I beg to move,
That this House supports the decision of the United Nations to designate the 1960s as a Development Decade with the objective of a minimum annual rate of growth of 5 per cent. in the developing countries by 1970 and calls upon Her Majesty's Government to co-operate with other countries in programmes designed to achieve this objective, to carry out progressive policies of economic aid and technical assistance in the Commonwealth and elsewhere, and to pursue trading policies aimed at providing bigger markets for the products of developing countries.
The whole House will have learned with regret of the retirement of the right hon. Member for Runcorn (Mr. Vosper) as head of the Department of Technical Co-operation and the ill-health which caused him to retire. Although many of my hon. Friends have expressed criticism of Government policy in this sphere, we have all been greatly impressed by his enthusiasm in this new Department and I am sure that we all regret the cause which has led to his resignation.
At the same time, I would like to congratulate the right hon. Member for Mitcham (Mr. R. Carr) upon succeeding to the position of head of the Department and I can promise him that, while we on this side of the House will be vigilant and, perhaps, critical of him on occasions, we will support him in the work we hope he will do in the Department.
The subject I have chosen, having been lucky in the Ballot, is so vast that it will be possible for me to concentrate on only a few of its aspects. I will try to do two things in my remarks: first, to make an appeal for giving this whole subject greater priority in the planning of the economic and foreign policies of the Government; and, secondly, to examine some, but only a few, of the practical aspects of the problem, although I know that a number of my hon. Friends, if they succeed in catching your eye, Mr. Speaker, will be developing other specialised aspects in which they are interested.
The case for doing more by this country and other wealthy nations to help the development of the poorer countries is primarily a moral one. I do not want to spend a great deal of time developing that case because I believe that it is accepted by all hon. Members and by a growing number of people outside. There has been a kind of revolution in the outlook of people towards these matters during the last few years. In this, a number of things, particularly the advent of television, have played an important part.
When people see in their sitting rooms the poverty in various parts of the world, hungry children with deformed bodies—these conditions brought to them in programmes like "Panorama"—the whole thing becomes less remote than it was a few years ago. One can never really understand this problem and all that is involved in it simply by reading reports or bandying about statistics. One must see what is happening in a clear way.
Hon. Members were greatly impressed by an exhibition which was held upstairs last Monday through the joint efforts of the People and the Freedom from Hunger Campaign Committee. We were particularly impressed by photographs of a group of six children, all from the same family, who were the victims of snail fever. We saw their deformed bodies and their brave smiles for the camera. We also read that they would all be dead by the time we saw the exhibition.
That brought home to us the kind of problem we are discussing. Although we were made aware of the stark realities of the situation as it affected that one family, we also saw how the problems of that family are multiplied hundreds of thousands of times throughout the world. More and more people are caring about the problem.
I was in my constituency yesterday doing some electioneering. I will not dwell on that—
I thank my right hon. Friend—but I want to carry the House with me today on a non-controversial subject. I saw posters in the windows of the corporation houses—they had nothing to do with the election—concerned with the Christian Aid Week which is being conducted in association with the Freedom from Hunger Campaign and which has been organised by the local churches of all denominations in East Ham.
Many of the people displaying these posters and, therefore, appreciating the problem and willing to help, are living on below average incomes; old-age pensioners and people on small fixed incomes living in modest houses and agreeing that something should be done. This is typical of what is happening in many parts of the country.
One danger is contained in all of this. In our attitude towards this topic we may come to regard it as something to be dealt with purely by a sort of charitable response; a flag day attitude. We may have special days or special weeks or even bread and cheese lunches with the price of ordinary meals going to the Freedom from Hunger Campaign. The difficulty is that many people may regard that sort of effort as easing their consciences so that the whole thing can then be forgotten.
I do not want to speak derogatorily about the efforts of the Freedom from Hunger Campaign, or the work being done by anyone else, but it should be clearly recognised—and I know that it is recognised by the organisers of the Campaign—that what is required is not this kind of flag day response but a permament adjustment of the policy of this and other wealthy countries in favour of the poorer countries and world poverty generally. We must make it one of the priorities in our policies to help the poorer countries to help themselves. We must do it for reasons of self-interest as well as for moral reasons, which should be the primary motive. For this reason I have deliberately put at the beginning of my Motion a reference to the United Nations Development Decade, because I believe that we should start discussing the problem by asking what is needed.
By questioning ourselves on what is required by us and the other countries in the years immediately ahead—and the concept of the Development Decade is also important because it stresses the urgency of doing something in the 1960s—we should not make resolutions for aid in the future but for quick, immediate action. I have found in discussing this subject a certain amount of misunderstanding because people say, "Why concentrate on the Development Decade and talk about the 1960s? Surely we shall not solve this problem immediately? Is it not bound to take a considerable time?" That is true, but we must consider what will happen if we delay.
If we achieve the objectives of the Development Decade by 1970 there will still be appalling poverty over a large part of the earth and an enormous gap between our living standards. This problem will be with us long after the lifetime of everyone in the House. The point of stressing the importance of the 1960s is not that we shall win the struggle within this period but that we may, in the years immediately ahead, lose the struggle permanently if we do not make enough headway quickly enough.
We are discussing this subject against the background of the fact that by the year 2000 the population will probably be twice that of the present population. In a period of less than forty years as many extra people will be born as the population of the earth now. These startling facts give us food for thought. In the 1950s the picture in the developing countries was this: on average, their national incomes went up by about 3 per cent. per year and their average populations went up by about 2 per cent. per year, so there was a 1 per cent. lead. Those are only average figures.
In some countries the increase in population outstripped resources and, naturally, the average standard of living went down. In the world-wide race between population and resources, resources were only slightly ahead. In the 1960s, the population of Latin America is expected to increase by 29 per cent., that of the Middle East by 27 per cent., and in South Asia it is expected to rise by 22 per cent. That is the increase in population in the decade of which we are talking.
The objective of the Development Decade, to get a minimum annual growth rate of 5 per cent. by 1970, is, therefore, the very least that is acceptable in the circumstances. It would be better if we could do better, but our Government, and the Governments of every other country concerned, should accept that this rate must be achieved. It is a practicable target. It will not demand of any of our countries burdens that we cannot manage It will demand from all a greater effort than is being made at present—but not an impossibly greater one. The point I want to make is that we have to accept this as an important priority in policy making.
When the United Nations voted in favour of the Development Decade, many people reacted by saying that it was a pious declaration; that we had had these resolutions before; that people would vote for something that had good intentions but do nothing in particular about it. There is some ground for that skepticism, because I do not think that our Government or other Governments have fully measured up to what is properly involved.
Against this staggering increase of population, two attitudes can be taken. The first is to accept defeat and say that the problem is impossible of solution. We would then adopt what might be called a twentieth century version of the Malthusian doctrine. Robert Malthus's doctrine in the early nineteenth century was that we could never help the poor—that is, the poor of our own country—because they would always breed like rabbits He said that if the poor got more income, it would only mean that they had more children, with the result that they would always be poor, and that nothing could be done to help them.
One could say that about the present world position. It is possible that the doctrine is right, but I refuse to believe that it is bound to be right. Just as it was proved wrong in this country and in other countries with a high standard of living, it may be proved wrong on a world scale. If the problem is hopeless, we should realise how bad it will be for us because, apart from the moral attitude, we should face the effect on our own standard of living—if, indeed, the under-developed countries instead of improving their standard of living, lapse into something worse than at present exists, and widespread famine and disease results.
If the position is hopeless, what will be our position as an exporting country without people able to afford to buy our goods? What will be our position as an importing country if the countries from which we want raw materials are in a state of chaos and what will be the prospects for peace in a world where people feel forced to turn to more extreme political remedies. We should, therefore, reject the attitude of hopelessness, and accept the fact that the Development Decade resolution for which we voted in the United Nations is practical politics and must be regarded as a matter of over-riding urgency for us, reckoned as at least as important as our defence programme, and as something in which we will be measuring up to what is needed and will not be too obsessed with the difficulties involved.
Undoubtedly, difficulties are involved, such as difficulties of balance of payments. If we start from the charitable point of view, we ask, "How much can we afford? How can our balance of payments allow us to do a little more?" We should, instead, start by asking, "What is needed? What is our share of what is needed? How can we adapt our balance-of-payments problem and other problems to that?"
A great deal has been said about the Development Decade, particularly by U Thant, who has since then devoted a lot of time—and we must pay tribute to him for it—to telling the richer countries what is required of them to meet these targets. Particularly, he has been telling the under-developed countries what they must do to help themselves. That is a vital part, perhaps the most vital part, of this whole question. He has also set out in a sort of generalised form what is required from this country and the other richer nations.
U Thant has said that the kind of target set for 1970 can be met if we commit ourselves permanently to devoting 1 per cent. of our national income to economic aid of various kinds; if we increase our technical assistance programme and send at least 10 per cent. more experts of every kind to the developing countries; if we accept his targets for the increased efforts by the United Nations Expanded Programme of Technical Assistance and by the Special Fund, and if we adjust our trading arrangements so as to secure in the terms of trade a shift of at least 10 per cent. in favour of the poorer countries. None of these targets is over-ambitious, none will mean impossible sacrifices by this country or any other countries involved. All these targets are within reach—all are targets that we have not yet even begun to reach.
On the question of the 1 per cent. target of economic aid, I hope that we shall not get into the kind of argument in which one side of the House says that we are already doing this, and the other denies it. There are, of course, problems of definition but, broadly speaking, the U.N. concept of the 1 per cent. excludes private investment, excludes short-term loans which a developing country might have to pay back at such a rate that, in some cases the benefit would be cancelled out, and it excludes military aid. These are all very important, of course—private investment is important, and should grow—but the 1 per cent. means either outright grants or long-term loans on favourable terms which represent a deliberate sacrifice of 1 per cent. by the richer countries.
On that basis, our present contribution is about. 6 per cent. or 7 per cent. but there, again, I admit that there are difficulties of definition. What we are doing is about the same as is being done by Germany and by the United States. The United States people talk a lot about their generosity and, of course, their figures look bigger because they are a very much richer country but, taking their contribution as a proportion of their national income, they are doing no better than we are. France is the only nation that has reached the target.
If we and the other richer countries expand our economic growth, the 1 per cent. involves a larger amount as each year succeeds another. On that basis, and assuming the rate of growth of the richer countries is achieved, there should by 1970 be about twice as much aid going to the poorer countries as now if the 1 per cent. target is acted on, and acted on quickly, by all the countries concerned.
The only other aspect of economic aid on which I want to touch is the vexed question whether it should be tied or untied aid. There seems to be a sort of unholy alliance between the orthodox financiers and the rather strident nationalists in some of the poorer countries in that both oppose the concept of tied aid. I believe that they are wrong. There is a lot to be said for an untied loan, of course—it gives greater freedom—but I believe that if the choice is between freezing the amount of aid and increasing the amount of tied aid. I see no reason why we should not increase the amount of tied aid.
Last September, I sat in the gallery of the United States Senate and listened to a debate on this whole subject. I heard a most important speech by Senator Humphrey, who was able to tell the senate that of every dollar spent on economic aid 78 cents were sent back to America to create jobs so that, in that way, this aid was in America's own interests. If aid is to be increased, as it must be, it is not unreasonable to try to tackle the problems of the donor countries at the same time as we deal with those of the recipient countries.
That is why we on this side have for long urged the Government to do something that they are now starting on a very small scale—placing contracts for goods for the aid of the developing countries in our own development districts. In that way, ships for Ghana built on the Tyneside will not only help Ghana but will create jobs on the Tyneside, so doing good in both cases. Many of our heavier industries that are producing products for which there is a slackening demand at home may still find a demand for their products in the developing countries, providing that the developing countries are helped to obtain those products—
Is the hon. Gentleman suggesting that all United Kingdom aid should be tied, including, for instance, loans from the C.D.C. and under the colonial development and welfare provisions?
No, I do not suggest that. I started by saying that we have to increase our total aid. Except, perhaps, in a special case, I do not think that we want to replace any tied aid by untied aid. I want to see more of both, but we should not object to tied aid for the doctrinaire reasons advanced against it, on the one hand, by the orthodox financiers and, on the other, by oversensitive nationals in some countries, who see in it a form of disguised imperialism. I think that they are both wrong.
One special aspect is the disposal of food surpluses, and I support the concept of the world food bank recently started on a pilot basis by the F.A.O. It is only a modest effort at present but it should grow, and we should all make a bigger contribution to it. Our Government originally refused to make any contribution, on the ground that we are not normally a country with food surpluses. The Joint Under-Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, whom I see, replied to an Adjournment debate of mine on this matter about a year ago.
We have surpluses of milk and eggs at certain seasons, and dried milk and dried eggs can play an important part. We can also contribute by devoting shipping space to carry the food surpluses of other countries. I am glad that we are now making a modest contribution of that kind. I hope that it will grow, because one of the silliest paradoxes of all is the way in which some countries are embarrassed by food surpluses while the rest of the world goes hungry.
At the same time, this form of aid must be approached very carefully. Obviously, we cannot dump food surpluses on poorer countries willy-nilly. If we do that, the amounts involved will not, in any case, relieve hunger on a very big scale, and may simply depress local prices, so discouraging local farmers from making necessary improvements. But if it is related to other forms of capital development, it can be most useful.
Many countries, when undertaking capital projects, may find themselves embarrassed by the fact that they are employing perhaps many thousands of workmen on the building of roads, dams, and works of that kind. The workmen want goods on which to spend their wages and, if the countries concerned have to import extra food and consumer goods to meet that increased demand, local inflation and balance-of-payments difficulties can be created. If food or other surpluses of consumer goods can be given to them at the right place and time, they can help with that problem, and assist capital projects without damaging the agriculture of the country concerned.
The surpluses can be used in such other ways as providing meals for school children, in welfare food programmes or creating stocks against famine conditions, and so on. This is something that the Americans pioneered through their P.L. 480 programme, which the United Nations took up. I hope that our Government will help it to grow.
We all agree that technical assistance is at least as important as economic aid in the traditional sense—perhaps more important—and in many ways more productive. For instance, it is cheaper for people to go abroad and teach their skills than it is to engage in big capital projects. Technical assistance probably produces greater results for every £1 spent than other forms of economic aid. It also helps to create goodwill, quite apart from the wealth which it may generate.
First of all, this seems to me to be a field in which the United Nations should play a bigger part. For economic aid of the other kinds there are certain difficulties. I should like to see the World Bank and the I.D.A. play a bigger role, but a lot of capital aid is needed to establish that programme. For technical assistance, agencies such as the F.A.O., the I.L.O. and the W.H.O. can be of greater value. They can take a world view of the needs and of the supply of experts, which is scarce in relation to the demand. The expert who goes out under the auspices of the United Nations goes out under the umbrella of the organisation to which the recipient belongs. This is the furthest possible removed from the old imperialist relationship and is to be welcomed for that reason. We should seize every opportunity to build up the strength and prestige of the United Nations for political reasons. It seems to me, therefore, that the United Nations agencies, particularly, should be expanded in relation to technical assistance.
A crucial part of the decision to designate the 1960s as a Development Decade was the programme to expand some of the agencies, including the United Nations Expanded Programme of Technical Assistance, and the Special Fund, which carries out surveys and pilot schemes which can lead towards capital development later. Here I return to a point on which I have attacked the Government before, and on which they have been attacked by many other hon. Members because, as I think, they have fallen down on their job. At the session of the United Nations to which I have referred a resolution was passed to expand this programme very quickly. It called for a 50 per cent. increase in 1962, with a further increase in 1963, and so on.
Neither the British nor other Governments who voted for that resolution lived up to it when it came to pledging sums for these agencies. Our own contribution in 1962 was the same as in 1961, and for 1963 we made not a 50 per cent. increase but a 25 per cent. increase. Ministers have said in the House how generous we were to make a 25 per cent. increase, but we are still lagging far behind the targets for which we ourselves voted, and this seems to me to be the first test of our sincerity in voting for that resolution. I hope that at the pledging conference, which I trust will take place in the autumn, the Government will take a lead and pledge themselves to a drastic increase of these amounts and that other countries will do the same.
When I was in the United States last autumn I was greatly impressed by what I saw of the American Peace Corps. I visited the Peace Corps Headquarters in Washington and I went to California to see the training programmes and the kind of people who had volunteered for the Corps and to discuss their work with them. I believe that we should have a British Peace Corps.
What we have is a number of voluntary bodies sending out volunteers. I do not want to criticise that in any way. They do a fine job, and the volunteers are most valuable, but the point is that in the United States there were also voluntary bodies before the Peace Corps was formed. They still send out volunteers, but they have the Peace Corps as well. I am asking that we should have one as well. The only thing that we are doing for the voluntary bodies at a national level is that the Government are giving some aid to the Lockwood Committee which is coordinating their efforts.
On Tuesday, I asked the then Secretary for Technical Co-operation a Question about the financial help being provided by his Department and what proportion of the cost of sending each volunteer overseas was being met from public funds. The right hon. Gentleman replied:
Half the cost of sending each graduate volunteer is being met from public funds, and it is hoped to send 250 such volunteers overseas this year. In addition £40,000 will be paid from Government funds this year to V.S.O. for school leavers…"—[OFFCIAL REPORT, 7th May, 1963; Vol. 677, c. 33.]
Our own people usually spend a year between leaving school and going to university. The right hon. Gentleman added that £1,000 was provided last year for the administrative costs of the Voluntary Societies' Committee for Service Overseas, but that no request had been made for this financial year.
This does not measure up to what the situation demands. We have about 250 volunteers. The American Peace Corps has 5,000 in the field in 37 different countries or in training and about to go out. They plan to double that number this year. The whole concept was started only in 1961. They have made tremendous progress and they have had a great deal of help from the universities and from industry in the matter of training. This kind of work can be done only on a national scale. By all means let us encourage voluntary societies, but in addition let us have a Peace Corps.
I shall hope later, if I catch your eye, Mr. Speaker, to deal at great length with this point, but in comparing what America does with what is done by this country it should be taken into account that we have what the United States has not, and that is a large professional overseas service. We have about 18,000 people overseas all the time. I do not want to belittle the American effort or the need for us to do more and more, but I do not think that a straight comparison gives a true picture.
That is a perfectly fair intervention and I would not want to make a straight comparison. Three categories of people are needed. First, there are the older people who go out on a professional basis as a lifetime career, or on loan for a year or two. The right hon. Gentleman gave some figures which I was glad to hear. The Americans are doing this outside the Peace Corps in their A.I.D. programme. These are people who at the age of perhaps 40 or 50, when they have reached high positions in their professions, go out as advisers, and so on.
