with the most elementary changes. For instance, peasants have to be persuaded to use dung as manure and not as fuel. At the same time, they have to be persuaded to plant trees, to raise the water level, to make areas more fertile, and to increase the fuel supply. No amount of technical assistance of a more sophisticated character is profitable or possible without preliminary persuasion and teaching.
Another obstacle to advance is the system of land tenure which makes farms too small unless they are co-operatively run. Amalgamations which are essential will probably mean that some people will have to leave the land for other work. They will have to be drawn off into industries—not necessarily into towns as there is an urgent need for cottage industries to be introduced into rural areas. It is not spectacular work. National prestige often directs capital resources into expensive dams or atomic energy power 223 stations. An intermediate economics needs to be developed using quite simple industrial plant capable of village use, together with co-operative marketing of the product. The recent sad events in Nigeria make us realise that we must come to grips with the social and community structures in the developing countries. Modern industry cannot he grafted on to tribal or primitive forms of society without radically modifying and possibly destroying them. But this is a price which has to be paid.
Associated with this is the need for education, as has already been pointed out, because a balanced community structure demands an educated and technically trained population. At present in most of the developing countries less than half the 6-to-12 age group are at primary school. The secondary school statistics are worse and there are few countries in which more than one per cent. are in any institution for advanced studies. There is need not only to increase these numbers but also to devise curricula which are not slavish copies of our own. The need is for academic tools and attitudes of mind which will help the students to work out answers to their own national and industrial problems.
This is going to be a costly business because schools have to be provided and teachers recruited and maintained for a long period before results are noticeable. In 1965 there were about 2,400 teachers at work in developing countries who were financed by the British Government. To increase this number means going short at home at a time when we need more teachers. It also requires experience abroad to be registered as an asset when returning to England, and not as a liability as it now tends to be. It is also necessary to include such service overseas as pensionable. What applies to teachers applies equally to other technical experts, whether in government, social services, industry or commerce. They should get satisfactory jobs when they return to Britain and pensionable service. If we could establish among educated, trained and experienced people in England the idea that a period of service abroad in a needy part of the world is a normal and necessary part of professional life, we should go a long way to meet the needs. The experience of V.S.O. has been most 224 encouraging, and I am sure the time has now come for it to be developed on a national scale. We might be surprised by the response.
Another problem arises from what I feel is the unsatisfactory provision in Great Britain—though I am hesitant to say this after what the noble Lord, Lord Beswick, said earlier to-day—in training people from overseas in particular technical skills. If I may give an example, when I was in Jordan two years ago a Jordanian in a lucrative position bought an expensive British car. Unfortunately, when a major fault developed there was nobody to put it right. The Germans are wiser. They welcome apprentices from Jordan. They have a thorough grounding in the intricacies of German cars. They return to Jordan not only with expert knowledge, but even as propagandists.
I can tell your Lordships a similar story about a piece of complicated factory machinery worth thousands of pounds. The British model could be serviced only by somebody going out from England, so what happened was that the order was transferred to Sweden because Sweden, like Germany, makes provision for training technicians from the Middle East and then sends them back. When on my return from Jordan I asked why similar arrangements were not made in Britain, I was told that some people on both sides of industry were inclined to drag their feet. I do not know whether this is so, but I can well believe that my informant may have been exaggerating. I hope that when the noble Earl replies for the Government later in the debate he will enlighten me. Is this country doing what it might do to give to men and women from the developing countries the technical skills which can be taught here but which, as yet, cannot be taught in their own countries?
This brings me to my last point. Bilateral schemes for technical assistance bristle with difficulties. Developing countries tend to be suspicious and to question motives. This is in part inevitable because clearly British, American, German or Russian aid cannot be dissociated from the characteristic political outlooks and social attitudes of the countries concerned, to say nothing of the implication of improved bilateral trade and finance. In an ideal world we would offer technical assistance to all who wanted it, 225 with no strings attached. But this is an imperfect world and Britain, like any other country, will want to be satisfied that arrangements for technical assistance will be beneficial to recipients and donors alike. This is where the Churches and voluntary Organisations can help, and this is where we want Government support. Our aim should be to encourage people to go to the developing countries in a spirit of service.
What needs to be done is beyond question. Research and inquiry have produced answers to most of the questions raised. The tough problem is that of getting the solutions practised. It is only in part a financial matter. The personal aspect is as important, because there must be the right personal relationship if we are to communicate good ideas and methods for changing people's attitudes and habits. There is a great task to be accomplished. It is my belief that, if approached in the right way, there will be a considerable response from sources which are as yet untapped. I believe that the Government and the rest of us must do what we can to tap them.
§ 6.0 p.m.
§ LORD SANDFORD
My Lords, once upon a time there was a great flood, and a monkey and a fish were being swept along in it. The monkey, which was highly developed, agile and intelligent, had little difficulty in finding a tree, hanging on to it and climbing up it. When he had got there, being a humanitarian monkey he looked round for the fish, and, seeing it struggling in the water below, leaned down and scooped it out. The monkey was a little dismayed to find that the fish was not particularly grateful for this kindly act. This is a small fable, for which I am indebted to Professor Foster of the University of California. It is a fable which he uses, I understand, in the part that he plays in training American Peace Corps volunteers, and I think it illustrates the point made by the right reverend Prelate who has just sat down, and by the noble Viscount, Lord Simon, that in looking at the problems to which the noble Lord, Lord Todd, and the noble Earl, Lord Bessborough, have drawn our attention this afternoon we are not dealing with purely technical matters.
226 This is not a matter for which the skills of technicians and scientists alone are required. It is a matter in which the attitudes, values, thoughts, beliefs and behaviour of ordinary individual people are very much involved. It is a matter in which accurate knowledge and understanding of their environment, cultures, customs, traditions, psychology and so on are also needed. What I think has happened is that in this whole problem of development aid we have been a little bit mesmerised by some of the more spectacular types of technical assistance which we have been engaged in rendering to the developing countries.
It is quite true that where we are concerned with the transfer of advanced technology, these personal factors and environmental factors do not loom particularly large. It is quite possible to transplant all the techniques, know-how and skills from Sheffield to India when you are setting up a steel plant. It is quite possible to develop a mining industry, or to set up hydro-electric stations, or to build up a network of radio communications in a developing country by training a comparatively small number of skilled people, building the plant for them to work, and showing them how to set about it. This approach applies to all the advanced technologies. I am not for a moment decrying their value and their importance in the development field, but I would suggest that this transfer of advanced technology has strict limitations.
It makes demands on two things which the developing countries do not have. It makes demands on their very precious and scarce capital—and foreign capital at that—and it makes demands on their skilled manpower, which is also in very short supply. Therefore, I would entirely agree with what the noble Viscount, Lord Simon, said, that although advanced technology is perhaps largely a matter for the highly skilled and highly qualified scientists and technicians, for the most part the matter is more one of organisation and management.
Although I was fascinated by what the noble Earl, Lord Bessborough, had to say about such matters as weather modification and satellites and so on, I would want to see how all this looked as regards cost in manpower and finance before I felt I could support much of it as a 227 practicable proposition. Of course, research must go on, and I entirely agree with what the noble Lord, Lord Balfour of Inchrye, was saying about that. These things may help in many ways, and we cannot afford to neglect research and development on these lines as well. But I think this points to the fact that we must recognise that all these efforts, all this money, all this training of manpower, have so far, after nearly twenty years, led to such meagre results. Looking at the prospects ahead which are so bleak we ought, perhaps, to turn our minds to other possibilities.
