HL Deb 26 May 1966 vol 274 cc1465-7

2.39 p.m.


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

[The Question was as follows:

To ask Her Majesty's Government what is the object of founding another International Agency, namely, the Asian Development Bank; what necessary functions are there that this Bank will be expected to perform which cannot be performed by existing International or National Agencies or Banks; is membership of the Bank going to cost the United Kingdom and in what currency will our subscriptions be paid; what safeguards are being imposed to prevent, so far as possible, lavish administrative expenditure and waste, and when do Her Majesty's Government expect to ratify the Agreement they have already signed for the establishment of this Bank.]


My Lords, the basic aim of the sponsors of the Asian Development Bank was to create an institution capable of mobilising additional capital, both from within the Asian and Far Eastern region and from outside, to promote economic growth and co-operation in the region. There has been no oanking institution in the region specifically devoted to the co-operative regional approach which Britain and the other member countries have tried to develop through the Colombo Plan. The United Kingdom's subscription is 30 million dollars (£10.7 million), of which half will be callable and half paid-in. The second half is payable in equal instalments over 5 years; i.e., at a rate of £1.07 million each year; payment will be in sterling. The composition and powers of the board of governors, of the board of directors and of the presidency and the voting system provide ample safeguards to ensure the conduct of the Bank's affairs on sound development banking principles. Subject to enactment of the Overseas Aid Bill, Her Majesty's Government hope to deposit their instrument of ratification before 30 September next, as required by Article 64 of the Agreement.


My Lords, I am very grateful to the noble Lord for that full, informative Answer. May I ask him whether he is aware that what is really required in the Far East and South-East Asia is that the small farmer, the peasant, should benefit; in other words, that agriculture in those areas should be far more efficient and productive? Is this necessarily the way to do it? Secondly, may I ask him whether he is aware that the World Bank, which has enormous experience in this field, is now proposing to do much the same thing in the Far East. and is in fact setting up consultative groups in order to get aid to the various countries in the Far East which up to now have received very little?


Of course, the I.B.R.D. (the World Bank, as it is sometimes called) is the most consistently efficient of international bodies, and I take the point the noble Lord has made. But the aim of this was to adopt a regional approach to this problem, which we thought was necessary, and we believe that the way in which the Bank has been established, or will be established, the composition of the board of directors and the other ways in which the organisation will be formulated will take care of the preoccupations to which the noble Lord has rightly drawn attention.


My Lords, may I ask what relationship, if any, there will be between this Bank and the Economic Commission for Asia and the Far East?


On that particular point, I would ask the noble Lord the Leader of the Opposition if he would ask a separate Question. I have not the information at my disposal at the moment to answer that, but I should be delighted to answer it at some other time.


My Lords, could the noble Lord give some definition of the term he employed in his reply? He referred to, not conventional banking practice, but development banking practice. Could he give some definition of exactly what is implied by the term he employed, which is not frequently used and seems to suggest something quite different from conventional banking?


My Lords, I think what I had in mind was the development of local and regional resources as opposed to the normal banking practice as we would understand it, for example, in banking in this country. I do not think there was anything more esoteric or significant in it than that.