At the other end of the scale are the school-leavers who spend a year between school and university. These people may be dealt with adequately through the kind of voluntary societies which have been mentioned. In between are the type of people who go into the Peace Corps. They are usually graduates in their 20s who have some skill of a fairly high order, which is needed in these countries. Many of them are teachers and they go out on a kind of Peace Corps basis.
This is something which we have not developed as we might have done. The figure of 250 is much too small for a country of the size and resources of ours. To develop that kind of effort we need something like a Peace Corps and I believe that there are a great many young people who want to respond. After having done two years' service they would be better citizens of this country and better members of their chosen professions, and this country would benefit greatly from their experience.
The third of the headings to which I referred related to the development of trade. I know that some of my hon. Friends wish to speak about this in particular. I only want to make the general comment that, quite clearly, the trading arrangements between the richer and the poorer countries are at least as important as the whole aid programme under all these headings. Many of the poorer countries in the 1950s lost more because the terms of trade went against them than they gained from all the aid received from all sources. We must, therefore, give a great deal of constructive thinking to this problem.
I suggest that the Kennedy round of tariff negotiations will be a test case for all the countries concerned as to how far they really want to help developing countries, how far they regard it as a priority in these discussions to provide suitable and wider markets for the poorer countries, and how far they are prepared to pay a price themselves to achieve this. This is of tremendous importance and, as I have said, it would be to our long- term self-interest to approach the negotiations in that spirit.
I am conscious of the fact that I have broached this morning a very complex subject and that all I have done during the last 40 minutes is to scratch the surface here and there. There is so much more that could be said on the topics which I have mentioned and those which I have not mentioned. I only hope that the House could discuss these matters more often. We are not likely, in the nature of things, to have many private Members' days devoted to this specific subject in the way that today is being devoted to it. But in debates on foreign affairs and economic affairs the whole of this concept ought to play a bigger part.
In other words, returning to the point at which I started, we must not approach this topic as a sort of charitable effort. We must not approach it in the spirit of giving a few crumbs from our rich man's table. This has got to become an important priority in policy making. This is something which we ought to be discussing and thinking about more often. Nothing less will measure up to the tremendous challenge with which we are faced in the second half of this century.
The whole House will want to congratulate the hon. Member for East Ham, North (Mr. Prentice), not only on his choice of this subject for debate, which is quite impeccable and which I am sure can only end in wholehearted acceptance by Her Majesty's Government and by all of us in the House. I should also like to congratulate him very much on the manner in which he spoke and on the astonishing way in which he crammed so much into so short a space.
However, before I deal with the hon. Member's speech, might I, too, add my congratulations to my right hon. Friend the Member for Mitcham (Mr. R. Carr) on his return to the Front Bench. [Horn. MEMBERS "Hear, hear".] I have already expressed my sentiments to him in private and it might embarrass him if I repeated them in public.
I should also like to say a word of regret that my right hon. Friend the Member for Runcorn (Mr. Vosper) has had to resign. Perhaps I can say this almost with more feeling than other hon. Members. It is almost exactly six years since my right hon. Friend resigned as Minister of Health. I was at that time associated with him at that Ministry, and I know what a great blow to him in his career that grave illness was. Eventually he made a recovery and returned to the Government in an honourable post, but not one, perhaps, to which his experience might have entitled him. But now, to be struck down again is something more than bad luck. It is cruel.
I should like to congratulate, as I have done already, the hon. Member for East Ham, North, on the way in which he moved the Motion and on what he said. I particularly like one phrase which he used, when he said that it must not just be a flag-day response. As one who has a slight antipathy to flag-days anyway, I could not agree with him more. But I shall come back at intervals to other things which he said.
I think most of us could state in fairly general terms what the problem is. We might disagree slightly here and there about the ways and means. We have one document before us, Cmnd. 1698, the Report for last year of the Department of Technical Co-operation, which is very helpful because, for the first time, it set out what this country was trying to do and the way in which we were meeting these needs. But, as the hon. Member fairly said, this is only part of our effort and we have got to bring in to it Colonial Development and Welfare, the Colonial Development Corporation, the United Nations Agencies, and, of course, in the long run, above all and most important, investment by private enterprise.
The hon. Gentleman made a slight digression on the merits of tied and untied loans. I went through something of this at the Board of Trade. I know the arguments on both sides. One cannot really finally come down in favour of one or the other. It must depend on the circumstances in the particular country, and the particular needs which one is trying to meet, I must also say that on balance, in theory, I always come down in favour of untied loans but in practice, more often than not, in favour of tied loans. There we are; we can discuss this more fully at another time.
Paragraph 57 of the document which I have mentioned sets out the aims and some of the means. I should like to quote one sentence from that last paragraph:
This demands a co-operative effort by all concerned in Britain. It also calls for cooperation with other industrial nations and international bodies, and above all with the people of the receiving countries themselves.
I should like to amend that by making one addition, namely—
co-operation by the people of the receiving countries with us.
If I have a few strictures to make, they are made with the best possible intentions. I consider that there are some nations which are in some respects hindering their own advancement. First of all, are we in this country doing enough? The answer is, of course, "No." It must always be "No." We must never be satisfied and never become complacent. To answer "Yes" would argue complacency. But I do not think we need castigate ourselves too seriously. We have to ask, when we talk in terms of percentages, at what expense, if any, the increase is going to be. We must not have too much of a conscience about this. It is not by starving ourselves that we shall find the extra resources. It is, of course, out of our growing wealth that in the past we have developed an empire and in many cases laid the economic foundations of these new nations.
What we are doing now on an increased scale is to make an extension of that previous effort. But we must not be too hypocritical to ourselves. We debated health in this country on Wednesday. I listened to most of that debate and I do not recall that any speaker said that a new hospital should not be built in his constituency until one had been built overseas, or that if we needed more doctors more of them should go overseas until the greater needs of others had been first satisfied. It is going to be so with all the other services. It must inevitably be out of our wealth and surplus that we can help.
Very much is made of the growing margin between the richer and the poorer nations. We are asked, rightly, to take this very seriously. Part of this is due to what, in a peculiar phrase, is known as the "population explosion". But if one looks back at the last decade, one finds that in many cases it is true that the poor nations are slightly less poor and the richer nations are very much richer. A lot of that is due to the speed of technological change in the last twenty-five years.
I believe that one of those experts who always conjure these figures from out of the blue wrote that 90 per cent. of the increase of wealth in Europe was due to the application of technological improvements and inventions—that accounts for the increase in wealth—but eventually that will pass itself on to the poorer nations. Investment will increasingly seek new opportunities in the newer countries, whereas now it has to be devoted to capital development in these countries.
The hon. Member spent some time dealing with this question of the 1 per cent. of the gross national product, and I have no doubt that at intervals during the day we shall dispute whether it should be 6 per cent. or 1 per cent. or what. I find this sometimes a little unreal, this talking in terms of percentage. If we are committed to a certain form of Government expenditure and our gross national product in a given year remains static it is quite likely that what we are spending on that service will as a percentage suddenly show an increase, and the following year, when the gross national product goes forward again, it shows a decrease. So we need to look at these figures over a long period.
What is much more important is to show that the money is spent to the best purpose and that where we are sending experts abroad their time is well spent. I am speaking, of course, only of Government expenditure. Private investment, fortunately, can look after itself. It will go where it is profitable, and profits, after all, are a yardstick of efficiency and success.
On the question of private investment—I do not know whether my hon. Friend the Secretary for Technical Co-operation will be able to answer this or not—but I should like to know from him whether we are doing as much as we ought to do to emulate the United States in producing some form of capital guarantee scheme far investors abroad. This is really very important and I might almost suggest that this would be a far more constructive idea for the United Nations than one or two of its activities. The fact that investors live under such uncertainty in many countries really is a hindrance. The United Nations might well devote itself to elaborating and producing what I may call Queensberry rules for capitalists so that they can be sure, in the under-developed countries or wherever it may be, the somewhat unstable countries, of being treated reasonably fair.
I think as a corollary of that that some of the under-developed countries really must develop a climate less hostile to overseas investors. It is really very discouraging to go to a country and find oneself denigrated in Press and Parliament as capitalist bloodsuckers or neocolonialists, which is the current phrase, I think. Nothing frightens investors away more than such hostility. Capital is a very precious commodity and has to be wooed; and capitalists, oddly enough, like to be liked.
I remember some years ago returning from British Guiana and being consulted on the prospects of investment in that country by a large international mining concern in this country. I endeavoured to persuade the company that it was a good field for investment, but Dr. Jagan made one of his wilder utterances. I think, reading my newspapers today, that perhaps I was a little optimistic. But no investment took place. I think that this is important. In many other countries some improvement has been made.
I was in Ghana in January of last year, and most of the accepted businesses there were very despondent about their future. An Hungarian economist had recently visited Ghana from Hungary and told the Ghanaians they needed more investment, which is very, very true. They were told that the country should compulsorily detain some 50 per cent. of the profits. This, of course, at once—this mention of compulsion—frightened them away, and many held back further investment, whereas what was stipulated as compulsory was less than they were already reinvesting voluntarily. There could not be a more classic example of how foolish that kind of thing is. I am delighted to learn from what I read that the climate for business in that country has greatly improved.
I think it is a great credit to a lot of these firms, particularly great international firms like Bookers and the United Africa Company, that despite the reviling language and also tariffs in those countries, they continue to invest there. I found myself two years ago in the Congo, at the height of the chaos in that country. Nothing impressed me more that to find at that time that the United Africa Company, which has an enormous investment in that country, far larger as a whole than the much publicised British investment in Katanga, was continuing to invest there. I think it was a great credit to the company. We are sometimes told that investment is feared as neo-colonialism, which is the fashionable pejorative of the moment in those countries, and will develop some form of economic rule as a substitute for political rule. This does a lot of harm and is absolute nonsense. There is a story—I am sure it is apocryphal—in West Africa that when President Tubman went from Liberia to Ghana he was treated to a tirade against British colonialism. He said, "I only wish I had had the chance which you have had of sixty years of British rule." As one who has been to Liberia and Ghana and seen the degree of the advance in the latter I think there is a lot of truth in it.
I cannot help thinking, as I mentioned earlier, that some of the United Nations activities and the activities of its subcommittee investigating political conditions in Southern Rhodesia would do more by investigating economic conditions, and that that would be a very good thing. I speak as one who would like to see Southern Rhodesia's constitution liberalised more than it is today, but I certainly have no hesitation in saying that I would rather be an African in Southern Rhodesia than a citizen of Haiti which has been free of imperial rule for 180 years. I visited that country once and I have never seen such squalor. One gets used to squalor in the Caribbean, but what a contrast there was between that country and Jamaica which had suffered 300 years of British rule, both countries having the same climate and the same economy and having people of the same stock. Jamaica has at least made an enormous advance, and the others have not.
One other point about the underdeveloped countries is this. I think that they should have a look at some of their own priorities. Sometimes one goes to a new country and notices that the development is along the wrong lines. The first charge on them should surely be to develop their own agriculture.
Last year, with the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Llanelly (Mr. J. Griffiths), I was in Sierra Leone and we visited a rice research station on the River Scarcies a most marvellous project, a project which is just about to achieve a break-through technically, whereby rice would be able to be grown in areas of the world which have never been able to grow it before. I am putting it in rather untechnical terms, but it is something which could be a revolution in many countries. Yet that research station was suffering from difficulties from lack of funds and from lack of co-operation between the Governments in West Africa. That is not a reflection on us. That is a reflection on those in those countries who are not giving them the support they ought to have.
In some countries one visits one sees them, in the first flush of enthusiasm, fostering uneconomic industries, sometimes under pioneer industry legislation and sometimes under tariffs. They sometimes have what I would call a smoking chimney complex. They take the line that any factory is a good thing, whereas money spent on agriculture—I am not talking of plantations, but of subsistence agriculture—on education, is regarded as comparatively less important.
Of course, most new countries enjoy a blaze of economic activity following independence, but some of the projects are quite irrelevant to the needs of those countries. Take one example. Must every country have an international airline? There really are other forms of extravagance which one sees which I think are a little reprehensible.
There is the question of all the panoply of wealth of the élite of politicians in poverty-stricken countries. I will be very discreet here and say that not long ago I visited a certain seat of Government in Africa. I was taken in a car to see what was described as a housing development. It was, in fact, residences for Ministers including one for the Governor which is costing £250,000. It was a rather unhappy contrast with some of the other things I saw.
I happened to have visited that country before when was a Minister at the Board of Trade, and, perhaps for sentiment's sake, I asked to see the old Government House where I had stayed before. It was a fine and imposing residence. It was rather a shock to discover that the former seat of Imperial power had been downgraded to a Government guest house, and not even for V.I.P.s. Quite frankly, that type of extravagance, even though it is accepted cynically by the people of the countries, is discouraging to expatriates and to the people who go out to serve other people's countries.
What more ought we to be doing on our side? The hon. Member devoted much of his time to the question of terms of trade. There, I think, we would all agree with him. We must do all we can to increase the number of commodity agreements, but it really is not enough just to say this. We must point out to people that no commodity agreement works well unless the consumer is represented as well as the producer, and unless the terms which they fix are seen to be fair to all concerned. That is the way to success, and it is stability rather than a higher price which is really of first concern.
Again—I hope I am not reminiscing too much—remember that when I was at the Board of Trade we had a crisis over tin. Against the advice of the consumer countries the Tin Council had raised the price of tin sharply by a very large amount. What happened? The Russians at once, like good capitalists, seized the opportunity of dumping their enormous surplus stocks of tin, probably largely from China, on to the free market, and the whole of the tin agreement was for a time in jeopardy.
Chrome is another instance. It really does not pay to be too greedy. On the other side of technical aid, I shall certainly not repeat what the hon. Member said, but I think he was really a little unfair to our efforts, in comparing our voluntary schemes with the Peace Corps. I have met both that and Voluntary Service Overseas. (Incidentally, it is not a very happy name—Voluntary Service Overseas. We must try to find a more graphic one, like Peace Corps. It is very much needed.) I do not think we need be ashamed of the quality we have. What we need to improve is the quantity.
Last year in the Gambia I met two boys—they were only about 17—who had just left grammar school in this country. They were working in the teachers' training college at Yumdum, which had been transformed out of the original hen houses of the Gambia poultry scheme. It was one of the most remarkable transformations in history, for they became very nice places for teachers. These boys were a great credit to this country. They were having an extraordinary influence on their colleagues out of all proportion to their age and their experience.
This is something of which this country can be very proud. I agree with everything said in the Command Paper I quoted. We are moving towards an entirely new pattern. We are going to have national service but it will be service overseas. One hopes that, at some stage, whether it is when leaving school or university or later, our young people will all play their part in this great task.
This will best be developed on voluntary lines with goadings and help front the Government. It is something that can capture the imagination of the nation, and I hope that we shall hear more of plans for its extension. But one thing which has struck me forcibly is the difficulty of the cost of air fares. It is my good fortune to travel a good deal by international air lines and I have been impressed by the number of empty seats. Why should not some of these students going overseas be treated as stand-by passengers?
I understand that if one is an employee of an air line one can travel for 10 per cent. of the fare. I am told that this privilege is extended to one's family. I should like to see it extended far more widely. There are many empty seats in aircraft going to Africa, so why should not boys from Reigate Grammar School, for instance, be allowed to occupy them during the long vacation in order to do service overseas. There is plenty to do. Dozens of schools and projects out there would be grateful for the aid of these young people. I throw out this suggestion as a passing thought which has only just occurred to me.
I am conscious that the hopes of the free world rest on our being able to deal with the problem of under-developed countries. But we in the West have not done badly, and do not let us pretend otherwise. Perhaps the most hopeful development of this decade is that many of the developing nations are beginning to realise that aid from the West is disinterested, while aid from the other side of the Iron Curtain is less so.
Not long ago, Mr. Dean Acheson said that Britain had lost an empire and had not yet found a rôle. Many of us were annoyed at the time—which we really should not have been—because it seemed to be fallacious and irrelevant and to show that Mr. Acheson's view had stuck in the eighteenth century. The truth is that we have found a rôle. It is in this kind of aid. It is a new form of the rôle we have always played. Where before we brought law and order and good government, today we have to help on a wider scale the same people, raising them out of poverty and sickness and squalor. We have to do this not only for the sake of humanity but also for our own sake.
I join with the right hon. Member for Reigate (Sir J. Vaughan-Morgan) and with my hon. Friend the Member for East Ham, North (Mr. Prentice) in expressing sincere regret at the reason for the resignation of the right hon. Member for Runcorn (Mr. Vosper) from office. We wish him well and a complete recovery.
I also join in welcoming the hon. Member for Mitcham (Mr. R. Carr) to office again. I do not know whether he feels very happy at taking up his post the day after yesterday, but we know his ability and competence and we all look forward to his drive and energy in the short time which remains to him as a member of the Government.
It is good to see so many right hon. and hon. Members present today. This is a vast subject, but with so many wanting to take part in the debate it falls on us to confine our remarks to a reasonable time. I shall, therefore, confine myself to two major aspects. My hon. Friend made an admirable speech. It was informed and constructive, which is what we have come to expect from him and which makes him such a valuable Member of the House.
This problem that we are considering today is an old one. It may be stated in very plain terms. These are that more than half the people in the world are hungry—they never get enough to eat from birth to death; they are plagued by disease and they are held down by illiteracy. This old problem has been made terrifyingly urgent for many reasons, and it is to two of these that I want to devote my speech.
The first reason for the terrifying urgency of the problem is the explosive growth of population, and the second is that, particularly since 1945, we have seen a tremendous change—indeed, a revolution—in the political scene of the world by the emergence of large numbers of new nations who have gained political independence and now face the colossal task of building viable economies, raising standards of living and fulfilling the expectations to which the very struggle for independence gave rise.
It is of vital importance for all the countries of the world—not least those in the West—to see that these nations succeed. The price of failure can be terrifying not only for them but for us as well. First, then, I want to deal with the problem of population. It is now estimated that in many of these underdeveloped countries the population is increasing by a net 3 per cent. and in some cases by a net 4 per cent. per annum. That means that the population will double in twenty-five years. It is very difficult for us to imagine what this will be like in the countries plagued by such poverty. I lived for a generation with the kind of poverty we knew in this country, but the poverty in Africa and Asia is the terrifying poverty that is always on the margin of starvation and is much more deep-rooted.
