Overseas Aid

Prayers – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 21st February 1964.

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12.47 p.m.

Photo of Sir Charles Mott-Radclyffe Sir Charles Mott-Radclyffe , Windsor

I beg to move, That this House welcomes the increase in Britain's aid to developing countries recorded in Command 2147, and urges Her Majesty's Government, in implementing the expressed intention to increase this effort still further, wherever possible; to have especial regard to the recruitment of British men and women to serve overseas, to the training in this country of students from overseas, and to the support of educational institutions in the developing countries. Command 2147 sets out very clearly the task and also the achievements. Concerning the task, I think that I shall be forgiven if I read the second paragraph of the Introduction which states, with brutal clarity, the size of the problem with which we are trying to cope: During the last three years the need for aid has become no less. The difference between the standards of living in the industrialised and in the developing nations has not diminished—on the contrary it has increased. In other words, the gap between the rich and the poor in terms of world affluence and standard of living has not grown narrower; it has grown wider. This must be a matter of concern to us all. Clearly, the greater the degree of affluence, the greater the degree of development in the country in which we live, the greater the obligation to do what we can to narrow the gap. In my view, and I believe in the view of the House, there is, first, a moral obligation. Secondly, that obligation carries with it a political content. I do not use "political" in the party sense. I mean political in the sense that when millions of people with empty stomachs are living in very large areas of the world that does not make for stability. The total flow of aid from the industrialised nations is running at about £3,000 million in a year, of which rather surprisingly one-third is from private investment. The United States is by far the largest contributor. None the less, the United Kingdom can take great pride because we have doubled our contribution in the last five years.

This is apart from defence aid to the Commonwealth. The fact that in the year 1962–63 it was running at £148 million, whereas in the previous year it was running at £160 million, must not be taken to mean that the aid was any less in terms of money. It was not. The difference is simply due to the fact that the Governments at what I might call the receiving ends were, for various reasons, unable to take up at once all the funds which were allocated.

Here again, in addition to the aid to the developing countries, the sum total of private investment is surprisingly large—£150 million a year largely in the developing Commonwealth countries. Whether we can count on this going on I do not know. I should have thought it would begin to tail off. I should have thought that the incentive to private investment in the developing countries was getting less. There used to be the old carrot, so to speak, by which anybody who invested money in irremovable property in the Commonwealth escaped United Kingdom Estate Duty. That has gone. I should also have thought that what I regard as the somewhat shabby treatment to which those who held Federation of Rhodesia and Nyasaland stock have recently been subjected by Her Majesty's Government would not be a further incentive to private investment. We shall have to see.

However, I do not wish to pursue that topic in this debate. In Cmnd. 2147 paragraph after paragraph describes the manifold ways in which the Department of Technical Co-operation operates—bilaterall, multilateral and so on, capital aid and aid in terms of personnel. I do not want to go through this White Paper paragraph by paragraph, or even to try to summarise it. That would be unnecessary and tedious. If I were asked to single out one item which I thought was an especially noteworthy achievement I think I would say it was the building of the Durgapur steelworks in India entirely with British capital and British skill, and the result has been most successful.

I do not want to deal with figures or statistics as much as I want to deal with men on the ground. The problem seems to be this. Most of the developing countries are not short of labour. They are short of skill, "know-how" and equipment. We for our part have the skill, "know-how" and equipment within our capacity, and we must be careful to exercise great skill in the guidance and the teaching and in the implementation of the various schemes that we have in mind. We need great patience and tact.

Every newly-developing country, when it has achieved its independence, naturally wants to "keep up with the Joneses". They want to achieve a sort of status symbol. More often than not the status symbol consists of a request for the delivery of the latest supersonic airliner when they have not got the facilities to maintain it, or the latest and most complicated heart or kidney machine for a new hospital when there is nobody working in the hospital who knows how to use it.

I remember very well about a year ago in one of these countries a British doctor remarking to me rather ruefully, in the context of one such request which had recently been made to him, "What this hospital wants is not the latest and most complicated form of X-ray equipment. What it needs above all else is soap and water". We must, however, understand the natural urge of these newly-developing countries to have "the status symbol" of the latest equipment and so on, and we must be careful to point out that until they possess the technicians available to deal with the latest equipment it is not much good having it.

There are 19,000 British men and women serving in these countries. That is a very remarkable figure. Of these 19,000, 7,500 are permanently on contract and pensionable. I think I am correct in saying—my right hon. Friend the Secretary for Technical Co-operation will tell me if I am wrong—that these 7,500 have their salaries topped up, where necessary. I should like to know whether they are topped up in nearly all the countries in which they are serving or only in certain countries where the salary rate falls below a certain level. I am not sure how it works.

Another 7,000 are home-based but away on contract. I take it that with respect to those who are away on contract for a period of years and whose contracts finish when they come home, my right hon. Friend's Department would regard it as first priority to find these able and willing men suitable further employment either at home or in another developing country. If this scheme of recruiting men and women with technical qualifications is to succeed and we are to persuade them to go out into the developing countries, there must be a reasonable degree of security of employment. People are very unwilling to go off "into the blue" for a few years, only to come back and find no job for them.

One of the most remarkable features about the number of men and women whom we are sending overseas is the contribution made by the voluntary organisations. This is quite new and I feel bound to say that when I first heard of it I found it rather exciting. I listened a year ago to a lecture given by four V.S.O. young people, three boys and a girl, all of whom had left school and had been out to various parts of South-East Asia. I found extremely interesting the description they gave at the Royal Empire Society of the different problems they met, their means of coping with each problem and the impressions they obtained in widely dispersed areas. This is a very good organisation indeed.

The voluntary organisations are not entirely the V.S.Os. They come from four or five different channels which are now co-ordinated under a Committee presided over by Sir John Lockwood. This movement has grown enormously. In 1962, so far as the school leavers were concerned, they started with 260. The number went up by another 100 in 1963–64. It is now running at about 350. There has been an even greater increase in the number of graduates. In 1962 only 36 graduates went out. The number stepped up in 1963–64 to 250. It is expected that in the current year 1964–65 there will be up to 500 graduates going out, and I understand that in 1965–66 it is hoped to get the number up to 1,000. Also, whereas the Government now find 50 per cent. of the cost, they intend next year, very properly, to increase their share of the cost to 75 per cent. I should like my right hon. Friend to tell me exactly how the recruitment of graduates is working out and whether every effort is being made at the universities and elsewhere to explain both the attractions and the problems of voluntary service overseas.

It is one thing to send out 350 school leavers and 250 graduates, as happened last year, but it is quite another to look after them when they arrive at their destinations. Sometimes, they have to live in fairly rough conditions. Many of them have never been abroad before. It is most important that they should be looked after properly, in the administrative sense, when they are in the field. As the House knows, it is the British Council which is undertaking this task, and I am happy to say that it is discharging the task extremely well.

Sometimes, some people attempt to make a comparison between voluntary service such as I have been describing and the United States Peace Corps which, I believe, numbers something like 8,000 or 9,000. Of course, there is no real comparison at all; one is not comparing like with like. The United States Peace Corps is the one instrument by which the Americans wish to make their main impact in terms of help with manpower and technical assistance in the newly developing countries. The Americans have not now and never have had, as we have had, the tradition of a Colonial Service the members of which have provided technical and administrative skills over a very long time. The comparison is often made, particularly in terms of numbers, and I think that it is right that an impression which may have gained rather wider circulation than it deserves should be corrected.

I turn now to the teaching of English. I believe that this is probably the most important part of everything we are trying to do. There never was a greater demand in the world to learn English than there is now. There never was a greater demand for British books of almost every kind, classics, novels, technical and scientific books, and so forth. One can go to the British Council library in almost any country in the world and be told the same thing, that there are not enough books and that the library ought to be expanded to double its size. There is an almost insatiable demand to learn English and to read British books.

This is a two-way traffic, of course. My right hon. Friend sends teachers overseas and, in return, on the other side of the line, students come here to learn English in varying forms. They are coming here in very healthily growing numbers. There are 60,000 overseas students in the United Kingdom now, three times more than there were in 1950, and of these 60,000 over 40,000 come from the developing countries of the Commonwealth.

It is important to recognise that a great many of the 40,000 from the developing Commonwealth must be properly looked after when they are here. It is our obligation to look after them when they arrive. Most of them have never been to Britain before; they have no idea what conditions here are like. Probably, they have never been to Europe before. There are one or two courses on the spot, for instance, in Nigeria where Nigerian students attend a course before they come to Britain in order to learn what conditions and customs here are like. This is a very good thing.

Again, the task of looking after the students when they come here and of running the hostels devolves upon the British Council. The hostels are very well run indeed. Since they have been built up and have been so exceedingly well run, there has been a tremendous difference both in morale and in all sorts of other ways among overseas students on arrival. I mention this matter deliberately because this is one part of the work in which the British Council, with which, as my right hon. Friend knows. I have been associated for quite some time, acts in happy co-operation with the Department of Technical Cooperation.

The British Council and the Department work well together because, in a sense, their lines of contact are complementary. For the most part, my right hon. Friend is inevitably concerned with Government-to-Government links with the developing countries. The British Council has a much wider field of work. It operates in almost every country of the world except the United States. It does not operate on a Government-to-Government basis but has direct links and contacts with universities, technical colleges and so on, and in at least two posts, one in India and one in Pakistan, British Council officers actually vet projects for my right hon. Friend's Department.

