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Column 808elsewhere will, and therefore we might as well behave badly, which appears to be the case that Mr. Alan Clark and others have advanced. We all know that our overseas aid budget, far from moving towards the UN target of 0.7 per cent. of gross national product, has been moving disgracefully away from it. Moreover, a large chunk has had to be devoted to eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union, leaving a smaller proportion of the diminished budget for the desperately poor in our world. It is time that the overall budget was progressively increased towards our UN commitment and that the share-out within it was reordered to help the poorer countries. Perhaps we could be given details of the rethinking that has already taken place in the Overseas Development Administration on that last point.
Finally, I believe, as did our Select Committee on Foreign Affairs, that the aid and trade provision should be removed from the ODA and transferred wholly to the Department of Trade and Industry. There is everything to be said, of course, for assisting our industries to obtain contracts--that is not at issue--but that is not one of the declared aims of the ODA and, in the light of this sad episode, it should become solely that of the DTI.
Mr. Graham Riddick (Colne Valley) rose
The British are generous people and the response to the overseas development charities by the public proves that to be so. They have been appalled that their tax revenues, instead of going to the poor and the hungry, have been so misused in that way. The Government stand condemned and the scandal must never be allowed to happen again.
strongly supports the Government's substantial aid programme aimed at sustainable economic and social development, particularly in the poorest countries, which draws on the skills and excellence of British institutions, companies and non-governmental organisations, and creates significant jobs and wealth in the United Kingdom.'. I wonder, having listened to the remarks of the right hon. Member for Tweeddale, Ettrick and Lauderdale (Sir D. Steel), whether we are debating the same aid programme. I welcome the opportunity to remind him of the basic purpose of our aid programme and of the realities of the world. I doubt whether the dedicated people working in the field to implement our aid programme in a number of countries will take much encouragement from having listened to the right hon. Gentleman. I quote from the Foreign Office's 1993 departmental report, "The purpose of our overseas aid for developing countries is to promote sustainable economic and social development and good government in order to reduce poverty, suffering and deprivation and to improve the quality of life for poor people."
The best advertisement for increasing our aid programme is its effectiveness. Since 1987-88, we have increased the amount of aid that we give to developing countries by 10 per cent. in real terms. We have the sixth largest aid programme in the world. We remain committed to the 0.7 per cent. aid/gross national product target, but, like many other donors, we cannot set a timetable for reaching it. Levels of aid must take account of our economic circumstances. Those are realities which
Column 809confront other donors. Some, such as Germany, have frozen their aid. Others--for example, Canada, Italy and Finland--have cut theirs. Our programme, meanwhile, continues to grow.
However, it is not just a question of how much money donors provide. The results of that aid are what count--how well the aid works. That is why the quality and effectiveness of aid are so important. We would not have provided more resources if we were not convinced that we would put them to good use in the interests of the recipient countries and of British taxpayers.
Mr. Tony Worthington (Clydebank and Milngavie) : What criticisms were expressed in what the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development said last week to the British Government about the quality of our aid ?
Mr. Goodlad : I was coming to that. The development assistance committee of the OECD has just completed a review of the United Kingdom aid programme, while the hon. Gentleman was on his travels in Africa. It is still in business--unlike, I regret to say, the hon. Gentleman, who has been shamefully let down by his own Front Bench--a case of serious injustice.
Mr. Tom Clarke (Monklands, West) : When the Minister speaks about injustice to Front Benchers, does he agree that the biggest injustice this afternoon is that he should be put up to answer for the Government in this miserable situation ?
The development assistance committee of the OECD has just said : "The United Kingdom has a highly concessional, well organised bilateral programme based on substantial national expertise and largely oriented towards the poorest developing countries." That conclusion from an internationally respected organisation hardly squares with the Opposition motion, but I am most grateful to the hon. Gentleman for drawing the House's attention to it. Far from being a misuse of funds, the aid programme is effective because it is well targeted. It is well targeted in where we spend our aid--on the poorest countries, especially in Africa and Asia. Seven of the 10 biggest recipients of our bilateral aid in 1992-93 were poor countries in sub-Saharan Africa. The other three were populous and poor countries in Asia--India, Bangladesh and China. It is also well targeted on clearly defined objectives. They were set out clearly in the speech of my noble Friend the Minister for Overseas Development at Chatham House last year. The aim is long-term, sustainable development.