We have been, and are still, deeply concerned about the Congo. One thing we should remember about it above all was how rapidly, after the interruption of normal life, the line was crossed between mere existence and actual starvation. Within literally a few days of normal communications and supplies being interrupted, people were dying of starvation. That situation is true of other nations besides the Congo. And if it is true now, what will it be like in years to come, when the population is even greater?
I have seen an estimate by the United Nations of what the population of the world will be at the end of this century if present trends are maintained. This will be part—perhaps the biggest part—of the changes which will take place. According to this estimate, the population of the world will double by the year 2000. In Europe—excluding the European part of Russia—and North America the population will increase by about one-third, from 621 million to 870 million. In Asia—excluding Japan and that part which is in Soviet Russia—Africa and Latin America, where the poorer countries are, in the main, located, the population will double from 2,067 million to 4,826 million. Thus, in these continents alone more people will be alive than the total population of the world at present.
This is the gravest problem facing all the nations of the world and the United Nations, as their representative. It determines our priorities. The first essential in all these countries is to grow more food as soon as possible and as quickly as possible. Unless we are able to do that as rapidly as the population increases, we shall be overwhelmed and most of our other plans, however good they are, will be completely irrelevant.
We have good friends in those countries, particularly those associated with us in the Commonwealth. When one thinks of these problems the first impression is one of being overwhelmed. I know that there is the whole question whether family planning should be bound up with this, but this is a matter for the people themselves to decide; it is not for us to tell them.
What is encouraging is that the United Nations experts and others are of the view that if we—rich nations and poor nations alike in co-operation—are prepared to act as one, it is possible to increase production of food very quickly and prevent the growth of population from overwhelming us.
According to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation, food production could be increased in all countries by at least 50 per cent. by better and more intensive use of existing land, by recovering land which is now running to waste and is not used at all, and by the better and more intensive use of fertilisers.
I had the very great pleasure, along with the right hon. Member for Reigate, of seeing the research work which was going into rice-growing. I hope that this work is not being cut short of funds. I admired immensely the enthusiasm of the people doing that work. They believed that they were on the eve of a very big break-through, which would be significant not only for the country in which they were working, Sierra Leone, in the Continent of Africa, but for the whole world. I remember my visit with very great pleasure.
I wish to refer to an example of what can be done in cultivating land in India by a better and more intensive use of fertilisers and manures. It is estimated that 30 kilos of nitrogen per hectare would increase rice production by 10 million tons per annum. If this is true, here is one respect in which we can help. We know how to produce fertilisers in this country. We have a surplus production of fertilisers over the amount that we use.
I hope that hon. Members will forgive me if here I refer to my constituency. I have been discussing with my hon. Friend the Member for Carmarthen (Lady Megan Lloyd George), my next-door neighbour, the problem of the future use of the Royal Ordnance factory at Pembrey, in my constituency. There are other similar Royal Ordnance factories which were built for the purpose of manufacturing explosives during the war. The factory in my constituency, which is owned by the Government and is in process of being closed down, is in an area scheduled by the Government as an area of high and continuous unemployment.
I am told by people who are competent to know that this factory could be easily transformed in a matter of weeks into a factory to produce fertilisers. It is equipped with machinery, and the necessary technical knowledge and skill are available. Everything is there. All that is required is for someone to make a start.
This is a commentary on the situation in continents like India and shows how vitally important it is that democracy should succeed in India. This is one of the things which may decide the fate of the world. I am glad to see the Joint Under-Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs present. He, like other hon. Members, will realise that the success of democracy depends largely on solving this problem.
As I have said, it is estimated that better and more intensive use of fertilisers could increase rice production by 10 million tons per annum. We in this country are producing fertilisers that are running to waste. This is a commentary on the whole world situation. So many of these problems could be solved by using material resources and human skill which are not at present being used. The first priority, therefore, is to grow more food in the richer and in the poorer countries. That is why it is right to emphasise that in all our plans this must be the first priority.
I hope that the Minister will have something to say about the second point that I wish to raise. In implementing the Development Decade resolution, which, like my hon. Friend the Member for East Ham, North, I support, it is essential that the under-developed countries should have the necessary skill and knowledge, particularly in administration. Whatever plans we make, and whatever resources we may provide, unless there is the necessary administrative skill on the spot we shall not achieve our purpose. In fact, the chance is that we shall defeat our purpose.
I have read the Bridges Committee's Report on Training in Public Administration for Overseas Countries. I quote only a part of one paragraph in which the Committee gives an example of the need for administrators at the higher level. It points out that
in the group made up of Ghana, the three regional governments and the Federal Government of Nigeria, Sierra Leone, the Gambia and the three East African territories,
namely, Kenya, Uganda and Tanganyika,
at least 25,000 to 30,000 Africans have had or will have to be trained to man the senior positions.
calls for urgent measures, for which the main initiative belongs to the overseas governments themselves, but which will also involve a good deal of external aid in many cases.
The Report then goes on to make recommendations about what can be done.
Thirdly, I turn to the point made by my hon. Friend the Member for East Ham, North about the Peace Corps. If we want a name for a similar corps for this country why not "Crusaders of the Twentieth Century"? My right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition, who takes an extraordinarily keen interest in this subject, has written one of the best books which has been written in recent years on it. I speak with great confidence here, because very shortly my right hon. Friend will be crossing the Floor of the House.
I am sure that the people of this country would back any Government which took real and effective measures in this field. I believe that most of them would say "Yes" to a Government with the courage to ask them to give and go without. I say to my own party. "Do not be afraid of going to the country and asking the people to vote for us so that we may give rather than take". If we did that, I believe that we should get a response.
I believe that the people of this country are developing a guilt complex about the fact that we are enjoying our present standard of living in a world which is poverty stricken. They have a guilt complex that the fact that we have "never had it so good" is partly due to the fact that other countries have never had it so bad. It is time that hon. Members on both sides of the House said this.
The tide of trade is turning against the under-developed countries. They have a trade deficit each year of 1,000 million dollars. In other words, they buy more from the rich countries than the rich countries buy from them to the extent of 1,000 million dollars a year. It is they who are aiding us, not us who are aiding them. That is the truth of the matter. Their annual deficit wipes out entirely the aid that they get from the World Bank. I therefore say that we should give them our fullest possible support. I am sure that our people will support them in every possible way.
I am a treasurer of one of the organisations—"War on Want"—which is concerned with this matter. Speaking for myself and all my colleagues, we realise that the little that we are able to do only touches the very tiniest part of the problem and that this is a problem which charity cannot solve. We seek to bring home to the people of this country that the problem can be solved only by international action on a massive scale and by all the countries of the world joining together.
In my capacity as treasurer of this organisation, I often have the privilege—I shall be doing this again during the next few weeks—of speaking about this problem to the fifth and sixth formers in our schools. I have been in many schools during the last twelve months, and every time I have come away very proud and deeply moved and with more confidence in the future. We hear and read so much about young delinquents that we forget that they are only a very small minority of our young people. For the most part, our young people are wonderful. They are the children of the Welfare State. They are fine physically, mentally and spiritually, and they are all keenly interested and anxious to serve.
I hope that the Minister will not turn down the suggestion of my hon. Friend the Member for East Ham, North, for many of these young people would like the opportunity to serve and it would do them the world of good. I should like to see our universities exchange more students with the universities of Africa, Asia and elsewhere, because the friendships formed would be of great value in themselves, and, more than anything else, would establish links with the young people coming up in all these territories which would be of enormous value for the future.
I entirely support the proposal for a Development Decade. If I had any criticism of it, it would be that its objectives are so limited. In the background to the figures of the growth of population and the increase in national income, even at the rate projected by the Development Decade, a major part of the problem will still be left unsolved. I hope that our Government will give the fullest support to the project and to its being organised through the United Nations.
I would be the last to decry the efforts made by the United States of America, ourselves and others, and I am glad that the hon. Member for Willesden, East (Mr. Skeets) asked about C.D.W. and C.D.C. The Colonial Development and Welfare Act was a fine piece of legislation and did immense work in building up some of the essential social services in the old Colonial Territories. The Colonial Development Corporation did very good work. It had its failures, but anybody who is not prepared to face the occasional failure had better not enter this field. There are so many incalculables that there must be failures, but we should not be daunted. The worst thing of all is to use a failure for partisan ends, and I hope that none of those who have done that are proud of it. I hope that the very fine men and women who were trained in the Colonial Service will be used to make up deficiencies in overseas territories and that we shall give our fullest help.
The other day, I read some words which have remained in my memory. The writer presented what he said was the greatest challenge of our day. It is the challenge presented by the fact that the scientists and technicians have made the world a parish and the people of the world next-door neighbours, but that the world made a parish is more deeply and bitterly and perilously divided than at any time in the annals of man.
We spend a lot of time here discussing one of the divisions, the division between the free world and the Communist world, between East and West, between the nuclear blocs. We know that that division has to be bridged and bridged in time, for we shall otherwise destroy the whole of mankind and have no problem left to us.
But the other division, the division between the one-third which lives in developed societies enjoying an ever higher standard of life and entering what has come to be called the affluent society, and the two-thirds of the human race who are sunk in poverty and plagued by disease and held back by illiteracy and yet swept by what the Prime Minister has called the wind of change and demanding a place in the world. That is the challenge to all of us.
On the whole, we can look back and say that we have made our contribution to the changing of the world and to the transformation of the Empire into the Commonwealth. That has given us a new influence and a new prestige in the world and I hope that we shall appreciate it, and that in all these efforts, particularly in this imaginative project of the Development Decade, we will not be found lagging behind in resources, in money and in help through personnel and skill and knowledge. I hope that we shall be in the lead. That is the rôle which we can and are best fitted to play in this rapidly changing world.
Like every hon. Member, I should like to add my congratulations to the hon. Member for East Ham, North (Mr. Prentice) for the constructive and useful way in which he has used his good fortune in the Ballot. I have many reasons from general and personal experience for welcoming this opportunity to make a short intervention.
During my time in this House, it has been my privilege for a time to be Under-Secretary of State for Commonwealth Relations. While I was there, I had unique opportunities for acquiring experience at first hand of some of the very things which are the substance of our debate. For instance, I was this country's representative at the meeting of the Economic Commission for Asia and the Far East of the United Nations, in 1960, a gathering which took place at Bangkok. It meets annually and it discusses largely the great problems of how aid can be fruitfully applied. That gathering in that part of the world happens to represent half the human race, which gives some idea of the immense concentration in certain areas of the people who are the recipients of what the better developed countries can do for them.
It was also my good fortune, in September, 1960, to sign, on behalf of this country, the Indus Waters Treaty, a very enlightened treaty which brought together not only India and Pakistan and ourselves, but also Western Germany, the World Bank and the United States in a co-operative project whereby the tremendous problem of irrigating the northern part of the Indian sub-continent for the benefit of both nations which live there could be pushed forward.
That kind of co-operative project, where the recipients are, as it were, drawn into the process of the planning and the provision, is very useful. It takes a little of the sting out of aid. We are often told that aid is given for selfish reasons, but I believe that in these very big projects, in which we can be associated with other friendly countries with common interests, we can at one stroke remove the idea that we are doing something purely for selfish or national reasons. The hon. Member for East Ham, North went further and preferred to channel most of this work through the United Nations. I would not go as far as that.
I was born in the Indian sub-continent and I lived there for many years, returning there for many years to earn my living. I can claim from my years in India, Pakistan, Burma and Ceylon to have spent a large part of my life working in countries of the very kind whose difficulties and special needs we are discussing today.
There is another reason why I am glad to support the hon. Member for East Ham, North. Among his many claims to fame, the outstanding one is that he happens to be a constituent of mine and—who knows—a little bread cast upon the waters in a debate like this and I might have his vote at the next general election! I detect a certain tinge of scepticism in the hon. Member's reception of what was intended to be a graceful tribute to him, but let us not waste time on that at this stage.
I add my tribute and welcome to my right hon. Friend the Member for Mitcham (Mr. R. Carr) who is to wind up the debate in his new garb. We remember what a splendid and sympathetic job he did a few years ago when he was at the Ministry of Labour, and I am sure that he will bring to this most important task those same qualities of mind that he brought to the last one.
What this Motion asks us to do—and it is none the worse for that—is really to spur on and to redouble a process which is going on now. I hope that in our general support for the Motion, which I imagine is quite assured we shall not, in an excess of what the right hon. Member for Llanelly (Mr. J. Griffiths) described as a guilt consciousness, in any way overlook what we are doing in this country, and what I hope and feel sure we shall continue to do.
As a people we are very good at making practically nothing of our own achievements and running ourselves down in a self-deprecating sort of way, and many people who do not know, and who cannot know, the background to everything that is going on today take this criticism as being entirely valid. I do not accuse the hon. Member for East Ham, North, of taking that view—he knows far too much about it—but there is a view in the country today that we are not perhaps pulling our weight in this respect as we ought to do.
The fact is that during the last few years nothing has been growing faster than our economic and technical assistance to less developed countries. I got out some figures which showed that this aid, which totalled £81 million in 1957–58, rose to £161 million in 1961–62. That is the last year for which we have complete figures. I understand that they show the fastest rate of increase of any category of Government expenditure. I am not saying this in any sense of complacency. I am not saying that therefore we can be entirely satisfied with what we have done, but we ought to realise that over this comparatively short period we have doubled our effort—a period, incidentally which coincided largely with the presence of my right hon. Friend the Member for Runcorn (Mr. Vosper) as Minister in charge of the Department, and whose departure, and the reasons for it, we all greatly regret.
When the hon. Member for East Ham, North, says that we want a higher priority for our efforts—and I agree with a great deal of what he said—I think we should realise that Government expenditure over the last five years in this department has risen faster than that in any other department, and that, whether or not we think enough is being done, it shows that at any rate a great deal is being done.
The hon. Member for East Ham, North, is right in saying that the limiting factor on the monetary side is the balance of payments. This needs saying although I do not think it means that we must sit down under it. When we get to these substantial figures which we have reached now, they cease to be just subheads in a larger vote. They represent a substantial sum indeed which we have to consider in relation to the whole question of our overseas earnings, be- cause, after all, it is on the surplus that we earn that the scale of our provision of aid to these countries is founded.
I hope, too, that we shall not forget or under-estimate the great rôle to be played by private investment in this whole problem of, as the hon. Member for East Ham, North, eloquently described it, helping people to help themselves. My right hon. Frend the Member for Reigate (Sir J. Vaughan-Morgan) had a word to say about this. He was right in saying that private investment will go ahead probably at a much greater rate than Government aid provided reasonable conditions of security of capital and investment can be provided in the recipient countries. This has been said many times, but when one sees the amount of private aid which is going out now—I understand that it has averaged about £170 million per annum for the last four years—one gets some picture of what it might be if some of the political doubts and uncertainties could be resolved.
I think that many of the developing countries realise that, but it is most important that we should help them, as it were, to get the chip off their shoulder about private investment. Private investment can do nothing but good in these countries, and it has the great advantage that, as it does not stem from any particular Government source, it cannot be described as a sort of neocolonialism or whatever it is called at the moment. The extent of private aid from this country is running at about the same level as Government aid, and depends really on how stable and how attractive the recipient countries can make their economies to attract the industrialist and the investor. It has not been easy to put this over, but I think that there is growing appreciation of the truth of it.
The hon. Member for East Ham, North wanted to see the much-quoted figure of 1 per cent. of the gross national product devoted to this project, irrespective of other considerations. Estimates vary as to what we are doing now. My estimate is that we are doing about 0·7 per cent. of that figure. Whether we think it is enough or not, I think we should realise that the figure for France, who also has a big hand in this because of her former colonial empire which is a large candidate for aid is 0·5 per cent.; for Germany, a very wealthy and properous country now, having written off her war disaster and losses, it is 0·31 per cent.—under half of what we do; and for the United States, although great in total, it is 0·25 per cent.
Percentages can be misleading, but I think we should realise that both in actual and percentage terms this country is pulling its weight. I am not saying that we cannot do more, but do not let anybody point the finger of scorn at us and say "You are all right. You have a high standard of living, but in view of your great imperial past, your Commonwealth heritage, call it what you will, you are not doing anything like as much as you should for these people". It may be that we should do more. I am certain that we should, but let us not, with our usual English genius for understatement, underestimate what we are doing now.
I think that the generally insufficient appreciation of our effort, both in this country and abroad, and in some of the recipient countries, is really due to three things. The first is—I referred to our national genius for understatement—that we regard this as the proper job for one member of the Commonwealth to do for another without necessarily making too much noise about it. Secondly, about 25 per cent. of the aid given is what the hon. Member described as tied aid, tied to the purchase of materials and finished goods or skills from this country. Whatever we feel in the argument between tied aid and untied aid, it is the tied aid which produces the more obvious propaganda results. If one is able to say that as a result of making a loan one has equipped a country with a new hospital or steel mill, then the recipient knows where the development is coming from and one's own country knows, from the increase in its exports, that the aid is being fruitfully used. Whatever the economists say, the fact that only about a quarter of our aid is tied lessens the impact that it might otherwise have on people, for they do not realise the magnitude of what we do.
The major part of our aid is budgetary. It is a straight help to the national finances of the country con- cerned. That is largely the result of history and the fact that many of the recipient countries are former colonial territories whose budgets in those days had to be supported by a subvention from us. How different is the attitude of the Russians! Their aid is always tied, and always accompanied with the maximum propaganda flourish. Although I do not advocate taking over their methods, I was very much in sympathy with the hon. Member for East Ham, North when he said that if we had to choose between no aid at all and tied aid in order to have an increase in the present aid, then we should go for tied aid. There is plenty of advantage to this country from making bilateral deals with some countries to which we give aid whereby it could be shown that our own exporters and manufacturers had some benefit out of it. I see no need to be ashamed of that. In his Budget speech my right hon. Friend the Chancellor made an offer of £10 million if the items to be supplied under it were associated with manufacturing activity in some of the areas of unemployment which we are anxious to bring back to full economic performance.
I welcome the conception that we should increasingly work with what is known as the Development Assistance Committee of O.E.C.D. because in this way some very large programmes can be undertaken which we could not tackle alone. This has the advantage that because the aid comes from more than one country the recipient country need not feel that there is any suggestion of pursuing a national policy aim in giving the aid.
Another point not sufficiently appreciated in the United Nations or in this country is that we are the second largest contributor in money terms to the United Nations Expanded Technical Assistance Programme and the largest of all contributors in personnel serving under United Nations technical Assistance teams. That latter figure needs rubbing in quite a lot. We are making a substantial contribution on the manpower front.