There is another aspect of the British Council's work which concerns my right hon. Friend's Department closely, as he knows. At present, the British Council is the only organisation which can recruit felt Britain an overseas education service. The recruiting of an overseas education service is not the task of the Foreign Office nor of the Commonwealth Relations Office. At one time, it was to a great extent the task of the old Colonial Office because the Colonial Office was responsible for education in the Colonies, but, now that the Colonial Office has been largely wound up, it is the British Council which shoulders the main responsibility for recruiting what I call the overseas education service.

The problem is to find enough trained people to do the job. Here again, we come back to the old question of reasonable security of employment for a reasonable time. This is why it is so important—I know that my right hon. Friend realises this—that the British Council should be assured of reasonably steady development. We have had "stop and go" troubles in the past. In earlier years, there were occasions when the British Council, having opened up in some newly independent country at the request of the Foreign Office or the Commonwealth Relations Office, found in the next year or so that, as a result of Treasury cuts, it had to withdraw. In such circumstances, the Council had to get rid of the unexpired portions of its cases, compensate locally recruited staff and somehow dispose of its library of some hundreds of books which had only just arrived. Time and time again, it was fount that the cost of getting out of a country because of an X per cent. cut was a great deal more than the cost of remaining, quite apart from the political implications of coming in and then going out.

Now, however, things are a great deal better. The British Council has managed to extract from the Treasury a sort of five-year budget, with reasonable security for its operations at a given level for five years. It is most important that it should be able to continue on a predictable course. I put this point to my right hon. Friend because it is closely bound up with the problem of recruiting the sort of technicians which he wants, to do a given job overseas for a given period.

May I ask my right hon. Friend about the scheme which I think is known as Aid to Commonwealth English, through which 30 highly qualified specialists teach trainees how to teach English within the Commonwealth. These 30 highly qualified technicians are selected by the British Council, but the cost is borne on the budget of the Department of Technical Co-operation. I think that I am right in saying—although I have not checked it—that the five-year period is coming to an end either this year or next year. I ask my right hon. Friend for an assurance that when the five-year term ends, either this year or next year, this extremely successful scheme will be allowed to continue.

I hope that I shall not be misunderstood in my next comment. Hitherto I have been talking for the most part about the problems, technical, financial and otherwise, at the "giving end" in the United Kingdom. May I say a word about the receiving end, the nations who are in receipt of the aid which we give so willingly. I do not say that is a very wide misunderstanding, but it occurs. They must grasp what I call the economic facts of life, one of which is that aid in one sense is a two-way traffic. Whether it is Government funds or private investment, whether it be financial loans or industrial equipment or skilled technicians on the ground, no Government and no firm will invest money, build plant or send technicians to look after the plant if within a few years, just as the plant or the project has got going, the whole thing is nationalised and the technicians are subjected to every sort of insult, not excluding physical injury.

This must be recognised. I do not imagine that there is a great urge to invest money in Indonesia. I do not imagine that there is a great queue of professors from this country for employment at the University in Ghana. I should be surprised if there were any clamour on the part of doctors in this country who specialise in tropical diseases to go to Zanzibar.

I well remember about 10 years ago talking to some Malayan students who were over here. If I recollect correctly, two were training to be school teachers. They said, "We do not want soldiers in Malaya at all. What we want is better roads, better schools and many other facilities". I asked them this question, "Which of you would volunteer to be a schoolmaster in a bandit-infested area in Malaya where your life is not worth five minutes' purchase?" I received no answer.

The point which I want to emphasise is that neither my right hon. Friend nor anybody else can compel school teachers, doctors, engineers, technicians or anybody else to go overseas to the developing countries, or persuade them to go there unless the conditions in those countries are such that the offer is reasonably attractive. In other words, where aid is represented in the form of people, as it must be in many respects, then if the conditions are bad, the aid in the form of people is automatically cut off.

I want to try to put the problem which faces my right hon. Friend as Minister for the Department of Technical Cooperation into some kind of historical context. A hundred and fifty years ago or more it was the old merchant adventurers who, by acquiring a commercial interest in large tracts of then almost undiscovered territory, built up to that extent parts of the world which subsequently became what was known until recently as the British Empire. In the next century, successive generations of some of the most honest, the most selfless, the most dedicated and most capable men went into the Indian Civil Service and the Colonial Overseas Service and administered with incredible success thousands of square miles of territory. I do not think that any other nation could have found, generation after generation, of men of the calibre Britain found to do those jobs.

In certain quarters it is rather unpopular now to talk about those days. The general fashion is to decry them and to write them off. I believe that that is wrong. I believe that when history is written objectively, the contribution made by that fine body of men in the Overseas Colonial Service and the Indian Civil Service will be a matter of great pride to all of us.

Those days are finished. We are in a new phase. The Colonial Empire has evolved into a series of independent Commonwealth countries and where the old administration left off, my right hon. Friend and his Department find that their task begins. There is an enormous scope, but we must work in a different way. There is still great scope for adventure. There is still the absolute need for men of honesty, integrity and skill. We in the United Kingdom can still provide the personnel required.

1.17 p.m.

Photo of Mr Maurice Foley Mr Maurice Foley , West Bromwich

In following the hon. Member for Windsor (Sir C. Mott-Radclyffe), may I. first, congratulate him on the choice of the subject, because it is dear to many hon. Members on both sides of the House and there will be a great deal of support for the remarks which he made. In his opening, he referred to Cmnd. Paper 2147 and drew our attention to paragraph 5, which, as he aptly said, illustrates most vividly that the gap between the haves and the have-nots, far from diminishing, has, in fact, increased. This introduces an element of urgency and realism into our debate.

I want for a moment to look at this phenomenon, because this question of aid must always be seen in its proper perspective. Alongside aid there must be trade. No matter how much aid we give to the developing countries, unless they have the means to develop their economy and access to markets, the aid will be of no avail. If we are deeply concerned, as we must be, with bridging this gap, then we must be equally concerned with trade as with aid. Whereas, 10 years ago, the developing countries of the world had 30 per cent. of the world's trade, it has diminished to 20 per cent. This must be a factor of deep concern to all of us, and it is one of the vital issues which will be discussed shortly at the World Conference on Trade in Geneva.

As a backcloth to our discussions on aid we must be equally concerned with this problem. We must look at the world through the eyes of the developing countries and appreciate their need for stability in commodity prices and for some indication of the long-term requirements from the developing countries and long-term trade agreements. This is fundamental to the whole concept of healthy and harmonious development of the developing areas of the world.

I hope that the hon. Member for Windsor will forgive me if I do not follow his remarks too closely. This debate gives us a chance to probe a little deeper into some of the aspects of our aid programmes. From time to time, we should inquire whether we are doing all that we can and are making the best use of our resources whether financial or human. I want to consider this particularly in the context of the pre-and post-independence period of many countries in Africa, but it could apply equally to many other developing areas.

When we talk about aid and assistance, who determines that aid and assistance? How do we arrive at a figure or at a picture of the needs and priorities of a nation? This immediately raises the question of our personnel out in the field the staffs in our embassies, in our Commonwealth Relations offices, High Commissions, and so on. How far are they involved in the thinking and evolving of the needs and policies of the newly emerging countries? How far have they attuned themselves to the realities of the present day, to the fact that they are dealing with independent nations, with people who are highly sensitive about their independence, to the fact that they are dealing in terms of African nationalism with emotions as much as with logic and that they must contend with this in trying to work out a relationship of equals?

Any hint of excessive paternalism, any indicat on that we are making up the minds of the independent nations for them or any implication that we are going through the motions of giving them their independence and yet, at the same time, determining policies for them will be resisted and will thwart our future relations.

We have the example, which has been mentioned only recently, of the problems of Zanzibar to show how sensitive people are. For over six weeks, they have had a change in Government, but they are still waiting to be recognised. Looked at through their eyes, they feel that they have been slighted in so far as there is peace and harmony in the island, British civil servants are working there and our High Commissioner has been there during the whole period and yet, after six weeks, there is still no recognition. This is just one small example of the degree of sensitivity which exists in terms of our relationships with these countries.

On the other hand, I could quote examples of our personnel in the field who understand fully, who have reconciled themselves and who have worked out new relationships whereby they are involved with the African leadership in the thinking out of needs and priorities, where there is no suggestion of dictation but there is a most helpful kind of dialogue in establishing priorities and aid programmes.

Our aid must be in relation to needs. Needs have to be determined by people on the spot and priorities must be worked out on the spot. If we look at some of these needs and priorities in all these countries, there is, as the hon. Member for Windsor said, a shortage of skills in all conceivable fields. Where do we start? Who works out some kind of a manpower survey? What skills and abilities do we possess, and how can they be shared out meagrely in the various departments and sectors of administration and economic activity?

Take the case of a country like Northern Rhodesia, which is enjoying internal self-government. Twelve of its graduates have been chosen for training in the Foreign Service, 12 men who are probably needed in 12 different departments internally in the country. One can think of the agony of trying to come to a decision about who can be spared and who can be kept. This brings us right back to the whole problem of these countries' sensitivity, of a deep understanding of their difficulties and their anxiety to make a go of their independence, to bring hope to their own people and to uplift their standard of living.

Another field for consideration is the phenomenon in so many parts of Africa of youth unemployment and its consequences. This is not something that came about since these countries received their independence. It has been in existence for a long time. It is a problem which these countries inherited from our rule—in Kenya, Uganda, Tanganyika, Northern Rhodesia and elsewhere—and yet it is a decisive and vital problem, because the youth wing is a positive embarrassment even to the leadership of the African parties.

The youth wing is composed largely of youngsters who have drifted into the towns from the rural areas. They are deprived of the control of their parents, their village and their tribe. They are attracted by the bright rights of the urban areas. There is no work for them and there is no control. There is a ready-made opportunity of discontent and of misusing the idealism of young people.