Mr. Ian Bruce : Does my hon. Friend agree that one of the things that seem to have annoyed the Malaysian Government is the fact that commentators in the House and outside seem to be saying that they should not play a part in deciding where aid should be spent and that they do not have the ability to know where that is best used ? Is not that appalling ? Should not the British Government always listen to the Government of the country involved about where they feel that aid is best applied ?
Mr. Goodlad : I think that my hon. Friend makes a very important point. We in government always listen, but I am quite used to patronising, condescending and neo-colonialist attitudes from Opposition Members.
What are the areas on which we spend our aid programme ? Let us move away from the hysteria and allegations of recent weeks and take a cool look at what we are trying to achieve. We support economic liberalisation. Sustainable development needs sound economic policies, which encourage investment, give incentives to producers and improve the efficiency of public services. We promote the productive capacity of developing countries, improving management skills, encouraging more effective public expenditure programmes. We promote good government to ensure sound development policies, to improve legitimacy and accountability, to extend popular participation in the development process and to promote respect for human rights and the rule of law.
We are increasingly focusing our programme on the direct reduction of poverty. We promote human development, including better education and health and access to family planning services. We help poorer countries to tackle environmental problems and we have a record second to none in providing speedy and effective humanitarian assistance to the all-too-many communities struck by natural or man-made calamities.
Mrs. Ann Clwyd (Cynon Valley) : Can the hon. Gentleman confirm that in 1991 the ODA published a series of reports which were independent evaluations into the use of the aid and trade provision ? There were two sets of reports, carried out by academics. One set was for the ODA, and in that severe criticisms were made of ATP in relation to power projects in countries throughout the world. The criticisms of the use of the aid and trade provision were edited out of the set of documents that were published for public consumption, however. Will the right hon. Gentleman confirm that that was the case in 1991 and tell us what Overseas Development Administration practice is now ?
Mr. Goodlad : I have not read the documents to which the hon. Lady referred, but we recommend constructive criticism from whichever quarter it comes, even from academics. An aid and trade provision review has just been conducted and a copy of it has been given to the Select Committee on Foreign Affairs.
Mr. Jim Lester (Broxtowe) : It may benefit hon. Members to demonstrate the difference between the bilateral aid programme, which my right hon. Friend is describing very well, and the aid and trade provision, which is 9 per cent. of the total bilateral aid budget. The latter is covered by different rules and is designed to assist British companies obtain contracts overseas. The two things are not the same. The criticism of ATP has been published and ATP has been reviewed, which has resulted in tremendous changes in the way in which it operates.
Anyone can set out a list of objectives. The key is ensuring that funds are spent in pursuit of the objectives. Aid programmes do not stand still. They reflect a changing international agenda. They must respond first and foremost to the needs of recipient countries. The way we give aid--the form it takes, the channels that we use and the
Column 811countries that receive it--is under continual review to ensure that it is closely geared to the needs of individual countries.
Mr. Riddick : Does my right hon. Friend agree that in addition to using overseas aid to help to alleviate poverty and encourage development, we should link it far more closely to trade, so that we enable British firms to benefit and create more employment in this country ? The 9 per cent. figure is far too low and we should increase it significantly.
Mr. Goodlad : My hon. Friend is right. The aid and trade provision includes the objectives that he described, much as it sticks in the gullets of Opposition Members, especially Labour Members, who introduced the aid and trade provision, but do not like British businesses to be assisted.
Mr. Robert N. Wareing (Liverpool, West Derby) : The Government often proclaim the principle of promoting good government. Does not that principle also relate to the debate ? In an answer to a written question on 10 June 1993, the Under-Secretary of State told me that the Government use their aid programme to improve the quality of government. He said that where standards were not met, for example, where human rights were persistently abused, the Government were prepared to withdraw or reduce their assistance. In view of events in East Timor, does not Indonesia come into that category ?
The ODA maintains rigorous economic, technical and environmental criteria to ensure the quality of the programmes and projects that we support with official funds. In particular, we have systems to determine accurately development needs, to design the aid to meet those needs in the most cost- effective ways, to develop ways to monitor performance and to feed the aid management lessons of each project into the design and management of future projects. Our procedures for safeguarding proper use of aid funds are thorough. We and other donors require competitive tendering for procurement contracts. We continually monitor the implementation of our projects to guard against misuse of funds. We would have no hesitation in withdrawing support from a project where it was clear that aid funds were being improperly used.
