|Previous Section||Home Page|
Mr. Tom Clarke : The Minister has accused my party of seeking to occupy the high moral ground. I plead guilty : I would not accuse him of that. Why does he believe that the World Development Movement is so far wrong ? It enjoys a great deal more support than the Conservative party received in the recent European elections. The Minister sees fit to lecture us about the fig leaf of the Trinidad terms, so will he say why the Government will not explain, in a White Paper, the immorality of spending £300 million on the Pergau dam project, which stinks ?
I endorse the comments made by my hon. Friend the Member for Broxtowe about debt relief. Of course, we should like better terms to be offered, but, as he recognises, that must be done multilaterally. He is right to stress the need for countries to support the efforts of the United Nations, thereby displaying our collective international will. We should never forget that we are the fourth-largest contributor of troops to UN peacekeeping operations. The hon. Member for Islington, North (Mr. Corbyn)) said that developing countries pay out more than they receive. That is not true. OECD figures show that in 1991 developing countries received £31.4 billion more than they paid out. That is a fact, and I place it on the record.
The hon. Member for Monklands, West spoke about poverty focus and it was also mentioned by the hon. Member for Cynon Valley (Mrs. Clwyd) who, I am sorry to say, is not in her place. It was said that 6.6 per cent. of bilateral aid was spent on human priorities, but that is wrong. The figure for expenditure in 1992 on basic needs was 10 per cent. of bilateral aid, and we are better than the average of all donors in that area.
On the monitoring of poverty, all our aid to the poorest countries is focused on the reduction of poverty. We have set seven priority objectives for the aid programme and they all contribute to sustainable development. We now have a computer-based system for measuring performance against those objectives and we have already made public information from that exercise. We shall publish more
Column 323information later this year. Again I say that we are publishing more information about our aid programme than has ever been published before.
The hon. Member for Monklands, West asked a specific question to which he wanted a specific answer about the 11th replenishment of the International Development Association. Negotiations on IDA 11 start at the beginning of next year. Decisions on our contribution will be taken in the light of those negotiations. We have been major contributors to IDA and gave £620 million in the period 1993-96. The subject of Rwanda was considerably developed by the hon. Member for Monklands, West and mentioned by my hon. Friend the Member for Brentford and Isleworth (Mr. Deva). It was also mentioned by the hon. Member for Clydebank and Milngavie (Mr. Worthington), who is normally fair and whose constituency I think I pronounced rather more correctly then his Welsh colleague, the hon. Member for Pontypridd (Dr. Howells).
Mr. Lennox-Boyd : The hon. Gentleman grossly underestimates our contribution to assistance in Rwanda. The 50 trucks that he dismissed so contemptuously are precisely what the Secretary-General asked us to supply, but, of course, we have given £11 million worth of aid for Rwanda and for related situations. My right hon. Friend the Minister dealt with the political aspect at some length, so I shall say only that we were in the forefront in the Security Council in efforts to get an expanded UNAMIR.
As I have said, we have given £11 million worth of aid. We gave £1 million to establish an air bridge into northern Tanzania, £8 million to support NGO operations, which I will not list, and £2 million for strategic planning and management, including health, to the UNHCR and to the United Nations department of humanitarian affairs.
Mr. Lennox-Boyd : I shall not give way again. The hon. Gentleman made a long contribution and I must get on with my speech. [Interruption.] I shall give way on this occasion, but I shall not do so again.
Mr. Clarke : We are on a serious issue and some of the Minister's earlier answers were rather flippant. Earlier in the debate the House addressed the important issue of Rwanda. Have the Government responded to the French initiative ? If they have, have they borne in mind the sensitivities of Africans, including the people of Rwanda ?
Mr. Lennox-Boyd : The hon. Gentleman mentions the disagreements in the aid lobbies about the French initiative. He said that he did not support it and I know that some of the aid lobbies and the NGOs do not support it either. By touching on that he shows the great complexity and difficulty of some of the circumstances-- [Interruption.] The hon. Gentleman asked a question and he must let me answer it in my way. He owes me that courtesy and he should not interrupt. The hon. Gentleman illustrates the great difficulties. The answer to his question is that we support the French initiative, but I will not go into it tonight because it was not raised in the debate.