Consequently, one finds in all these countries that the youth wing of the political party, largely unemployed young people, drifts aimlessly around with nothing to do. This is a vital sector of the population. It can enhance the notion of independence or it can almost bring it to ruin. The question really is: do we see this as a priority and what are we doing to help?

I have looked carefully at our aid programmes in Africa in relation to youth and I am not convinced that we are tackling the problem with the urgency that it demands. I am not convinced that we are imaginative in our approach. We are still living in the era of thinking that if British youth work is good enough for us, it is good enough for Africans. This really does not work.

The hon. Member for Windsor raised the question of the use and abuse of aid. It is true that aid and technical assistance is mutually agreed. It is also true that there can be misuse; we should be under no illusions. At the same time, we must also be aware that there is scarcely a single responsible African leader who is not aware of the importance of creating a climate of opinion in which there is outside confidence and investment in his country. The hon. Member for Windsor was selective in his choice of countries—Indonesia and Zanzibar. He could have mentioned Tanganyika, where only the other day a prominent British firm publicly announced that it was investing £2 million.

It is true that one cannot have the same cast-iron guarantees as one would have in investing in this country. There is an element of faith and trust in this. One comes down to the hard fact that if we want to see these countries developed, if we want them ultimately to stand on their own feet economically—and our debate today is surely designed to show that ultimately we wish these countries to stand as equals with ourselves, economically, socially and politically—we must be prepared to make sacrifices and to take risks. I suggest that the degree of risk involved in many African countries is not much greater than the degree of risk involved in investing in some of the areas of Europe.

I come now to what I consider to be an important aspect of the aid programme, namely, our investment in people and the whole question of training them, because ultimately this, again, is vital. If we have trained people on the spot, they are the best guarantee of a country's healthy development. I would ask the Minister to look rather closely at the extent to which there has been an over-emphasis on providing scholarships for university personnel, graduates and post-graduates, and an absence of emphasis on middle-grade training.

In many of these countries the present African leadership had the advantage of a mission school education, possibly a secondary school education, and that is all. Their real experience has been as teachers, as trade union leaders, as civil servants under British colonial rule. Now they are senior people in their own countries. What training can we devise, and what training are we thinking of, for such people? How can we help them?

Are we thinking too much of the ready-made course. "You name it, we have got it. A one-year, two-year, three-year, four-year course, we have got it here. Send them here; there is a ready-made course." Many of these people require something tailor-made in the way of a course, but are we flexible enough and can we improvise? Let me illustrate this. I am, with a number of gentlemen, involved with a scheme at the moment in Northern Rhodesia for training African private secretaries to Ministers. The Minister is well aware of this project and he was very helpful in getting it off the ground. This is an illustration of the combination of the voluntary and statutory proposals, but this kind of initiative needs to be, and should have been, repeated many times over.

In the countries moving towards independence there will inevitably be substitutes for the European district commissioner or provincial commissioner, there will inevitably be a substitute for the European private secretary to a Minister. What are we doing about the training of such personnel? Are we trying to do this sort of training? Are we looking too much to Africans coming over here to England as the answer? Should we not look more closely at how much of this might be done on the spot in their own countries? How far are we flexible in our approach to this notion of training, particularly of non-academics?

On the question of training on the spot, I am mindful of the efforts made by many of the industries with commercial interests in these countries. I think of the kind of training that they are themselves carrying on. I should like to feel, however, that there is greater emphasis placed by industry, by employers who are investing in those countries, in investing, too, in training people on the spot. There is a big scramble all over Africa now to have Africans on the boards of directors. It is important politically that there should be a black face on the board of directors. I would suggest that it is much more valuable and of much greater importance politically to be able to demonstrate that we are training Africans for personnel jobs than that we are training Africans as apprentices, and that this should be seen as part of the investment in the future of Africa.

I pass to a brief word about the people whom we send out to these areas. There has been a decline in the career people working in the field. It is, perhaps, inevitable, and they are being replaced in increasing numbers by people on contract work. Like the hon. Member for Windsor, I pay my tribute to the V.S.O., these imaginative schemes for young people to go out and give one or two years of their lives to service in the field. I am quite sure that they are of tremendous value, to the people in Africa and other developing areas of the world, to themselves, and to the community here. They are part and parcel of the national conscience. So long as there are young people willing to sacrifice and make such efforts there is nothing greatly wrong with the youth of this country.

Let me suggest, however, that we are possibly placing too much emphasis on young people going out, and not sufficient on the people at the other end of the age scale. Young people, by their enthusiasm, by their adaptability, are not too worried about the conditions in which they work and live, and they have a limited amount to offer and contribute. I suggest we ought also to be concerned with a scheme for attract- ing people in their middle age—young people who are in their 60s—people who have retired but who have tremendous skills and experience and may be willing to give a year or two years in this sort of field.

Again, instead of, for instance, sending out a teacher of English we ought to be thinking of it one stage removed; we ought to be thinking of sending a teacher who can train teachers, a sister tutor who can train nurses, and so on. This is an essential part of training people on the spot, sending out personnel at one stage removed; and it is a question of value for money and of putting to the best possible use the resources which we have at our disposal.

This Motion will not, I think, in any way arouse any party controversy here. I think that it cuts right across the political structures and compositions in the House. But it raises the question of an expansion of effort and stresses the urgency of greater effort which should be made while taking note of what is being done; so I would suggest, in conclusion, that we must constantly be concerned with an aid programme which measures up to the immensity, the enormity of the need. There is constantly this question of the urgency and the relevance of our aid, the dimensions of our aid, along with that of our partners in the Western world, and the extent to which our total effort needs to be increased to the extent to which we are willing to make the necessary sacrifices to play our part in giving hope to people where there is despair.

1.37 p.m.

Photo of Mr Anthony Royle Mr Anthony Royle , Richmond (Surrey)

I should like to congratulate my hon. Friend the Member for Windsor (Sir C. Mott-Radclyffe) on choosing this Motion to be debated in the House today, and I should like to follow the hon. Member for West Bromwich (Mr. Foley) by congratulating him on the wide range of his knowledge of the problem of aid to Africa and to tell him that I agree with a great deal of what he said. He seemed to cover a very wide field and some of the broad problems of our aid programme, but I want to narrow the field and to take us out of the area which has been mentioned by preceding speakers to an- other part of the world which I visited last month.

It is a move from Africa to South America, a part of the world where we have great interests and where over hundreds of years we have had close connections both politically and commercially. I want to take us to one country, in particular, Peru, the cradle of the old Inca empire which stretched over so many thousands of miles of South America.

Peru is a country which, for many years, has looked to Europe and, in particular, to the United Kingdom, for technical aid. We have a history of friendship with Peru, stretching back through the centuries. We have also had investments there, commencing at the beginning of the last century. We assisted Peru to obtain her independence from Spain in the early part of the nineteenth century. Today, this nation of 12 million people, which is developing very rapidly, looks to us for aid.

Geographically, Peru is a very difficult country. It stretches from the coast, with its desert regions, to the Andes, with mountains up to 20,000 feet; then the plateau of the Altiplano and in the northern part of the country the area of thick primary jungle, large parts of which have not yet been explored. In the Andean region—in which stands the capital of the Inca civilisation—the Peruvian Government are experiencing great difficulties. The peasants who live there have low living standards, with the result that many of them are beginning to move. This causes grave internal security problems.

The hon. Member for West Bromwich mentioned the importance of linking trade with aid. I want to underline the necessity of our providing help both from our trading point of view and from Peru's. The new Peruvian Government, who are both a democratic and progressive administration, is financially and economically sound. Peru is a 500 million dollar market. It wants to lessen its dependence upon the United States—a dependence which has grown swiftly during the last 20 or 30 years.

There is a need to develop the backward areas of Peru. There is a great need not only for long-term credits, but for development loans from the United Kingdom. Although they have not been in power for long, the new Government have an excellent 10-year development programme, and the work which is being done by the American Alliance for Progress is already beginning to have a considerable effect. The United Kingdom must also give more help.

The United States, Germany and Japan are using tied aid as a means of extending their trade influence in Peru. Next month General de Gaulle, President of France, will follow in the footsteps of Pizarro—who conquered Peru with 130 men and 40 horses from the Inca empire in the sixteenth century—and of Cortes, the other conquistador—who conquered Mexico. In the two old Spanish vice-royalties he will be trying to improve trading relations between France and both Peru and Mexico; also to see whether it is possible for France to provide more aid to these old friends of ours. I hope that Her Majesty's Government will give sympathetic consideration to providing a loan to our Peruvian friends.

Both hon. Members who have spoken so far in the debate referred to the use of aid. I want to speak of the fine job that is being done in Peru by the Voluntary Service Overseas. My hon. Friend the Member for Windsor and the hon. Member for West Bromwich mentioned this organisation in the wider aspects of its task. I will endeavour to detail what a team of young men is doing at the moment in an area near the city of Lima, the capital of Peru. I believe that we can learn lessons from them, and I want briefly to draw their work to the attention of the House.

In the barriadas on the outskirts of Lima, these six young men—some of them aged 18 or 19, and some in their late 20s—are working. One of these men is an ex-policeman. Some come from public schools and some from grammar schools. They are living and working with the people of the barriadas. What is a barriada? During the last six to 10 years people from the underdeveloped parts of the country have invaded Lima—a city of 2 million people—usually moving into slum accommodation, with their families. Once they have found jobs they begin to save up to buy their own accommodation. They then move out and literally squat on a plot of land on the outskirts of Lima, round which they build walls made of matting, but no roofs. It never rains in Lima, so there is no overwhelming necessity for roofed accommodation.