If I were to be asked to state my ideas about priorities of what we can do in putting more steam and mare shove behind this programme, I should reply that I should like to see concentration on doing what we are doing now in the way of providing teachers, scientists and administrators, where they are asked for—in short, in providing skill and education as much as material, plant and factories.
I believe that, in the all-important exercise of helping these countries to help themselves, it is by the training of their young people to do the jobs which eventually they will have to take over—and with which this country in many cases has for years been associated—that most can be done. When I was at the Commonwealth Relations Office it was my good fortune to help in the passage of the Commonwealth Scholarships Act, which made a definite contribution under this heading. Surely there is quite as much to be done in enlarging the opportunities for the higher education of these people in their own schools, universities and colleges as there is on the purely material front.
I am delighted with that intervention by the hon. Member, who has shown particular interest in this matter. I will certainly do so.
That leads me to a hobby-horse of mine. I am surprised that the Government, in connection with their training programmes overseas and their efforts to raise living standards by the provision of more education, have not made more use of basic English. The House decided at the end of the war—and my right hon. Friend the Member for Woodford (Sir W. Churchill) took a leading part in it—that basic English was one of the most remarkable ways of spreading knowledge round the world, and of spreading it in the basic tongue in which most knowledge is recorded. The House voted a sum of about £25,000 which was paid to the inventor of Basic English, that great scholar, the late Mr. C. K. Ogden. It was the intention after the war that this should become one of the most powerful means at our disposal of raising living standards and spreading knowledge of science and what may be called the British tradition. But it does not seem to have been used. I could never find out why. We voted money for it, and it started with great publicity, but it seems to have vanished in some pigeon hole. It is a marvellous system which we have at hand and which we do not seem to use.
I entirely agree with the hon. Member for West Lothian (Mr. Dalyell) in the point which he made. Anything we can do Ito promote the dissemination of books at cut prices, negligible prices if necessary, in those countries of Africa and Asia should be done. Something is being done, but I want to see much more done.
I want to say a few words about the population explosion. Unless we take into account the staggering increase in population which is going on—a great deal of which is the result of better medical care and standards of nutrition—all our estimates of the amount of aid that we shall have to supply will be completely awry. I will not go over the figures which have been stated before in the House, but the prospect of having to gear our effort to that kind of increase is a staggering one. We shall be in the position of the Red Queen—of running frantically and yet finding that all our increased provision is swallowed up because there are so many more mouths to feed.
I do not know what the answer is. What is called family limitation, or birth control, raises questions which nobody in this House can settle; they must be settled in the countries concerned. Furthermore, moral issues are involved, upon which 1 do not wish to touch this afternoon. But unless this population factor and this geometrical progression of increase can be tackled, merely to direct tremendous concentration upon food production, as was advocated by the right hon. Member for Llanelly, will not prove to be a complete answer. We need a more radical solution.
Has the hon. Member read that the World Health Organisation is shortly to have a debate on this matter, and that there are hopes that the attitude of the Roman Catholic community towards the subject may be rather different from what it has been in the past. I ask the hon. Member to urge the Government to play a very constructive part in this new and most important event.
I am obliged to the right hon. Gentleman for his intervention. He is quite right. This tremendously sensitive and important question is to be debated quite soon. We cannot pretend that this is a subject that we should not dig into. It is pregnant with possibilities for the future. It may be the answer to this vast population explosion. I quite agree that there is a new feeling about this question, even in quarters where at one time this possibility would have been almost unthinkable.
I welcome the Motion, which has given us a chance not only to state what needs to be done but also to take a little modest but not complacent credit for what we are now doing. It is a very proper theme for the House to pursue. I find no contradiction at all in the fact that whereas we were once a great imperial power—because of which we acquired a unique responsibility for nearly one-sixth of the human race—today, in changed conditions, although we no longer have the same political responsibilities we nevertheless retain the moral sense that we must continue to do something pretty massive about aid for that part of the world.
In view of the comparatively large number of hon. Members on both sides who are anxious to speak in the debate I undertake to confine my remarks to less than 15 minutes. I hope that I may say that without casting any reflection on any hon. Members who have already spoken. I associate myself with the remarks made about the preceding Minister of the Department represented here this morning, and I also add my good wishes to the new Minister. On behalf of the United Nations Parliamentary Group, which has 190 Members from both sides of the House, I can say that we will co-operate and do everything we can to help him in the great task which he has now undertaken.
The World Health Organisation has recently published some very startling facts, which indicate only too clearly the magnitude of the problem facing the world today. It is estimated that there are 100 countries, with a total population of 1,250 million people, with an average per capita income of less than £40 a year. This compares with an average per capita income of £400 a year in the Western developed countries.
My right hon. Friend the Member for Llanelly (Mr. J. Griffiths) has drawn attention to the great increases in population which are likely to take place during the next thirty years. It is estimated that by then the world's population will be double what it is today. Even though we were to continue the same amount of endeavour as has characterised the last fifteen years, it is extremely doubtful whether anything could be done materially to raise the standards of living of such a vast number of people.
The hon. Member for Croydon, South (Sir R. Thompson) said that we had done something. He argued whether we were or were not spending more than 0·5 per cent. of our national product. I do not think that we should take up too much time in arguing about percentages. A great deal has been done. Since 1946, £10,000 million have been spent by the developed countries in assisting the under-developed countries, but the sole result of this has been to increase the per capita income of the ordinary individual in those under-developed countries by 1 per cent. To put it another way, there has been a £1 increase per year in his income. It is, therefore, clear that it will not be merely a question of pouring money into these under-developed countries.
Reference has been made to the increase in population. I was interested in the intervention of my right hon. Friend the Member for Derby, South (Mr. P. Noel-Baker) about the attitude of the Churches in this and other countries. I hope that not only the Roman Catholic Church, but the other great religious organisations will not ignore the existence of the great problem of the so-called "population explosion". This problem is a matter for individuals, and no one suggests that it should be otherwise; nevertheless, I believe that the action taken by the Parliament of India some years ago, in passing an Act of Parliament with the direct object of encouraging a measure of birth control, provided an example of what can be done on an official basis.
But I am not too disturbed by the prospects of this trend in population. Dr. Ewell, a famous American scientist, recently estimated that the world could support 10,000 million people with its present land area, provided that full use was made of all the existing scientific aids. For example, he said, that Japan produces per agricultural acre sufficient food for 6·2 persons whereas India produces food per acre for only one person. This is explained, of course, by the fact that Japan uses 100 lb. of nitrogen per acre whereas India uses only 1 lb. per acre.
It is by technical assistance and education that we can seek to overcome these problems and eradicate poverty and ignorance in the under-developed countries. Much has been done. I have already pointed out that over £10,000 million has been spent in economic aid from the developed countries to the under-developed countries, and in directing attention to the work of our own Department of Technical Co-operation I should like to pay a tribute to the splendid work which has been done by that Department. However, I am not satisfied that this constitutes the best form of organisation for dealing with the problem of aid to under-developed countries.
I put a Question to the Prime Minister the other day on this point, and in his reply he suggested that other Departments, such as the Foreign Office, the Commonwealth Relations Office and the Colonial Office play a part in the work of this country in promoting aid to under-developed countries. Surely there is a strong case for one Department to co-ordinate all this work.
The primary responsibility of the Minister's Department is to promote technical co-operation. In my view, that is not sufficient. Technical assistance, unless harnessed to financial assistance and trained and experienced manpower, is only one side of the coin. It must be accompanied by financial assistance, and this financial assistance must be backed by technical and administrative co-operation.
I am supported in this view by the Department itself, and I will quote, if I may, from last year's progress report of the Department. It said:
There is also a need to co-ordinate technical and financial help, men and money.
These two kinds of aid are complementary. It is useless far the most expert adviser in the world to examine a country's problems and recommend ways of solving them if the country has not got the money to put the advice into effect.
It is interesting to note that the United States Government take a different view from that taken by Her Majesty's Government, because they have established an agency for international development with full responsibility for all aspects of international aid. This American organisation is based on two principles. First, the starting point of assistance is the formulation by each country of a national development plan of priorities. The second principle is that all the means of aid must he used in a co-ordinated fashion to facilitate the carrying out of that national plan. Moreover, the agency is organised along geographic lines on the basis of four areas of the under-developed world.
The agency also has three main functions; first, the formulation of aid programmes for the respective countries; secondly, the implementation of these programmes, and, thirdly, the provision of expert advice and of administrative and support services. It seems to me that the Government will inevitably be driven to the adoption of some form of organisation on the lines of the American system. But what concerns me, and, I would hope, the Minister—perhaps it is a little early to expect him to formulate any ideas on a proposal of this kind—is that I do not believe we can afford to delay these changes. I should like to see the Government consider them as a matter of urgency, and I hope that the Minister will at least tell us, when he replies to the debate, that the Government are not closing their minds to this possible alternative system and that it will receive their urgent consideration.
Finally, I wish to endorse what my hon. Friend the Member for East Ham, North (Mr. Prentice) said when introducing the debate, especially on the need for some kind of Peace Corps. We read in our newspapers that on leaving school hundreds of youths find that there is no place for them in industry. Many of them are of the calibre that could be utilised in this great human crusade, and I believe that it would be in the interest not only of our country but of these young men and women themselves if we could build up this great national organisation on the lines that have been established in America. I do not know whether such a service should be called a "Crusade" or "International Service", as distinct from what we used to call National Service. I cannot think that there is any greater attraction to young men than to go into an International Service of this kind, just as it was their privilege to go into National Service when that was necessary.
The world, as we know, is faced with this great challenge. It is a challenge which we cannot ignore, and the very basis of our freedom and of our democracy depends on social and economic justice being given to all the peoples of the world irrespective of race, creed, colour or religion. In this, I believe that our country has a vital part to play, and I wish the Minister well in the responsibilities that lie ahead.
The right hon. and learned Member for Rowley Regis and Tipton (Mr. A. Henderson) mentioned at the beginning of his speech the question which has run through many speeches made from both sides of the House today, the question of population. I must say that I could not support the right hon. and learned Gentleman when he said—I think that I am quoting him correctly—that he was not disturbed by the prospective increase. He quoted the figure of 10,000 million people as the possible population that the world could support. I must say that I feel the emphasis here is wrong, if I may say so with respect to the right hon. and learned Gentleman.
It seems to me that we shall fail in the rest of this century to get any measurable increase in the living standards of the under-developed countries unless there is restraint on population.
Perhaps I was not too clear in what I said, but I have preceded my reference to Dr. Ewell, who is the American expert who referred to the possibility of the world being able to maintain a population of 10,000 million, by saying that I thought it essential that we should not ignore, and that the Churches of the world should not ignore, the need for some form of family planning. I also referred to the action taken by the Parliament of India.
I am grateful to the right hon. and learned Gentleman. It was the phrase about population explosion which he used of which I was rather critical, and I am grateful for his intervention on the point.
It is right that this matter of the population explosion and the two problems it raises—that of birth control and agriculture—should take precedence in this debate. My right hon. Friend the Member for Reigate (Sir J. Vaughan-Morgan) and the right hon. Member for Llanelly (Mr. J. Griffiths) both stressed that the first priority should go to agriculture. I support this view, but I welcome the initiative that is currently being taken by the World Health Organisation in birth control.
The history of prophecy on the question of population shows—and this is of some consolation to me—that the prophets have always been wrong. They have, for example, been wrong about the population movements in this country since the war and this, more than anything else, has upset our planning. Malthus gave perfectly legitimate prophecies based on the figures of his time, but they were proved to be totally wrong. There is some consolation in this, but it ill behoves anyone to oppose the greater spread of birth control methods throughout the world; although I echo the words of the right hon. Member for Llanelly, who said that it must be a matter for countries and individuals to decide for themselves.
I welcome both the Motion and the fact that my right hon. Friend the Member for Mitcham (Mr. R. Carr) will reply to the debate. This is largely a debate on his Department, but during my remarks I shall refer briefly to matters outside his Department, because the Motion includes the subject of trading policies; and any amount of technical aid will be of no avail unless our trading policies are right.
A couple of years ago, when my right hon. Friend's Department was created, my first reaction was slightly that of dismay. One sees so many reports on various matters ending with the recommendation of the establishment of a new Government Department. One often sees, as the writers of these reports become more ambitious, the suggestion that they should be headed by senior Cabinet Ministers. When the Department of Technical Co-operation was created I wondered whether it was not one of these seemingly easy solutions which would not provide the real solution, for what is needed is not more but fewer Government Departments. However, I am now quite persuaded that I was wrong on that subject.
Although the title of my right hon. Friend's Department is not exactly inspiring—and its initials sound rather like the result of a long life of alcoholism—the work it does is exceedingly inspiring and it is right that it should be the province of a separate Department. I wish my right hon. Friend well. If anyone had doubts about the necessity of a separate Department to do the work of this one, his doubts would have been resolved by the first Report that it produced. It showed how much was being done and how immense were the opportunities. Naturally, it being the first Report, it was largely devoted to asking a lot of questions. It reported the setting up of a large number of committees to discuss certain aspects.
I hope that my right hon. Friend will see fit, before too long, to let us have another comprehensive report on the work of his Department. There were so many things in the first one that needed following up and more information to be given that many of us are anxious to have a new report. Unfortunately, the Department is not yet anything like widely enough known in the country, although the work it does is of deep concern to people generally.
There is a deep strain of idealism in Britain which demands an expression outside this country. I have no doubt that this idealism has a Christian basis, but however ardent a churchman I or anyone else may be, we should not say that it is only within the Church. In its outward looking, overseas form, this idealism must be the result of our long responsibilities and involvement overseas. It is certainly not linked to any part of the political spectrum, or—and I echo the words of the hon. Member for East Ham, North (Mr. Prentice)—to any income group. It is not limited, despite what is sometimes said, to any age group.
One of the current nonsenses is to attribute to youth all the virtues and to age all the vices. I do not believe it. I readily accept that, in this sphere, youth has a special part to play because of its lack of personal responsibilities and ability to go abroad, but the idealism in this is not confined to that group. I am not sure, but there may be more idealism from the middle-aged housewife with children than any other section of the community.
It is this strain of idealism which, above all, makes one proud to be a citizen of this country. When Britain sits on its little island, and looks inward at itself, it is at its worst. When we look overseas, and accept the challenge from abroad, we do our best. We have seen that, even the youngest of us, markedly in our lifetime. This strong strain of idealism often goes into channels which, I believe, are misguided. Much of the unilateralist agitation is misguided, although I recognise that there is genuine idealism in it.
It is the duty of Government and of Parliament to provide outlets for this idealism and it is on the question of overseas aid that this sort of idealism wishes to express itself now. For instance, the freedom from hunger campaign will prove a remarkable thing as it goes on. It is a long-term programme and it is just beginning. As the months and years go by—and I understand that it is a five-year programme—we shall find an extraordinary accumulation of support.
Being the Government, there is, obviously, a special responsibility on the shoulders of my hon. and right hon. Friends. It is essential that this idealism should find expression in the actions of Government. I am reminded of the proverb, "Where there is no vision the people perish." I believe that if my right hon. Friend will tell the country what the Government and his Department are doing it will encourage the people, inspire the idealism in them and give him more and more support. If he wants to he can set the Thames on fire—and that goes for the Tees and the Tyne as well.
On the subject of what is being done, I am to some extent critical of the Government. Particularly since they have had an extremely successful and long career, there is a tendency to be involved in the techniques of Government; to think that it is enough to produce the right answer and carry it out. Ministers tend to be involved in the running of their Departments and the techniques of doing so to too great an extent, thus forgetting that the people demand more than just good administration. They demand a lead and inspiration.
A passage in the first Report of the Department of Technical Co-operation is, to my mind, extremely important. It states:
It is in Britain's interest that people from this country should use their special knowledge and experience of overseas economic and social problems and acquire fresh knowledge about it.
There follows the key sentence, which states:
If this does not happen the intellectual wealth of Britain, hard won by previous generations, will shrink within much narrower borders and the respect for it in the rest of the world will correspondingly decline.
I find the phrase "intellectual wealth" a rather narrow one. It is a somewhat coy expression, for what is being talked about, I think, is moral or spiritual wealth. That part of the Report was right in stressing our special responsibilities which, as was stated, arise as a result of our long overseas responsibilities in the past.
I hope that we shall not feel that we should devote more and more of our efforts to countries with which we have not got a connection. I am a strong supporter of the United Nations and I appreciate the important rôle it has and is playing, but it would be a great pity, merely because we support it, to put all our effort into a pooled programme of technical aid and not remember to the full our close connections with the Commonwealth. It would be to the advantage of no one to do so. We have special contacts with Commonwealth countries which we have been able to draw on in our immensely important Overseas Service Aid Scheme.
When I reread the Report of the Department recently it occurred to me that I had forgotten the success which it has already achieved, including the service of about 15,000 officers. This should be borne in mind when considering the sort of Peace Corps which the right hon. and learned Member for Rowley Regis and Tipton suggested. It should be remembered that almost half of the expenditure of my right hon. Friend's Department has gone on that scheme. This has been one of the most imaginative acts of statesmanship and my right hon. Friend the Leader of the House deserves the credit for the success of the scheme.
To what extent is the scheme being used for new recruits? Is it something that will, in the natural course of events, fade away, as the past colonial servant is no longer recruited, or can it continue to be used? There are, apart from the existence of individuals who are trained for this work, people and families with great traditions of overseas service; families who, generation after generation, have devoted their lives to giving service overseas. Will there be a rôle for these people in the future inside the scheme?
There is one aspect of this problem about which I have special knowledge. I had the great privilege for a time of serving in the Overseas Service of the B.B.C. I was, therefore, interested in the remarks of my hon. Friend the Member for Croydon, South (Sir R. Thompson) about English, although he was talking about Basic English and I would not like to comment on that. Perhaps we do not use Basic English because no one wants to learn it. However, incredible and fantastic opportunities are open to this country from the mere speaking of English.
I had been with the B.B.C. for two days and was. I thought, just learning the job when I was suddenly confronted with a microphone. Given 90 seconds of warning, I was told to repeat at dictation speed a news bulletin. Hon. Members can imagine that this caused me a certain amount of concern at the time; but I realise, in retrospect, that the fact that I have never been alarmed by a microphone since is the result of that baptism.
I mention that only to stress the extraordinary importance within the B.B.C. Overseas Service which the teaching of English has. People listen to the B.B.C. very largely to learn English. I do not think that there is a single piece of technical aid of more value than this. Historically, I suppose, it is because of the British Empire and our influence overseas that English has become the international language of the world, though American use of it has a lot to do with its spread. That is very bad for us, because it means that many of us do not bother to learn a foreign language, but, at the same time, it has an advantage that we must use.