I think that another possibility is one which has been mentioned by many noble Lords already this evening, and it is the possibility of concentrating more effort and attention on what has been called intermediate technology. I believe that this has been defined by Dr. Schumacher, who I believe coined the phrase, as that technology which brings a man into a job or into action with machinery or capital equipment not amounting to more than £100 in value. Technicians working in steel plants or hydro-electric plants are, of course, handling capital equipment of the order of £10,000, but intermediate technology is of a much lower order of capital than that. This is one of the topics which Sir John Cockcroft was talking about last night, in the lecture to which the noble Earl, Lord Bessborough, referred earlier, and for some of what I have to say I am indebted to him.
The possibilities of intermediate technology have been having a certain amount of attention of late, and your Lordships may have seen an article in the Observer and in other journals towards the end of last summer. I should be interested if, when he comes to reply, the noble Earl the Leader of the House could tell us a little about the way in which the Government look at this; whether they are, for instance, represented on the working group set up to go into this matter more fully; whether they support it or are prepared to support it in future, and, generally speaking, their attitude towards it.
The various projects and items which come under this heading are those which the noble Lord, Lord Beswick, mentioned in his speech, when he spoke about 228 such units under Government sponsorship as the Tropical Section attached to the Building Research Station, the Tropical Projects Institute, the Tropical Products Centre, and so on. The noble Lord mentioned some of the items with which those centres are concerned at the moment: the making of building material out of surplus groundnuts and so on, making usable and productive material out of tropical waste products. This is the kind of technology which I think is of increasing importance and value.
In this connection, I should like to take up the point which the noble Lord, Lord Todd, made right at the beginning —namely, that the one field which must be tackled, and in which the problems must be solved, if other more complicated problems are to be solved subsequently, is that of agriculture. It is the application of intermediate technology to agriculture on which I should like to spend a few moments now. There is a unit in this country under the Ministry of Overseas Development which the noble Lord, Lord Beswick, did not mention, and on which I should now like to touch. I mentioned it before in your Lordships' House when we had a debate in the summer of 1964 on the Development Decade. It is a unit which is attached to the National Institute for Agricultural Engineering in Bedfordshire, and it has a tiny staff of five (easily smaller than the units which the noble Lord mentioned) and an annual budget of, I think, about £28,000, which is a minute figure set against the problems and scale of things which we have been talking about this evening.
This tiny unit, which is concerned with research and development on agricultural engineering for use in the tropical countries, has four projects in hand at the moment. One is a single wheel tractor—the simplest kind of tractor which can he designed to take an engine—which is intended to replace a pair of oxen. This has had trials in Africa, Asia and Latin America, all of which have been quite promising. This is one item.
The second item is a rice-thresher powered by a small 150 c.c. petrol engine, which has undergone trials and which is in fact now produced in thousands in Malaya. The third of their projects is an animal-drawn tool-bar for use behind draught animals, which can be fitted with up to eight different and variable tools 229 for use in various agricultural processes. Of these, 350 are in use in the Gambia. Finally, and at an earlier stage of development, there is a piece of hand-operated machinery for transplanting rice. This is under trial in Burma and Ceylon.
These are not spectacular pieces of equipment. They are all small, and they are all certainly under £100 in value. What I think is surprising and remarkable about all this is that that tiny unit of five people has been able to conduct the research, the design, the development and the trials in these places all over the world; to organise the manufacture, first at home and then locally overseas; to set up the servicing organisation and to adapt the machines with local modifications to make them usable in different parts of the world. My Lords, if four men and one woman based in Bedfordshire can do this with four pieces of equipment, surely we ought now to try to expand this sort of operation. Here is somebody working in that kind of technology which can be immediately applied in a practicable form in countries which have an abundant supply of the sort of manpower that can use it; which requires the minimum amount of capital outlay in order to purchase and manufacture the equipment, and as to which, in all cases, trials in service have already been undertaken or are now being undertaken. It seems to me that, whatever we might do about desalination or water supplies, we ought not to neglect these simple projects which I have just set before your Lordships.
These centres, like the National Institute of Agricultural Engineering and the Tropical Products Storage Centre, and other centres which the noble Lord, Lord Beswick, mentioned earlier in his speech, have become too much Cinderellas of the Ministry of Overseas Development. Once intermediate technology has found a solution to a problem, surely ways and means must be found for applying it on a wide scale. As the noble Viscount, Lord Simon, suggested to us, at that point it becomes a matter, not for the technician or the scientist, but for the manufacturer, the organiser and the administrator.
My Lords, I am not sure how this can best be done. It is probably something which ought to be done in a number of ways simultaneously. I should have 230 thought that these projects were now ready for commercial exploitation. It is interesting that the Chinese, whom one would expect to take up something of this sort with alacrity, have in fact done so in Malaya, but this is the only country where these things are being employed and mobilised as effectively as I think they should be. It may well be that if we do not do something about it soon the Japanese will "cotton on" to the advantage of the rice-transplanter, which has enormous benefits in the countries for which it has been designed.
The staff of civil servants themselves, together with the agricultural extension officers in the Gambia, have been responsible for the development of the use of their animal-drawn tool-bar in the Gambia; but if it can be done there, surely there are other places, much larger than the Gambia, where, if there is a will, it can be done just as effectively. I should have thought that the first really large agricultural engineering firm in this country that had the vision to see the possibilities in this field and had the guts and the drive to stick to the initial difficulties, which will be enormous, would get a very rich reward for their vision and their determination, which they would well deserve. In the meantime, and alongside that possibility of commercial development, is there any indication from the Ministry of Overseas Development that they are seized of the very much greater importance of the application of intermediate technology, as opposed to the application of more advanced technologies, which I think have been driven almost to their limits already, and with which the United Nations report is concerned? We spend an enormous amount of money and we train a tremendous amount of skilled manpower in order to transfer these advanced technologies to other countries; but, my Lords, as we have heard already this afternoon, the return for this effort is negligible and is most disappointing indeed.
As the office staff of the new Ministry of Overseas Development spread out of Stag Place (and, I understand, even into Gorringe's), do they envisage any corresponding increase in the staffs of the tropical sections of these research establishments? This, I believe, is where the main possibility of progress lies. Surely it is possible now to increase this 231 tiny staff of five at the National Institute of Agricultural Engineering; and surely it is possible to increase the tiny staff of 20 or 30 at the Tropical Products Storage Centre? If that is not possible, is there not a possibility—or could not all these three be done together—of seconding some volunteers to the officers from these units when they are at work in the field overseas? Surely that would be one way—not necessarily the best way, but one way—of extending the effectiveness of the work of the agents from these centres when they visit the field overseas, by attaching to them volunteers who can see what the particular problem is in applying a particular piece of machinery in a particular place. They can work with the expert for few months and then be left behind while the expert moves off somewhere else or comes home, and see the project through.
It is all very well for the noble Lord, Lord Beswick, to say— and I think he is entitled to say it—that the effort of this country in development aid and technical assistance is a good one. I do not deny that for a moment, but it is not really relevant to our debate. The Motion before us sets out various very urgent and dire problems, and the only issue is: Is this problem being solved or is it not? Nobody's effort is adequate or sufficient until we can see that these problems are in fact being solved and that a solution is in sight.
