HL Deb 09 May 1989 vol 507 cc548-9

2.57 p.m.

Lord Dulverton asked Her Majesty's Government:

Whether they are taking any measures to assist Jordan in its present difficulties, in view of the importance of the stability of Jordan to the Middle East.

The Minister of State for Defence Procurement (Lord Trefgarne)

Yes, my Lords, we agree on the importance of Jordan in the Middle East and have already offered to increase our technical co-operation programme by replacing a £5 million loan with £5 million of technical co-operation on grant terms. We shall play our full part in efforts by the international financial institutions to assist Jordan.

Lord Dulverton

My Lords, I am grateful to my noble friend for that considerable encouragement. However, as noble Lords know, Jordan ran into considerable financial difficulties which broke out in violence a few weeks ago. Jordan is a very poor country, so could not our friends and allies, including the International Monetary Fund, take action to assist Jordan's financial position, bearing in mind the debt that we have owed Jordan ever since the First World War?

Lord Trefgarne

My Lords, I entirely agree with my noble friend about the importance of Jordan and the strength of our links with that country. We certainly agree too that the solution lies with the international monetary community. The IMF is planning to assist Jordan and discussions are now proceeding to that end.

Lord Cledwyn of Penrhos

My Lords, we welcome the information given by the noble Lord and the action proposed to be taken by Her Majesty's Government. Can he go a little further and give the House more information about the IMF? Is it the case that it appears to be proposing conditions which will make it more difficult for the Jordanian Government, especially in relation to increased prices? Can he say whether the visit which King Hussein was proposing to make to this country on his return from the United States recently has been rearranged? Is he likely to visit this country?

Lord Trefgarne

My Lords, His Majesty the King of Jordan is a frequent visitor to the United Kingdom. Although I am not aware of any immediate plans for him to visit this country I should be surprised if he does not do so again shortly.

As regards IMF support for Jordan, its government has already taken a number of steps, such as increasing the price of petrol. I understand that that was one of the causes of the recent problems and it is much in the mind of the IMF. I dare say that it would be possible soon to reach agreement with the fund, whereupon new assistance could be made available. We look forward to playing our part in providing that assistance.

Lord Kennet

My Lords, is there any new European Community programme in that direction?

Lord Trefgarne

My Lords, I am not aware of any specific European Community programme. We are supporting the IMF's efforts most vigorously at the present time but there may also be scope for bilateral assistance from others of Jordan's traditional friends and allies.

Lord Glenamara

My Lords, can the Minister say to what extent the new grant-aid that he has announced is tied to the sale of arms to Jordan?

Lord Trefgarne

My Lords, not at all.

Forward to