We made a rapid response. When the refugee exodus from Rwanda began at the beginning of May, the ODA
Column 324went into immediate action. Within 36 hours we had equipment on the ground in Mwanza to establish the air bridge to which I referred, to enable relief supplies to be unloaded from aircraft and transported by road to refugee camps and to keep the runways open with night repair work. The NGO requests were approved within 24 hours. I must say a word about South Africa because it is such an important development for the whole continent and has deep implications for our aid programme. There is no doubt that South Africa's external financing needs will be met primarily by enhanced export opportunities, by the international financial institutions and, very importantly, by direct private investment. That is why the political stability of South Africa is so very important. Bilateral donors can best help by providing know-how in targeted areas, as described by my right hon. Friend this afternoon. That is why £100 million, which is a substantial commitment, has been made available over the next three years by the ODA and my right hon. Friend. Of this, some £60 million will be provided through our already well-established bilateral country programme, but the Commonwealth Development Corporation has also been authorised to invest in South Africa and I am sure will make an important contribution to wealth creation in the private sector.
I want to say a word about land mines. I shall touch on all the important issues. All weapons are abhorrent, particularly when used indiscriminately. In the case of land mines, the problem must be their indiscriminate use against civilian populations. The Government are deeply concerned about the effect of the indiscriminate use of anti-personnel mines on civilians. Therefore, Britain supported the resolution in the United Nations General Assembly last year which demanded a moratorium on the export of anti- personnel land mines, which pose a great danger to civilian populations.
The United Kingdom has not produced or exported conventional anti-personnel land mines since 1982. I hope that that clear statement can put to rest so much of the ill-informed comment on the subject.
Mr. Lester : On the subject of land mines, it is good that my hon. Friend has reinforced the point that Britain does not produce them. Those of us who have seen Cambodia, Angola and other parts of the world where land mines have been laid know that not a single one is from Britain. However, we spend thousands of pounds picking up those that others have put down.
Let me touch upon another point that the right hon. Member for Tweeddale, Ettrick and Lauderdale made about corruption, which is a major problem. We actively support action against it as part of our good government policy and we support the overall objectives of Transparency International to which he referred. We have said that we are prepared to consider financing projects that it may put forward. May I say a quick word to my hon. Friend the Member for Sutton and Cheam (Lady Olga Maitland), who mentioned the Crown Agents ? I certainly recognise the valuable role of the Crown Agents in our aid programme and, indeed, in relation to the aid programmes of others, notably Japan. That is a example where the Crown Agents
Column 325are helping others while helping themselves and Britain. I am pleased to see that the recent honours lists recognised the bravery of the Crown Agents staff in Bosnia.
I should say something to my right hon. Friend the Member for Tonbridge and Malling (Sir J. Stanley). Of course, I agree with him entirely about the valuable role of NGOs and their ability to work with the poorest. If I may disagree with him on one point, he was wrong to say that we channel through our NGOs no more than modest amounts. It was a large sum of money which doubled in just three years from £65 million in 1989-90 to £147 million in 1992-93. He mentioned EC expenditure and the need for proper scrutiny of what is an ever-increasing part of our aid budget. I agree with him wholeheartedly and I wish that I had the time to say more about the issue tonight.
I invite my right hon. Friend to volunteer for European Standing Committee B, which is the forum in which these subjects can be properly debated. The hon. Member for Pontypridd should attend, too. It is where proper, detailed scrutiny should take place. I would say more about bilateral and multilateral aid if I had more time, but I have not.
I must tell the hon. Member for Pontypridd that we are committed to a reform of the common agricultural policy which will cut prices. To the extent that that reduces European Union food exports and increases imports, world prices will rise. That will be good for the developing countries.
