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[14th Allotted Day]


Overseas Aid and Development

4.2 pm

Madam Speaker : I have selected the amendment standing in the name of the Prime Minister. I have also had to limit speeches between the hours of 6 pm and 8 pm to 10 minutes, because of the number of Members who wish to take part in the debate.

Mr. Tom Clarke (Monklands, West) : I beg to move,

That this House notes the projected decline in aid to developing countries, in real terms, over the next two years, the failure to target aid on those in greatest need, highlighted by the Pergau Dam affair, the failure to respond adequately to emergencies such as the current holocaust in Rwanda and the absence of any clear, co-ordinated strategy for promoting effective and sustainable development that benefits the poorest people in developing countries, and assists those countries in dealing with the problems caused by debt repayments and adverse terms of trade ; and calls on the Government to bring forward a White Paper on Overseas Development at the earliest opportunity.

Had you, Madam Speaker, selected the amendment in the name of the right hon. Member for Tweeddale, Ettrick and Lauderdale (Sir D. Steel), I would have had no difficulty in endorsing it as well. I address the House on this issue having had the experience of two visits to the African continent in the past two months. On those visits I saw the two dimensions of African development and the two sides of the issues that we must deal with today. In South Africa, in common with many of my right hon. and hon. Friends, I witnessed at first hand the triumphs of non-racial democratic change in a rich, beautiful but much-divided country.

Mr. Graham Riddick (Colne Valley) : Looking though the list of Opposition Supply days over the past year, I notice that it is just under a year since the Opposition chose this subject for debate. I also notice that in that time there has been no debate on an Opposition Supply day on the subjects of unemployment or economic policy. Could the hon. Gentleman tell the House why ?

Madam Speaker : Order. The hon. Gentleman's intervention does not relate to the motion for today's debate. We are dealing with overseas aid. His question might be asked at some other time, but it does not relate to the subject on the Order Paper.

Mr. Clarke : As always, Madam Speaker, your wisdom contrasts with the absurdity of the hon. Gentleman's intervention.

The peaceful transition in South Africa from apartheid to democracy was important not just for South Africa--it is an example, an inspiration and a source of hope for the continent as a whole. However, just a few weeks after my visit there I saw for myself the carnage resulting from the genocidal war in Rwanda. Seeing what is happening in those two countries concentrated my mind on how well and effectively the United Kingdom is responding both to changes for the better and for the worse in the developing world.

I can think of no subject more important to debate than our concern about poverty at home and abroad. Those who ignore that challenge do so at their peril. In South Africa, investment in the economic and social infrastructure will

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be critical for the survival and success of a new democratic society. Britain, the former colonial power which found little difficulty in continuing to trade with apartheid South Africa when she was ostracised by the rest of the world, is prepared to offer only £100 million for development assistance. That is a third of the amount that was squandered on the Pergau dam project. We can already see from the example of Gaza and Jericho in the middle east that even the best peace process in the world will falter if it is not backed by sufficient funds.

I am delighted that even if these issues take up a whole Opposition day they will enable us to debate the important question of Rwanda, which is at last being raised in the House. The international community's political will to act, the effective delivery of protection and relief for the millions who fled their homes, and urgent programmes of assistance for neighbouring countries are relevant and profound. Britain has delivered none of the things that are essential for a speedy solution to the problems there. Should he catch your eye, Madam Speaker, my hon. Friend the Member for Pontypridd (Dr. Howells) will speak about the role of the United Nations and its agencies.

There are two points to be made about Rwanda. First, the 1948 United Nations charter said that we would never stand aside from genocide. But that is exactly what is happening today before our very eyes. Secondly, it is disgraceful that Britain agreed to the withdrawal of most of the United Nations force, limited though it was, from Rwanda when the presence of that force would have been most valuable and especially during the days of dreadful slaughter that followed the death of the president on 6 April.

Mr. Jim Lester (Broxtowe) : Will the hon. Gentleman admit that, according to the Secretary-General, those troops were withdrawn because their mandate did not allow them to intervene to stop the carnage ? They did not depart saying, "We are not interested", but because they had no mandate from the Security Council to take the action that many of us would like to see.