We have heard a lot of misguided criticism about aid and trade provision. It is a long-standing part of the aid programme and was started in 1977 by a Labour Government. It enables us to promote development in sectors where British companies have a lot to offer. It is a successful scheme. Nearly £4 billion worth of British exports have been won through projects assisted by the aid and trade provision since the start of the scheme. That has involved more than 270 projects in 50 countries worldwide.
Let us not delude ourselves. Most aid donors have similar programmes. We estimate that all our major European partners have bigger and in some cases substantially bigger programmes than we do, as do the
Column 812Japanese. Aid and trade provision was set up in response to moves by other countries to offer tied aid financing in markets in which we competed. Does anyone deny that our exporters should have a level playing field ?
Rev. Martin Smyth (Belfast, South) : The Minister will recognise that I have been among those who have urged the Government to reach their agreed target of honour. While I recognise his arguments on the care with which we conduct our ODA policy, does he accept that we as a nation depend on our export business to raise money ? Does he accept that because of the freedom of the press and its frailties, from which we often suffer, firms are being hit in regions of high unemployment, including Northern Ireland ?
Mr. Alan Williams (Swansea, West) : Does the right hon. Gentleman realise that he is in danger of slightly misstating the origins of ATP ? During my time at the Department of Industry, I was in charge of the power plant industry. We faced competition from the Japanese, who were giving aid to obtain power station orders, so we agreed to introduce a system whereby aid was supplied for projects for which construction was due to take place. The aid was intended for a specific power station project and not for ancillary deals--that was never envisaged. Given that the strict intention was that aid should relate to the project in hand, how does the Minister explain support of £234 million of soft loans, plus £46 million of Export Credits Guarantee Department support, making a total of £280 million out of a £308 million British content ? That amounted to 90 per cent. of the cost of the project to a country that can pay cash on the nail for £1 billion worth of arms.
I should like to deal with the argument advanced by the right hon. Member for Tweeddale, Ettrick and Lauderdale about the group of companies that have benefited from aid and trade provision. I am sure that he will confirm that all companies providing goods and services out of the United Kingdom have been, and are, eligible to apply for ATP. Without including consortium partners and sub-contractors, 141 companies have benefited from ATP- supported projects. Large overseas construction projects are very specialised and only a few UK companies have the expertise to act as the prime contractor. ATP is awarded to the recipient Government for a project and not to UK companies. The grant element of an accepted offer of ATP goes to the recipient Government. Of course, ATP support benefits many smaller sub-contractors and suppliers, whose customer is the prime contractor.
The suggestion by the right hon. Member for Tweeddale, Ettrick and Lauderdale that there might be some connection between companies that have worked on ATP-funded projects and contributions to the Conservative party is unfair in two respects. It is unfair to the ODA officials who vet those projects and who seek to make no connection between the Conservative party and ATP. It is also unrealistic and unfair to the Governments who receive
Column 813ATP. Hon. Members would objectively have to agree that that is a classic case of the smear and innuendo that the Malaysians have found so offensive.
Mr. Julian Brazier (Canterbury) : For nine years, I worked for one of this country's largest investors in Malaysia and I believe that my right hon. Friend has shown commendable restraint in his remarks. The truth is that an absolutely nonsensical campaign, whipped up in the media by Opposition voices, has done incalculable damage to our trading relations with an important trading partner.
Mr. Burns : Does my right hon. Friend see the irony in the fact that, when unemployment rises, the Opposition parties pontificate and mouth platitudes about how disgraceful it is, but, when the Government are working to help British companies to win exports and to safeguard and create jobs, the antics of those parties destroy exports and jobs ? They then have the nerve to complain about the unemployment that results from their disgraceful behaviour.
Mr. Harry Barnes (Derbyshire, North-East) : I have a particular constituency interest in the aid and trade provision and the benefit that has arisen from it. Biwaters operates from Clay Cross in my constituency and was involved in the contract to provide rural water supplies in Malaysia. A contract for the refurbishment of the water supply, worth £1.5 billion, was ready to be signed but has now been lost. It has been lost not because we have a free press, but because of the link between arms and aid. The Government began something that might have benefited trade, but their action has resulted in my constituents facing unemployment.
Mr. Goodlad : I am afraid that the hon. Gentleman is living in a complete fantasy world and is compounding the problems that he rightly highlights. The atmosphere of innuendo has contributed to the unfortunate unemployment in his constituency and I hope that his constituents will notice his involvement.