§ LORD BESWICK
My Lords, I hope the noble Lord will allow me to interrupt, because I should not like him to go away with the thought that I was being a little complacent. I went out of my way to say that, although there is nothing to be ashamed of, there is nothing to be complacent about, either.
§ LORD SANDFORD
My Lords, I thank the noble Lord very much. Nevertheless, one had hoped, when the Party opposite came into power, that, with all that they profess and attempt to practise about the brotherhood of man, with their great admiration for the United Nations and their concern—a very proper concern—for the needy, even more zeal and imagination than they have in fact promised and more still than they have in fact practised would have been shown by them. I may be wrong on this, and 232 if I am nobody will be able to convince me of that better than the noble Earl the Leader of the House. But it seems to me rather that the compassion for the needy and for the old folk which we heard, and saw, expressed so well on television last night by two right honourable members of the Party opposite, is not applied with quite the same intensity and skill, nor with the same solicitude and the same nice sense of timing, to the needy of, say, Calcutta as to the needy of, let us say, Hull.
§ 6.20 p.m.
§ LORD PEDDIE
My Lords, I am sure that the House is indebted to the noble Lord, Lord Todd, for introducing this subject for discussion by your Lordships. In spite of the differing points of view which have been expressed, I think there has been recognition by every speaker—and, I imagine, by every Member of the House—of the need for extended aid to developing countries. I do not intend to add to the great mass of statistics noble Lords have quoted demonstrating the volume of aid which this country, and, indeed, other countries, have extended. My noble friend Lord Beswick indicated quite clearly that, according to his statement, the purpose of aid is to raise living standards. That is the purpose. But noble Lords have made reference to the moral issue; and the White Paper says quite clearly that the basis of the aid is moral. It goes on to indicate that the objectives are economic.
It is my view, based upon considerable experience in many countries which have received and are receiving aid, that it is necessary to emphasise the economic aspect and to pay a little less attention to the moral aspect. I recognise the moral obligations, but too great an emphasis on the moral aspect—particularly the indication to the recipients that aid is given for moral reasons—tends to convey the atmosphere of charity. I can assure the House that there are two things to avoid in all forms of aid. One is the suggestion of charity; the other is the suggestion of political entanglements. I believe that the present Government undoubtedly have pursued a policy of aid free from all the strings of political entanglement.
It is only by emphasising the economic aspect that we can truly make aid 233 effective—because it is time we realised that aid to developing countries is as much in our interests as in the interests of the receiving nations. In the long run, this country is dependent upon the improvement of conditions abroad. In order to sustain and develop our own economy, we need an expanding demand, a demand that ranges well beyond the confines of Britain. Therefore, as other noble Lords have said, when one compares the £50 average income per head per annum of the developing countries, with the £500 per head per annum average income of the industrial countries, one has an indication of the enormous possibilities for the future that lie in developing the capacity to raise the general standard of life in the developing countries.
Therefore, the more we look upon aid as an economic instrument calculated to be of as much benefit to us as to the recipients, the more realistic we shall make this aid. In years past, generations ago, this country poured out wealth into countries abroad in the form of investments; but based on the idea of extraction from those areas. To-day, there is recognition by all sensible people, industrialists and politicians, that those days are over, and that it is necessary to bring about development of the economy and stimulation of the demand, with the result, as I have already said, that we shall benefit.
My Lords, this brings me to the next point with regard to aid. I believe that aid should be directed towards stimulating and developing the capacity of the recipients to produce. Mere gifts of food and clothing and the like may be justified over a short period; but every effort should be directed towards training and towards stimulating the initiative of the people in those communities. That is of paramount importance. That is why I believe that the efforts of this Government—and, indeed, of the preceding Government—to encourage the development of co-operatives overseas have made a considerable contribution, not only to raising living standards, but also to stimulating this sense of responsibility and initiative.
As Chairman of the Advisory Committee to which my noble friend made reference, I have seen what has been accomplished in many parts of the world 234 by the encouragement of agricultural cooperatives, of marketing co-operatives, of fishery co-operatives—all of which have given these people the capacity to do something for themselves. To often, in the past, aid has been distributed like bounty, and in many cases it has done more harm than good. I was pleased to hear the statement made by my noble friend Lord Beswick (and also to see in the White Paper) that it is intended to recruit 100 specialists to go overseas as advisers. I recognise the importance of that work. I would also emphasise the fact that the quality of those specialists and advisers needs to be much higher to-day than it was a decade ago. They need also to be selected with care. Too often, in the past, we have had people anxious to take on the job as advisers for a short period because they had a picture of waving palms, serpentine rivers and a delightful way of life; and too often they were disillusioned when they got on to the job. Therefore, the need is to have dedicated people, people who know, or should know, that they are undertaking a very difficult job.
It is also necessary for industrialists themselves to recognise that this is important work which can help in raising the general standard of industrial and commercial education of their own staff. I have had some experience in trying to recruit people to go overseas as advisers. All sorts of problems arose: the problem of pensions, which I see is dealt with in the White Paper; the problem of seniority when they return; the problem of promotion. All these things are of tremendous importance. One often finds, particularly in agricultural marketing, that the people who are best able to do this job are working for very small concerns, possibly a very small agricultural co-operative. In such a case it is difficult for an employer to say to a man, "Yes, you can go away, and when you return in two years we will bid goodbye to the person we put in your place." Therefore the question of recruiting the right type of person is very important.
A few weeks ago I was interested to listen to a person who had himself been one of the advisers abroad, and he gave me a description of the attributes required. I will pass them on, for the benefit of my noble friend. He said that what was needed was the tact of an 235 Ambassador, the persistence of a tax inspector, the eloquence of a politician, the experience of a manager, the stamina of a marathon runner, the engaging smile of a film star—and the thick skin of a rhinoceros. In addition, of course (though the speaker did not bother to mention this) the adviser must know something about the subject in which he was supposed to be expert. I have read somewhere that at the United Nations the cost of an adviser they send abroad works out at £7,000 a year, plus 25 per cent. of that amount for providing support services. That gives some idea of the amount spent individually by the United Nations, and I can see that in our case the cost is not likely to amount to anything like that. But I hope that the greatest care and attention will be devoted to this problem of recruiting.
That brings me to my next point. While I applaud the action of recruiting 100 specialist advisers, I believe that a greater emphasis should be brought to bear on providing facilities in this country for study and training. That has its strong commercial appeal, as well as any other appeal. Again I may speak from my own experience. I have seen cases where recruiting people from abroad to study agricultural markets and the like has been an enormous success. With the assistance of the universities, particularly Nottingham University (and I hope that Newcastle University will be helping in the same way next year) people have come from different parts of the world not only to study for a period at a university, but also to go into the commercial sphere and see something of what is going on in Britain. It is often found that as a result of that process, these people return home having developed a strong attachment to this country, which does a great deal of good for it, quite independently of the economic aspect. Therefore I strongly urge action on those lines.