Over a period of time these squatters extend their houses and begin to convert them into more conventional homes. These groups of houses form the barriadas. They have no proper roads. There are simply tracks between the houses. The Government have laid on water standpipes and main electricity at the entrances to these areas, some of which have about 40,000 inhabitants. A typical one is Comas, where these six young volunteers are working.

The material object of these workers is to work with the local apprentices on the installation of electrical circuits in the new houses, as they are developed. Their tools are provided for them by the local electric company. To many people who have not considered the sort of work done by Voluntary Service Overseas, this may seem a somewhat humble aim. It may be asked why they have chosen to work on electrical installations.

There are some simple reasons. First, there is an enormous demand for electricity in these barriada communities. Secondly, the people living in them have a profound ignorance of the way in which electricity works. Thirdly, a family can save as much as half the cost by having volunteers to assist them to carry out this electrical work rather than going to the normal contractor. Fourthly—and most important—an intelligent young volunteer with no practical experience can easily and swiftly learn to handle and install electrical conduits to take wires, points and switches.

These young volunteers live with the local people. They eat the same food, and they are paid a monthly allowance of £27. They have between them only one motor scooter to do their work. This is not only an inadequate but an exceedingly dangerous form of transport, as the barriadas are full of extremely fierce dogs, which tend to chase the volunteers who ride the scooters on the tracks between the houses. On occasions they have severely bitten volunteers, and forced them to go to hospital for treatment. These young volunteers are desperately in need of more transport. They borrowed a Land Rover for a short time, but now they have no transport of that calibre at all. They are in great need of a Land Rover, or some such vehicle, to help them do their work.

Another point mentioned by my hon. Friend the Member for West Bromwich was the attitude of our representatives overseas, both in the Commonwealth countries and in foreign countries, and here I would like to pay tribute to the effort being made by the British Embassy in Lima to support this team of volunteers. No expense, trouble or time is spared by our representatives in the embassy, from the ambassador and the head of chancery downwards, to support and help these young men and to assist them in what they are doing.

I think that this probably underlines something which I know other hon. Members feel today about the question of assistance for these teams from Government Departments here in London. I am glad to see sitting on the Treasury Bench today the representatives of three Ministries, but I believe, in fact, that nearly seven Ministries are involved with our aid overseas.

I would like to suggest to Her Majesty's Government that perhaps the time is coming when more of this aid can be brought under one Minister and one Department. It seems to me unfair and wrong that my right hon. Friend the Minister for Technical Co-operation, while bearing the brunt of, and, indeed, trying to do, a great job overseas both in the Commonwealth and foreign countries, does not have—I will not say the co-operation, because I know that he has that—but the power in Whitehall to galvanise and pull together the aims and ideas of our aid overseas.

Returning to the volunteers, the local people in the barriadas greatly appreciate the work being done by them, and I think that we can learn certain lessons from their experience in Lima. The first and most important fact is that the programme of work must be clearly defined. It is no good sending teams of volunteers to a country without the work and the programme being clearly laid down.

Secondly, there must be a strong demand locally for whatever the proposed work may be. In this case, it is the installation of electrical wiring. Thirdly, there is the necessity of achieving a contact and a relationship based on mutual confidence between the volunteer and the local community with whom he is living. This depends very much on the volunteer's personal activities and his attitude.

I was impressed to learn of the briefing and help which these young men were given in London before they left to start work in Peru. On this aspect, then, it is important that whatever is being done must be sensible and useful from the point of view of the local inhabitants, and, finally, of course, it must be properly organised. My hon. Friend the Member for Windsor mentioned the fact that some people compare the Peace Corps with the Voluntary Service Overseas and said that this was not a fair comparison. I agree with him wholeheartedly, but I think that we can learn from a story which was told to me in Peru about one activity of the Peace Corps in that country. It is a story which I think we should take to heart, particularly at the moment.

The Peace Corps has 400 volunteers in Peru. They operate all over the country, and the Peace Corps recently sent two young volunteers to a small village up in the Andes where they settled in a house among the local peasants who are of the same tribe, the Quechua tribe, which formed part of the Inca empire 400 years ago. There, they settled down to teach the people in the village how to weave. The villagers had learned to weave 400 to 500 years ago, and their weaving was considerably better than the weaving being taught to them by these young volunteers who had clearly been wrongly briefed before arriving. This caused great concern in the village. The villagers did not understand these people, did not like what they were doing and refused to speak to them or to provide them with food. As a consequence, the volunteers were living in a state of considerable misery by themselves in the village, miles from anywhere.

To my mind, this unfortunate situation was caused by one reason and one reason alone, that the Peace Corps effort in Peru, which is a fine effort, had got over-extended. It had expanded too quickly, and, therefore, lacked organisers with knowledge of the country. This seems to be an underlying danger of the aim which we have now, namely, to increase the effort of our Voluntary Service Overseas. By all means, let us expand it as quickly as possible, but let us avoid the danger which was not avoided by the Peace Corps in Peru, that of having only a few organisers to run a great many people on the ground. Let us make certain that wherever we expand we get enough experienced organisers out to run things. The British volunteers' strength is their attitude and their approach to the people with whom they live and work, and these young men in the barriadas outside Lima are having great success and are a credit to Great Britain.

I know that the House will wish today to pay tribute to these young men for what they are doing, although I realise that there are many other teams in other parts of the world which are probably working as hard and doing just as fine a job. I have detailed to the House today the activities of this group, which I saw only recently, to underline, first, the effort that we are making overseas, and, secondly, the lessons which we can learn from them. Let us gain new experience in other parts of the world.

1.58 p.m.

Photo of Mr Robert Edwards Mr Robert Edwards , Bilston

I, too, would like to join in congratulating the hon. Member for Windsor (Sir C. Mott-Radclyffe) on selecting such a vitally important subject for our debate today and on the very interesting constructive speech which he made in moving the Motion. I would disagree with only one small aspect of his remarks relating to the difficulty in Ghana, Malaysia, Zanzibar and Indonesia. We must not overlook the fact that it took us many hundreds of years to win our freedom and to create the foundations of democratic practices.

It is almost impossible in countries where people are living in poverty through no fault of their own to develop political freedoms as we have been able to develop them in this country. Starving people and people whose lives are lived in insecurity are not greatly interested in the right to have the freedom of the Press or free elections. They are interested in the loaves on the table first of all, and until we are able to assist the underdeveloped areas of the world to establish viable and balanced economies, I am afraid that the idea of establishing complete freedom and democracy is a will o'the wisp. We must first bring to these people the technical and financial aid which they require before they can begin to think in terms of human freedom.

I was very interested in the remarks of the hon. Member for Richmond, Surrey (Mr. A. Royle), particularly his references to Peru and the work of the young people there. We do not give sufficient thought to the great sub-continent of Latin-America where at one time this country had tremendous political and economic influence. That influence has declined steadily over the years. In Latin-America there is a population of 200 million. Many million of them are still illiterate and I suppose they are among the poorest people in the world. Yet in Latin-America there are some the greatest untapped deposits of natural wealth existing anywhere in the world. There is a great need to reorientate the whole of our policy and attitude to that subcontinent.

We can appreciate how important is this Motion only if we have had—as many hon. Members have—experience of actual poverty, the dreadful indescribable poverty which exists in so many parts of the world, the kind of poverty to be found in villages in Middle Eastern countries and among the poor marsh Arabs. I have been among Arabs in the Middle East, in Iraq, where the average income per person is only £10 a year and where they barely maintain a hold on life. Many die before reaching the age of 30. This is true of many small Arab communities. Oil deposits exist in many parts of these Middle Eastern lands, but the wealth from the oil rarely seeps down to the poor Arabs. Something must be done to assist the people in those areas where we still have an important political influence.

In Nigeria, the largest country in the Continent of Africa, the average annual income per head is less than £20. In Sierra Leone the figure is only £17, and so one could go on. The income of people of America, Australia or New Zealand is a hundred times more. The annual income of people in India amounts to less than £25 a year. Our income is thirty times greater than theirs. We should be ashamed to enjoy our relative security while there is such dreadful poverty existing in the world.

The hon. Member for Windsor said that a great deal was being done and that about £3,000 million went every year from international organisations to help the under-developed areas. I should like us to consider today not so much the huge and spectacular schemes designed to help the underdeveloped areas but the small activities which would help people who need help so urgently in order to be able to perform the day-to-day tasks connected with living. It is my experience that in many emerging countries there is a need for simple forms of training in how to keep books of little co-operatives; how to run small offices; how to buy seeds in a co-operative way and how to develop a simple co-operative group trade.

It is necessary to teach people how to develop schemes of mutual aid based on the simple principles of co-operation. There is enormous scope for the development of self-help and mutual aid through co-operation throughout the whole of the Continent of Africa, in Latin-America, in the Orient and in the lands of the Middle East. We have done a lot in this way, but I think that we have not done enough.

Men and women must be taught the simple principles of mutual aid and how they may work together as a group of farmers, for example, and purchase the tractors and other equipment which they may need. If they can form their little bank and lend one another money to buy seed before they reap their harvest; if they can organise cooperative marketing schemes, that will not just improve their standard of life—although their standard of living will be revolutionised by these means—they will also begin to understand the simple principles of democratic practice. They will understand what it means to vote and conduct themselves in a disciplined way at meetings and how to keep minutes and record their decisions. In this way the simple principles of democracy can be established firmly in their minds and they will appreciate these principles on which our democratic institutions are founded. If village cooperatives could be extended throughout a whole nation it would result in the creation of a people capable of running their own government, not merely under a one-party system but after having faced the risks of elections, because they would be a democracy with an understanding of the rights of individuals, of free speech, association and the Press.