I said that I would reply to the right hon. Member for Tweeddale, Ettrick and Lauderdale about ATP for the Pergau project. My right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary has already made it clear that, in deciding to proceed with the Pergau project, he took account of our wider interests in Malaysia and of the consequences for the United Kingdom in 1991 if we did not go ahead with it.
The Pergau project formed part of Malaysia's diversification strategy for a new, urgently needed electricity capacity. Since it began, Malaysia's demand has increased even more than forecast. The Malaysian Government had decided that the project should go ahead as it was economically and developmentally in the national interest. We ourselves have a diversified energy policy. If we had not carried through our commitment to the Pergau project, our credibility as a trading and investment partner would have been seriously damaged and would have withered a wide range of British prospects for the future. We should have paid the penalty for a breach of faith.
Mr. Keith Mans (Wyre) : Does my right hon. Friend agree with the comments of Sir Tim Lankester which were not widely reported in the press ? In his evidence to the Select Committee, he said that the project was proceeding very well and that it was likely to be finished on time and under budget.
Mr. Lester : The Pergau dam is also part of Malaysia's regional policy, something which the Labour party should understand. The project is deliberately in the north of the country, which is the least developed part, and the intention was to bring electricity to a part of the country which does not have the sophisticated power stations that exist in the south. The Labour party is a great supporter of regional policy and should understand that the Malaysians were well within their rights to make that decision.
The right hon. Member for Tweeddale, Ettrick and Lauderdale mentioned so- called links with defence sales and what, in his eyes, were the Government's attempts to conceal what has happened. I have been re-reading some parliamentary questions and found that in June 1989 the hon. Member for Eccles (Miss Lestor), who is in her place, asked my right hon. Friend the Minister for Industry about this matter. My right hon. Friend said :
"Following the expression of Malaysian interest in United Kingdom overseas aid in early exchanges, my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Defence made it clear to the Malaysian Finance Minister that it would not be acceptable to Her Majesty's Government to link aid with the defence sales package."--[ Official Report , 13 June 1989 ; Vol. 154, c. 397-98 .]
In 1989, therefore, the matter was in the public domain. Furthermore, on 25 January, my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary of State gave a written reply to the right hon. Member for Copeland (Dr. Cunningham), who is not in his place. He said : "During discussions in 1988 about the proposed memorandum of understanding on defence sales, the Malaysians had requested a reference to aid. A protocol was signed during a visit to Kuala Lumpur in March 1988 by the then Defence Secretary, my noble Friend, Lord Younger of Prestwick. This set out the Malaysian Government's intention to buy defence equipment from the United Kingdom, with the details to be elaborated in the later memorandum. The protocol included a reference to
aid in support of non-military aspects under the programme'. After consultation with ministerial colleagues in London, the Secretary of State for Defence wrote to the Malaysian Minister of Finance in June 1988 to say that aid could not be linked to defence sales. As a result the issue was not taken up in the memorandum of understanding on defence procurement which the British and Malaysian Prime Ministers signed in September 1988, and which did not cover aid. Our aid programme is not linked to defence sales."--[ Official Report , 25 January 1994 ; Vol. 236, c. 145-46 .]
The Pergau project was suggested after Lord Younger had made it clear that there could be no formal link between defence sales and development projects.
Let us examine the reality of the multi-faceted relationships that Governments enjoy with one another. It is ridiculous to suggest that a country that has a defence sales relationship with another should, because of that relationship, be ineligible for ATP. It is equally ridiculous to suggest that a company involved in an ATP relationship should, because of that relationship, be ineligible for defence sales involving British industries. Provided that
Column 815the two do not depend on each other and that aid is not used--it is not--to finance defence sales, it seems that that is the way in which countries will inevitably proceed.
Sir David Steel : I do not disagree with that general proposition, but, in this particular case, the Minister is not seeking to deny what Lord Younger has said, which was that someone gave a verbal assurance that the two would be linked in the way that the right hon. Gentleman has just said should not happen. He subsequently corrected that in the letter that was read out.
Mr. Goodlad : I do not know when the verbal assurances were given-- whether it was before the memorandum of understanding was signed--but I have no doubt that the Select Committee will investigate all these matters.
We agree with the development assistance committee of OECD that aid quality should predominate in decisions to fund projects in which there is a large commercial interest. ATP does precisely that. Our procedures ensure that ATP is spent on projects in creditworthy developing countries where there will be development benefit and where British firms have proven experience to offer.