I could quote many cases. I remember two people who came from the Far East a few years ago. The Co-operative Movement took them under its wing. They had opportunities to see not only the commercial activities of the Cooperative Movement but also commercial activities in other parts of the business world. These people returned home and 236 made a special contribution to the economic development of their own community. But, over and above that, they developed a warm regard for Britain which is worth a great deal.
I come now to my final point, the question of aid itself. We have heard a lot of talk about the volume of aid, but it is not the volume that matters: it is the nature of the aid. For reasons which I have already stated, I am a great believer in the need to step up economic aid, though I know that in this connection there has been a great deal of waste, particularly on the part of, shall I say, non-British agencies. I remember the case of an exceedingly backward and impoverished community where, as in most communities of that kind, there is one asset: labour; plenty of it; too much of it. To this community, from the United States, came aid to build roads. Massive bulldozers were provided, with huge earth-moving equipment. No one in the community could operate this equipment, and Americans were brought in to do it. The natives watched these huge appliances being used to tear up the earth to make a road. That did not make for any good will towards the Americans who, out of the goodness of their hearts, had provided the equipment.
I was a little disturbed by the comments of the noble Earl, Lord Bessborough (I hope that I did not misunderstand him), who emphasised the highly sophisticated technology that could be made available to nations.
THE EARL OF BESSBOROUGH
My Lords, may I interpolate a word—and I do so also in view of what was said by the noble Lord, Lord Sandford. I referred to interim technology and semiskilled industries, and, indeed, the kind of proposals which Sir John Cockcroft made in his lecture last night. Because I knew that the noble Lord, Lord Sandford, was to speak on this subject, my speech may have appeared to be slightly over-weighted towards satellites and weather control. I did not intend that to be the case, however. It was for the convenience of your Lordships that I did not go into very great detail.
§ LORD PEDDIE
I thank the noble Earl for that clarification. I will merely go on to say that a great deal of care and thought needs to be exercised over 237 the nature of the aid. Many things which are useful in a highly developed and sophisticated economy are of little use in a lesser developed economy. Therefore it is necessary to think not merely in terms of how much we shall spend this year and how much we spent last year. Of course, that is important, but even more important is the necessity for a careful and detailed study of the sort of things which are wanted and which will enable the people concerned to use to the full the assets which they possess. As I said a few moments ago, the major asset is human hands. Gradually, by that process, and particularly by the employment of the co-operative mechanism, it is possible to do a great deal.
I would close by again paying tribute to those noble Lords responsible for initiating this debate. I believe that its subject matter is of tremendous importance to this country. It might have been born out of moral concepts, and stimulated by charitable considerations, but I believe that its effect will be sustained in the future by a clearer recognition on our part, and on the part of every industrial nation, that our continuing development will be determined, at least in some measure, by the capacity for development and the rate of development of those countries which to-day we consider to be less developed.
§ 6.38 p.m.
§ LORD KINGS NORTON
My Lords, I must apologise to your Lordships, and especially to the noble Earl, Lord Bessborough, and the noble Lord, Lord Todd, for my absence from the Chamber during the first part of the debate. I have a great deal of sympathy with many of the views expressed by the noble Lord, Lord Peddie, in the first part of his speech. As the head of a large organisation, with factories in several of those developing countries which are in receipt of bilateral and multilateral aid, I have a deep interest in the subject of this debate. The noble Lord, Lord Todd, emphasised the need in those countries for large numbers of technicians to work on agricultural development. It is also essential to produce many more technicians and technologists for the engineering industry, some parts of which will support agricultural activities.
In some of the developing countries where my organisation operates we find 238 it reasonably simple to recruit unskilled labour locally for our operations, and some of this labour may in time be converted to semi-skilled labour. We find it difficult, and in some areas impossible, to recruit skilled labour and apprentices who may be trained to become skilled men. Equally, we find it difficult, or impossible, to recruit indigenous graduate engineers or graduates willing to be trained as engineers. These things are not true in India; and significant progress has been made, particularly among the Chinese in Singapore and in Malaysia. But in the countries I have especially in mind—Nigeria, Tanzania, Rhodesia and Kenya, —the images (to use the P.R.O.'s useful word) of industry and technology are wrong. And I believe that one of the major problems of education in these countries is to give these images a new look.
It is a binary problem. On the one hand, the potential technicians have to be brought to believe that life is better for a skilled man than for an unskilled man. It is not difficult to make the teachers believe this, but I thin that they need help in putting it over. Here the industrial units in their country can and should help, by sensibly planned scholarship schemes, by showing adolescents their industrial operations, by giving them vacation work when they are old enough, and by talking to them in their classrooms about the more highly developed engineering which is done elsewhere. All this happens to some extent, but a much bigger and more closely co-ordinated effort is needed.
The other and, I fear, still more difficult part of the binary problem is to improve the industrial and technological images in the minds of the potential professional class, so that industry and technology generally can compete with the law and the Government service for the more talented people leaving the schools, universities and technical colleges. Every country needs its top talent to be reasonably distributed throughout the professions, new and old, and it would be idle to pretend that in any of the developing countries any reasonable balance has yet been achieved. Technology—industrial technology particularly—is very much at a discount.
I hope that it will be possible as the universities, the technical colleges and the 239 colleges of technology develop, to create in the minds of young people an understanding of the vital roles of industry and technology in the development of their country's economy. They must be told of the intellectual and professional satisfaction to be gained from skill in applied science and of the pleasure to be gained from creating things, so that industry can take its place with the legal and administrative professions in the esteem of their young minds.
As the images of industry and technology are still somewhat distorted in this country, and as not all our own educators are able to put industry before their pupils in a particularly attractive guise, what I am asking for is peculiarly difficult. It is, however, if these countries are ever going to run their own affairs efficiently, of such basic importance that I put the proper presentation of the rôle and rewards of industry and technology—and, of course, I include the agricultural industry under this heading —at the top of the list of problems to be solved in the educational development of the underdeveloped countries. A professional life as a technologist or as a manager in industry must be presented as parallel in status with a professional life in law, in government administration or medicine, so that the young talent will be distributed more evenly between the professions competing for it.
Here again I believe that industry can help. The co-operation between industrial units and the educational authorities, to which I have referred, can be extended beyond the schools to the technical colleges and the universities, possibly to the extent of developing an appropriate form of sandwich education. In countries where the local engineering operations are not highly developed, the logical development of the sandwich educational system, which I believe is imperative for the potential graduate in technology in the territories I am familiar with, will be difficult. The pattern we have here could not yet be transplanted, but I certainly do not despair of an appropriate sandwich pattern being devised. It is tremendously important that it should be, because it is the potential graduates' dislike of the practical element in engineering that is so serious a handicap to their recruitment to technology.
240 But when aid or companies' funds are applied to the training and education of individuals of developing countries, there should surely be some further restriction on their emigrating to earn their living here. Certainly there should not be, as paragraph 49 of the White Paper (Cmnd. 2736) says there almost certainly is, a net flow of qualified people from developing to developed countries. This is surely a matter for urgent attention. In that document's comprehensive review of the activities of the Ministry of Overseas Development, it is stated that:the first and most fundamental requirement for good management (of aid) is clarity of objectives".I hope that this will never be forgotten, and when the objectives are decided upon all efforts must be directed unswervingly at the chosen target.