Mr. Clarke : I have a high regard for the hon. Gentleman on these issues, but I think he will agree that, sadly, the mandate has been changed time after time. It is also sad that it has not reflected the political will--nor the military will--to deal with carnage and genocide in that country. If we had only a fraction of the will which we saw in the Gulf war and the Falklands, the British people could hold their heads up high.

What we require now--I spell it out so that there may be no doubt--is not the dispatch of troops from western Europe ; we need full logistical support for the African troops by the United Nations and a more substantial British contribution to humanitarian aid. Unless there is any doubt, let me make it plain on behalf of the Opposition that we regard the French initiative as being fraught with difficulty, if only because clearly there are grave questions about their neutrality in Africa. We want the United Nations' impact to be effective, worth while and supported by Great Britain and the western nations in terms of the necessary equipment.

I turn to the impact of the carnage on neighbouring countries, some of which I have recently visited. Serious problems exist in Tanzania, Uganda, Zaire and Burundi and the potential for an explosion is sad in the extreme.

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Let us reflect on the international community's inability to deal with the genocide in Rwanda. A few weeks ago, I visited Uganda and in particular south Uganda on the borders of Rwanda and Zaire. It was an extremely distressing experience. The local paper in Kampala, The Sunday Vision , greeted me with the headline :

"Rwanda : 1 million feared killed".

I do not know whether the figures are accurate, but I know that genocide is taking place and that we should be doing something about it.

I saw too, sadly, the dramatic evidence of 40,000 bodies floating in Lake Victoria. I saw the efforts of the local people to provide mass graves, in one case for 2,700 people. I saw how inadequate were the resources in their excellent attempts to respond and I saw the refugee camp in Kisoro, where more than 5,000 people sought to exist. Many of the children were in tattered rags, their parents pleading, begging for water, for food and for blankets for the cold evenings and I regretted that I saw no British presence there.

If there were 40,000 bodies floating in the Thames or the Clyde, we would rightly proclaim it as a national disaster ; we would have said that we did not have the infrastructure to deal with it--nor do the neighbouring states, particularly Uganda.

In an earlier visit to Uganda, accompanied by the right hon. Member for Tweeddale, Ettrick and Lauderdale, I saw the evidence of the impact of AIDS. There were thousands of orphans looking after orphans, and grandparents looking after 15 or 16 children, with the questions unanswered as to what happens next. I saw, too, in Uganda the evidence of 16 districts suffering heavily from famine, with people already dying. This must be known to the ODA. Britain had contributed to two of those 16 regions.

Dame Elaine Kellett-Bowman (Lancaster) : When the hon. Gentleman was out there, did he have the opportunity of visiting Zaire ? When I visited there, I found that the president had just spent £18 million on a new palace for himself.

Mr. Jeremy Corbyn (Islington, North) : My hon. Friend was talking about Uganda.

Dame Elaine Kellett-Bowman : No, he was talking about other countries as well. Zaire spent only £1 million a year on the national health service. That is why Zaire is a centre for AIDS, which is spreading to the rest of Africa.

Mr. Clarke : I do not want to score political points--an easy thing to do--in such a serious debate. If what the hon. Lady says is true, I deplore it. I am willing to listen to her evidence, as I hope she is willing to listen to mine. I shall deal with the general point she raised later, when I hope that I shall command her support. I referred to 16 districts where famine is firmly and clearly established, yet Britain contributed to only two--Soroti and Kumi. The newspaper that I mentioned published photographs of emaciated and starving children in Teso and Karamoja. I am trying to be fair, but when I visited that area I was given to understand that not one penny had been received from the ODA, which is wholly unacceptable. It must be said that the Government's response to these matters has been lethargic in the extreme. Neighbouring countries have to deal with difficult domestic issues day after day and they are not helped by the problem of international debt. That issue is rightly dealt with in each

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of our overseas development debates and I would welcome debating it today. Uganda spends 30 per cent. of its income servicing the World bank, the International Monetary Fund and other commercial interests.

