HL Deb 20 May 1981 vol 420 cc949-50

2.40 p.m.

Lord Barnby

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, taking into account the widely published abuses in distribution of public funds allocated to foreign aid, they will now limit foreign aid to selective tied aid, giving priority to plans for increasing agricultural production.

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Trade (Lord Trefgarne)

My Lords, I am not aware of any widely published abuses involving British aid. If my noble friend knows of any, I hope he will send me the full particulars so that they can be thoroughly looked into.

Lord Gridley

My Lords, I wonder whether I might ask—

Several noble Lords


Lord Barnby

My Lords, may I ask my noble friend whether that is to be interpreted as meaning that there is not to be any reduction in overseas aid as a whole, in line with the need for contraction in every direction? Is my noble friend aware that the United States have, by reason of reports of widespread abuse, reduced their contributions of overseas aid, and that these desires for overseas aid are frequently due to bad relations with contiguous states, or improper internal financial arrangement, which result in forfeiting the support of the World Bank?

Lord Trefgarne

No, my Lords. My noble friend reads too much into the Answer that I gave. But it may be helpful if I tell him that no less than 84 per cent. of our bilateral aid is tied to British exports.

Lord Gridley

My Lords, may I ask my noble friend whether Voluntary Service Overseas is now in operation, and whether that is a service which benefits us and our friends from overseas?

Lord Trefgarne

My Lords, the benefits of VSO which my noble friend has described are certainly very real but I feel that that goes a little wide of the Question on the Order Paper.

Lord Elwyn-Jones

My Lords, if it were in order, are not the activities of International Voluntary Service also of value in this field?

Lord Trefgarne

Doubtless, my Lords.