Despite the shortages of professional manpower—and I was glad to hear from the noble Lord, Lord Beswick, how many people we are succeeding in making available—I believe that as much as possible of the aid should be in kind and as little as possible in cash. And when it is in cash, I think that the spending should be carefully supervised, much as the Commonwealth Development Corporation supervises the projects it invests in. In underdeveloped countries there are frequently individuals whose notions of the distribution of available funds are inadequate, and neither we nor the intended beneficaries can afford the inefficient application of available resources. This seems to me more important than ever if development loans are in future to be free of interest.
Not unnaturally, I read with particular interest in the White Paper on the work of the Ministry of Overseas Development the section on the private sector. It seems to deplore, as I do, the decline in the rate of British investment in developing countries. The White Paper went on to say that the Government do not expect the effect of their measures for reducing the total flow of such investment from this country to be very great. But, like the noble Earl, Lord Selkirk, I fear that they may, and I hope that after further study of the problem the Government will conclude that the flow should be stimulated.
241 I strongly suggest that one of the most effective ways of helping developing countries to develop is by encouraging modern industries to go to them. There are many British subsidiaries in various parts of the world aiding the local economy, assisting in overall development, and at the same time helping our balance of payments and earning some modest recompense—now more modest than ever —as well. A British subsidiary in a developing country can be a tremendous power for good. Local people can be trained in it; local people can become executives of it; local people, when we can find them, can become directors of it. All these things help these people to develop the idea of responsibility and I suppose that, in the context of this debate, the idea of responsibility is one of the most important ideas of all to develop.
§ 6.48 p.m.
§ BARONESS GAITSKELL
My Lords, I apologise for intervening in this debate without putting my name down, but I wish to comment briefly on a remark by the noble Lord, Lord Balfour of Inchrye, that the British taxpayer was going to get fed up if these attacks on Britain were going to continue and he was asked to pay for aid. This bears very much on my own experience at the United Nations, where I was a delegate for three months on the Third Committee, which is not a political Committee but the Committee for Human Rights and Social Welfare. I thought that this Committee was outside the sphere of political abuse, but not a bit. Day in and day out we were attacked on colonisation and neo-colonialism. I was completely unprepared for this and I felt very angry. I felt that many of these attacks made by the delegates from developing countries really took their minds off their own problem and the ineffective measures they were taking in their own countries. But though I found these attacks often unfair and sometimes maddening, in the end, on reflection. I believe that we should react as our own long-suffering, experienced and wise civil servants at the United Nations react. They ignore a great many of these attacks, answering back in strength just once in a while, and sometimes with humour.
I believe we must not on any account cut down or stop our aid, or threaten that because we are attacked in this way 242 we are not going to help these countries. In fact, my Lords, we have to adopt an almost religious attitude of understanding and forgiveness. Any other attitude would spell disaster in the world, where there is not so much a gap as a chasm between the affluent and the developing and poverty-stricken countries.
In the next ten years we British are going to be attacked more and more on colonialism; and other great affluent countries, even though they may not have colonies, are going to be attacked just because they are rich. But I think we can afford to take a great deal of verbal abuse. After all, we are paying for some of our sins in the past, and if we are thinking of the future of our children nothing should deter us from giving more aid to these poor and developing countries. I believe that we, in the affluent countries, will have to alter and adjust our own economies in the future to go on doing this.
§ LORD BALFOUR OF INCHRYE
My Lords, I did not want to interrupt the noble Lady, but let her get the record straight. I was not advocating any cutting down of the aid, but I was warning that the British public would not for an indefinite time ahead be willing to be taxed for those who were really kicking them in the teeth.
§ BARONESS GAITSKELL
I think I understand the noble Lord, but it really comes to the same thing. It is a slight warning, but I think we can just ignore most of these attacks.
§ 6.52 p.m.
§ THE SECRETARY OF STATE FOR THE COLONIES (THE EARL OF LONGFORD)
My Lords, I am sure that we all, including the noble Lord, Lord Balfour of Inchrye, who provoked my noble friend Lady Gaitskell into motion, will be glad that she did intervene, particularly after her spendid service at the United Nations, to which she referred so modestly.
We are all deeply indebted, as has been said by more than one speaker, to the noble Lord, Lord Todd, and the noble Earl, Lord Bessborough, for initiating this 243 debate and for their impressive contributions. We on this side of the House appreciated all that was said by the noble Lord, Lord Todd, and almost all that was said by the noble Earl, Lord Bessborough. I exempt his brief, but not offensive, deviation into Party polemics, which I felt had been imposed upon him from outside rather than flowed from his constructive brain. At any rate, they set the debate off on a fine note, and it has been well maintained. I am only sorry that I did not hear the speech of the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Worcester, and that I missed the speech of the noble Viscount, Lord Simon; and I heard only part of the speech of the noble Earl, Lord Selkirk. I assure the two earlier speakers that I will study all they have said. I will try to reply to the noble Earl, Lord Selkirk, but if, through missing the earlier part of his remarks, I have him wrong, no doubt he will put me right immediately.
This debate—and this does not make it any easier for the last speaker—has moved at a variety of levels. Deep philosophical questions have alternated with broad points of technology; the whole question of how much we can supply by way of aid, and how much we should supply; the question of who should receive it; the question of what form it should take—which was dealt with by my noble friend Lord Peddie, by the noble Lord, Lord Kings Norton, who said that more should be done in kind rather than in cash, and by other speakers; and the question of what conditions, if any, should be attached. All these points have been covered by various speakers. I will not try to reply to them dogmatically, although I hope that the general attitude of the Government will emerge. I am grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Balfour of Inchrye, for wishing me good fortune in my office. I ask his forgiveness—which I am sure will be readily given—and that of the House if I dwell at rather greater length than would otherwise be the case on our particular responsibility for the Colonies, because I think that would be expected from me on this occasion. I will, however, reply to the general debate as I proceed.
For many years we, as a country, have recognised that aid for our dependent territories, for whom we bear the prime 244 responsibility, must remain a first charge on the resources that we can devote to overseas aid. This issue has never been a Party matter. It is a basic belief on which, so far as I know, all Parties have agreed, and continue to agree. This has been shown in many debates in the past. One finds evidence of it in the well-known speech made by Mr. Joseph Chamberlain, I suppose the most famous of all Colonial Secretaries. It will be recalled that he became Colonial Secretary in 1895, when he could certainly have occupied any position, other than that of Prime Minister, in Lord Salisbury's Government, and might have become Prime Minister later. But he chose the Colonies. He said, in words which, even with our reduced number of Colonies, surely apply to-day:I regard many of our Colonies as being in the condition of undeveloped estates, and estates which can never be developed without imperial assistance…. I shall be prepared to consider very carefully myself, and then, if I am satisfied, to confidently submit to the House any case which may occur in which, by the judicious investment of British money, those estates which belong to the British Crown may be developed for the benefit of their population and for the benefit of the greater population which is outside.That was said by Joseph Chamberlain in 1895, and it has been the common attitude of Colonial Secretaries ever since, including my distinguished predecessor and great friend Mr. Anthony Greenwood, who I am glad to think has now taken over the Ministry of Overseas Development. It is clear that this remains our policy from the White Paper which was issued last year by the Ministry of Overseas Development, and to which more than one reference has been made this afternoon. It was stressed in that Report that by far the greater part of the aid from time to time derives from our responsibility for the economic development of our dependent territories, and after their independence on our joint decision with their Governments to continue that help in a different form.