It is my belief that, unfortunately, we have to do a great deal of basic groundwork before this may come about. A lot of money is spent on docks and railways for the underdeveloped areas, or on schemes for hydro development and the development of steel works and mines, but very little is spent on the artisans who will be responsible for building the economy of their country.

I am associated in an honorary way with a business scheme of Scott Bader Commonwealth Ltd. It is a non-profit-making establishment which includes a training college for individuals invited to attend from countries overseas. They receive training in a simple handicraft business of silk screen textile printing. To give an example of what may be done in this connection, two students from Ceylon were trained in this college for a year. They returned to Ceylon to train other workers and now there are three centres in Ceylon where this industry has been developed. They have the support of the Government and there are little factories in villages giving employment to 30, 40 or 50 workpeople. That is the kind of development which many of these emerging countries require.

With many hon. Members on both sides of the House, I am associated with a new society called S.T.R.I.V.E. (Overseas) Ltd.—the Society for Training in Rural Industries and Village Enterprises. Its sole purpose is to create training institutions in this country whereby young people who have no ambition to become professors, or scientists or statesmen, young people from territories overseas, can come in small groups and train themselves so that they can train others to develop small rural handicrafts and industries in their own countries.

The cost of training 20 students in one year is only £10,000. That includes maintenance, material, travelling costs and tuition. I do not know of a better way for us to spend our money on training. This is a very small sum of money when we consider the immense sums we spend for other purposes. If we could allocate £1 million for this purpose we could start reshaping the whole landscape in many of these underdeveloped countries. There is not a single country in the world that cannot be developed, except perhaps Jordan which has a great, burning desert.

Almost every newly emerging country in the world can be developed. They cannot all be rich in industry. They have not all got gold, oil, diamonds or tin, and they cannot all develop single crops such as sugar, rubber, cotton or rice, but all have their own national resources, their own labour and water supplies and all can be developed if they are treated one by one and if some groups of people with knowledge and understanding and dedication could look at these countries, understand their immediate needs and help them in this direction. This is a new complementary service of aid to emergent countries that needs more and more consideration. It is a specialised task of training people so that they themselves can develop their own national resources.

A good example is Iceland, 95 per cent. of whose income comes from the sea. Apart from its sheep and natural hot water springs, there is nothing in the country, but it has built up a high standard of life—one of the highest enjoyed by any country in the world—from the harvest of the sea. That is equally true of many emerging countries which for some reason or other imagine that they require massive industrial equipment and terrific capital investments to turn them into industrial nations. Many of them will never be industrial nations. They have not got the necessary resources.

They will need much co-operation and federation before they reach that point. They can win for their good people a good life, a fulfilled life, if their agriculture can be developed, if their handicrafts can be developed and if they begin to produce for themselves many of the manufactured goods which are now imported from abroad. What is required in many of these countries is hundreds of thousands of wheelbarrows. The people still carry goods on their heads and use an enormous amount of energy carrying things which could be carried by wheelbarrow.

What is needed is simple ploughs and agricultural machinery which we ourselves would produce in areas of high unemployment. We have factories which are not being used and skilled workers who are unemployed. We should find some means of putting our unemployed skilled labour force to use in factories that are out of production; with the task of manufacturing some of the essential machines to meet the agricultural requirements of millions of people in the under-developed areas of the world. This is the kind of thinking we should be doing for the underdeveloped areas. Apart from all the money obtained from the World Bank and all the grants in aid, we need a complementary programme which would deal more particularly with these localised and more human aspects of the great problem of helping these people towards a better and fuller life.

I again congratulate the hon. Member for Windsor on giving us an opportunity to make a few remarks and suggestions in a debate of this character.

2.17 p.m.

Photo of Mr Charles Longbottom Mr Charles Longbottom , City of York

I entirely agree with the hon. Member for Bilston (Mr. R. Edwards) about the poverty which exists in many parts of the world. He said that we are not doing enough about it and I quite agree. I think that we are not starting to do enough because we are not doing enough talking about it.

I congratulate my hon. Friend the Member for Windsor (Sir C. Mott-Radclyffe) on having chosen this subject for today's debate to give us an opportunity to talk about it. I am only sorry that it has to be left to my hon. Friend to bring the subject to the House of Commons. It is a pity that this great subject of aid and development, one of the most important sinews of British foreign policy today, should have to be brought to this House by a private Member on a Friday afternoon for a debate of three hours and 15 minutes. I should have thought that the subject needs fuller debate and much closer examination than this House is able to give to it in the circumstances.

The White Paper, Cmnd. 2147, on which the debate centres, is an impressive document. It shows clearly that in the last few years our aid programme from public funds and private investment has been growing. It rightly pays tributes to the efforts of voluntary organisations such as the Freedom from Hunger Campaign, Oxfam and others and the efforts which individuals working for them have made in raising money for famine relief and other services in developing countries.

Nevertheless, as my hon. Friend and the hon. Member for West Bromwich (Mr. Foley) rightly said, the heart of the problem is contained in the second paragraph of the introduction, which shows that although our aid is increasing, the need for that aid is increasing more and more. No matter what we or other countries of the industrial nations have done, nor indeed what the United Nations Organisation in the Development Decade is now doing, the fact remains that the gap between the rich nations and the poor nations is increasing. Despite the aid efforts which we have made, we have achieved nothing in real terms to overcome dire poverty and disease in many countries.

Therefore, nationally and internationally, determined action is needed both from this country and by our giving a lead in the United Nations in this Development Decade. The clear duty of this country and its self-interest go hand in hand in aid and development. Throughout its history this country has had the benefits of nature in developing its resources as distinct from the scourges which have affected so many countries in other continents. It is our clear duty to give much more help to those born less fortunate than ourselves.

A great amount of self-interest also comes into this matter. It is clearly of great benefit to a country such as ours, which relies entirely for its wealth on the ability of its people to export in competition to markets overseas, to ensure the existence of wider and more generous markets in which to sell our goods. By giving aid in helping countries to improve their material resources and to build up their economies we are giving an enormous opportunity to British industry to do business and to sell in these developing economies.

The White Paper shows the great value which we are getting from the money we are spending. However, I believe that our aid programme needs much more planning and co-ordination. It is not surprising that there cannot be much co-ordination, since in this country aid comes under seven different Departments of State, three of which are represented here today—the Foreign Office, the Commonwealth Relations Office, the Colonial Office and the Central Africa Office in the external Ministries, and the Treasury, the Board of Trade and the Department for Technical Co-operation at home. I am sure that, although much inter-departmental co-ordination exists, we will never get the necessary coordination until aid and development is in the hands of a single Minister with a seat in the Cabinet.

The Government took a great step forward in creating the Department for Technical Co-operation. I pay tribute to the work which it has done in recruiting experts to go out to the developing countries. However, I should like to see the Department working side by side with aid-giving agencies to ensure that the relationship between the giving of aid and the giving of technical assistance is co-related within one Ministry. The Secretary for Technical Co-operation has no say whatsoever in aid programmes. I suspect that sometimes he wishes he did have. I think that many hon. Members wish that aid and development came under one Ministry.

The Secretary for Technical Cooperation (Mr. Robert Can):

Far be it from me to discourage my hon. Friend from wanting to give me more effective powers, but I am not as helpless as he thinks. It would be wrong for him to imagine that my Department and I have no say in any aid programmes.

Photo of Mr Charles Longbottom Mr Charles Longbottom , City of York

What I meant was that my right hon. Friend has no direct control over aid money. I am sure that he has considerable say in aid programmes, but he has no direct control over aid finance. It would be much better if aid and technical assistance came within the ambit of one Ministry. It would then be possible to make a twin-pronged attack on this problem. The first and greatest necessity is to decide the priorities on a world-wide basis and to determine the real needs and problems which should be attacked and then to co-ordinate all the efforts which can be made in this country in the public, private and international sectors.

A co-ordinated Ministry would bridge another gap. At the moment, there is no spokesman in the House for aid and development. There is, therefore, no means whereby public opinion can be focused on the need for more aid and development or of leading public opinion to make the necessary sacrifices for an effective aid programme. If we look at other countries like the United States and Western Germany, and the way in which they treat aid and development, we see that public opinion is much better informed on these problems.

We have a great reservoir of good will in dealing with the problems of the developing countries. I have already mentioned the Freedom from Hunger Campaign. Hon. Members well know from knowledge in their constituencies how much good will was created during the Freedom from Hunger Campaign year. There would be a ready response to any Government which wanted to spend a bigger share of our increased prosperity on an effective aid programme.

The Motion refers to the recruitment of people to serve overseas. I think that the Department for Technical Cooperation is doing splendid work in this respect, but I wonder how much care has been given to examining the possibility of setting up a development service to recruit staff which probably would give a much greater measure of security to individuals than can be given by the Department for Technical Co-operation and create a technical elite who would be able to spend most of their lives working in the developing countries. The great need for technicians is obvious. I wonder whether we should consider trying to make the relationship between the technicians who are employed and the Government firmer by having a Commonwealth development service.

Hon. Members have referred to Voluntary Service Overseas. This organisation has helped to crystallise the spirit of voluntary effort among young people. My hon. Friend the Member fat Richmond, Surrey (Mr. A. Royle) made an interesting speech about Peru. I congratulate him on his knowledge of the history of that country. We were very interested to hear about the work of young volunteers around Lima in what sounded like extremely hazardous conditions. I am sure that all our minds turn to the young man in Uganda who is in charge of a vast area where aver 15,000 Tutsi tribesmen had to flee from the terrible consequences of the racial fighting in Ruanda Urundi. The way in which he is coping with the problem in Uganda is a marvellous example of the spirit and effort of young people who go overseas to undertake these tasks.