The hon. Member for West Lothian (Mr. Dalyell) mentioned the dissemination of books, and I wholly agree with him, but this is of no greater importance than the actual broadcasting of the English language—
I referred to the linkage of industries such as paper-making, which is under-employed, and spoke of the facilities in Edinburgh for printing technical text books for West Africa. I was not making a comparison of value.
I understand that my right hon. Friend will have within his responsibility the question of the B.B.C. Overseas Service. I hope that he will give the matter special consideration, and will look at the problems of overseas broadcasting in the light of what has happened during the last few years. I am aware that there are defence, Foreign Office and prestige considerations involved, but I put it to him that, on technical aid grounds alone, there is an overwhelming case for an effective and well-supported B.B.C. Overseas Service.
I ask my right hon. Friend to look at the situation relative to other countries. On the whole, we are still conducting our overseas effort too much as we were at the end of the war, whereas other countries, particularly China and Russia, have immensely increased their effort. We are too apt to produce excellent programmes on radio without making sure that we have the technical facilities necessary for getting the broadcasts over to the other side. I hope that he will see that our effort is not frustrated by the lack of such technical equipment as relay stations abroad. There is nothing more important than that.
I hope that my right hon. Friend will find it possible to collaborate with the Thomson Foundation—I make no reference to any hon. Member opposite, but to the Roy Thomson Foundation, which has very much the same kind of aim as we have in mind. Do not let us ever be too modest about the work we can do to help people to learn English, and in the dissemination of the English language.
I say quite unashamedly that my main theme is the benefit to this country and to our people of an increased programme of technical aid. A new pattern is emerging for the individual. The old pattern was one of individuals going abroad, serving a whole career overseas, and devoting their whole lives to parts of the Empire. There was need for such people, but the characteristic need now is for people to give up part of a career spent mainly at home to go out to overseas countries. If this is done properly, tremendous benefit is obtained by the individuals concerned and by the country, because of the experience they bring back.
Let us be quite frank in admitting that it creates all sorts of problems. Overseas aid is one of those things, like economy, of which everyone is in favour in general, but of which few are in favour in particular. If someone goes out for a time in the middle of a career it creates career problems which can only be solved by people here understanding what he is doing, and backing him up. If this idea is to work, there must be a consciousness that it is the right and proper thing to do. I like the phrase used by the right hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for Rowley Regis and Tipton—international service—as compared with national service. I feel that to be on the right lines.
I am not at all convinced in favour of the Peace Corps. I feel that the present system of this work being organised by voluntary bodies probably works better in this country, as long as there is no hold-up in the opportunities for young people to go. There is a tremendous expansion in the present setup. The idea is getting across to our people that this work is something that they can do.
What I have to say on a question of responsibilities outside those of my right hon. Friend's Department may very likely rouse strong disagreement on the part of many hon. Members and some of my hon.
Friends.The Motion asks the Government
…to pursue trading policies aimed at providing bigger markets for the products of developing countries.
That seems to be an extraordinarily apt description of what we were trying to do in the Brussels negotiations. When we look at what we tried to do for textiles, raw materials, tea, and so on, and look at the concessions we were able to get, we find that to an extraordinary extent we were trying to do just what the Motion asks.
I think that it was an overwhelming tragedy that those negotiations came to an end. I hope sincerely that, somehow or other, at some time, they will be successfully restarted, but it is worth stressing this point now, because the advocates of entry to the Common Market were so often told that there was a conflict between wishing for a richer and more successful European Community and helping overseas countries.
I believe that to be profoundly and absolutely untrue. The de Gaullist policy at the moment dominant in the Community is contrary to what we were seeking, but what we were trying to get in our Brussels negotiations was just this pursuit of trading policy policies aimed at getting bigger markets. As we did not succeed through those negotiations in getting that result, we shall have to try—the hon. Member for East Ham, North mentioned the Kennedy round—to get the results otherwise—
The hon. Member anticipated that some of us on this side, and some of his own hon. Friends, would profoundly disagree with what he has just said about the Common Market negotiations. Is he also aware that many people in the developing countries were also very much opposed to what he now says? As evidence of that, I have in mind the debate in the United Nations Economic and Social Council on the Development Decade, mentioned in this Motion, when delegate after delegate from the developing countries expressed severe apprehension about the effect of our entry into the Common Market on their economies.
The hon. Gentleman is right in saying that that view is very widely held. Nevertheless, I do not think that it is true—or, at least, I do not think that it would have been true had we succeeded in joining the Community on the terms on which we were insisting. That is why I underlined the fact that we were so right to have a tough negotiation. We would have been wrong to have accepted the Community as it was; it was essential in the negotiations to fight for these particular points.
This subject was again the dominant theme at the Prime Ministers' conference. I know that it was technically a confidential occasion, but as each Prime Minister leaked the full context of his speech to the Press one can probably regard it as correct. What the Prime Ministers asked for over and over again was precisely this thing, and their demands could have been defined in the last words of this Motion.
It was a measure of the rightness of our policy that we tried to get these points in the Brussels negotiations. The hon. Member for East Ham, South may wish to develop a contrary argument, but my view is that, far from it being the fact that the European policy is contrary to the development of successful trading policies, the very opposite is the truth. The new emphasis on commodity agreements coming from the Brussels negotiations is probably the biggest single thing that can help that policy.
I am not sure whether the welfare of the increasing number of overseas students coming to this country falls directly within my right hon. Friend's responsibility, but it is a very vital part of technical aid. More and more students are coming to this country, and for far too many of them their stay here, far from being a exciting and worthwhile personal experience, is a period of loneliness and, very often, of great personal unhappiness. I know that there are many voluntary bodies, many of them long-established, which give all the help they possibly can to these students, but I am sure that much more could be done.
I should like my right hon. Friend to make sure that the Government are at some time concerned with the welfare of overseas students, who have very real problems which at present very often end in personal misery. Much more could be done by the provision of hostels but, above all, by ordinary people making contact at the personal level. Much more should be done, and the Government should give a lead.
I end, as I began, by pressing my right hon. Friend to make the work of his Department better known. If he does that, I think that he will find that the response will be something which may surprise him, but I do not think that it will surprise anyone who understands the deep desire in this country for greater expression, or, to use the quotation which I gave, a greater vision on the part of the Government.
Where so much of the ground in the debate is common, I shall resist the temptation to pursue the hon. Member for Keighley (Mr. Worsley) on his somewhat romantic version of the Brussels negotiations. He said in the course of his most thoughtful speech that it would be wrong to attribute to youth all the virtues and to age the vices. I am sure that he would agree with me that it would be equally wrong to attribute to youth all the vices and to age all the virtues.
I want first to reiterate the belief, which has been common throughout the debate, that greater efforts should be made to harness the idealism of the youth of this country, which undoubtedly exists. I say that quite impenitently, in spite of some evidence to the contrary that many among the young are given to fecklessness and irresponsibility. The view throughout the debate is that the Government should make a greater effort and be more generous in their contribution to enable the youth of the country to do what I am sure it wants to do—to serve at home and abroad.
The end of National Service has left a gap in this sphere and I have been very impressed to discover that, for instance, in the great appeals of Freedom from Hunger, Oxfam, and War on Want, it is the young people who do most of the work of collecting, and they do it with great enthusiasm and efficiency. I have particular concern with one of the bodies which are active in this field, International Voluntary Service. Last year the Government very kindly gave a grant to assist its work of about £2,000, a small sum but greatly appreciated. This body has done excellent work in different parts of the world where disaster has occurred, chiefly, in Algeria, the earthquake areas, and in parts of West Africa, areas where there has been suffering and where there were masses of refugees in conditions of misery.
The young people who take part in this work are, of course, volunteers. They are not only volunteers, they have to pay a good deal of money to get to the areas where they work. At present there are thousands of young men who could be fitted into these schemes, but there is just not the money available or the staff or resources to send people into areas needing help where they could work so actively. I therefore make a special plea for another look at whether a little more could not be done for this particular organisation, and I share the plea for help generally in the field of voluntary service.
The voluntary aspect of this matter has been an outstanding feature of the British effort in the field, and although I share the views of my hon. Friend the Member for East Ham, North (Mr. Prentice) that this should now be regarded as a major undertaking and that it should be a major act of policy to harness our youth to this great international effort, it should not become too governmentalised, if I may be allowed to use that ugly word. There is virtue, certainly in the immediate future, in furthering the efforts of voluntary bodies, no doubt within a national scheme. The efforts already made in the co-ordination of bodies which are active in this field are valuable and have achieved a good result.
Another aspect of the speech of the hon. Member for Keighley with which I entirely agree is that which dealt with the value of encouraging the learning of English as in itself an important instrument of technical assistance. There is an aspect of this which concerns me as a lawyer. It is that the English language is the official language of the courts for hundreds of millions of people, but there is the problem of the construction of the English language. I find it hard enough as a Welshman who has had to learn the English language and has acquired, I hope, a reasonable command of it, although I find myself in trouble from time to time.
To a person born under the English briar bush, the English language is difficult enough, but in some countries, which I will not name because I would not wish to cause offence to the lawyers practising there, there is a real danger in the decline in the quality of knowledge of the language on the part of students leaving the universities, and this decline may have a serious effect on the administration of justice itself.
In the legal sphere I want to say a few words on a theme which I hope is not irrelevant to this excellent Motion. One of the things which has gravely disturbed us in recent years has been that the bitter and difficult economic and social problems of many of the under-developed countries have been worsened by the existence, or the outbreak, of civil war—in other words, the breakdown of law and order which has brought in its train massive suffering and masses of refugees and has held back economic and social progress in those countries to a grave extent.
These areas are twofold in their nature. There are first the territories the peoples of which are still engaged in the struggle for freedom and self-determination. I think particularly of territories like the Portuguese colonies where the resistance of the people against a rule which they can no longer tolerate is being suppressed with brutality and where there is a real danger of the widespread outbreak of violence and war. This is a political point to which I do not expect the Minister to reply today, but I feel with regard to this class of territory that it is excellent that the United Nations has taken in recent years a more dynamic rôle, and I am glad that gradually if reluctantly the British Government have recognised the importance of intervention by the United Nations in dealing with this problem.
But it is not so much with the problems to which the struggle for freedom give rise that I am immediately concerned. I am concerned with the problems which have arisen also in those territories which have actually acquired independence and self-government. Those of my friends who are in those territories will understand when I speak frankly about some aspects of this problem. I do so with full sympathy and good will towards them and their difficulties.
Perhaps the most dramatic illustration of the kind of situation I have in mind is that on 15th January this year when a young man, Joseph Biroli, a graduate of Oxford and the only trained economist in Burundi, one of the most densely populated and poorest of the countries of Africa, was hanged in public before 20,000 people after a trial which was described as a travesty of justice by a lawyer who was sent out by Amnesty to observe its closing stages. This is a terrible situation. I observe the hon. Member for Chigwell (Mr. Biggs-Davison) nodding his head affirmatively. I hope that he will not conclude from these observations that I am against independence and the right of self-determination for these countries. Of course I am not, but the problems which independence creates in the legal sphere are very grave. They are particularly grave in communities like the former Belgian territories where there was an almost total lack of indigenous lawyers.
When I was in Leopoldville just before the major troubles began the law faculty of the University of Louvanium was congratulating itself that in the following year the first native African lawyer was about to qualify. Whereas we in this country have an honourable record in bringing Africans and other citizens from the Colonies to the Inns of Court for their training, to be called to the Bar and to the Law Society, unfortunately that has not been the picture in some of these other territories. In the Belgian Congo, for instance, the moment the Belgians withdrew their judges and lawyers there was an almost total collapse of the administration of justice, and correspondingly of law and order. This is a situation which could well occur—the problem of the lack of lawyers at all.
Of course, the initiative must come from these territories themselves, and we must not be thought to be hectoring them or lecturing them about what their duties are or ought to be, but I have wondered whether arrangements could be made or encouraged for the giving of legal services by lawyers from neighbouring countries to these territories where lawyers are not available. I appreciate that the offer of help from English lawyers might not be treated with enthusiasm, but at least one would have thought there was room, perhaps through the United Nations, to encourage the loan of lawyers from areas of similar ethnic origin to those areas where, in the immediate period after independence, there may be a real danger of breakdown through the sheer absence of lawyers.
The other problem which is arising is that, unhappily, although many of the lawyers in these territories are maintaining high standards of professional and personal behaviour, that is not the universal picture. I remember one occasion recently when I had the privilege of visiting a West African country and I was due to talk to the lawyers there, the Chief Justice told me, "Remember to remind them what their duties as lawyers are. Remember to remind them what they were taught in the Inns of Court"—which I found a rather delicate and difficult occasion. I hope that my hon. Friends are not regarding what I have said with derision in terms of our own standards of behaviour in this country; I am sure they do not think that.
In this field the initiative must come largely from the territories themselves, but I hope that the Government will give full support to the ideas that Lord Denning, for instance, has developed so far as our own former Colonies are concerned, so that the transition from dependence upon the Inns of Court to creating their own legal institutions may be effected as smoothly and as painlessly as possible. In this respect, I hope that the Government will feel able to contribute even more generously to the payment of teachers of law who go out to Africa. The services that men like Professor Jim Gower, for instance, are rendering are notable and I hope that the Government will be able to direct help in this sphere on an even greater scale.
I feel that where one is faced with the kind of situation that arose in Burundi, U.N.E.S.C.O. ought to be encouraged to develop the idea of perhaps an organisation which would enable observers to attend political trials. I am afraid that I am rather an addict at that myself. I feel that it plays a very important part. There is nothing more disturbing or better for a judge in a country where the administration of justice is not very good—may, indeed, be oppressive—than to be faced with a questioning look from somebody who is going to report to the world afterwards the injustice that may be taking place. I think that the observer in political trials has an important part to play.
Here again, I hope that on all occasions the British Government will encourage so far as they can the granting of full facilities to observers from bodies like the International Commission of Jurists, or Amnesty, or Justice. I am bound to say that normally our own representatives overseas give assistance where they can, and we are all very grateful for that.
In this connection, may 1 say a word, which is slightly off-beat but important, about the principle of asylum. I hope that the Government will maintain that noble principle in their behaviour at home about political refugees who come here; but, above all, in our Colonial Territories, particularly in the heart of areas of crisis like Bechuanaland and Basutoland, I hope the Government will urge the maintenance of that great principle of the right of political asylum to political offenders.
As to the broad problem of the risk of breakdown of law and order to the point of general civil war breaking out on the pattern which has created tragedy over wide areas of the world in the last decade or so, I hope that further thought will be given to the possible rôle of a United Nations emergency force in this field. I agree that this is a very large theme which is perhaps not very appropriate to throw in as a thought in a debate essentially on technical aid, but clearly it is a matter of very great importance. We are going to be faced with these challenges which can cause the breakdown of communities in different parts of the world—not only in Africa—in the fairly near future. I hope that serious thought will be given to the permanent existence of a standby United Nations emergency force ready to move in when the threat of a general breakdown of law and order exists.
The good fortune in the ballot of the hon. Member for East Ham, North (Mr. Prentice) is also the good fortune of the House. We are all grateful to him for the subject which he has selected and for the way in which he spoke to it.
We on this side of the House are very much obliged for the kind words which he and others of his hon. Friends have uttered in paying tribute to my right hon. Friend the Member for Runcorn (Mr. Vosper), who has had the misfortune to retire from office for a second time, and also for the words of welcome which the hon. Member gave to my right hon. Friend the Member for Mitcham (Mr. Carr) on his return to the Government Front Bench.
The subject of this debate is so vast that each hon. Member who has so far spoken has been able to touch on a different aspect of the question. For myself, I propose to dwell mostly upon trading policies. The hon. and learned Member for West Ham, South (Mr. Elwyn Jones) noticed that I nodded when he mentioned Burundi. The reason for that was not what he thought. The reason was that the learned gentleman who went out to Burundi in those distressing days, on behalf of Amnesty, is a personal friend of mine and I heard the story from him.
I think it fair to say that the Government which hanged this unfortunate man was not a Colonial Government, but an African Government, and I think that it is right to draw the conclusion which is sometimes not drawn on the other side of the House, namely, that the problems and the conditions which have to be faced by an African administration, be it white or black, are very different from those here in Europe and we should regard those problems and conditions with equal sympathy.
I must say that the hon. and learned Gentleman's impressions of Angola are different from the impressions which I gathered when I travelled through that province. As for the repetition of the United Nations intervention in African territories, I do not propose to open up that very controversial subject. I think that the House probably knows my views on one United Nations intervention which has taken place, but I think that perhaps with regard to this question of civil war which the hon. and learned Gentleman raised, even though perhaps it is a little far from the Motion, the intervention of the United Nations might usefully be employed in assisting in controlling certain camps in the Congo where armed bands are being trained avowedly for another invasion of Angola.
The Leader of the Opposition recently made certain proposals for fostering Commonwealth trade and development, and when I read them I found to my delighted horror that I agreed with nearly all of them, but I also found that they were not entirely original. Indeed, I had set some of them forth in a letter to The Times on 6th December last year, a letter which was drafted and signed by myself and a substantial number of my hon. and right hon. Friends on this side of the House and some noble Friends in another place.
This letter was penned at a time when the Common Market controversy was at its height, and I would assure my hon. Friend the Member for Keighley (Mr. Worsley) that it was written in no anti-European spirit. Indeed, it called for closer relations between E.F.T.A. and the Commonwealth and it was written without prejudice to an eventual European-Commonwealth unity in which I personally believe.
We made seven proposals which are not yet, I am sorry to say, Government policy, but I hope that they soon will be, or that many of them will soon be. We called for an overseas development bank, or, if that were not found suitable, other machinery, or the use of existing machinery, to ensure the employment of Commonwealth resources being fully used. When we drew up this letter we recalled the success of the European Payments Union at the time of the recovery and the development of Europe in the years after the world war. The E.P.U. extended a form of international overdraft facilities which were of the highest value, and we suggested, as, I believe, the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition has suggested, and various people of various opinions have suggested, a Commonwealth payments union which, we thought, could act as a buffer between debtor and creditor nations within the Commonwealth.