From 1964 to 1965 Commonwealth countries and territories received about 87 per cent. of our bilateral financial aid. Some may say that this is a mistake, but certainly that is not the point of view of the Government, and I should think that, in general, this kind of allocation is accepted by the House. May I just point 245 out why it is that our Colonies, even when their number is reduced by their emergence into independence, will still require a special measure of help? The first problem arises from the fact that the Colonies, and particularly those that will not achieve independence, so far as we can see, in the near future, are small. Only two of the 32 dependent territories that remain to us have a population of more than one million. Over 20 out of the 32 which remain have populations of under 100,000, and this small size throws up some special problems, and will continue to do so. First of all, they have considerable difficulty in providing from their local resources all the range of skilled endeavour needed for the task of administration, and therefore there is likely to be a continuing need for the provision of special skills and technical ability from outside these territories. This is a need which we shall remain ready to fill. It applies to other countries, but it applies in a special sense to these very small countries which are our dependencies.
Secondly, if I may use the jargon of some economists, the small territories tend to suffer what is sometimes called "the dis-economy of small scale". That unpleasant word implies that any given service of government costs relatively more in a small community than it does in a larger one, which means that more aid, proportionately, is necessary. Thirdly, a small territory tends to be highly specialised in one or two types of economic activities. Since their local markets are small they depend heavily on exports, and are thus greatly at the mercy of fluctuations in the world demand for their products. For example, some of the small Windward Islands depend heavily on their ability to produce and sell bananas, and in Mauritius the economy is completely dominated by sugar. One could give other examples, but these factors, between them, place a special responsibility upon us. In short, the problems of the countries that will remain our Colonies are not complex merely because of their size, although the factor of size certainly plays a large part. In most cases they will need continued aid from us, both economic and in technical expertise, and we shall continue to do all in our power to meet this need.
I think it is worth saying, on my first appearance at the Box in my present 246 office, so that there shall be no misunderstanding in the future, that we realise to the full our responsibility for our dependent territories. May I come a little closer to the subjects that have been mentioned? I could give a great many examples, dealing with the world generally, although, as I have explained, most of our aid is in fact given within the Commonwealth. I could give many examples of our help with education, but I do not feel that it would be right to use the time this evening for that purpose when so many speeches should be replied to. However, I should like to mention just one development which is causing a great deal of interest. The Minister of Overseas Development, in association with the University of Sussex, is establishing a new Institute of Development Studies. This Institute will organise courses of advanced study in the problems of overseas development in all its aspects, economic, social sciences and administration, and I think we can draw a great deal of encouragement from that; and all the more so because the governing body will be under the chairmanship of the Vice-Chancellor of the University of Sussex, whom we hope shortly to welcome into this House as Lord Fulton, though we all know him as an old friend under the name of Sir John Fulton.
On the subject of education, I feel that I should refer to the concern voiced by the noble Earl, Lord Bessborough, about the future of the Centre for Educational Television Overseas. I think I ought to be able to reassure him about this. The Government entirely agree with him, and with others interested, on the importance of this service, and we have recognised the value of the initiative taken by the Nuffield Foundation. The Government's contribution has been doubled this year, from £20,000 to £40,000, and discussions are now reaching finality on a further increase next year. I am authorised to say that we shall not allow the centre to falter or fail for lack of funds. Assuming that that has been passed by the Treasury, it seems a rather rare and encouraging statement to be able to make about any project. I only hope that we shall prove to be as good as our word. I could say a great deal about technical training and education. I should not pass over without a mention the Council for Technical Education and Training in Overseas 247 Countries and our support for the Commonwealth Education Liaison Committee, but I think I had better confine myself mainly to topics actually raised by speakers.
The noble Lord, Lord Kings Norton, speaks, of course, as a great expert, one who can challenge comparison with anyone in this House, or outside it, and I certainly welcome, on behalf of the Government, what he said about the need for a recognition in the developing countries of the importance of industrial technology. I entirely agree with him that we have to do far more than has been done hitherto to raise the esteem in which the technological professions are held. If the noble Lord has further ideas beyond those expressed to-night, which of course will be studied, he knows that we are ready to listen to him. Indeed, on a great many subjects we draw very widely on his good nature, and I can assure him that in the sphere of ideas (I am not talking now about money) he is pushing at an entirely open door. I would point out that in the last year for which complete figures are available, 1964–65, over a thousand new students came to this country to attend courses financed by the Government; and private industry is also supplementing that effort in a big way. But, as I say, if the noble Lord has further suggestions to make, we can benefit from them greatly.
I must say one word about the services which could be rendered on a still larger scale by youth, particularly bearing in mind what was said by the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Southwark. Help is being given in various ways to find an outlet for the enthusiasm of youth. The scheme, "Study and Serve", under which the Ministry of Overseas Development finance further study by British students at universities in the developing countries, on the condition that at the conclusion of the course the young people undertake at least a year's service in the country, is still comparatively small, but I hope it will be extended.
On a much larger scale, our young people are working overseas under the auspices of the volunteer movement in all its different forms. The emphasis in this programme has now shifted from the school-leaver to the graduate, since the graduate has qualifications and experience 248 greatly needed by the developing country. Our target for 1966 is 1,300 graduates and 500 cadets. The right reverend Prelate may not consider this target large enough, but it represents an increase of about 20 per cent. on our present effort, and it will bring our total expenditure to nearly £500,000.
The right reverend Prelate raised various other aspects of this same problem of giving effect to the energies and idealism of youth in the overseas services. He argued, if I understood him correctly, that a period of overseas service might come to be regarded as a normal feature of a career in the teaching profession. The emphasis has certainly moved in that direction. Last year a little less than one-quarter of the British people serving abroad in technical assistance were teachers in higher or secondary education, but almost one-half of the new appointments made were in this category. So now about half of those being appointed are teachers. There are still many vacancies waiting to be filled, however, and any further encouragement to overseas service which your Lordships can give will be regarded as a great help. The right reverend Prelate asked me whether this work could be made pensionable. I understand that where State teachers are concerned, that point is already covered: their superannuation position is maintained. So at any rate quite a lot is being done along the lines the noble Lord would welcome.
The noble Lord, Lord Sandford, made a speech with so many constructive ideas, if I may say so, that he will forgive me if I do not deal, to-night at any rate, with quite a number of them, though I hope that if he feels that some points should be dealt with, by correspondence or otherwise, he will let me know afterwards. He introduced into the discussion the interesting concept of intermediate technology. Certainly in the Ministry of Overseas Development, for which I am primarily speaking to-night, that idea is viewed with a great deal of sympathy, though it is not regarded as an answer to all problems. A formula of that kind is a good servant but a bad master. But I am assured that the Ministry of Overseas Development, through its economic planning staff, is now in a position to give more effective advice on such questions of industrial growth as size of 249 market and unit cost of production, and the economic survey missions which the Ministry sends to help developing countries are very alert to the possibilities in this field. That is what I am authorised to say, and it is obviously a rather guarded statement. But I hope the noble Lord will draw a measure of encouragement from the fact that we are well aware that this is one of the live issues of the day which cannot be neglected by a self-respecting Ministry.