The hon. Member for Southampton, Itchen (Mr. Denham) referred to structural adjustment. It is important that we encourage correct policies in developing countries. The considerable development successes over the past three decades--especially, but not solely, in Asia--show the importance of the right policies to encourage wealth creation. Our policies of freer trade, debt relief and well-targeted aid help to provide the framework to allow developing countries to prosper.
I do not have the time to deal with the population question raised by my hon. Friend the Member for Croydon, South (Mr. Ottaway), which was also touched upon by the hon. Member for Hampstead and Highgate (Ms Jackson). I wish my hon. Friend well in Cairo ; I only wish I were going with him.
My hon. Friend the Member for Brentford and Isleworth will be pleased to know that we already over permit on the aid budget in the expectation that not all offers of financial assistance to developing countries will be taken up.
I must say a word or two about aid volume, which has been referred to by my hon. Friends the Members for City of Chester (Mr. Brandreth) and for Southport (Mr. Banks), by the hon. Member for Monklands, West and by other hon. Members. No one contributor to our debate, other than my hon. Friend the Member for City of Chester, has given recognition to the announcement made by my right hon. Friend the Minister of State that the aid-GNP ratio will be confirmed tomorrow to be 0.31 per cent. That is an OECD figure. It shows that currently Britain's aid contribution is above the average of all donors and that we are one of only seven countries that have increased their aid at present.
It is arrogant and irresponsible of the Opposition constantly to claim that our aid programme is insubstantial and ineffective. It is arrogant because they fail to give credit to the skills and enormous achievements of those engaged in delivering aid and to our officials in the ODA.
Column 326It is irresponsible because the Labour party aspires to come to power and govern this country, yet it refuses to acknowledge the facts. For example, it will not acknowledge the fact that four leading countries in the world--the United States, Canada, Italy and Germany--three of which are as rich as or richer than us, are this year either cutting or freezing their aid. There was no mention of that from the Opposition. That should be contrasted with the modest increase that we are managing to achieve in our aid programme this year. There was no mention either that ours is the sixth-largest aid programme in the world. Ours is the sixth-largest economy, so we are about par for the course.
Labour always says that it will find some way to increase aid. It wants to occupy the moral high ground. It is the same old assertion, but where would Labour find the money ? Would it cut expenditure on social security ? Would it raise taxes ? If Labour intends to pay for increased aid by economic growth, it will not do that by encouraging railway signalmen to strike.
Mr. Alan Meale (Mansfield) rose in his place and claimed to move , That the Question be now put.
Question, That the Question be now put, put and agreed to. Question put accordingly :--
The House divided : Ayes 232, Noes 295.
Division No. 272] [9.59 pm
Abbott, Ms Diane
Adams, Mrs Irene
Anderson, Donald (Swansea E)
Anderson, Ms Janet (Ros'dale)
Banks, Tony (Newham NW)
Beith, Rt Hon A. J.
Benn, Rt Hon Tony
Bennett, Andrew F.
Bray, Dr Jeremy
Brown, Gordon (Dunfermline E)
Brown, N. (N'c'tle upon Tyne E)
Campbell, Mrs Anne (C'bridge)
Campbell, Menzies (Fife NE)
Campbell, Ronnie (Blyth V)
Carlile, Alexander (Montgomry)
Clarke, Eric (Midlothian)
Clarke, Tom (Monklands W)
Clwyd, Mrs Ann
Cook, Frank (Stockton N)
Cook, Robin (Livingston)
Cunningham, Jim (Covy SE)
Davies, Bryan (Oldham C'tral)
Davies, Rt Hon Denzil (Llanelli)
Davies, Ron (Caerphilly)
Davis, Terry (B'ham, H'dge H'l)
Dunwoody, Mrs Gwyneth
Evans, John (St Helens N)
Ewing, Mrs Margaret
Field, Frank (Birkenhead)
Foster, Rt Hon Derek
Gilbert, Rt Hon Dr John
Godman, Dr Norman A.