Previous SectionIndexHome Page


27. Mr. Ainger: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what assistance his Department is currently giving to the Government of Rwanda. [10008]

Mr. Hanley: Since January 1995, Britain has committed £11 million bilaterally and £8.5 million as our share of multilateral aid in support of the Rwandan Government's programme of rehabilitation and reconstruction.

Mr. Ainger: Is the Minister aware that more than 55,000 people--some of them children--are in prison in

29 Jan 1996 : Column 639

Rwanda awaiting trial on charges of genocide? Is he aware that aid agencies and the United Nations now consider the primary priority to be to get the judiciary functioning in Rwanda so that we can reconstruct and rehabilitate the whole of its society? Is he further aware that the Minister of Justice in Rwanda requested, more than three months ago, that the international community provide some 678 judicial personnel--303 judges, 300 prosecutors and 75 police officers--so that they can begin to process the 55,000-plus prisoners? How have the Government responded to that request?

Mr. Hanley: The hon. Gentleman is right to say that there is a tremendous job to be done in Rwanda. We have seen, in the weekend newspapers, further stories of atrocities, and the war crimes tribunal has been set up to try to deal with the matter. We understand that it now has sufficient funding for start-up costs, pending approval of a budget by the UN General Assembly. The United Kingdom has seconded three police officers to work for the prosecutor's office, and we have pledged £200,000 towards that and other costs. Trials are expected shortly. The judicial procedure will inevitably take some time if the trials are to be fair and thorough. The prosecutor will decide whom to try. It is likely that the tribunal will prosecute the ringleaders, while the Government of Rwanda will deal with the remaining suspects.

Mr. Fabricant: Will my right hon. Friend join me in congratulating those who have worked so hard in Rwanda and other parts of central and eastern Africa on water aid? Is he aware that the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development said that our aid is the most effective of its kind in Europe? Is it not a case of, "It's not the size of it that counts; it's what you do with it"?

Mr. Hanley: Indeed. I agree with my hon. Friend, who is absolutely right about the need for good water; it is essential. The House might be interested to know that we recently sent our first-ever British ambassador to Rwanda. She took up her duties in Kigali in December and is also accredited to Burundi. I believe that that is a sign of our support for the Rwandan Government's efforts to promote reconciliation and rehabilitation, and to remain closely engaged in the problems of the Great Lakes region.

Central America

28. Mr. Corbyn: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what examination he has made of the effects of structural adjustment programmes on the economies of central America and the role of the British aid programme. [10009]

Mr. Hanley: We regularly examine the effects of structural adjustment programmes in different regions, both in consultation with the World bank and independently. In central America and elsewhere, they are laying the basis for sustainable economic growth, a prerequisite for poverty alleviation.

Mr. Corbyn: Is the Minister aware that the fundamental expenditure review undertaken by his Department seems to give automatic support to structural adjustment programmes advanced by the International

29 Jan 1996 : Column 640

Monetary Fund and the World bank, and that structural adjustment programmes throughout central America, in the wake of the end of the civil wars, are unbelievably destructive of human life? They are reducing life expectancy, increasing poverty and malnutrition and leading to considerable social discord and unrest. Is it not time to abandon the nonsense of such programmes, and to plan for the social needs of people in those countries rather than imposing market economics on them?

Two thirds of the population of Nicaragua, for instance, are now living in serious poverty, and unemployment has more than doubled in the past three years. Does the Minister think that structural adjustment programmes have something to answer for in relation to those terrible figures?

Mr. Hanley: Sound economic policies are a key prerequisite for sustainable growth and poverty reduction, and adjustment programmes are designed to help developing countries to implement policy reforms in order to restore growth and strengthen institutions. The evidence from successive reviews shows that effective reform programmes are associated with reduced poverty, and inadequate programmes with worsening poverty. The ODA recognises the need to consider the social impact of adjustment programmes on the poor--indeed, we do consider it--and the World bank is working to improve the collection of information, and to improve policies for reducing poverty. The ODA has supported that work by seconding two consecutive social development advisers to the World bank since 1990. Let me repeat that sound economic policies are the key prerequisite for sustainable growth and poverty reduction.

Mr. Jacques Arnold: Are not the structural adjustment programmes allowing the countries concerned to return to proper economies? Combined with the overseas aid programmes involving investment in projects, would that not allow people to earn a living and self-respect, rather than having to rely on the begging bowl that seems to be the only alternative proposed by the hon. Member for Islington, North (Mr. Corbyn)?

Mr. Hanley: My hon. Friend is, perhaps, the most knowledgeable of hon. Members in regard to the region that we are discussing, and he is absolutely right.