Of course, the problem is far wider than that. In 1992, developing countries repaid £100 billion interest on their debts, well over twice the amount they received in aid. I hope that we hear no more of the nonsense that charity begins at home, when clearly our international institutions are exploiting former colonial territories.

Mr. Phillip Oppenheim (Amber Valley) : I thank the hon. Gentleman for his courtesy in giving way. Was not a great deal of the debt to which he referred incurred in building grandiose industrial projects during the 1960s and 1970s ? Has he seen the recent World bank report, which shows that the developing countries that followed market-oriented policies have done a great deal better than those that followed the policies of centrally planned economies, nationalisation and socialism ? It is the countries that followed the latter policies which have incurred huge debts. That should raise some question in the minds of the hon. Gentleman and his hon. Friends about the effectiveness of socialist policies in general.

Mr. Clarke : I have certainly seen the recent World bank report. If the hon. Gentleman spares himself the time to go to the Library and read it, he will find little support for his proposition. The Government's tepid amendment to our motion suggests that we should deal with the issue of debt --so flippantly dealt with by the hon. Member for Amber Valley (Mr. Oppenheim)--on the Trinidad terms. No doubt the Minister will refer to that -- [Interruption.] I should be happy to give way to any Conservative Member who wishes to intervene. Their attempts to disrupt the order of the House, especially in such a debate, are quite unacceptable.

The Trinidad terms proposed by the Prime Minister, which are mentioned clearly in the Government's amendment, were to write off two thirds of bilateral aid, while the terms offered so far have been a 50 per cent. write-off at best. Even the full Trinidad terms would not begin to deal with the problem. Do the Government deny the findings of the World bank report in February, to which the hon. Member for Amber Valley referred ? In case the hon. Gentleman has forgotten, I remind him and the House that it stated :

"Only six of the twenty-one severely indebted low-income, sub-Saharan African countries could achieve a sustainable position even with the"

full Trinidad terms,

"while nine would still have a"

debt service ratio

"in excess of 300 per cent. of exports."

The Trinidad terms do nothing to help countries faced with enormous debts to multilateral bodies such as the World bank and the IMF. While Ministers dwell on the extremely limited success of the Trinidad terms, severely indebted countries continue to accumulate fresh arrears that are greater than the debts written off. If the Government have no fresh initiatives, we can only conclude that they have no strategy for dealing with the debt crisis facing the world's poorest countries. Will the Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office or

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the Minister who replies to the debate say whether the Government are prepared to take any new initiative to aid relief on a multilateral or bilateral debt ?

Mr. Nirj Joseph Deva (Brentford and Isleworth) : Does the hon. Gentleman deny that, following the initiative taken by my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister on the Trinidad terms, the Government have so far cancelled £1 billion of debt from the poorest countries ?

Mr. Clarke : I am grateful for the hon. Gentleman's intervention, but I reported the views of the World bank, and not many people would argue that it is the most progressive of bodies. It acknowledges the limitations of the Trinidad terms in a way that the House will recognise.

Mr. Dennis Skinner (Bolsover) : Does not that £1 billion contrast unfavourably with the fact that, over the past few years, the Tory Government have written off £5,000 million of debts for the top four clearing banks--National Westminster, Midland, Lloyds and Barclays ? [Hon. Members :-- "Rubbish."] If that kind of money were used to help developing countries, much of the misery that my hon. Friend saw on his travels would be removed.

Mr. Clarke : My hon. Friend is right. Since I entered the House in 1982, I have found that he has shown far greater interest in third-world matters than Conservative Members who have been interrupting.

As to the Government's record on overseas aid

Dame Elaine Kellett-Bowman : Will the hon. Gentleman give way ?

Mr. Clarke : Yes, but as I have been particularly generous in giving way so far, I hope that the House will then allow me to continue my speech.

Dame Elaine Kellett-Bowman : I remind the hon. Gentleman that I was a member of the European Parliament's development committee, as was my husband. I have visited the countries in question and take a considerable interest in them. What concerns me about the Trinidad terms is that we have kept our part of the bargain but that other countries have not. We have not enjoyed the full benefit of the Trinidad terms.