I must point out that while we realise that the simpler technologies can often make the biggest early impact, we must not neglect the more advanced fields. The Ministry of Overseas Development, together with the Ministry of Technology and the National Research and Development Corporation, are studying the application of some of the more sophisticated technologies, and in this connection they have been assisted by Sir John Cockcroft, who has been brought into the discussions in more than one capacity to-day—once, I am told, riot quite accurately. But at any rate we are anxious to pay tribute to him; and he has made a preliminary survey of the field with a view to identifying the more promising lines of progress.
That brings me to a point made by more than one noble Lord, perhaps most emphatically by the noble Lord, Lord Balfour of Inchrye—the question of desalination. In this matter I agree that we in this country appear to have a particular contribution to make. Although we have not yet had requests from developing countries for particular assistance in this direction, we believe that the production of fresh water from the sea by desalination may well revolutionise the attack on some obstacles to development.
There is certainly an atmosphere of encouragement among our authorities. Here we can claim (and the noble Lord himself said this, in other words) a more solid achievement than any other country, since most of the world's land-based distillation plants have been designed and built by British industry. The noble Lord, Lord Beswick, who is a thorough master of all these subjects, pointed out that the Atomic Energy Authority has been given central responsibility for research and development on desalina- 250 tion, and a programme of work costing £1½ million, in collaboration with industry, has been approved. I may tell the noble Lord, Lord Balfour of Inchrye, that this programme is being kept under review. If it seems that a larger programme can be justified, certainly there is no initial obstacle. While this is the only commitment that I can enter into, I think one can fairly say that his ideas appear to be reasonably close to those of the authorities.
I should return to one or two broader issues. The noble Earl, Lord Bessborough, will not mind my joining for a moment with him in controversy—we have had very little this afternoon. He used the phrase, "a broken pledge". I think he said that we had broken a pledge. He may have wrapped it up, but those words seem to have found their way into his remarks. No one likes being accused of breaking a pledge, particularly when he has not broken one; therefore I must repudiate, rather strenuously, this idea that some pledge has been broken. The National Plan certainly does not reject the idea that we have a moral responsibility. It is concerned more with economics than morals, as might perhaps be expected from a national plan. But if it is read carefully, the phrase which the noble Earl paraphrased does not sum up its message at all adequately. It makes it clear that the restraint imposed by our balance-of-payments difficulties will affect the rate of growth of our aid programme, but it also makes it plain that the programme is still increasing.
THE EARL OF BESSBOROUGH
My Lords, I am glad to have that assurance from the noble Earl. It looked very much as though the words used in the White Paper and the words used in the National Plan were a contradiction: "aid to developing countries will be restrained". I grant that it added, "and the effectiveness of each pound of aid increased". That is good. But it looks as though the first phrase, "aid to developing countries will be restrained", is a contradiction of the statement that "technical assistance will be increased and given higher priority", which appeared in the Labour Manifesto and in the White Paper last August.
§ THE EARL OF LONGFORD
If the noble Earl reads the whole passage, I 251 think he will see there is no possible conflict. The National Plan came out not long after—I think two months after—the White Paper. The same Government authorised both, and, having sat in the Cabinet when both were passed, I can assure him that there was no intended departure. I do not think anybody who reads it will think it differs from the White Paper.
I was struck by something which the noble Lord, Lord Sandford, said about Hull and Calcutta. I took him to mean that in cases where votes are concerned we are more generous than in cases where they are not. In the field of penal reform I have myself been heard to say in this House, possibly from the other side, that penal reform is last in the queue because there are no votes in it. Therefore it is a concept, if I may put it that way, which I understand. The real question is, how much aid can we literally manage to give? At first sight, it may look as if the giving of 1 per cent. of the national income—and we have not yet reached that figure—is a very small amount; and certainly it would be a relatively small contribution within this country, if the people of Calcutta were living here at the same standard of life. Some Members of the House will remember the attempt to extract payments from Germany after the First World War. Trying to make a payment from one country to another is completely different from paying it inside your own country. It becomes very difficult to make a payment of £100 million, even though the national income may be thousands of millions. This is an economic point, if we may deal with economics for a moment. Therefore, I do not think it is quite fair for the noble Lord, Lord Sandford—and I am sure he was not trying to be unfair—to overlook the difference between making payments abroad and making them here.
§ LORD SANDFORD
My Lords, it was not that concept, but the first concept the noble Lord mentioned, which I was trying to cover—the one with which the noble Earl says he is familiar.
§ THE EARL OF LONGFORD
At any rate, I should say a word about the way in which this aid has increased. As a matter of fact, the noble Lord, Lord Beswick, made this very plain, but perhaps there is no harm in saying it again. 252 The aid to developing countries has been rising in recent years at the rate of about 10 per cent. and we expect that in this financial year it will be 15 per cent. higher than in the last financial year. The proportion going to technical aid will in fact be higher this year. So when we talk about restraining aid, we do not mean checking the increase, or reducing it. We mean that while the economic problems exist—and I am bound to say, in one brief and, I hope, inoffensive sentence, that we inherited them—restraint in this sense must be employed. That is a very different thing from cutting aid, which would mean reducing it.
I am bound to say that I find rather fantastic Lord Bessborough's description of the performance of the Ministry of Overseas Development as "feeble". To illustrate the submission that the opposite is the general impression, perhaps he will allow me to say that everyone assumed that Mrs. Castle had done a wonderful job in this Ministry. I think every newspaper hailed her performance in regard to aid from the Department of Overseas Development when she was recently translated, and if the performance was really as feeble as all that, it is rather strange that the newspapers generally should have hailed her work as Minister. There is no truth whatever in the suggestion that the creation of a new Ministry has increased overhead costs while restricting aid. In fact, economy and efficiency have been promoted by concentrating a great many dispersed activities. So far as anything in politics is ever allowed to be a fact, I think it must be put forward as a fact, that there has not been an increase in overheads through the creation of this Ministry.
THE EARL OF BESSBOROUGH
My Lords, the point I wanted to make—I do not like to detain the House any longer—is that in the White Paper there is little, if anything, about the future—what the future plans should be, how much we should spend in the future, and what the projects should be. That is why I referred to it as a little feeble. I might even have said "a little wishy-washy." There are no positive projects and plans in the White Paper; it is a good review of the past, and the tables are useful. That was the point I wanted to make.
§ THE EARL OF LONGFORD
Well, my Lords, I am glad the noble Earl has made that clear. But in fact the future, and the amount we can spend, is bound to remain uncertain. Since he has returned to the suggestion that the White Paper is feeble, that the promises are feeble, I can only say that it would not do this country any good to hold out the kind of prospects which I am afraid that he and his colleagues held out in a number of Fields, and which certainly in some cases cannot be realised.
Leaving aside this little exchange arising out of that one weak (and, may I say feeble?) spot in the noble Earl's speech —not wishy-washy, just feeble—I come to what can fairly be called the moral part of this argument, although I think we all agree, including the noble Earl, Lord Selkirk, that you cannot separate altogether morals and economics. He argued that we ought to lay more stress on the economic considerations.
THE EARL OF SELKIRK
What I really was saying was that if it is in your economic interest to do something, you cannot simply identify it with a moral object. I think these things should be separated.