There are often complaints of a stop-go economy here at home, but there is also a stop-go economy within the Commonwealth. When a country like India or Australia finds, after heavy importation, that it is running into balance of payments difficulties, it claps on restrictions, of which our own exporters naturally complain. For reasons which I shall touch on later, unfortunately those restrictions, when they have to be applied by overseas and developing countries, are bound to be non-discriminatory, and, therefore, cannot treat ourselves and other Commonwealth countries more favourably than others. When putting forward this idea of a Commonwealth payments union we suggested that export surpluses and deficit balances should be held for as long as necessary as unconvertible deposits, and so much of the disruption of intra Commonwealth trade by import restrictions could be avoided.
Recently, my right hon. and learned Friend the Member for Wirral (Mr. Selwyn Lloyd) called for a Commonwealth Exports Council. This, also, we included in our letter before Christmas, and 1 hope that in the future the Government will show themselves more responsive to this suggestion than they were, for example, in a reply by the President of the Board of Trade to a Question I put to him. It was my right hon. and learned Friend the Member for Wirral who also suggested that there should be a Commonwealth Economic Development Council—a C.E.D.C., to work in harness with N.E.D.C.—and this, I hope, is something which the Government are considering.
Tied loans featured in the early part of this debate, and my right hon. and learned Friend the Member for Wirral's successor as Chancellor of the Exchequer is to be commended, I believe, for what one may call his two-way Commonwealth traffic proposal which was included in his Budget statement, whereby loans from the United Kingdom to overseas Commonwealth countries should be tied to the purchase of capital and other goods from British industries with spare productive capacity.
As was to be expected, the question of commodity prices has also been considered in this debate as we tried to consider it in our proposals to The Times. Since the Korean War boom the prices of primary products have fallen, whereas those of manufactured goods have risen. According to the United Nations' price index the exports of primary products fell from a figure of 109 in 1954 to 95 in the second quarter of last year, whereas the corresponding increase in exports of manufacturers rose from 93 to 103, and of course the result of this has ben a considerable deterioration in the terms of trade of the underdeveloped areas, which is given as 11 per cent. between 1954 and 1961.
There are various reasons for this disturbing process. First of all, in the advanced countries national incomes have tended to rise more rapidly than their demand for basic foodstuffs. Many of us in the advanced countries over-eat, but there is a limit to that. Secondly the national incomes of advanced countries have tended to increase faster than imports of industrial materials exported by primary producing countries. This is partly because of the growing complexity of processing, and partly because synthetics are being substituted for natural materials. But more recently there has been a third factor which causes great anxiety for the primary producers.
Between 1958 and 1961 the industrial nations of North America, Western Europe, and Japan increased their imports of primary products from one another much more quickly than from the primary producing countries themselves. I will not weary the House with figures, but if hon. Members consult the figures they will see how very disturbing they are. Of course, it is true that the primary producing countries have received over this period increased aid, both public and private, but, as has been pointed out by hon. Gentlemen opposite, the fall in the prices they have been able to command for their exports has very much worsened their situation relatively, despite the lavish aid which has been afforded to them by the more advanced countries.
In any case, it is not aid which the overseas countries really want. They want the dignity of trade rather than the entanglements of aid, and many of them feel degraded and become disgruntled when they have to spend much of their time coming to foreign lenders, whether they be nations, whether they be banks, whether they be international organisations, in order to obtain another Loan to pay off the interest on the last one.
Would the hon. Gentleman not agree, however, that in fact trade cannot continue to the benefit of both parties unless there are the means of increasing production where the economy is low and that, therefore, they need external capital for the purpose?
Yes, I do agree with that, but I want to come on to the point of how necessary it is to provide expanding markets for what is produced as the result of capital developments in the overseas countries.
I think that the United Kingdom and the Commonwealth were on the wrong course at the Sydney conference when the emphasis was shifted away from trying to revive preferential trading within the Commonwealth in favour of capital aid to the developing countries. The emphasis was put on aid, aid rather than trade, and it is disturbing, I think, that an American spokesman like Under-Secretary Ball should propose that the Commonwealth preferential arrangements, or the preferential arrangements which exist between France and her partners in the E.E.C. and the overseas countries linked with them, mostly French-speaking countries in Africa—when the Americans and others propose that those preferential arrangements should be ended and in their place should be put more capital assistance.
Hon. Members who have spoken have referred to the necessity, if we are to enable the developing countries to trade, to try to limit price fluctuations in commodities. It is not true to say that nothing has been done within the Commonwealth or internationally in this field. There are commodity agreements for wheat, tin and sugar; there is a new coffee agreement this year; there is a prospect, I understand, of a new cocoa agreement this year. It is being discussed. I wonder whether the Minister, when he replies to the debate, will have anything to tell us about it.
I should like, in passing, to pay tribute to the extraordinarily able and detailed work done in this field of the stabilisation of commodity prices by Mr. Grondona. I know much of his work has been studied by various Departments of State and I hope that they are taking full advantage of his knowledge, but as I tried to say in answer to the hon. Gentleman the Member for Leyton (Mr. Sorsensen), who intervened, above everything, perhaps, is the problem of finding steadily expanding markets for the goods which are produced as a result of the aid which is given to the overseas countries.
I think that it is fair to say—and I am prompted to say this by the views expressed by my hon. Friend the Member for Keighley—that in proportion to our size the United Kingdom has a far better record than has either the United States or the E.E.C. in admitting the imports of the developing countries. In this matter of trying to provide steadily expanding markets, the O.E.C.D. collective target of a 50 per cent. growth in the gross national product of its 20 members in the decade 1960–70 is highly relevant, and it is relevant, of course, to the 5 per cent. rate of growth in the developing countries which is mentioned in the Motion which we are discussing.
How are we to play our part? I have referred to the N.E.D.C. and the possibility of a Commonwealth Economic Development Council. I would accept—and I do not think that I am saying anything contrary to Tory philosophy—that we are not going to be able to play our part without considerable planning of the national economy, without a rational regulation of imports and without a fundamental reconsideration of our international trading policy. And if we are to be able to extend the help we all want to give in the development of the less fortunate countries, we have to cultivate in this country a sound balance of payments.
Therefore, I do not see in the Kennedy round anything of a panacea. Nor do I believe that we can solve our problems by more and more liberalisation of imports. This curious insistence in the twentieth century on nineteenth century free trading ideals produces—although some hon. Members will not agree—deflation and depression in countries, including our own, unable to sell as much as they buy abroad over a considerable period.
I believe that it has been the policy of liberalisation of imports into the United Kingdom which is, in great measure, responsible for our failure to achieve a higher rate of economic growth for our own benefit and that of the developing countries. I believe that much of the unemployment which has appeared in certain areas of the country is new due to a decision three or four years ago to dismantle many of sterling's defences.
What happened was that the portcullis was raised and in rushed a host of United States manufactured goods and out rushed, to the continent of Europe cohorts of British capital needed at home and for overseas development. It was not until 1961 that real steps were taken to reverse this trend. By then, however, we had lost hundreds of millions of pounds and had incurred large new debts to foreign and international institutions.
Last year, my right hon. Friend the President of the Board of Trade informed me by letter that our adverse balance of trade with the United States was about £129 million. Admittedly, that sounds a little worse than it is because, for some reason, exports are calculated f.o.b. and imports c.i.f. But the conclusion I draw from all this is that when Liberal theory determines Conservative practice it makes Socialism less unattractive than it usually is, and that it is absolutely vital for the British economy and for the discharge of our responsibilities overseas that we should accept the need for a reasonable import regulation.
My right hon. Friend the Chief Secretary to the Treasury was, I thought, rather cagey in some of the replies he gave yesterday about the second Report of the N.E.D.C. entitled Conditions Favourable to Faster Growth. I commend to the House three short paragraphs. Paragraph 191 says:
The trade gap had widened entirely because imports have risen and not because exports have fallen.
It might have added that, indeed, British exports have done magnificently. However, the point has been made that the trade gap is so wide because of the increase in imports.
Paragraph 142 says:
It should be possible…to secure a saving in imports of about £200 million a year without serious injury to our own trade or that of Commonwealth countries…
The N.E.D.C. is as seized as we are of the importance of helping the underdeveloped countries. Paragraph 143 says:
Large cuts would clearly increase damage to our own and our trading-partners' interests, including those of Commonwealth or underdeveloped countries.
If we are really to help, as we want to help and ought to help, Commonwealth and other under-developed countries to the full, we just cannot afford a doctrinaire approach by either side of the House. If we are to be altruistic, if we are to be fully responsible in our economic relations with the underdeveloped countries, we cannot afford to be as altruistic as we have been in recent years to such countries as the United States and accept such unfavourable trade balances with advanced countries like the United States.
Nor can we afford to delay a review of the canons of international trading policy which were largely dictated by the United States during and after the war. I would, in particular, mention the General Agreement on. Tariffs and Trade, and draw the attention of my right hon. Friend to the Motion on the Order Paper standing in the name of my right hon. and learned Friend the Member for Hertfordshire, East (Sir D. Walker-Smith) and some 80 other signatories.
[That this House, mindful of the importance of maintaining and strengthening the economic links of the Commonwealth, particularly having regard to the position created by the breakdown of the Common Market negotiations, calls upon Her Majesty's Government to raise at the forthcoming General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade conference, and at the meeting of Commonwealth Trade Ministers prior thereto, the desirability of an amendment of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade, so as to remove obstacles to the expansion of Commonwealth trade and to the formulation of a policy that will assist home and Commonwealth agriculture without unnecessary cost to the Exchequer.]
It would be surprising, as I think any unprejudiced person would agree, if a review of that were not necessary. The conditions of the 1960s are so different from the conditions of the 1940s. The objectives of the G.A.T.T. are to help raise standards of living, develop world resources, expand the production and the exchange of goods, and to promote economic development. These are excellent objectives consonant with the Motion that we are discussing.
I believe that the G.A.T.T. defeats its own objectives by its own inflexibility and by its own hostility to preferential arrangements, particularly tariff arrangements, for it embodies the good old most-favoured-nation principle in its unconditional form and inhibits Commonwealth and other groups of nations from making mutual concessions to each other without offering like concessions to those signatories of the G.A.T.T. who are unable or unwilling to reciprocate.
Article XXIV allows exceptions to the rule of non-discrimination. It allows discrimination between the members of a group who wish to form a customs union, as did the six members of the E.E.C., or to members of a group who wish to form a free trade area, like the signatories of the Stockholm Convention, of whom we are one. But, curiously enough, Article XXIV does not provide for a group like the Commonwealth, and there might be other groups like the Commonwealth which would like to co-operate with each other in their trading relations without going to the full extent of a customs union or a free trade area.
It is true that the G.A.T.T. has accepted the continuance of the old Ottawa preferences, while preventing them from being increased or added to. Like the G.A.T.T. in its 1947 guise, the Ottawa preferences of 1932 are completely out of date. They have been outdated through inflation and by various subsequent agreements.
I beg your pardon, if that is the case, Mr. Speaker.
The fundamental point I was trying to put is that if we are to provide markets for the products of the developing countries, it is absolutely necessary to review and to revise, in order to bring into line with modern conditions, the trading arrangements which at present govern our relations with the Commonwealth and the rest of the world.
I believe that British, Commonwealth, European, O.E.C.D., or even wider international plans for economic development should be based on a pragmatic combination of long-term contracts, duty free treatment and mutual tariff reductions, but that those mutual tariff reductions should not be generalised but dependent on trade reciprocity being attained. I believe that only relatively few simple amendments are required to Article 24 of the G.A.T.T. I believe that this is of fundamental importance.
I hope that the Government have heeded Her Majesty's warning at Brisbane last March against neglecting the Commonwealth as an economic system. We are on the eve of a meeting of Commonwealth trade ministers. The New Zealand Minister of Overseas Trade, Mr. Marshall, welcoming this conference, spoke of a vast Commonwealth population now ripe for economic development. He pointed out that these countries were among the fastest growing economically in the world.
Mr. Marshall said—and some people may feel that he was over-optimistic—
Many Commonwealth countries in Asia and Africa have made heavy sacrifices in present living standards for the sake of hastening future development.
I believe they are now about to reap the benefit of that sacrifice and enter what has been described as the 'take-off'. The coming conference could well provide the trigger which will fire the propellant.
Mr. Marshall may be optimistic, but it is wrong to pour cold water on the potentialities of the Commonwealth and its ability to help the development of poorer nations. The right hon. Member for Llanelly (Mr. J. Griffiths) gave us some advice on how to win the General Election. With or without his advice, we mean to do just that, but I believe that the right policies towards underdeveloped countries, and particularly towards the Commonwealth, can do much to restore the faith and fortune of the Conservative Party and—what is much more important—help to build national prosperity on firmer foundations and enable us to do our duty to the Commonwealth and to the poorer peoples of the world.
I shall endeavour to confine my remarks to aid for the under-developed countries and not to stray into the paths of G.A.T.T., and so on.
In speaking to this most admirable Motion which was excellently introduced by my hon. Friend the Member for East Ham, North (Mr. Prentice), I shall endeavour not to use a broad canvas. I shall confine my remarks to three under-developed countries which I had the privilege of visting last year, and of which I can therefore speak with a little knowledge. The three High Commission Territories of Swaziland, Basutoland and Bechuanaland are the three territories in question. If ever assistance was urgently needed in underdeveloped countries, it is certainly needed in those three areas.
There are very special historical reasons why these countries have been so sadly neglected over the last half century. I shall not attribute political motives to either side of the House for that. Both sides are partially to blame. However, when I heard the right hon. Member for Reigate (Sir J. Vaughan-Morgan) refer to an expression of President Tubman about the benefit of 50 years of so-called colonial rule in Ghana, I wondered what President Tubman would have said if he had visited any of these three territories, which have been absolutely neglected for over half a century.
The main reason for that is that under the Africa Act these three territories presumably would, at some time or other, have come under the aegis of South Africa. I think that we all agree that at present, and indeed in the foreseeable future, it is impossible to contemplate that. The plain fact is that until 1945 not a single penny was contributed by this country for the benefit of the three territories for which we were responsible. The figures which I have show that in the 15 years from 1945 to 1960 the three territories together received only £10 million.
Despite this, I can definitely say from my experience of one territory at least, Swaziland, that there has been considerable progress in recent years. 1 think that with sufficient initiative from both the Swazis and the European settlers there and from this country that in six or seven years—some people say five years—that country could stand on its own feet and be viable in a purely economic sense. However, viability is riot sufficient because a country can be viable and yet the people in it live on very miserable standards
I have read in one newspaper that experts on the spot have advised the Minister that at least £27 million is absolutely necessary for these three territories in the next three years. If we fail to do what is urgently required in those three territories, the long-term effects will be most serious, not only for the three territories but, because of the constitutional developments which are taking place, for us, since we will not be in a position politically to have influence on decisions made there. That is a fact which we must remember.
It is very difficult to deal with these three territories together and quite impossible to outline here all that should be done. However, mistakes are being made primarily by the Africans on the spot in the three territories—the people of Bechuanaland, the Swazis in Swaziland and the Basutos in Basutoland. One may perhaps ask which of the three countries needs the most urgent assistance. Figures are available to show that, without question, Basutoland is that country; but that does not mean that the other two territories are, by any standard, in a much better situation. However, the situation in Basutoland is very acute at present. In fact, if I used the word "explosive" I should not be exaggerating.
As the Minister and the House know, Basutoland has for years depended on the importation by South Africa of practically 50,000 Basutos each year. While I was there, and indeed since, South Africa was and is applying far more stringent methods in importing Basutos. To give an example, in 1961, South Africa cut the recruitment of Basutos into South Africa by 10 per cent. That meant, in effect, that 12,000 Basutos were thrown on the scrap-heap in Basutoland without any hope of getting a job, thus making the position there much worse. The problems which are applicable to Basutoland, while more acute in this sense than in the other two territories, affect the other two territories to some degree.
I want to make special reference to Swaziland because I think that, if assistance is promptly given, it has an exciting future. I am sure that it would not be the desire of the House that I should weary it by discussing the geography of Swaziland. However, I think that I should say that, topographically, it is mountainous, has deep valleys, broad plains and in many senses resembles my own country of Wales in size and topography. In addition, it has great natural assets. I visited the great asbestos mine and the great Usuto pulp mill in the west. There are many large forests involving the utilisation of ancillary industries. There is a sugar cane factory. I saw experiments in the growing of citrus products and rice. Most of these are comparatively recent developments.
With all these natural advantages and the possibility of further great variety, it might be thought that here was a country which could keep pace agriculturally with the industrial developments which are now swiftly progressing. Unfortunately, that is not so. Much of the blame for this must rest with the Swazi National Council. Forty per cent. of the total land area of the country is held by farmers of European descent, and 52 per cent. by the Swazi nation. It is true that some of the land is returning to the Swazi nation by the operation of the Lifa Fund. Although the Swazis show a great sensitivity whenever the question of land tenure arises, I am afraid that a great deal of responsibility for this must be laid at their door. Vast areas of land are not being properly cultivated and proper husbandry is not being practised.
Despite the fact that there are only just over 800 title deed holders in Swaziland—this includes the large forestry and ranching areas, totalling well under half the potential acreage—these produce by far the greater part of the farm surpluses. To use a figure which illustrates my point, Swaziland exported in 1960—the last year for which I have figures—4½million worth of products from mining, sugar, livestock and forestry and yet the Swazi nation's contribution, although it holds more than half the land, was only 3 per cent.—£200,000.
In putting these points in a critical fashion, I wish to emphasise the disparity which exists. Up to 1962, the Swazi National Council failed to produce enough maize to meet the country's requirements. Maize is the staple diet of the country, yet, tragically, every year large quantities of maize are being exported from South Africa at great expense. I am told that if only one additional bag of maize per acre which is cultivated in Swaziland were produced, it would solve the problem. The blame here must be laid, I think, at the door of the Swazi National Council.
This is a matter of policy which I think certainly comes within the terms of the Motion. Under the Swazi system of land tenure, the allocation of land in the native areas is in the hands of the Paramount Chief and his delegates—the chiefs of the districts. They naturally wish to keep control of the allocation of land, which is a sign of their power. There is, therefore, a quite strong tendency to resist any agricultural innovations which may affect their control. This is an important respect in which we can assist.
For example, the chiefs oppose the enclosure of land by its occupants for rotational grazing and to exclude cattle from growing crops. They are also opposed to improvements such as irrigation schemes and long-term crop schemes which in their eyes may tend to give de facto private ownership to the occupiers. The traditionalists must be persuaded by responsible people, and I mean the Government, of the serious error of their ways. One solution would be that they could be protected in their natural desire to retain formal ownership of the land by giving their subjects a lifelong lease which, on the death of the subject, would fall to the natural heir. Fragmentation would not go on if this system were adopted. This is a major change which Ministers must consider very Quickly in view of the constitutional developments which are taking place, and they must persuade the Swazis to accept them, because the resulting transformation of agricultural land would be rapid.