Let us put ATP into a proper perspective, as my hon. Friend the Member for Broxtowe (Mr. Lester) said. It accounts for less than 5 per cent. of the aid programme, which, in 1992-93, meant just over £90 million. In the same year, we spent £290 million on humanitarian assistance. Expenditure on the Pergau project is to take place over 14 years and the peak expenditure in any one year is £27 million--less than 1.3 per cent. of our current but expanding aid programme--so much for allegations that the project is taking over the programme.
Mrs. Jacqui Lait (Hastings and Rye) : Before my right hon. Friend moves on, will he comment on the long-term damage being done to our relations with Malaysia as it affects companies--one, for instance, in my constituency, where unemployment stands at more than 13 per cent.--that are engaged in trade related neither to ATP nor to arms sales, yet are in danger of losing product ?
The allegation that aid to a whole range of countries is linked to arms sales, which has been made by the right hon. Member for Tweeddale, Ettrick and Lauderdale and by others who clearly should know better, is absolute nonsense. There is no link between the provision of aid and the supply of arms. Some of the countries mentioned by ill-informed critics receive such a modest amount of aid from the United Kingdom that the whole idea is ludicrous. Our aid is provided according to well-established criteria. Eighty per cent. of our bilateral aid goes to poor countries, with special attention being paid to progress in economic reform and to good government. Of course, we also pay particular attention to historical ties, especially with Commonwealth countries.
Column 816The right hon. Member for Tweeddale, Ettrick and Lauderdale mentioned the selective and misleading World Development Movement analysis and I shall deal with four examples from that. First, Jordan is a lower-middle income country with which Britain has close ties. We have a modest technical assistance programme spent mainly in the education and water sectors. Aid figures in recent years have been amplified not by the provision of more aid but by debt relief and by the inclusion of relief provided to refugees during the Gulf war. I presume that the right hon. Gentleman would prefer us not to have provided that relief.
In Oman, we provide only a small programme of technical assistance--a mere £750,000 in 1992-93. Our funds are spent on developing the country's human resources, which had been lagging behind its economic progress, and those funds have been put to good use. We are accordingly able to plan an even lower level of aid in future. Any attempt to link those tiny sums to Oman's defence purchases is laughable.
Contrary to what the right hon. Gentleman said, apart from investment by the Commonwealth Development Corporation--which, as he may wish to know, the Government do not control country by country--our overall assistance to Thailand, including ATP, has declined from about £5 million in 1989-90 and 1990-91 to a little more than £2 million in 1992-93.
Indonesia is not a rich country. Its income per head is only about $650 a year. It is internationally acknowledged as having an outstanding record of sound economic management. According to the World bank, the numbers living in poverty have dropped from 70 million in 1970 to 27 million in 1990. But, of course, that is not a matter of any interest to Opposition Members.
Mr. D. N. Campbell-Savours (Workington) : Having said that we provide some form of aid to Indonesia, the Minister told us the income per head there. Will he tell us the comparable figure for Oman, to which he said that we also provide aid ? What is the income per capita in Oman ?
Mr. Goodlad : Without notice I cannot give the hon. Gentleman figures for per capita income. However, I can say that our aid to Oman amounts to a mere £750,000--a derisory amount. [Interruption.] Hon. Gentlemen are shouting that there should not be any aid. They obviously take no interest in the people of Oman, but others do. As I said, the number of people living in poverty in Indonesia dropped from 70 million in 1970 to 27 million in 1990. That, of course, is not a development in which Opposition Members will take any pleasure, because they could not care less about the poor in Indonesia.
Our aid supports projects in sectors such as energy efficiency, communications, forest management, education and public administration. Total British aid last year was only 18p per head. By comparison, our aid to Mozambique was nearly £2 per head. Nor is there any truth in the allegations of links between our aid and the sale of Hawk or other defence equipment.
I said that I would mention East Timor. We take a number of important criteria, including human rights, into careful account when deciding aid allocations. We do not recognise Indonesian sovereignty over East Timor and the Indonesians are well aware of the importance that we attach to human rights both in Indonesia and in East Timor, because we take frequent opportunities to remind them of it. Our aim is to influence, rather than to isolate, the
Column 817Indonesian Government and that is best done through dialogue. Suspending aid to Indonesia would not necessarily improve the human rights situation and could hurt those whom it is intended to help. However, I appreciate that the problems of those whom aid is intended to help are of no interest whatever to Opposition Members. Ultimately, it is the policies of the countries concerned that will make the real difference. Let us applaud when poor countries become more prosperous through their own efforts, as many have done--or at least, let my hon. Friends applaud ; I expect no applause from Opposition Members. Well- targeted and professionally managed aid has played a part in the success of such countries. But enterprise, entrepreneurship and sound policies play a greater part.