T hope that my right hon. Friend will consider closely the possibility of making Voluntary Service Overseas an all-Commonwealth effort so that other countries may be brought into it and the arguments which my hon. Friend the Member for Hertford (Lord Balniel) and others put forward in a recent pamphlet on this question.

We all pay tribute to the great work which the universities and colleges have done for many years in teaching students from overseas countries. However, there is another aspect of training to which I wish more effort would be devoted. This concerns young students who wish to have more practical training in the offices of solicitors and accountants, in factory management and in business management. There are obvious examples in which fine opportunities have been provided. However, I wish the Law Society and other professional bodies would give greater thought to the question whether they can provide the opportunity for young people to gain more experience by working in an office for a few months after they have passed their examinations and before they return to their own countries.

Everyone will agree that one of the most important parts of the development of a new country is the use made of radio and television. This is one of the vital factors in creating a spirit of unity and promoting a feeling of reality within communities often wide apart and where travelling conditions are difficult. Already, the Thomson Foundation is doing valuable work in training technicians in media from overseas. The B.B.C. has a programme of help. I am sure that everybody would agree that the B.B.C. has a great fund of experience to offer people from developing countries. The Corporation has a scheme which it has submitted to the Department of Technical Co-operation. I maintain that the B.B.C. should not be expected to pay for the scheme out of the licence revenue. I hope that my right hon. Friend will study the details of the scheme carefully with a view to help being given from public funds towards this specific training programme.

The requirements of the scheme are for a capital sum of about £60,000 for the provision of more studio space at Woodstock Grove, the Corporation's present training centre, and for an annual revenue of £22,000. This is not a large sum to run the type of tailor-made courses which the B.B.C. can produce to teach key people media problems and help them to staff and create a powerful radio and television network in the developing countries. It would be valuable if within this scheme the B.B.C. was able to send some of its technicians and specialists to teach in developing countries. Enormous value would accrue from this scheme.

The support of educational institutions in developing countries is enormously important. This is need at all levels. I am pleased to speak in the same debate as the hon. Member for West Bromwich, because he and I have been associated for some years in a small foundation which has had some modest success in education in developing countries. The hon. Gentleman initiated, with the help of the Grammar School Headmasters' Association, the twinning of grammar schools between this country and Africa, developing contacts between them, exchanging views, books and personnel.

This project is going extraordinarily well. About 150 grammar schools are now twinned between this country and Africa. We should encourage this and should take it further so that our universities have a similar twinning arrangement with universities in developing countries. They should have a close liaison. There should be an exchange of academic staff. There should be a continuous flow of graduates for research and post-graduate work between universities here and in Africa.

There should be special training courses in British universities for people from developing countries to study the special problems of their own country. It is important that the academic staff teaching people from developing countries should themselves have seen the countries from which their students come, so that it is not merely a question of teaching theoretical techniques, but of teaching the theoretical ideas practically applied to the knowledge of the country from which the students come.

I should like to follow what the hon. Member for West Bromwich said about youth empoyment. Both of us have seen the enormous need for this in certain parts of the Continent of Africa. The hon. Gentleman drew attention to the case of Northern Rhodesia. Youth unemployment is a grave problem there. Young people leave school at 14. It is very difficult for them to get a job before they are 20. It is not surprising, with that amount of youth unemployment, that there should at times have been trouble between the rival political parties. I am sure that the present Government of Northern Rhodesia strongly want to do something about this. They have announced a plan to try to overcome the problem of youth unemployment. If they come to the British Government for funds to help with the employment plan, I hope that we shall be sympathetic and be as generous as we can. This is the most difficult and desperate problem in the overall context of trying to create a happy climate of opinion in which a country soon to become independent can set about its great tasks.

All these and many other problems need urgent study. For nearly 20 years this country in overseas developing countries concentrated on bringing independence to the territories. With one or two notable exceptions, our task is now drawing to its close. Our responsibility to help these peoples to make a reality of their independence, build up their nation, create a good and worthwhile society, and improve their economy.. is just as great as it ever was in the days of colonial rule. We still have a great and important task before us to ensure that in these developing countries we help to create societies of which they can be proud and which wilt contribute to world peace.

2.38 p.m.

Photo of Mr John Stonehouse Mr John Stonehouse , Wednesbury

I join with my colleagues in welcoming the opportunity of this debate and congratulating the hon. Member for Windsor (Sir C. Mott-Radclyffe) on choosing this subject. It is rather fortunate for those of us who are able to take part in the debate that the earlier subject did not last the whole day. I agree with the hon. Member for York (Mr. Longbottom) that it is a pity that the Government have not themselves provided the opportunity and allocated the time to debate this subject on the Floor of the House on a day when the attendance in the House is larger than it can be on a Friday.

The hon. Member for York said—and I wholly agree with him—that closer co-ordination between the different agencies and the different Ministries responsible for assistance is needed. I am glad that the hon. Gentleman gave further endorsement from the Tory benches to the proposal made from these benches some time ago for a Ministry of Overseas Co-operation. Such a Ministry should be set up urgently. Although we all appreciate the excellent work being done by the Secretary for Technical Co-operation—we congratulate the right hon. Gentleman on what he has done—we know that this country cannot put its full force behind this great Development Decade attempt to raise the standards in newly developing countries, unless this work is effectively co-ordinated within one Ministry.

My hon. Friends and I are pleased that the Secretary for Technical Cooperation will be taking part in the debate, because we missed him the other day on Second Reading, and in Committee, on the International Development Association Bill. We are pleased to see that he is making up for his absence on that occasion. In those debates, as today, reference was made to the close connection between aid and trade. Aid without giving the developing countries an opportunity to trade is almost worthless, because those countries cannot afford to pay the interest let alone the actual debts they incur unless they can sell the products they grow and produce.

I hope that the Ministers responsible are carefully preparing for the forthcoming international conferences on trade to be held this year. The first will be the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development, at the end of March. I as interested to read in the Financial Times of 16th February a report from that newspaper's staff in New York that Dr. Raul Prebisch, the conference's secretary-general, has produced a comprehensive plan to deal with the tremendous task of giving newly developing countries access to world markets.

I hope that Her Majesty's Government will study this plan with great care. I also hope that they have not made up their mind about what they will do at this vital international conference and that they are not automatically accepting the attitude of some other industrialised countries with which we have been in close consultation, through the W.E.U., O.E.C.D., and so on, which would be disadvantageous to the newly developing countries.

Dr. Prebiseh makes the frightening point that if the 5 per cent. development growth rates achieved the trade gap between the developing and developed countries will be about 20,000 million dollars. He points out that about half of that gap will need to be covered by the developing countries increasing their exports—but how will they do that if the developed countries continue to put up tariff barriers or quota restrictions against their products, particularly since synthetic substitutes for the primary products of the developing countries are being made in ever increasing quantities?

We are now developing a tremendous plastics and artificial yarn industry. Rayon and nylon developments are taking away a large part of the market for the cotton produced in the newly developing countries. If the industrial countries continue along that path of creating self-sufficiency in these raw materials, they will handicap the possibility of the newly developing States paying their way in future, particularly since those countries will not even be able to pay back the loans which they are now getting from us.

I hope, therefore, that the Government will seriously study Dr. Prebisch's plans for offsetting the fluctuations in the prices and demand for primary products and his extraordinarily interesting plan to give preferences to the industrial products of the newly developing states. This may be a way in which we can guarantee a market for those countries' products.

It would be a mistake for people in this country to assume that the aid is all one way. I agree with the hon. Member for York (Mr. Longbottom) that any aid we give flows back in orders and, accordingly, helps us to maintain and improve our standard of living. An example of this appears on page 25 of the White Paper, Aid to Developing Countries, where, in paragraph 88, it is stated that, among other assistance, …a Commonwealth Assistance Loan of £2·4 million for development purposes was made … to Uganda.

That development loan is being partly used to buy tractors, 350 of which have already been purchased and another 250 are on order. A great many of these tractors are being made in a massive factory in my constituency. Many of the workers there live in the constituencies of my hon. Friend the Member for Bilston (Mr. R. Edwards) and my hon. Friend the Member for West Bromwich (Mr. Foley). Many others are my constituents. They are working there to produce tractors for Uganda, tractors which are being paid for by that Commonwealth loan. I am sure that at least our constituents will be interested to know how the money is being used, for by the construction of these tractors they are providing the sinews for Uganda's economic development.

I understand from Uganda's Minister of Agriculture that as a result of obtaining the tractors pressure is being brought to bear on the peasant farmers to amalgamate their small and inefficient farms and increase agricultural production by new techniques. This is not only a question of using tractors in farming. The tractors are a start to persuading these farmers to bring in further technical assistance, use fertilisers, and so on.

This is resulting in many peasant farmers escaping from the mere subsistence levels at which they lived and obtaining an income sufficient to pay for their children's education, buy corrugated iron sheeting for their homes, improve their standard of living generally, purchase radio sets and, before long, as Uganda's television service is extended, to own television sets. I am sure that our constituents are glad to know that they are playing a part in this tremendous job of helping the poverty-stricken people of Uganda and elsewhere.

As is frequently pointed out, it is not merely a question of aid. The developing countries must have markets in which to sell their commodities. I hope that, not only at the international conference on trade, which is to be held next month, but also in the G.A.T.T. negotiations which will follow, we will press for international commodity agreements, guaranteed markets for the primary producers and a guarantee of prices over a long period so that fluctuations in prices can be ironed out and that the developing countries may have some security. I hope that we shall press for this, because the support of an industrial country like our own added to the voices of the newly-developing countries will be needed if such a plan is to be adopted.

