§ 11.13 a.m.
§ Lord HATCH of LUSBY
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 whether they will continue the support given by the previous Government to the report and recommendations of the Advisory Committee on Development Education.
My Lords, the Government are currently reviewing the programme of development education initiated by the past Administration following the Report by the Advisory Committee on Development Education. This is part of the general review of public expenditure.
§ Lord HATCH of LUSBY
My Lords, may I ask the noble Earl whether he will lift his eyes above the clouds that the Government have drawn around themselves in the past three months to the much wider and more important horizons of the rest of the century? Is he aware that for the past two and a half years this committee, sitting and acting voluntarily, have spent many hours producing a report? This was done with the assistance of devoted officials in the Ministries. It was a report which was accepted by five Ministries, and designed to encourage and stimulate organisations in this country, right from the formal education system through the voluntary community education system to the media, and to spread the concept and understanding of the international world with which the Ministry is dealing. This subject is of the utmost importance to the future of the present and coming generations of this country. Will the noble Earl tell us whether the Government, at least in principle, give the same support to the report and the recommendations of this committee as did the previous Administration?
My Lords, the noble Lord has asked me to lift my eyes. When I do so I see, first, the noble Lord, Lord Hatch of Lusby. The noble Lord is very concerned about this committee, and rightly so, because he was a distinguished member of it. I would remind him that the amount of money given to this effort in 1977–78 was £150,000 and that this year it is £728,000, which is a marked increase. I can only tell the noble Lord that this expenditure, like all other expenditure, is going to be a 2154 matter of review by the present Government and I cannot anticipate the result of that.
§ Lord PITT of HAMPSTEAD
My Lords, on behalf of the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Newcastle, who has not yet made his maiden speech, may I ask the Minister whether he is aware that at a recent meeting of the Anglican Bishops of Scotland, England and Wales a unanimous resolution was passed asking the Government to note their support for this fund and expressing their concern at the possible consequences if it is cut back?
My Lords, in conducting the review to which the noble Earl has referred, will Her Majesty's Government bear in mind that an important feature of the British aid effort has been the partnership between voluntary bodies such as Oxfam and Christian Aid on the one hand, and the Government department on the other? Will the Government therefore bear in mind that this advisory committee referred to in the Question is a most important part of that partnership? Therefore, may we from this side express the hope that the review will be favourable to the outcome of this committee?
My Lords, I agree with the noble Lord that the partnership between the Government and these voluntary organisations is very important. In answer to his question, may he express the opinion that the review will be satisfactory?, the answer is that by all means he may express it. Indeed, he has expressed it. But I still cannot tell him what the outcome will be.
§ Baroness GAITSKELL
My Lords, does the noble Earl not agree that, despite the worthiness of this committee and so on, developing countries are much more interested in trade than aid, and are much more interested in getting our know-how than in just having aid?
My Lords, I agree. The developing countries are very much involved with requiring aid. I think that 2155 this particular Question is directed mostly to people in this country as opposed to people in other countries.
§ Lord HATCH of LUSBY
My Lords, might I assist the noble Earl? The money he is speaking about has nothing to do with aid to developing countries. It is entirely confined to support of projects put forward by a whole range of voluntary organisations and some formal organisations in this country in order to help those who are spreading international understanding among the people in this country. In his reply to me he referred to the fact that a review of public expenditure was being undertaken and this item would have to take its turn along with the rest. Would he not agree that this is not like the rest of public expenditure but is a unique exception? Would he not agree that the money that he has spoken about is not going to the committee; it is going to those organisations which the committee are assisting to spread international understanding in this country? In that respect it is an earnest of the intention of this Government to spread international understanding between now and the end of the century, and a meagre £700,000-odd is a very small amount for such a tremendous task.
My Lords, the noble Lord is very persuasive, but I could not agree with him that this aid is different. It is Government expenditure and, as such, has to be found by Government funds. He says it is nothing to do with overseas aid, but I would remind him that it comes out of that allocation.