Aid will continue to be essential for the poorest countries, especially those unable to attract significant private resources. In delivering that aid, we shall continue to look for the best means available to achieve maximum impact.
We are now involving a larger number of British organisations, both public and private. The amount of official aid to be channelled through British non-governmental organisations, for example, has increased fivefold over the past six years and my right hon. Friend the Minister has just announced a further increase.
Our aid programme and its objectives are under continual review and it is right that that should be so. Our aid should be scrutinised. We welcome that, because we believe that we do an excellent job. There is no danger whatever, either in developing countries or in British industry, of Opposition Members being seen to take any interest in the alleviation of poverty, or to be batting for Britain.
Mr. Beggs : On a point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. Thank you for permitting me to intervene at this point-- [Hon. Members :-- "It is not an intervention."] I do not wish my party or myself to be included in the remarks that the Minister has made
Mr. Deputy Speaker (Mr. Michael Morris) : Order. I greatly deplore that intervention ; it was not a point of order. If the hon. Gentleman has a genuine point of order, will he put it now to the Chair ? Am I to take it that what he said was not a point of order but an interruption ? That is greatly to be deplored.
Mr. Tom Clarke (Monklands, West) : I warmly congratulate the right hon. Member for Tweeddale, Ettrick and Lauderdale (Sir D. Steel), who opened the debate with an excellent, indeed an unanswerable, speech. The Minister who has been put up to reply is one of many Ministers who speak in the House on overseas aid. Another sign of how lightly the Government treat that crucial issue is the fact that, every day that aid is discussed, a different Minister appears. The Minister
Column 818Mr. Goodlad rose
The Minister said that he was proud and privileged, yet he sounded lumbered and desperate, as well he should have done.
Mr. Goodlad : The reason why more than one Foreign Office Minister takes part in such debates is that we are all interested in the subject-- unlike the Labour party, in which only one person, if that, seems to be interested in it.
Mr. Clarke : That must be an interest which has been hidden from the House hitherto--unless ATP stands not so much for aid and trade provision as for "assisting Tory paymasters". Many of us are beginning to see that that is what the debate is really about. The right hon. Member for Tweeddale, Ettrick and Lauderdale has done the House a great service, because we discuss overseas aid and development all too seldom. It is staggering, but it is another sign of how the Government see such matters, that, although the debate is being opened by the Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office, it is apparently to be wound up by a Minister from the Department of Trade and Industry. We now see how vested interests have deep control of the Tory party and little to do with the needs of the third world and the poorest in this universe. [Interruption.]
When the howling mob opposite reflect on the real problems of this debate, they will conclude that we are right to concentrate on the issue of the Pergau dam, even though the Minister left it almost as an aside towards the end of his speech. We are right to do that, not because criticisms have come from Opposition Members--which were wholly justified--but because criticisms have come from almost every quarter where people have been invited to consider these matters. The Public Accounts Committee, the National Audit Office--which is not an affiliate of the Labour party--and many others have been invited to consider these matters. I do not think that The Sunday Times comes into the category of people who support my view. When the Minister failed to deal with the interesting exchange of letters in The Sunday Times last week when he was dealing with arms, he missed a crucial point in this debate. I shall return to that matter later.
Mr. Clarke : As the House knows, the proceedings of the Public Accounts Committee were very public. The National Audit Office, to which I referred, has published a report. [Interruption.] If there is a little order in the House, I may have an opportunity to refer to that report later.
The Pergau dam project, which is one of the most shameful episodes among many in the history of this Government, represented not only one bad decision but three. It represented the link between aid and arms ; it represented funding of a very bad project ; and it represented a Government who, having decided to fund a bad project, then produced a system of financial control which cost the British taxpayer an extra £56 million, according to the National Audit Office.
Column 819Mr. Andrew Hargreaves (Birmingham, Hall Green) rose
Mr. Clarke : If hon. Members want to take up my limited time by intervening on jobs, I put it to them that £56 million would produce a great number of jobs in their constituencies, so they should support the view of the National Audit Office.