§ THE EARL OF LONGFORD
My Lords, as I have said, to my misfortune I did not hear the noble Earl's precise argument at the time, so it would not be proper to pursue him in regard to words which no doubt he used most carefully. But the noble Lord, Lord Balfour of Inchrye, raised, and I think quite properly in this House, this question which is often discussed wherever men and women are gathered together; namely, whether we should give aid to countries which behave in a most awkward fashion towards us, at any rate for the time being. I think that is an issue which must be faced.
Perhaps the noble Lord had in mind Tanzania, which is the most obvious case; and I would put that case in front of him. I am aware that he did not raise this in some alarmist fashion, but in a most moderate way. He asked whether a warning should not be given. He said specifically that he did not want aid cut off. I am not trying to indict him for some extremist policy of unfriendliness to these countries. But as regards technical assistance (which is, after all, the 254 subject of our debate), whatever would be the merit of taking steps, if they came to be taken—I am not now talking about the warning—it would not do much good to give a warning if you did not mean in any circumstances to give effect to it. What would be the benefit to anyone if steps were taken that would swiftly lead to the exodus of over 1,000 British officers of the Tanzanian Administration, with catastrophic effects on the stability of the country? Would this further our interests in Africa or in the world at large? I submit to the noble Lord that one should ponder long and carefully before one took a step of this kind.
§ THE EARL OF LONGFORD
Therefore, whether we call this morals or economics, at any rate it would be most imprudent to take a step of this kind, except—
§ THE EARL OF LONGFORD
My Lords, I am sure that those who are directly responsible never cease to do so in all these matters. But I should like to tell the noble Lord clearly that I arts glad he does not argue that this aid should have been cut off already. I do not think anyone has argued that to-day, and certainly he has not done so. I would think—and I agree entirely with the noble Baroness—that the emotional reactions in the face of short-term differences would he a petty response unworthy of Britain. I think we all agree about that.
Finally, I should like to come back once more to the question which comes up in every debate of this sort and which will certainly never be settled on this side of eternity: the relative places of the moral and of the economic factor. I would say clearly that in the mind of the Government, in the mind of the Labour Party, and I should have thought in the minds of most people directly concerned with this aid, and I daresay in the minds of most people here, we approach this subject in a spirit of unselfishness. I have always been much depressed and impressed by the fact that the standard of life in this country is ten 255 times that of India, and this is not the richest country in the world and India is not the poorest. Speaking for myself—although I think it is the view of most people here—while that inequality exists it is not just a nice calculation as to whether it will benefit us or will not. It is a Christian duty, and if one were not a Christian it would be an ethical duty, to do something to redistribute this balance, and in fact to do a great deal. That is where one begins.
But economically (if I may return to the noble Lord, Lord Sandford) economics come in rapidly, because it becomes impossible to transfer as much as we should like to, such as 3 per cent. or 4 per cent., or whatever proportion one may think represented the Christian duty, if by doing so we were simply going to wreck our economy and render ourselves totally unable to help anybody at all for many years to come. So the economic limit quickly arises, although the motive should be primarily a moral one.
I am bound to say that, weighing up Lord Balfour of Inchrye's point, and weighing up this side of it, I hope in the presence of two right reverend Prelates I may, without impertinence, quote the old phrase:If ye do good to them which do good to you, what thank have you? For sinners also do even the same. Do good and lend, hoping for nothing thereby.I think that means not even expecting to get your money back. I believe that is the real burden of the Gospel message. That seems, surely, the driving force behind the ideas of the noble Earl, Lord Bessborough, and the noble Lord, Lord Todd, just as much as behind the ideas of those of us on these Benches.
I should like to end along a line which was taken by the noble Lord, Lord Todd, and by the noble Lord, Lord Balfour of Inchrye, and also by other speakers. To-day I was reading a book which may be familiar to the right reverend Prelates, and possibly to others, called Readings in St. John's Gospel, by Archbishop Temple. I came across this sentence:The way to call anyone into fellowship with us is not to offer them service which is liable to arouse a resistance to their pride but to ask service from them.That is very much what Lord Peddie was putting in other words. It brings us back to where we began with the 256 noble Lord, Lord Todd. What we want to do with these people abroad is not to descend from above like a kindly Papa, but to place ourselves on their level, work alongside them, and help them to help themselves. This is the attitude of the Government, and I am sure of everyone in this House. Speaking on behalf of the Government, I should like to thank all those who have taken part in this debate, particularly the noble Lord, Lord Todd, and the noble Earl, Lord Bessborough.
§ 7.32 p.m.
§ LORD TODD
My Lords, I should like first of all to thank the noble Earl the Leader of the House for the way in which he so thoroughly dealt with the various matters which have been raised in the course of our debate to-day. Until he spoke I had not anything further to say at this point, but his speech left me with two matters to which I should like to draw attention at this stage.
The first concerns the matter of intermediate technology, which he raised. This term has been introduced into the debate and I may have used it somewhere in my own speech, but I feel that there are certain dangers involved in the use of this expression. It may have been used by Dr. Schumacher; it was also used by Sir John Cockcroft last night in a lecture which unfortunately I did not hear. But do not let us be led astray. It is no use saying, "What we want to go in for is intermediate technology". One does not" go in for intermediate technology". What is really meant is that if one does the things that are vital, if one gets on with agriculture, starts to make roads, and so on, the kind of technology that one will want is not advanced technology. But we just cannot start off by sticking up "intermediate technology" as something to go for. It is a secondary effect of other things. Do not let us make the mistake of elevating it into some special idol of its own.
The second point I wondered about came in the remarks of the Leader of the House when he said something about nobody having asked us for desalination equipment. Earlier this afternoon in connection with population control I believe the noble Lord, Lord Beswick, said that it was the policy of the Government to give help and knowledge 257 whenever it was requested, but that we waited until we were asked. The trouble in this world is that people who need things most are very often the people who do not ask, or people who do not know that they should be asking. While I appreciate the idea behind this policy, I hope that the Government will nevertheless not he afraid to take such means as are possible to let people acquire the knowledge that certain things ought to be done. We ought to do this, even if it means we get the sort of treatment which was mentioned by the noble Baroness; that is to say, if we meet with an apparent ingratitude in the initial stages. I still think we shall be wrong to sit back and do nothing and wait for requests. However, these are perhaps only small points.
I have found this debate a most interesting one and I am sure that, speaking from these Benches, it would not be improper for me to say that, apart from a few sallies of a Party political character our debate to-day has been a very rational one. A large number of points have been brought forward, all of which are important and relevant—and all of them, I would emphasis, have been constructive. I think that the subject is clearly one which is regarded by all of us as of great importance. It is gratifying to know that Government have views which are not dissimilar from those of us who have spoken in the debate to-day. So I should like to thank all noble Lords who should take part. I beg leave to withdraw the Motion.
§ Motion for Papers, by leave, withdrawn.
§ 7.35 p.m.
THE EARL OF BESSBOROUGH
My Lords, in view of the fascinating and well-informed debate we have had this afternoon, I propose not to move my Motion. At the same time, I feel I ought to thank the noble Earl for his most interesting winding-up speech, and to congratulate him on his new appointment. I am sure it is a very good appointment. May I finally say that we must put first things first and pay all regard to down-to-earth matters and what Sir John Cockcroft described as "the simple things". We must also have the imagination to look at some of the longer-term 258 possibilities. I am off to Pakistan and India on Monday, and hope to learn more there.