Mr. Clarke : I wish that were the case. Any examination of the Trinidad terms shows that what Britain has offered so far falls far short of what was promised by the then Chancellor of the Exchequer, now the Prime Minister--but that will come as no surprise to the House.

Mr. Corbyn : Does my hon. Friend agree that, while the Government parade around the world their supposed help with debt, they have done nothing but undermine the real prices paid for commodities to countries that are trying to get out of debt in the first place ? Far from growing, many African economies are getting smaller because of the reduced prices paid for vital commodities.

Mr. Clarke : I could not agree more, as is shown by the evidence in African countries that I visited. Uganda, for example, to deal with the problem of falling commodity prices, has been compelled to introduce health service and education charges which hon. Members on both sides of the House would find unacceptable for Great Britain.

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Let us consider the Government's record on overseas aid. The House recognises the United Nations target of 0.7 per cent., which we are told all parties in the House claim they are committed to achieving. Under Labour, we had reached 0.51 per cent., more than three quarters of the UN target, and it was increasing. Under this Government, our contribution has been reduced to a pathetic 0.31 per cent., which is less than half the UN target in 1992. The figures for 1993

Mr. Jacques Arnold (Gravesham) : Will the hon. Gentleman give way ?

Mr. Clarke : I will not give way again. Conservative Members should be patient. I have been particularly generous so far.

The figures for 1993 are likely to be no better. The figures for this year and next year are likely to be even worse. In 1979, Britain was the largest donor of the G7 nations and the most generous of the world's richest countries. We have now fallen to fifth place out of seven, a record of which the Conservative party can hardly be proud. From being one of the leaders in development, we are increasingly becoming one of the also-rans.

As well as considerably reducing the volume of British aid, the Government have changed the way in which aid is divided up. Eighteen months ago at the Edinburgh summit, the Prime Minister committed himself to very large increases in European Union aid. The consequence of that, without an increase in resources, must be cuts in the bilateral budget, cuts in the Overseas Development Agency itself, cuts in our support for the UN and UN agencies such as UNICEF and cuts in respect of other multilateral agencies such as the World bank's development wing, the International Development Association. As the House will know, negotiations for the next replenishment of IDA funds will begin later this year. Consequently, I want to ask the Government and the two Ministers who will be involved in the debate a specific question about the 11th replenishment. Will they cut our percentage contribution, or will they make a commitment to no further cuts ?

Last year, the Government abolished the separate Budget headings for aid to developing countries and assistance to eastern Europe. Aid to eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union is increasing from £188 million in 1992-93 to £331 million in 1995-96. Promises that that would not be at the expense of developing countries have, in our experience, simply proved to be hollow. Of course, there is a need for assistance to eastern Europe, but not at the expense of even poorer people elsewhere. It cannot be right that sub-Saharan Africa, where less than half the children receive education, should lose out to eastern Europe, where literacy is almost 100 per cent. We move our motion in the knowledge that world poverty in the modern age is entirely unacceptable. We see it as one of the greatest challenges of our time and as a threat to peace. I do not apologise for asking for a crusade against world poverty. We must tell ourselves that it simply cannot be right that 80 per cent. of the world's resources are consumed by 20 per cent. of the world's population. We cannot be complacent about the fact that every year an additional 26 million people, equivalent to almost half the population of Britain, experience absolute poverty.

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When I was elected to the House in the early 1980s, our debates on the subject tended to be dominated--and rightly so-- by the Brandt report. The response to that report included two massive lobbies, amounting to 30,000 people, to the House in the 1980s. That led to the Commission, after other international reaction, publishing a second report, entitled "A Common Crisis". In his introduction to the second report, the late Willy Brandt said :

"Every two seconds of this year a child will die of hunger or disease. And no statistic can express what it is to see even one child die . . . to see the uncomprehending panic in eyes which are the clear and lucid eyes of a child."

I believed then that that is why we place such emphasis on poverty and why we have a duty to do so today.

More than 60 per cent. of the populations of the least developed countries are living in absolute poverty. That is not reflected in the present priorities of the Government's aid programme. Targeting the poor means not only delivering aid to the poorest countries of the world, but making sure that aid is delivered to the poorest people within those countries.