Apart from the attitude of the Swazi National Council to land, other customs and beliefs prevent progress. For example—and this is also true of Bechuanaland—the Swazis regard cattle in terms of numbers rather than of quality. This is true of many parts of Africa where the number of cattle is an evidence of social prestige. De-stocking is thus prevented in valuable areas which are overstocked. Communal grazing prevents individual initiative in sound pasturation. Whole areas are left to large communities without any individual being allowed his own initiative. The habits of unenclosed fields of families living independently in kraals scattered far and wide also prevent planning and the proper dissemination of instruction in agriculture by experts.
Having painted that very black picture, I must say that a break-through is taking place. Row planting is taking place as is inter-row cultivation. My right hon. Friend the Member for Llanelly (Mr. J. Griffiths) referred to fertilisers which are very important for derelict areas. Fertiliser usage in Swaziland increased by four times from 1950 to 1961. This is important as all kraal manure is now used on arable land and not burnt, as hitherto. These are considerable achievements and they represent a breakthrough, but they are infinitesimal compared with the magnitude of the tasks ahead. Unless there are fundamental reforms, the Swazis themselves will stagnate while the 49 per cent. of the country under European enterprise rapidly progresses.
If this happens—and I give this warning because I have been there and have had conversations with many influential people on this matter—the present wide disparity now existing between black and white will increase, and the chances of harmony and non-racial constitutional development, which we all hope will succeed, will be very remote. I have discussed this with the Director of Land Utilisation whom I found to be one of the most enlightened and devoted men I have met. He is aware of these things and has evolved a sound agricultural policy which is now before the Government, but the execution of the programme is seriously affected by lack of funds. If we fail here, the failure will prevent success anywhere.
There are many other things which I should like to mention in this regard, but I will confine myself to one basic defect in the native areas of Swaziland which is also true of Bechuanaland. The fortunate natural resources of asbestos and iron ore and forests and water have all attracted private enterprise. I want this to be understood by hon. and right hon. Gentlemen opposite who have spoken of the glories of private enterprise. I do not belittle it but I want to show its paradoxical effect in Swaziland. Private capital has been attracted to these large ventures, as have significantly generous Government and international financial aid, for there is a positive, healthy chance of a good return on the capital. One understands this, but too heavy an emphasis on capital projects in the European sector has seen absolute neglect for the native Swazi areas. This is most apparent to anyone travelling through the country. The line of demarcation there is obvious to anyone.
Another example is that it was possible to obtain more than £18 million to finance a railway in the country and more than £500,000 to provide a road to the Usoto pulp mill. These were absolutely necessary, but when there was a request to the Government and other sources for £150,000, which is insignificant in relation to the sums I have mentioned, for feeder roads in African farming areas, and £90,000 for another essential project connected with a cattle holding ground in Swazi areas, both projects urgently needed for the development of the Swazis, attention was belated and as far as I know they have been refused. This type of discrimination, understandable in the purely financial sense, is fraught with potential danger for the future and the resulting imbalance in the economy is causing grave disquiet among influential Swazis with whom I have discussed it.
While on the subject of financial aid, I have a suggestion. The International Development Association will not consider small sums involving less than £500,000, but that difficulty would be obviated for these three territories if the Government set up a central agricultural loan fund for them. I do not know what the political difficulties might be, but if there were such a fund under the responsibility of the Minister, the I.D.A. would lend amounts of £500,000 or more which could then be split among the three territories.
Bechuanaland is a country of 225,000 square miles with a population of 350,000 and with 1,500,000 cattle. Improvements in water schemes are urgently required in a country which has an average of five head of cattle for every human being. Beef and cattle products are naturally a major export and form 70 per cent. of total exports. Yet, these natural assets of vast areas of grazing land and plentiful cattle have not provided Bechuanaland with a viable economy. There are pressures to break down this historic or traditional attitude of the Bechuanas who consider the possession of cattle a matter of social prestige. Many producers are now selling their cattle to the big abattoir at Lobatse, which I have visited, despite the very long areas across which they sometimes have to trek, sometimes across the vast expanse of the Kalahari Desert.
But despite those considerations, the off-take of cattle from the tribal areas has not kept pace with the natural increase. This is causing serious concern in this sparsely populated country. In earlier days nature took a hand in keeping the balance by means of disease and drought. Improved services and increased water supplies have helped, but where these boreholes have been sunk, particularly in the Kalahari desert area, they have provided a vast magnet for multitudes of cattle, with the result that some grazing areas have been trampled down and exploited.
I do not want anyone to think that this problem can be solved by sinking more boreholes, because there is grave doubt about the extent to which further water can be tapped without exceeding the natural rate of replenishment by the normally scanty rainfall. The availability of water must, inevitably, limit the cattle population, and I am told that the limit has been reached. The position is going to be serious because Bechuanaland depends almost entirely on its cattle for its existence, and it is therefore vital that extensive, and I add expensive, schemes for water supplies should be started immediately to avert a crisis.
It will be seen that the problems in these territories are in a sense similar. I am not critical of the Government here. Sympathetic though I am to the natives, or the indigenous population, of these areas, I think that we must have some plain speaking. The traditionalists on the spot must be given a jolt. It will be an unpleasant one, and the people who administer it will not have a pleasant task, but this jolt is vital for the existence of these countries, because the responsibility here is mainly the responsibility of the politicians and the chiefs in these territories.
It is no good them complaining about our inactivity. They have plenty of excuses for doing that after 50 years of neglect, but when I was there I told the politicians whom I met that it was no good them complaining about our inactivity in the past. I told them that we were prepared to do something now, but that the ball was at their feet. The responsibility for getting things done rests with them now, and this must be made clear to them.
I think that I have said enough to illustrate the need for urgent dynamic action in the three territories. Time is running out after half a century of neglect. Constitutional talks are taking place, but these will be of no avail if the people in these territories do not put their own house in order, and if they do not apply these remedies if we assist them to do so.
The right hon. Gentleman, whom I congratulate on his new appointment, referred to 18,000 Government employees in these territories. Every person to whom I spoke is of first-class calibre, and I think it is right to say is dedicated to the service of the territory in which he finds himself. It would be invidious to mention names, but I must single out one individual. I am glad that my right hon. Friend the Member for Llanelly is present. The person to whom I am referring gave me a wealth of information. We spent hours discussing the problem, and he was very patient and answered all my questions. If there were 20 men like him, with roving commissions, working under the aegis of an international association, Africa, given the necessary financial assistance, would be transformed almost overnight. I refer to Mr. Jimmie Betts, who is doing such great work on behalf of the Oxford Famine Relief. I have not referred to other individuals because they are Government employees, but I felt that I had to single out Mr. Betts and pay a special tribute to him.
However much we spend in the capital sense, however much we send in the material sense, and however much technical aid we give, it will still be inadequate to meet the magnitude of the problem. It is, therefore, of particular importance that the best use is made of the various forms of aid that are available, and it is with this in mind that I stress the importance of newly-emerging political groups corresponding with economic units.
We have seen both in Europe and South America, as nationalism grew into Statehood in the last century, the disintegration not only of political, but of economic unities. The lessons which were learned so painfully in Europe and in South America have apparently been fogotten, particularly in Africa. I do not refer only to the economic aspect. For instance, how many people realise that in a particularly disastrous war between Paraguay and Bolivia, in the 1930s, those two countries, with a total population of under 5 million, lost more people killed than the United Kingdom lost in the Second World War?
This is the sort of disaster which follows, on the human plane, from excessive disintegration, with the result of desperately low standards of living and the political animosity which flows from that. I hope that the leaders of the newly emerging nations—and there are plenty left still to emerge—will bear in mind that whatever portion of available aid they get will probably be inadequate for their needs and that they will make better use of it, in all probability, if the political units correspond to the economic units.
Secondly, I emphasise that most underdeveloped territories have among their characteristics a great deficiency in transport and that we ought not to generalise on transport systems from our own experience in highly and densely populated countries such as the United Kingdom. Such countries went from primitive roads to advanced railways and then to better roads, but in many underdeveloped countries it is best to leave the railway era out completely and to go straight from road to air. Where centres of population are considerable distances apart, with nothing except jungle intervening, that is a much more economical way of spending the available capital. I emphasise, in particular, that the economic resources which are available to the under-developed territories must be used to raise the individual standards of living and to provide opportunities for employment.
Does not my hon. Friend agree that the crux of the problem is not, as the Chinese say, to give a man a bowl of rice to eat, but to give him the tools which will enable him to grow the rice? We must concentrate not so much on consumables, although they are important, as on the fundamental need of those countries, which is to have machinery and agricultural improvements to raise their own standards of living, just as the freedom from hunger campaign is helping them to help themselves.
I agree. One of the agonising choices throughout is in the allocation of economic resources—the choice between immediately alleviating misery and malnutrition and the slightly less immediate choice of building a sound basis for future employment—one dare not use the word prosperity—and development in those countries. When we look around the world we can say that in the last ten years not as much of the aid which has been given has been spent for the purposes for which it was given as we should like.
I am not referring only to particularly outrageous examples such as the Dominican Republic and Haiti and certain areas in South America, in particular, where a disgraceful proportion of the aid has gone into the pockets of a few people in political control instead of being used for the purposes for which it was given.
Turning to our own sphere of influence, an enormous amount of the aid given, in particular, by the Americans to Egypt as an under-developed territory has been spent in a manner designed to advance the political influence of President Nasser and his political ideas rather than to raise the standards of living of the people within his country. This is an absolute prostitution of economic aid and it is the type of thing which is apt to bring the whole process of overseas aid into disrepute among people who, emotionally or politically, do not feel very favourably disposed towards it in the first place.
When looking at any country and at examples of poverty and bad housing there, it is very difficult to say, "I am afraid that a portion of our resources must be allocated to people who are even worse off than you". It is undeniably true that hardship is not only absolute but relative. It is relative not only to what people see around them, but also to the standard of living which they are used to enjoying. This is without doubt the other facet of hardship. To my mind, one of the greatest single virtues of technical aid and co-operation is that it is extremely difficult to pervert, unlike money being handed out or armed shipments being provided.
That is why I end by congratulating the hon. Member for East Ham, North (Mr. Prentice) not only upon the subject that he has raised for debate today, but also upon the way in which he has worded his Motion.
It has been ample evidence of the service that my hon. Friend the Member for East Ham, North (Mr. Prentice) has done for the House that so many hon. Members have wished to speak in a debate on a Friday afternoon, and that so many have not had an opportunity to make their contributions. I apologise for having to rise at this stage, thereby preventing some of my hon. Friends from speaking, but I am anxious to make a brief contribution so that we can give the new Minister an opportunity to make his Ministerial maiden speech in his new office.
Like all hon. Members who have spoken, I want to express my sorrow about the retirement of his very distinguished predecessor in office. I suppose that I had more personal contact with the work of his Department from this side of the House than most other hon. Members, and I found the right hon. Member for Runcorn (Mr. Vosper) unfailingly sympathetic and also enthusiastic about the ideas that one put before him. That he has had to retire for a second time from high office is a great personal sadness, but we congratulate the new Minister warmly on his tremendously important appointment.
This is a new office—the kind of office whose future shape is still uncertain—but we can assure the right hon. Gentleman that he will have ample support from this side of the House in strengthening his hand in his battles with the Treasury for an increased programme of both technical assistance and economic aid. Speaking personally, on a Friday afternoon, I am sure that some of us would like to see the Department of Technical Co-operation grow in due course into a full-scale Ministry of Aid.
My hon. Friend the Member for East Ham, North was absolutely right in the two main points he made—first, that overseas aid should be given a much higher priority in our overseas policies generally, and, secondly, that it should be placed firmly within the framework of the United Nations Development Decade.
The subject that my hon. Friend has raised today is, next to the prevention of war—with which it is closely associated—the greatest challenge of our time. There cannot be a peaceful world—certainly not a decent world—so long as the present gap between the rich and the poor nations exists. It is impossible for any human being with imagination to live with an easy conscience in a world where the characteristic figure in one half is the child bloated with that dread disease of malnutrition, kwashiorkor, and, fin the other half, the businessman, or even the politician, who is worried to death about getting coronary thrombosis from taking in too many calories. This is too intolerable a state for a world community to exist under permanently.
It is, therefore, important that a country like Britain, with its colonial traditions and with the new Commonwealth, acting as a bridge between the developed nations and the developing nations of the world, should take a lead in this matter. This is why many of us on this side of the House—my right hon. Friend the Member for Llanelly (Mr. J. Griffiths) spoke with characteristic eloquence on the point—would like to see Britain taking a lead at the United Nations in making the Development Decade a reality.
One of the considerable problems in the giving of economic aid is that mentioned by more than one hon. Member in the debate—the problem of preventing the rather corrupting relationship of the rich uncle and the poor cousin. The United Nations has the advantage, being on a multi-lateral basis and enjoying a very high degree of respect in the newer nations of the world, of getting round that problem.
I think it is important for a British Government to seek to maximise the authority of the United Nations in this field and to try to give more particularly of their technical assistance through United Nations agencies. The Decade plan itself, I think, proposes that by the end of the Decade 30 per cent. of countries' aid should be given through the United Nations. I think that at the moment about 15 per cent. of our aid in various forms goes through the United Nations agencies. Frankly, I do not know whether 30 per cent. is the right proportion, and I do not think that anyone can know, but I think that it is important for us to exert pressure to increase the share which we channel through United Nations sources.
Having said that, however, it is beyond argument that by far the greater part of aid from a country like ours is bound to go through other than United Nations agencies, and, of course, the alternative to the United Nations is not a simple bilateral arrangement. There are many other possible patterns. One can have the kind of aid consortium that we have at the moment in relation to helping Pakistan or India. Then we have the Colombo Plan which is part Commonwealth and part non-Commonwealth. That is an imaginative concept. Or we can have a purely Commonwealth cooperative mutual aid scheme such as our Commonwealth educational scheme.
We in this country, of course, have a particular obligation towards the countries of the Commonwealth. They are bound to enjoy priority in our planning of overseas aid policies as far ahead as we can see, and we have the advantage in proposing generous aid schemes for Commonwealth countries that we get the support of public opinion more easily than we do when we are doing it for countries that are strange in the ears of the British taxpayer.
I think that this argument about public opinion applies equally to the question of tied loans. I think that my hon. Friend the Member for East Ham, North was absolutely right in his approach to this matter. We do not want to go too far along the road of tied loans, but I think that they have an immensely important part to play in persuading the electorates of the developing countries of the world to take a generous attitude towards helping the newer countries.
I think that the idea now, at last, being developed by the Government, of linking the spare capacity in some of our areas of high unemployment to the needs of the developing countries, is something that we ought to be even more generous about than we are at present. I think it makes a lot of commonsense, when one is arguing these matters in this country, to be able to link the poverty-stricken people of, say, Delhi with the workless people perhaps of a city like Dundee, which I represent. It makes it much easier to persuade people that this is the right thing to do.
What is immensely important, however—and no one has laid much emphasis on it during the debate—is to try to coordinate the various national programmes of aid either through some United Nations machinery of co-ordination or through existing institutions like the O.E.D.C. There are a great many advantages to be gained if the various national aid programmes could be coordinated. It might avoid some of the excesses of competitive national salesmanship which are a feature of the West's relations with some of the developing countries.
The right hon. Member for Reigate (Sir J. Vaughan-Morgan) drew critical attention to some of the new countries engaging in rather extravagant forms of development, and I agree with him on this. However, I think that we must share some of the responsibility for this, partly because in many of the newly independent countries the former colonial Power left behind a complete absence of economic planning machinery, and partly because one of the temptations of bilateral aid is that a donor country wishes to give something visibly spectacular.
There are too many cases in the developing countries of seeing a very visible and spectacular luxury hotel or even a splendid technical college or school on which the donor country can put a label. Far too little money is given for the provision of undramatic drains, or to other things which are not to be seen by the population, but which may be an important feature of economic development. If we could get greater international co-ordination it might help in more efficient planning in the developing countries.
Certain things have, unfortunately, become status symbols of independence in the new countries. Airlines are one, and I sometimes think that nuclear reactors are another; a sort of keeping up with the Kennedys of this world. I share the view I once heard Professor Blackett express, that the only thing about nuclear power stations, even in the developed countries, was that they seemed to make the price of electricity dearer for twenty years ahead.
Attention has also been drawn to the problems of providing credit for the new countries. I noticed the other day that we have now reached the stage when 20 per cent. of the aid being given by the West to the developing world is needed simply to pay back the interest on the aid the West has already given. These are the economics of lunacy. They underline the need that my hon. Friend the Member for East Ham, North emphasised for giving "softer" loans, for extending the work of the international Development Association and, perhaps, for giving a great deal more help in the form of grants.
This raises another economic paradox, that generous Western countries run into balance of payments problems in giving aid. I call it a paradox, because it is paradoxical that at a time when the West is enjoying a level of affluence unprecedented in history, it should face this highly complex and technical problem of balance of payments when it wishes to share some of this wealth with the poorer countries. My right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition put forward some extremely interesting proposals about this in a speech which was referred to by the hon. Member for Chigwell (Mr. Biggs-Davison).
My right hon. Friend suggested that there should be a plan for greater international liquidity and that the creation of this new credit should be directly linked with the needs of the developing nations. This is something to which the Government could give a lot of useful attention. There is certainly need for new economic ingenuity in finding various devices to compensate the developing countries for fluctuations in the terms of trade, which have been so adverse for them in the last decade.
The whole problem of technical assistance has been raised today. If aid is to be given it is vitally important that it should be accompanied by tech- nical assistance to ensure that it is reasonably effectively used. I hope that the Minister will celebrate his appearance at the Dispatch Box today by announcing the Government's plans for the extension of the work of the Colonial Development Corporation. Some of us have fought for many years to have its work extended in the new Commonwealth. We were very grateful when the Government announced their intention to do so some time ago. I am wondering what the latest stage of the game is on this.
A lot of discussion has taken place on the whole question of the flow of skilled people from the developed to the under-developed countries. Dr. Paul Hoffman, in some ways the creator of the United Nations Development Decade, has said that 100 hungry countries need 1 million skilled people from the developed world if they are really to get themselves off the ground.