The Uganda people have been developing their coffee production for the last 15 years or so. They have encouraged farmers to plant more trees, but, in recent years, they have been unable to sell all their coffee because the world market cannot absorb it. The International Coffee Agreement that has just been concluded will help tremendously, because it gives Uganda a 17 per cent. increase in its quota. That means, however, that one-third of Uganda's coffee crop will not be sold on the world market, because the quota allows the sale of only some 120,000 tons out of a total of about 175,000 tons. What a discouragement it is to Uganda and to its primary producers to find that, when they are able to expand their production, it cannot be sold, and how important it is that the world should provide a market for the coffee, cotton, ground nuts, and all the other primary products that these countries can produce.

The development of the secondary industries of a country like Uganda is something with which the Department for Technical Co-operation should be directly concerned, because it is a problem of providing technical "know-how". It is relatively easy for the newly-developing countries to get teachers, or even doctors or administrators, but, when it comes to obtaining the services of technicians who can help them by setting up secondary industries, they find that the manufacturers and industrialists in the advanced countries are not prepared to release the men.

I wonder whether the Department for Technical Co-operation can use its influence to provide these personnel—perhaps, indeed, itself recruit them; putting them on its own staff, and using them as a sort of bank to enable the developing countries to set up these secondary industries that are an essential part of their economic programmes. These countries should not try to duplicate all that can be done in the industrial States, because many of their projects would be wildly uneconomic, but some industries they can, and should, develop.

For example, Uganda's excess coffee production of about 55,000 tons could be processed in an instant-coffee factory, if such a factory could be established, and sold in the internal markets of Uganda, Tanganyika and Kenya, thus saving imports. The products could also be exported, as it would not come within the coffee quota. An instant-coffee factory would be a great help to Uganda's economy, but when those concerned approach the established manufacturers of instant-coffee they get a blank refusal of assistance, because the manufacturers here are not anxious to have competitive factories established overseas. The Department could bring helpful influence to bear in this respect.

Has the Secretary for Technical Cooperation considered the suggestions outlined in the O.E.C.D. Report, Development Assistance—1963 Review? That Repot recommended that supernumerary posts should be established for university people so that a proportion of the staff could be available always for detachment overseas in the public service. That would also have the advantage of giving such personnel some security at home. They would only want to go abroad for three or five years, they would not want to make a career overseas, and if their status were guaranteed and they knew that they could return to their old jobs at home, they would feel more secure.

I understand that France provides technical "know-how" by encouraging some personalities in industry to provide managerial personnel for service overseas. Apparently, France has special machinery for encouraging industry to provide this sort of "know-how". Is there any possibility of our adapting that idea in Great Britain?

I agree that twinning arrangements are important, and I suggest that this idea could be extended, not only to the universities but to all institutions in this country that can form an association with a like organisation in one of the countries we propose to help—co-operative societies, for instance. A consumer co-operative here could link up with the new consumer co-ops overseas—or, indeed, with producer co-ops—and help to train their personnel. I am glad that my own society is helping to train four or five young men from Tanganyika as engineers. We are paying all their expenses, and they will go back with some experience.

A great many of our retail cooperative societies have taken students after they have left the co-operative college, and have given them direct experience of a retail society that has helped them in accountancy, and the like, on their return home. I agree with my hon. Friend the Member for Bilston that this sort of training is very essential. We need the infrastructure—the roads, the railways, and so on—but we also need those who know how to run co-operative societies, for instance, if these programmes are to be really successful.

We want twinning arrangements between trade unions, as well. Some of the most excellent work done in Northern Rhodesia resulted from a link between the National Union of Mineworkers here and the Northern Rhodesia miners' unions, and that link, at a crucial point in 1958–59, or just after, may have made a very great contribution to Northern Rhodesia's relatively peaceful emergence towards independence.

We want twinning arrangements even between chambers of commerce, and like institutions, so that we can get this two-way flow of ideas. Personnel can go to the newly-developing countries in the knowledge that they have a twinning arrangement backing them up in their work. We do not want only the personnel provided by Voluntary Service Overseas—though I congratulate all those responsible for that excellent scheme, and I welcome its development—but men with more training and more experience, who will go out there only if security is provided for their families and only in the knowledge that they will come back to jobs in Britain that are being kept open for them. Nor do they want to lose their promotion chances while they are away. Perhaps twinning will help to give them the security they need.

I am very glad that we have had this debate. We wish the Secretary for Technical Co-operation success in his work, and look forward to the day when his and the other Ministries can be co-ordinated in a Ministry of Overseas Co-operation which will be able to do an even more effective job than the right hon. Gentleman now can do.

2.58 p.m.

Photo of Mr Frederic Bennett Mr Frederic Bennett , Torquay

I must apologise for coming late to the debate, but it is not through any lack of interest. Curiously enough, I have been spending an interesting time with the chairman of the Leverhulme Trust, a charitable body which has devoted a great deal of time and money precisely to the project that we are discussing today. I come armed with some very useful thoughts.

The hon. Member for Wednesbury (Mr. Stonehouse) said that there was not such great difficulty in finding teachers who would go abroad but that the difficulty was more in the technical field. I do not want to argue with almost anything that he said in his speech, but my information is that it is not quite so easy to find fully qualified teachers to go from this country to help in the universities abroad by reason of the opportunities which they lose for promotion and getting on a good rung here on the ladder of their own careers.

So I hope that the hon. Gentleman's plea will be heeded in respect of teachers, as well as technical teachers, because the same difficulties arise of young post-graduates being comparatively unwilling to go abroad and, by being away two years, losing the chance which they might otherwise have in this country.

I hope that my right hon. Friend will discuss whatever ideas any of us may have in mind for dealing with the great problem, both in the technical and academic field, of ensuring that those who take the opportunities to go abroad to fulfil these needs do not lose when they return to this country. A great deal more could be done in that respect.

I turn to the two parts of the wording of this Motion, and I refer to the last sentence: The training in this country of students from overseas, and to the support of educational institutions in the developing countries. I must confess that I would prefer to put the emphasis on the second of those. Of course we want to go on having students from overseas in this country, but in the long term I think that much more success and much more pride in achievement arises when students can work in improved and better educational establishments in their own countries, certainly in the undergraduate stages. In other words, of our available resources I would rather see a greater proportion devoted to improving educational facilities on the spot, so that later on these same students, having qualified in their own country, when they are post-graduates, and have perhaps a more mature approach to the life, can come to live here on the same basis as we send British ones to other universities overseas. My experience indicates that for a variety of social reasons it is not always successful to bring young students to this country. They meet certain social barriers here which do not help their development, however much we rightly deplore them.

I think it is better for these young men and women to be able to have a greater pride in their own country, if they can get there the early university education that they want, than their having to come to another country for it. When they have to come to Britain or another Western country to get education that does not necessarily lead to their being an element of stability in their own country when they return.

To sum up, I hope that we shall always have a steady flow of students coming to this country, but in the long term I think that we shall get more benefit by using our efforts both by teachers, money and every other means to make sure that in all the developing countries in the Commonwealth and outside, adequate educational facilities are there for students, rather than their having to come to a Western country for what should be an essential part of any young man's life, which is education in his earlier stages.

While we are talking in these terms of service in an almost idealistic way, and however much advantage is to be gained from the educational facilities, from voluntary service overseas, from social projects and even from great capital projects, providing better communications and better facilities in industrial and other fields, we should also ensure that, just as our people in the West want to see some practical down-to-earth results early on, we do not forget the consumer needs of these countries.

One friend of mine after another in less-developed countries has told me how much they have prayed for the time when the benefits of these more grandiose projects would be felt. Discontent is very real today in very practical terms. I remember talking to one of the survivors of the massacre in Iraq at the time when Nuri-es-Said and the monarchy were destroyed. Nuri-es-Said's Government had spent a great deal of money in providing new wide roads, larger Government buildings and a larger airport. The survivor said to me, "While we were doing all this, the man on the ground saw little or no benefit from this connection with the West which was supposed to bring so much benefit to him".

Therefore, while I agree with every word of this Motion, I hope we shall not forget that there is just as much desire in the developing countries for something practical and down-to-earth so that they can see their own home conditions improving and they can see some of the things which we regard as normal coming within their reach. It would be a pity if, in our preoccupation with long-term benefits, we were to forget the short-term benefits.

In these days there are so many of our possess ions which inhabitants of the less-developed countries see accepted as a matter of course when they come to this country or when they are in the hands of expatriate officers and people from Western countries working in those countries, and they realise that these possessions are incalculably out of their own reach. When, as the hon. Member for Wednesbury mentioned, in Tanganyika there are, on the one side, Africans living in extremely primitive and poor conditions and they see along side them Asians or Europeans with economic possessions which are miles outside their most ambitious dreams even if they were to work all their lives for such possessions, it leads to greater discontent, however often they see a new road or drainage project.

In this field we should not ignore the rôle that private enterprise ought to play. This is in no sense a political speech, but it is Governments and not individual service projects such as we have been discussing today which can provide an infrastructure in the long run. The matters to which I have been referring, the possibilities of making consumer goods more quickly available, must lie in the field of private enterprise because these are outside the province of Governments to be able or willing to do. There is still very great scope for private enterprise in these undeveloped countries, in exporting items which can be within the reach of the average man, to the benefit of those countries as well as our own.

I remember recently going to Pakistan and finding that even so small an item as a bottle of aspirins was outside the possible purchasing power of the average peasant there. One enterprising firm—I do not remember what it was, so I do not fear any question of advertisement—had gone to the extent of providing special packaging for three aspirins in a little container. The same arrangement was applied to other items, too, so that these could be purchased by even the poorest in the land. Private enterprise should appreciate what an enormous market there is for exporting articles if they were prepared, packaged and exported in such a way that they could be within the reach of a wholly different economic class of customer from that which exists in the West.