In order to focus aid programmes on reducing poverty, we need to know how our aid is being spent. I welcome the introduction of the policy information marker system, or PIMS, which identifies what proportion of the ODA budget is allocated to each of the Department's seven objectives, but frankly it does not go far enough. Despite PIMS, the Government still do not know how much of their aid is reducing poverty. They still have no idea of who actually benefits from British taxpayers' money.

I give one example. In another place last year, Baroness Chalker said that about 30 per cent. of our bilateral aid was spent on the basic needs of health care and education. This year's ODA report said that the proportion spent on education alone was 17 per cent. But if we want to know how much aid was spent on improving basic education for children and adults in order to reduce poverty, those figures are no help at all. The reality is that less than 6 per cent. of education spending in the aid budget in 1991-92 was spent on primary and adult basic education.

If we want our aid to focus on reducing poverty, it is those aspects that matter most. In particular, we should make a greater contribution to the education of women and girls. Female education is one of the most important commitments that a developing country can make to its future. Those policies must clearly be viewed as essential in the long term--for example, nutrition, family planning, child health and women's rights are profoundly affected by whether a country educates its girls. I do not believe that we have established a priority in that respect. It is still the case that, in sub-Saharan Africa, only 40 per cent. of girls receive any form of education, and in south-east Asia the figure is only 53 per cent. Our education aid budget should address such issues, but, frankly, it does not. In a speech to the Overseas Development Institute last week, which I attended, Baroness Chalker made much of how the ODA could teach others how to improve their aid programmes. For example, she said that the European Union could learn from us about focusing aid on poverty reduction. Perhaps we should take a leaf out of the book of the World bank. Since 1991, the development wing of the bank has assessed all its development projects according to their impact on poverty. The programme of targeting interventions, or PTI, gives priority to projects that are specifically targeted at those living in absolute poverty and

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to projects that have a general benefit for the community, but, rightly, a disproportionately high level of benefit for the poor.

Mr. William Cash (Stafford) : Will the hon. Gentleman give way ?

Mr. Clarke : I shall give way to the hon. Gentleman because I know of his genuine interest in these matters.

Mr. Cash : Does the hon. Gentleman acknowledge that, regardless of whether the World bank focuses on poverty, there is a substantial problem with regard to World bank debt--that countries such as Uganda must pay as much as one third of their total revenue in the repayment of debt to the World bank ? Will the hon. Gentleman encourage the World bank to suspend that debt to help such countries to improve their economies ?

Mr. Clarke : I recognise the sincerity of the hon. Gentleman's intervention. If he had been here earlier, he would have heard me make precisely that point.

If the World bank can deal with projects which have a genuine benefit to the community but which rightly discriminate disproportionately in terms of benefit to the poor, I see no reason why the ODA cannot do the same. I ask the Government a specific question : will they introduce in their development programme a system of monitoring or targeting to reduce poverty, such as the one which they agreed to the World bank adopting three years ago ? Frankly, that would not have gone through if the British had not agreed to it.

It is also clear that if we are to achieve poverty reduction in our aid programme, we must involve the poor themselves. Participation of local people at all stages of projects is absolutely crucial. That includes consultation on suitability, research and design. If we are serious about helping people to escape poverty by their own efforts, it is manifestly essential that we take their views seriously when it comes to designing projects. I have a further question for the Minister : what proportion of the ODA's bilateral projects involve participation of local communities at the design stage, and what are the Government's plans to increase that ?

To improve the quality of aid and to achieve a proper poverty focus also requires more openness and accountability in the Government's decision- making process. Last week, Baroness Chalker said that this was also an area where the ODA--as she put it--already excelled. I find that hard to accept. If we had an open and accountable

decision-making process, a decision such as that on Pergau would never have been approved.

If Baroness Chalker meant that the Government would learn the lessons of Pergau, and that one of the lessons of Pergau is the need for disclosure of information, that is all well and good and we welcome that repentance. If that is what the Government mean, presumably they will agree to make project information available to interested parties when a project is in preparation. They will also agree that after a project has been approved, the appraisals of its effectiveness should be made public after any confidential information has been omitted. I therefore ask the Government a further question : will they support the release of project information documents and project appraisal documents for all the development initiatives funded by the ODA ?