Tanzania, Kenya and Uganda

29. Mr. Win Griffiths: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs how much British international aid was provided in Tanzania, Kenya and Uganda in (a) 1994-95 and (b) 1995-96. [10010]

Mr. Hanley: In 1994-95, we provided the three countries combined with well over £100 million under our bilateral aid programme. In addition to that is our share of multilateral aid, which in 1993--the last year for which figures are available--was £48 million. The figures for 1995-96, for which the hon. Gentleman asked, are likely to be similar, but we do not have them at present.

Mr. Griffiths: In the light of developments in Uganda and Tanzania in particular, is the Minister prepared to increase the amount of aid? Both countries are making efforts to transform their economies. Will the Minister

29 Jan 1996 : Column 641

also put pressure on the Kenyan Government to reintroduce human rights, so that we can continue to help people in that country as well?

Mr. Hanley: The hon. Gentleman speaks for many hon. Members. Of course, we shall spend what money we can afford. My noble Friend the Minister for Overseas Development is in Tanzania today for discussions with the new Government, and will shortly report on what she finds there. We welcome the Tanzanian Government's intentions to enter a new phase of economic reform and to deal with corruption, but it is important for those good intentions to be instituted into action to restore donor and investor confidence.

I entirely agree with what the hon. Gentleman said about Kenya. Our project assistance focuses strongly on support for economic and financial reform, and programme aid will also be available if that reform proceeds. There has also been an energetic economic reform programme for Uganda, which has achieved significant economic growth as a result--over 5 per cent. per annum since 1987, and an estimated 10 per cent. last year.

Sir John Stanley: Will good government considerations form part of the Government's view as to the appropriate overseas aid level for the three countries concerned?

Mr. Hanley: Yes, I can confirm that they will.


30. Mr. Mike O'Brien: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what assistance his Department has given to China to improve provision for orphanages. [10011]

Mr. Hanley: We have provided support to the Save the Children Fund for a project in Anhui aimed at extending and refurbishing a kindergarten for both able and mentally and physically disabled children, and to Health Unlimited for a training programme for mother and child health workers. Total funds committed are around £250,000. We also contribute to UNICEF--the United Nations Children's Fund--which has just announced a programme to assist the orphanages that are most at risk.

Mr. O'Brien: I welcome the contributions, such as they are, but they are just not enough, are they? Does the Minister recall the television images of the children tied to stools--some of them left to die--in Chinese orphanages? Does he agree with my constituents and me that those merit the strongest representations to the Chinese Government, that those conditions are intolerable in any society--any civilised one at least--and that the British Government will expect the Chinese Government to prevent such images from ever appearing on our television screens or in any orphanage in China again, and will continue to monitor the position?

Mr. Hanley: I agree with the hon. Gentleman. I saw the television programme and was disturbed by it. The "Human Rights Watch" report of ill-treatment of abandoned children in China contained serious allegations. The Channel 4 programme also presented a

29 Jan 1996 : Column 642

profoundly disturbing picture. When my right hon. and learned Friend the Foreign Secretary was in Peking earlier this month, he strongly urged the Chinese authorities to investigate those allegations fully and quickly. The Chinese Foreign Minister told him that those reports were untrue and the Foreign Secretary encouraged the Chinese Government to do everything possible to demonstrate that, including providing full access to the public. That has begun to happen.

Even at Chongming, which was previously not open to the public, European Union diplomats have had access within the past few days. I also welcome the willingness of the Chinese authorities to allow further visits to any of the institutions in Shanghai, and their offer to provide further data. Obviously, however, it was difficult to form a complete picture during the short pre-arranged visit. The EU diplomats reported no evidence of systematic ill-treatment or abuse at that institution but we will, of course, continue to urge full access by Chinese and foreigners alike to those institutions. It is the only way to ensure that those terrible scenes do not continue.

Mr. Wilkinson: I welcome the assistance of my right hon. Friend's Department to the charitable endeavours in Chinese orphanages, but will he use the good offices of his Department to persuade the People's Republic of China not to waste money on naval expansion programmes, a nuclear missile armoury and, above all, repression in Tibet, and to concentrate on putting its own house in order, in particular by offering a reasonable standard of living, especially for orphaned children?

Mr. Hanley: My hon. Friend is right. At least 100 million people still live in abject poverty in China. It is right that it should recognise that the world is watching. If it wishes to play a full part in the modern world in the years to come, it must demonstrate that it can look after its own people properly. The issues to which my hon. Friend referred affect us all. After all, we are deeply concerned about reports of abuses of human rights in Tibet. There is destruction of historic buildings, the immigration of the Han Chinese, arbitrary security measures and environmental damage. We raise those issues with the Chinese authorities: the last time the Chinese Foreign Minister came to England, I was part of the delegation that raised them with him, as I do with the ambassador regularly and as the Foreign Secretary did with the Chinese Foreign Minister on 9 January.

Next Section

IndexHome Page