I was interested in the remarks of my hon. and learned Friend the Member for West Ham, South (Mr. Elwyn Jones) on the need for giving help in creating good legal systems in the countries of Africa. I recently attended a gathering at which a distinguished lawyer recounted an experience he had had at an international law conference. One of the African lawyers, he told us, was hastily summoned back to his country in mid-conference because he was the only lawyer in that country. It was discovered that Parliament needed to pass some new Bills urgently and that that could not be done without his being present. This is merely one of the illustrations one can give of the tremendous educational poverty of so many of the newer countries, particularly on the African continent.
I fully support the views of hon. Members who have said that we should do something in Britain on the scale, both imaginative and in terms of size, of the American Peace Corps. Naturally, we would have to do it in our own way because we start from a different point and our circumstances are different. I would distinguish three groups of people. There are the young people—the Voluntary Service Overseas group, whether sixth formers, industrial apprentices, and so on—who have a special contribution to make. At the other end of the scale it is important to remember that there is a need for a small but highly professional skilled corps of full-time people.
I hope that the Minister will look into the question of creating a permanent Commonwealth service. By this I really mean a Commonwealth service in which the other countries of the Commonwealth can contribute in terms of recruitment. I do not mean only the old Commonwealth countries, but also countries such as India which, although under-developed economically, often have a surplus of skilled manpower of various sorts.
In between these two there is the biggest group, to which the hon. Member for Keighley (Mr. Worsley) referred, who ought to be persuaded that a normal part of a responsible professional occupation or other occupation in this country should be to spend a year or two in one of the developing countries. We need some sort of governmental scheme to organise this on a big scale. It cannot be done on the basis of our traditional voluntary organisation. The Government must take a lead in this. I do not know what the title ought to be, but various suggestions have been made. Perhaps "International Service", as suggested by my right hon. and learned Friend the Member for Rowley Regis and Tipton (Mr. A. Henderson), is not a bad title. It brings back echoes of National Service, which has disappeared. I am sure that there would be a response from the British people if the matter were put in the right way.
I have the great good fortune to go, a few hours after the debate closes, on a visit to India and Pakistan with my right hon. Friends the Members for Dundee, West (Mr. Strachey) and Battersea, North (Mr. Jay). We have been invited by the Governments of India and Pakistan to look at their development programmes. I sometimes feel that the cause of Western democracy will be won or lost in the Indian subcontinent, and this has been underlined by the Chinese military aggression on the territory of India. I will say nothing about that in the context of this debate, but I emphasise that the extra arms aid to India, or for that matter to Pakistan, ought not to mean any lessening of the economic aid to both countries. What is given in arms must not be subtracted from economic aid—quite the reverse. It seems to me vital that the two develop- ment plans of the two countries of the sub-continent should proceed to success.
I am glad that the Pakistan aid consortium has given its pledges and that these have been reasonably generous. I hope that when the India aid consortium meets, as it will in a few weeks' time, it will be similarly generous. The hon. Member for Croydon, South (Sir R. Thompson) mentioned the great Indus waters scheme. It is significant that the most helpful example of co-operation between India and Pakistan has been on an economic scheme of this nature under the auspices of an international aid organisation.
Perhaps it is in the field of economic development, with continued generous international help, that the co-operation can be maintained which may assist in solving the political and military disputes which sadly divide and distract the energies of the Indian sub-continent.
I should like to thank the hon. Member for East Ham, North (Mr. Prentice) for his use of the privilege which he won by the good fortune in the Ballot a week or so ago, and to express, I am sure, the gratitude not only of the Government but of the House to him and to many other hon. Members who have come to contribute in unsual numbers to a debate on a Friday.
I am glad to say on behalf of the Government that I have pleasure in accepting the Motion and I hope that I shall manage to satisfy the House that this acceptance is not a mere formality but is backed by deeds as well as by words.
May I thank the hon. Members for East Ham, North and Dundee, East (Mr. G. M. Thomson) and many others for the very kind good wishes which they have given to me. More particularly, and far more important, I want to associate myself with the universal expression of regret at the reason for which I am here—the only reason being the feeling of my right hon. Friend the Member for Runcorn (Mr. Vosper) that he must relinquish office. I know that he will appreciate all that was said and particularly what was said by my right hon. Friend the Member for Reigate (Sir J. Vaughan-Morgan) who served with him at the Ministry of Health just before my right hon. Friend the Member for Runcorn had to resign on the first occasion. I know also, in connection with his most recent work, that my right hon. Friend will appreciate what was said by the hon. Member for Dundee, East who, he particularly told me, was a very good friend of my Department. I look forward to working very well with the hon. Member for Dundee, East. I wish that I were going with him to India. I shall have to try to follow him in the not too distant future.
I am proud to stand at the Box and to speak for this Department and the work which it has done, but one had only to listen to the debate and to the issues involved to be extremely humble about the responsibilities which one faces. I am sure that the House will forgive today my lack of mastery of detail, after only one day in which to try to learn something about it. Some rude critics are liable to accuse Ministers of being stale or being incapable of thinking for themselves, and being able to utter only the words put into their mouths by their wise advisers. No doubt I shall say plenty of things which deserve criticism, but they will not be for either of those reasons. I assure hon. Members that all the points made in the debate will be very closely studied by my Department and by myself and will be fully considered by the Government. This applies to all the points which were raised, although for lack of time or because I have not had time to master them, I may not be able to deal with them all today.
Several speakers have raised the question of the future shape of my Department, including the hon. Member for Dundee, East, the right hon. and learned Member for Rowley Regis and Tipton (Mr. A. Henderson) and my hon. Friend the Member for Keighley (Mr. Worsley). My hon. Friend also queried its name and seemed to think that it had some alcoholic connections. I can only assure him that I have not discovered that yet in 24 hours. There may be a cupboard which I have not yet seen. I am sure that the House would not expect me so early to make a comment on this subject. I can only rest on what the Prime Minister said in answer to a Question the other day and also say that the future shape of the Department will always be kept under review.
I am sure that the House realises that what really matters is getting the work done, and whilst I should like to be concerned with considering the shape and organisation of my Department I am more concerned with seeing that the Government get on with the job. Sometimes a great deal of time can be spent on organisation and altering organisation, to the detriment of the job and its progress.
I should like to take the opportunity to try to set out something of the effort of this country in providing overseas aid in the broad context in which we have been talking about it today. I believe, and it is clear that the whole House believes, that overseas aid is a powerful theme of national purpose for this country. The need for it is indisputable—for relieving hunger, distress, illiteracy and disease—and it is in the interest of peace and the selfish interest of this country, depending as we do, more than most other advanced countries, on world trade.
There is also the point raised by the hon. Member for Dundee, East and others about the tension which exists in international society and which becomes intolerable because of this wide difference in the wealth of different nations. Perhaps this was easier to accept without an explosion in the days when transport and communications generally were less easy and quick than they are today, and this in itself is an important aspect.
I am delighted that so many hon. Members have put forward this theme as one which is something that could satisfy the aspirations of the country. We need a theme of national purpose. The changes which we have suffered as a country in the last 50 years or less have been enormous, and it cannot be easy for us to adjust to them, but we must remember that our period of domination was but a very brief one in our history. We must remember that Britain played a great and constructive rôle in the world long before we had our brief period of dominant wealth and power. We were a great country before that happened.
It seems to me that the continuous thread running through our history has not been the possession of dominant wealth and power, but our interest in the world outside our own island. For centuries we have sought our destiny overseas, and this debate has shown that we can do so still. My hon. Friend the Member for Keighley said that this was naturally an outward-looking country and was not at its best but at its worst when we were inward-looking. We need a visible purpose and this will give it to us. All of us should take every opportunity to bring this theme and the need, and the part which Britain is playing in fulfilling it, before the people of this country, in our constituencies and in every way we can.
Several people in the last 24 hours have said that they presume that they will never see me, because I shall be flying all over the world. I, of course, want to visit the countries which need our aid, but I also want to spend time in this country doing all that one person can do to arouse the interest of our own people in what needs to be done. I hope that more and more young men and women will make it their business and their desire to spend a few years abroad. I should like particularly to make an appeal to all employers and leaders of all professions to count overseas service as a powerful entry on the personal credit record of people when selecting them for promotion and for future leadership.
There is a need for more and more people from this country to go abroad, not to rule but to give service, to aid and to trade hut not to dominate. As has also been said today, in giving service we shall also receive much benefit. I think that both our society and our economy would gain tremendously by a greater infiltration in coming years of people who have spent at least one or two, or three, of their years working abroad, particularly in these developing countries.
The theme, therefore, of our whole debate today is British service overseas. We give that service in men and money; we give it direct to other countries in so-called bilateral aid, and we give it indirectly through international agencies in so-called multilateral aid. How and why do we give it? I think it is important to emphasise that we do not seek to impose on countries the particular forms of assistance that we want to give. It is our intention that they should set their priorities and that we should try to help them to achieve those priorities. Even if at times the priorities may not seem the wisest, while there would be no harm in trying to discuss and persuade, I am sure we should be wrong to try to compel the form in which our aid should be given. We must hope that their choices of priorities will be wise.
Does the right hon. Gentleman accept that, while compulsion as such might be undesirable, he will make it his personal business to give priority to aid from areas like Merseyside, the north-east of England and Scotland?
That is at the other end of the line. I was speaking of the type of aid which the countries want. How we give it is another important matter, but I am sure the hon. Member—this has been raised in the debate today—is aware of what the Government have done, and it is clear that my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer, whose particular initiative this was at the end of last year, is alive to the possibilities of what the hon. Gentleman has been saying. I think it has been a great success and we have to watch and see what further opportunities there are and what the cost amounts to.
Before I finish I must deal with this question of the cost to our economy, because it is quite wrong of us if we neglect it. The pattern of our aid programme must reflect our past history as an Imperial Power. Therefore, it is natural and right that the biggest slice of our aid goes to the remaining Colonial Territories which are still dependent on our support and also to the independent countries in the Commonwealth. That is where the biggest part goes and, I am sure, will continue to go for a long time to come.
But some of our aid, and an increasing amount in the last year or so, goes to foreign countries unconnected with the Commonwealth. We are beginning for the first time, for example, to play a small but real part in Latin America where hitherto the British Council has been active in the educational sphere. We are also increasingly active in the new independent non-Commonwealth countries of Africa, and I am sure the House will approve of that policy.
The hon. Member for East Ham, North, in opening the debate, asked that this subject of aid should be given priority by the Government. I think it has been, and I think the clearest proof of that is the fact that in recent years our expenditure on overseas aid has increased more rapidly than any other sector of public expenditure. We may want to increase it more, but the fact that it has increased more rapidly than any other sector is a proof of priority. In 1957–58 our overseas aid amounted to £80 million. By 1961–2 it had doubled—doubled in three years—to £160 million. Since then it has been staying, admittedly, at about the same level. In the current year it may go somewhat higher. It is rather early to tell, but it certainly will be at least as high as it was last year.
The hon. Member for East Ham, North and others have raised this question of a target of a percentage of our national product. I think that probably as far as one can do it by arithmetic in these things, he was right in saying that at the moment our Government aid amounts to about 0·6 per cent. or 0·7 per cent. of our gross national product, but definitions are difficult of what constitutes aid. Also, I think, one must look at it over a long period, not just year by year. I think, also, one would be wrong not to take into account the extremely important part placd by British private investment overseas, which, as far as we can estimate, is running at £150 million per year—not in total, but in the developing countries. Of course, if one were to add that to the Government assistance the percentage of our gross national product would be nearer 1½per cent. than 1 per cent. I agree it is difficult, but with the tradition which this country has of overseas investment I do not think it is right to compare purely Government aid with what other countries are doing which have not the same tradition and responsibility in overseas investments that we have here.
The point I was making, if the hon. Gentleman will recall, was that we should fulfil a target of increased aid where necessary. It is generally boiled down to a target of 1 per cent. of the national income of each country. The right hon. Member was defining certain kinds of aid. We are not against private investment. I am sure that none of us is. But this is additional to the 1 per cent. of long-term grants or loans from the public sector.
I am quite sure that the Chancellor of the Exchequer in any Government of whatever party, looking at national resources, balance of payments and the like, must take into account both Governmental and private investment; because, to take the load on the economy, which of course we bear, we must look at one with the other.
In terms of money, some 85 per cent. of our aid goes in what is known as capital aid, and it is only 15 per cent. approximately which goes on technical assistance for which my Department is directly responsible. But the importance of that 15 per cent. is far greater than I think it would appear as a proportion of the expenditure, because this 15 per cent. is the money which provides the people and, therefore, gives life and purpose to the whole effort.
The growth of our technical assistance within the overall total of our aid has also been spectacular. In 1957–58 it was about £6·2 million. By 1960–61 it had risen to £10·2 million, and this year it is expected to be £30 million, five times as great as six years ago. This, I think, can fairly be described as a spectacular increase. Much of it, of course, has been due to the introduction of the overseas service aid scheme which has been referred to favourably by several speakers today, whereby British officials are encouraged to remain in the service of the Governments of developing Commonwealth countries till they themselves can train their own people to take over. I should like to say in reply to my hon. Friend the Member for Keighley that the overseas service aid scheme certainly is and certainly will be used extensively as a medium for new recruiting in the future.
The increase in the technical assistance expenditure also reflects the growth of other forms of technical aid, and in particular the training of overseas personnel in this country and the supply of expert advisers from this country to abroad.
I think that what we do in this country by way of training people for overseas is particularly worth mentioning. At the present time some 65,000 overseas students are in this country, 40,000 of them from the developing countries we are talking about today, and that number is more than that of those being educated and trained by any other country in the world—not just proportionately to our size, but greater in absolute terms. Something like 10 per cent. of all the further educational places available in this country are filled by students from overseas, two-thirds of them from underdeveloped countries. That is a very great contribution. It also represents a very considerable self-denial—a very considerable self-denial on the part of parents and our children who are at the moment struggling to get scarce places in the universities.
So far as British experts serving abroad are concerned, it is estimated, as has already been said, that there were between 17,000 and 18,000 by the end of last year, paid for in whole or in part by the British Government.
Then on top of this there are the overseas voluntary services which have been mentioned. As the House knows, there are several voluntary societies helping in this way. Perhaps the best known one, the name most known, is Voluntary Service Overseas, but there are other organisations, such as International Voluntary Services, the two students' unions, and, of course, the United Nations Association, which are all playing their part in all these schemes. School leavers, and now, I am glad to say, a small but increasing number of newly qualified graduates and older people, are also going abroad to take part in teaching, community development, and agriculture. Although the numbers of the voluntary bodies may seem small, all the evidence is that their impact is very great, and warmly welcomed, not least because they are volunteers not dispatched by the Government and not controlled by the Government.
While I do not wish in any way to belittle the great work being done by the Peace Corps, we should consider very carefully before allowing this great effort to come under a Governmental umbrella and thus take away from it its voluntary status, with the feeling that they give service which is not in any way intended to serve this country's political ends. I do not suggest that the Peace Corps does that, but I consider that we have a great advantage in the way we do this.
The task is to find ways of increasing this assistance. Indeed, it is increasing. In 1958–59 we sent only 20 volunteers to six countries. Five years later we had over 300 volunteers in 50 countries. In the year ahead, Voluntary Service Overseas alone hopes to send over 300 school leavers, and all the societies I have mentioned, co-operating through the Lockwood Committee, hope to send 250 graduates.
All this is beginning to build up to a programme of which we can be very proud, and I can assure the House that I will do all I can to see that it continues. The amount that Britain does on her own is thus seen to be great and to have been increasing. Equally important is the part we play in partnership with other countries, through various international organisations. They have been mentioned today and I am looking forward early in my career in this Department to meeting next week Mr. Paul Hoffman, Managing Director of the United Nations Special Fund, whose work has been so outstanding. I am sure that he will be able to tell me a great deal which will educate me to a much better degree than I am today.
I think that this country can be reasonably proud of what we are doing. We are the second largest contributor to these programmes. Of course, hon. Members press us to give more. But we have increased aid by 25 per cent. this year. The hon. Member for East Ham, North said that it should be 50 per cent. But 25 per cent. is a large increase. The percentage increase this year was the world's biggest, percentagewise, except for the United States itself.
When it comes to the people required for implementing these programmes, Britain provides more experts to the United Nations than any other country, including the United States. Of course, we are also working on the Development Assistance Committee of the O.E.C.D. which is helping to do what the hon. Member for Dundee, East mentioned—to carry out aid in this sector as well.
One could discuss many aspects of this subject. I am conscious that I have said nothing so far about trade. Nor have I said anything about the United Nations Development Decade. We backed it from the start and we shall do our best to continue to back it and make it a success. The way to do that is to press on as hard as we can with our present policies and methods. Our trade record is, as hon. Members will agree, a sound one. Obstructive trading policies could easily cancel out the benefit of the most generous aid programmes. Aid is not in itself an end. It is only a means to an end. These countries want to stand on their own feet, economically as well as politically.
In the long run, liberal trading policies by the industrialised countries are even more important than aid. In our liberality in allowing imports into this country, we are following that precept and will attempt to go on doing so. Like my hon. Friend the Member for Keighley, I greatly regret that the Brussels negotiations failed to succeed, because I believe that if we could have joined the E.E.C. and led Europe into an increasingly outward looking frame of mind, we should have been doing one of the biggest things possible to help these countries.
The Government accept this Motion, not only in words but in deeds. The significant fact is not just the scale of our aid programme but the speed at which it has increased. The need for aid is endless. We welcome and will look at proposals for increasing it.
In pressing for more, I hope that hon. Members will not underestimate, still less denigrate—no one has done so today—what Britain is doing. I hope that no one will imagine that what we are doing is without serious effect on the economy. It makes a great call on our strength. It involves substantial self-denial here. It has a significant impact on the balance of payments and the Budget. This must limit what we can do.
It is no good being woolly-minded and imagining that we can disregard this, because we cannot. In the long run, our ability to maintain our aid programme, let alone increase it, depends on the strength of our economy at home and the achievement of a substantial balance of payments surplus.
The Government come into this, but so do the people. My concluding words are on the theme that has run throughout the debate. Let us go out and preach this mission of service to the country, kindling a national purpose which will once more bring forth the idealism and service inherent in the people of this land.
That this House supports the decision of the United Nations to designate the 1960's as a Development Decade with the objective of a minimum annual rate of growth of 5 per cent. in the developing countries by 1970 and calls upon Her Majesty's Government to co-operate with other countries in programmes designed to achieve this objective, to carry out progressive policies of economic aid and technical assistance in the Commonwealth and elsewhere, and to pursue trading policies aimed at providing bigger markets for the products of developing countries.