HL Deb 03 March 1982 vol 427 cc1287-8

3.8 p.m.

The Earl of Listowel

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, in view of the decision of the Scandinavian countries to continue the payment of their annual contribution to the funds of the International Development Association of the World Bank at the current level, they will reconsider their decision to reduce their contribution proportionately to the reduction made by the United States of America.

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Trefgarne)

My Lords, neither the United States Government nor Her Majesty's Government have reduced their contributions to the Sixth Replenishment of the International Development Association. The United Kingdom has already deposited promissory notes to a value of £370 million covering our first and second year contributions, whereas the pledged contributions from the United States have yet to be appropriated in full. But we and other major donors to IDA are concerned to preserve the principle of burden-sharing, basic to the IDA 6 Replenishment Agreement, whereby IDA only commits contributions pro rata to the unqualified commitments of any member responsible for a shortfall if that member is contributing more than 20 per cent. of the replenishment.

The Earl of Listowel

My Lords, I am grateful to the noble Lord for his full reply, one that will correct what was obviously an inaccurate report in the press. I would ask: would he bear in mind very carefully the desirability of not reducing the proportion of our payment to the fund of the International Development Association in the future, on the lines taken already by the Scandinavian countries, Sweden, Norway and Denmark?

Lord Trefgarne

My Lords, I certainly want to confirm the importance we attach to the work of the IDA. That is perhaps indicated by the size of the United Kingdom's agreed contribution to IDA 6, which is £555 million, no less, representing just over 10 per cent. of the replenishment. Despite our own economic difficulties, we agreed to take this very substantial share in IDA 6, which is well above the level which economic grounds alone would justify.

Lord Oram

My Lords, has not the commitment authority in respect of the current year, ending in June this year, reduced its commitment to the IDA from 4.1 billion dollars to 2.6 billion dollars? Were not these the figures which the noble Lord himself gave me in a Written Answer recently?

Lord Trefgarne

Yes, my Lords, that is correct: and that flows from the position of the United States appropriation, to which I referred, and the precise provisions of the IDA 6 Replenishment Agreement.

Lord Hatch of Lusby

My Lords, is the Minister telling us that the figure in the Sixth Replenishment for this year has been reduced from 4.1 billion dollars to 2.6 billion dollars? Can he explain a little further how he equates that with his original Answer?

Lord Trefgarne

My Lords, this is, in fact, a very complicated, technical matter. But the immediate position is that the United States appropriations which follow from the United States pledging—and the appropriations, of course, have to be approved by the United States Congress—have fallen short of their original pledged figure, although it is worth pointing out that the expenditure under these programmes is likely to extend over 10 years, and the pledging and commitment extend over only three years. There is, therefore, a hope that a catching up exercise may be possible in later years. In the meantime, the International Bank for Redevelopment (IBRD) is lending money to cover the shortfall to borrowers of sufficient standing.