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In making these proposals to improve the work of the ODA, I do not in any way understate the tremendous commitment and high quality of the people who serve in the development field. Indeed, one of the main purposes of bringing forward the debate is to protect and strengthen those who work in the ODA and whose influence extends elsewhere. I am afraid that that does not always appear to be the priority of Ministers.

As part of the ideologically driven interference by the Tory party in the work of the Department, I understand that a new approach to project preparation and management has been introduced. It comes all the way from the United States of America and is inspired by an organisation with the title of Team Technologies Incorporated. I have here the job description for the post of project preparation facilitator, which was introduced into the ODA under this exciting new initiative. Hon. Members will be delighted to learn that one of the requirements for the post is proven capacity

"to communicate orally very effectively and with enthusiasm, bilaterally and in the training room."

In other words, the ability to talk. With leadership like that, we can see that the future of Britain's reputation in development will be safe in their hands.

However, development is a serious subject. It is a very serious matter that the Government have admitted that they tolerated a linkage between British aid expenditure and the sale of arms. It is a serious matter that thousands of the world's children are killed or severely disabled every year by the many millions of land mines that have been laid in developing countries in the past 30 years. It is a very serious matter that the Government continue to equivocate on the issue of land mine exports, even though the ODA recognises that land mines are one of the greatest obstacles to post-war reconstruction in developing countries. Therefore, it is with the utmost seriousness that I call on the Government urgently to review their policy on land mines and to give the highest priority to the protection of innocent men, women and children.

It is also extremely serious that the latest reports from Ethiopia suggest that that country is about to face a famine even more severe than that of 1984-85. I welcome today's announcement of a further 20, 000 tonnes of food aid to Ethiopia, although its timing is extremely interesting. However, the number of people at risk is between 6 million and 7 million and a much larger response from the whole international community to the impending crisis in Ethiopia is clearly required. Therefore, I ask the Government what more they intend to do and what steps they intend to take to secure an adequate response from the European Union as a whole.

I referred earlier to Willy Brandt's introduction to the important and moving document, practical though it was, "A Common Crisis". I conclude with his conclusion. He said :

"A new century nears, and with it the prospects of a new civilization. Could we not begin to lay the basis for that new community with reasonable relations among all people and nations, and to build a world in which sharing, justice and freedom, and peace prevail ?"

That is why we challenge poverty wherever it exists. It is an evil whether it is in Britain or overseas. We will fight poverty for all we are worth and fight injustices wherever

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they occur. To do that, we need a strategy for the future of British development policy such as only a White Paper can provide. That is why I commend our motion to the House.

4.43 pm

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Mr. Alastair Goodlad) : I beg to move, to leave out from "House" to the end of the Question and to add instead thereof :

supports the Government's clear strategy to support sustainable economic and social development, particularly in the poorest countries ; commends the lead the Prime Minister has taken through his Trinidad Terms initiative, from which 22 countries now benefit, to reduce the debt burden of developing countries ; welcomes the role played by the Government in the successful conclusion of the GATT Uruguay round, which will improve trading opportunities for developing countries and help them generate more of the resources they need for their development ; commends its substantial and effective aid programme and in particular the use it makes of the expertise of British institutions, companies and non-governmental organisations ; and welcomes the fact that the Government now publishes more information about the aid programme than ever before.'.

I am grateful to the Opposition, and to the hon. Member for Monklands, West (Mr. Clarke), for giving the House the opportunity to discuss this very important matter this afternoon. The Government's policy towards developing countries is clear and straightforward : to help them to help themselves. We believe that it is right to use a portion of the country's wealth to help poorer countries and that it is strongly in our interests as a major trading nation that there should be greater stability and prosperity in the developing world. Long-term economic growth and good government are central to achieving that stability. The past few decades have shown that sensible economic policies can produce economic growth. Bad policies lead to economic stagnation and decline, with countries unable to provide for their growing populations. Good government, too, is vital ; efficient and accountable government with respect for human rights.

I endorse what the hon. Member for Monklands, West said about South Africa and the recent elections there. They are a milestone in the march towards a free and non-racial democratic society.

Mr. Gyles Brandreth (City of Chester) : Can my right hon. Friend say whether there is any way in which we shall be able to turn that into tangible form ? One obviously endorses entirely his sentiments, but now that we have the new South Africa, will we be able to manifest that, as it were ?

Mr. Goodlad : There are important challenges and South Africans will look to their friends in the international community to help dismantle the apartheid legacy and rebuild the country. The South African Government's reconstruction and development programme provides the basis for that. Our aid since 1979 has been a demonstration of our commitment to help the transition process. For example, we have trained more than 1,000 non-white South Africans a year for their rightful role in government and society. The present South Africa can count on our support for sound policies. My right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary announced on 4 May that we expected to provide £100 million of aid over the next three years. Our objectives will include good governance, including public administration and police reform, education, health and the promotion of small

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businesses. We hope to build on the work that we have already done. In addition, investment by the private sector is crucial to sustainable economic growth. We are already discussing the priorities for aid with the new Government and we shall continue to work with South African non-governmental organisations where appropriate. On a personal basis, having done voluntary service overseas in South Africa in the early 1960s, I am glad to see VSO back in South Africa and that normal service will be resumed as soon as possible. The House will recognise what progress there has been in the developing world as a whole. During the 25 years to 1990, GDP growth in low and middle income countries was almost 5 per cent. per year. The growth in per capita incomes was almost 2.5 per cent. At that rate of growth, per capita incomes double in 30 years. The United Nations development programme's human development index rose from 25 per cent. in 1960 to 60 per cent. in 1992. Other achievements have helped to improve the living standards of people in developing countries. A dramatic improvement in agricultural yields and in adequate food supply has led to the virtual elimination of famine in south Asia and China.

According to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, in 1965 only about 25 countries met their daily per capita calorie requirements. By 1990, that figure had doubled to 50. There has been significant progress in improving health. In the past three decades, average life expectancy in developing countries has increased from 51 to 64 years.

Mrs. Ann Clwyd (Cynon Valley) : The right hon. Gentleman mentioned UNDP and talked about poor people's basic needs. Can he explain why, according to UNDP, only 6.6 per cent. of British overseas aid is focused on poor people's basic needs of clean water, health care, primary school education and so on, whereas Denmark manages to focus 25 per cent. of its overseas aid on poor people's basic needs ? Why is the United Kingdom's overseas aid programme skewed so that it focuses so little of its aid on those needs ?

Mr. Goodlad : I will come to the question of poverty a little later. Britain has one of the best records--among the OECD's Development Assistance Committee donors--of allocating aid to the poorest countries. In each of the past five years, between 80 per cent. and 85 per cent. of our bilateral aid which is allocatable by income group has been spent in low- income countries--those with an income per capita of less than $765.

The British aid programme tackles poverty at all levels : the direct poverty reduction level, often with our partners in non-governmental organisations ; and the sectoral level, with aid to improve reforms, to help with education and water supplies, with humanitarian aid and with aid for broader policy and institutional reforms, which help to bring faster, broad-based, labour-intensive growth with widespread benefits for poor people

The rate of infant mortality has nearly halved. Since l980, the proportion of families with access to safe drinking water has risen from 38 per cent. to 68 per cent. in south-east Asia, from 66 per cent. to 78 per cent. in Latin America, and from 32 per cent. to 43 per cent. in Africa. Enrolment rates in primary and secondary eduction have increased.

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Mr. Tony Worthington (Clydebank and Milngavie) : Why is the Minister claiming credit for that when our contribution has fallen ?

Mr. Goodlad : Our contribution has increased this year and will increase next year.

There has also been encouraging progress in the demographic transition in developing countries. Family sizes have dropped rapidly throughout Asia and parts of Latin America. The average number of children per woman in developing countries has dropped by a third, falling from more than six to below four.

Politically, there has been a widespread move towards democratic and accountable government--for example, in Latin America and in a number of countries in sub-Saharan Africa. Between half and three quarters of the world's population now live under pluralistic and democratic regimes. Last year, elections were held in 45 countries--in some, for the first time.

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