If we are to ask private enterprise to play this increased rôle in carrying out the purposes of this Motion, I suggest there is one matter on which the developing countries could reciprocate. I have always found that private enterprise firms are quite willing to take economic risks and the risks of competition in trade, but the one thing they are not happy about is taking the political risks of expropriation. If a country either by speech or action exhibits behaviour which represents a threat which can lead a private firm to fear that all its enterprise may be wasted because there may be expropriation for political reasons, the result can be that the flow of capital and the measure of interest in that country will dry up.

I feel, therefore, that one can fairly say to the developing countries that, while we accept that there is an obligation upon us to help, they for their part should appreciate that, in the long run, it is not just Governments which will help them but it is people as well, and people engaged in trade. These, although they are prepared to take almost any risk, are not prepared to go into a difficult market and try to develop it only to find that, for political reasons outside their control and in which they play no rôle at all, suddenly all their work is cut off at a moment's notice because of the political decision of one or two men in the territory.

This is not an unreasonable request to make to the countries concerned, and I hope that due regard will be paid to it. In this country, there is a growing rather than just a continuing wish to see the developing countries move on to the sort of prosperity we would wish them to enjoy. For their part, they have the duty to realise that this is not just a one-way traffic and that they owe it to the countries of the West to give them a reasonable measure of security that their efforts will not, as it were, bounce back on them in the years to come.

3.12 p.m.

Photo of Mr George Thomson Mr George Thomson , Dundee East

Having agreed with so much of what has been said by so many who have spoken in the debate, I fear that it may seem a little churlish to begin by disagreeing with my hon. Friend the Member for Wednesbury (Mr. Stonehouse) and the hon. Member for York (Mr. Longbottom), who complained that it was a pity that the House of Commons did not discuss these matters more often.

I see the Economic Secretary to the Treasury sitting on the Front Bench opposite, and I know that this is the fourth occasion in three weeks on which the House has discussed various aspects of the challenging task of helping the developing countries of the world to help themselves in overcoming their poverty. One of these debates, on Commonwealth trade and development, was a major debate involving the Prime Minister and the Leader of the Opposition.

It says a good deal for the general level of agreement in this country about the giving of aid to the developing world that the House of Commons should so allocate its time near to a General Election. It certainly says a great deal for the hon. Member for Windsor (Sir C. Mott-Radclyffe), who has been congratulated by everyone today, that, having had the luck of the Ballot—something which I have never enjoyed in 10 years—he should, in an election year, choose a subject which concerns hundreds of millions of people who neither have votes nor pay taxes in this country.

It is agreed on both sides of the House, and has been for a long time, that we have an obligation both in morality and, I think, in common sense to try to create a decent, prosperous and peaceful world community by evening out the tremendous disparities of wealth which at present exist. The hon. Member for Windsor was quite right to draw attention to the remarkable increase in aid from this country which has occurred in the past few years. The total amount has doubled over the last decade However, I could not help parting company from him a little when he appeared to overlook that the aid programme of this country now seems to have reached a kind of plateau.

In scene aspects of the aid which we give, we are, in fact, failing to reach the targets which we set for ourselves, even though many of us felt that some of those targets were unduly modest. During the Commonwealth debate, we had the spectacle of the Prime Minister apparently deceiving himself as to the extent to which we are succeeding in some of the things we are doing.

The right hon. Gentleman mentioned in that debate that there were 18,000 officers in 39 Commonwealth countries assisted in one way or another by the British Government. I am puzzled by this statement, because it was only a short time earlier, on 21st January, that the Secretary for Technical Co-operation told us, in reply to a Question, that the total number of British officers assisted from this country giving help in the developing countries was 1,596. Perhaps the Minister will clear that up in his reply.

The Prime Minister also mentioned that 1,600 or more people had gone out from this country on technical assistance programmes in 1962, and he made a rather ambiguous remark—I put it in its most generous terms—about the total of 18,000 people, that the annual increase which we are making is a significant contribution to Commonwealth co-operation."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 6th February, 1964; Vol. 688, c. 1364.] The truth is that there is an annual decrease in the number of people we have overseas. Perhaps this is inevitable, in view of the run-down of our direct colonial responsibilities, but the annual decrease is certainly taking place. This confusion about the figures is rather typical of the kind of muddle we keep getting into about what we are doing in overseas aid. For instance, there is a quite general but false impression that the 18,000 people about whom the Prime Minister spoke are people to whom we give very generous financial support. The truth is quite the reverse. As a country, we pay wholly for only a very small proportion of that total, and a very large proportion receive contributions from this country to the extent of probably about a quarter of their salaries.

What disturbs me more is that, as far as I can find out, the new people we are sending overseas, which is what is important in what we are discussing today, are going, on average, on a two-year contract. This means that even assuming that the number of these new people increases this year, there will be abroad at any particular time only about 4,000 unless we can step this up quite substantially. In the meantime, the people who are a legacy from our former colonial responsibilities and who are on the various overseas aid service schemes are gradually coming back to this country. We ought to be clear that there is a much bigger challenge facing us than we sometimes appreciate from the somewhat complacent presentation of the figures to us.

I felt exactly the same way about the Prime Minister's remarks on our Commonwealth educational co-operation arrangements. He said that the … Commonwealth scholarships Plan … is working very well, and 1,000 scholars have held awards in this country alone since then." [OFFICIAL REPORT, 6th February, 1964; Vol. 688. c. 1364.] The fact of the matter is that there are only about 800 Commonwealth scholars so far and that the Prime Minister was including in his total the 200 Commonwealth scholars who will not take up their scholarships until the next academic year. It is stretching figures a bit to take credit for something which will not hag pen until next year without making this clear.

Mr. Carr:

It may be next academic year, but it is 1964.

Photo of Mr George Thomson Mr George Thomson , Dundee East

The figures for scholarships go on the academic year and the figures for financial commitments go on the financial year.

But what worries me much more is the expenditure on the Commonwealth educational co-operation plan which when it came before the House received a very general welcome. Education is a very important part of economic aid within the Commonwealth.

At that time the House authorised the spending of £6 million in the quinquennium up to 1965. Many of us argued that we should try to be more ambitious, but that was the figure which was fixed. As far as we can see from the estimates produced so far, this £6 million is liable to be underspent by more than £ 1 million when the quinquennium comes to an end. That is a very unsatisfactory feature indeed. A few days ago the Government announced a very welcome increase in their help for voluntary organisations sending volunteers overseas, and like other hon. Members, I pay tribute to Voluntary Services Overseas and other organisations.

It should be clearly understood, however, that the increased financial commitment is not something new which the Government are undertaking, but is already in the £6 million involved in the Commonwealth educational cooperation plans. I gather that about one-third of the graduate volunteers who will be paid for out of these funds will not be doing educational work at all. Therefore, in a sense, the Commonwealth education co-operation funds have been robbed to meet the cost of technical assistance jobs which are extremely valuable in themselves—I do not dispute that for a moment—but which do not directly come within the term "education".

There is the Government's low-priced book scheme. The hon. Member for Windsor laid great emphasis on the value of British books overseas. Many of us wholeheartedly agree with him. However, the story is rather dismal. I recollect that almost exactly four years ago, on 1st February, 1960, Lord Hill, as he now is, told the hon. Member for Tonbridge (Mr. Hornby), who is now Under-Secretary of State for the Colonies, that by the end of 1960 he confidently expected that 2 million low-priced books would be available to convey British ideas to the developing countries. Four years have passed, and we have only pust managed to pass the figure of 1 million.

Recently, I questioned the Minister about expenditure on this scheme. In April, 1962, his predecessor estimated that in that financial year the Government would be able to spend £200,000 on the scheme. In fact, in the two years since then, the Government have failed to spend as much as the amount of money which they estimated for one year. These are some indications of the failure to meet the remarkably modest targets set in various forms of technical assistance.

Unfortunately, the same is true concerning the much larger sums involved in giving capital aid. Capital aid to the independent countries of the Commonwealth dropped sharply for the first half of the current financial year compared with 1962–63. Command Paper No. 2147, mentioned in the Motion, states: The best estimate we can give is that in 1963–64 the total of our aid expenditure will be in the range of £180 million to £220 million. That was certainly a wide enough range for a Treasury White Paper, but it has not turned out to be a very good estimate. We should be glad to hear from the Minister whether the Government are able to step up the absorption of the capital that we are offering. I concede that this matter is by no means wholly under our control, but it is certainly paradoxical that the capital-hungry developing countries which we are anxious to help are, in a sense, cutting down the aid which we are offering them at their end. Steps could be taken from this country to assist.

When this happened last year the Government were asked whether the types and terms of aid were right and whether there was consultation with the receiving countries. They were asked whether the aid could be made more flexible so that a country which showed ability to absorb aid effectively could have more aid transferred to it. Could the Minister tell us something about this?

I gather from my own inquiries that amongst the independent Commonwealth countries India has been successfully absorbing the aid which is offered to her. The India aid consortium, I gather, meets within the next few weeks for preliminary discussions about the levels of aid for next year. I hope that active steps will be taken by the Government to do what can be done from this end—and I believe there is a good deal which can be done from this end—to try to make sure that the absorption of commitments takes place on a much bigger scale.

What emerges, I think, from these points which I have made is the lack of effective planning by the British Government of their overall aid programme. I do not blame the Minister or his predecessor for this. I think that all of us know the concern the Minister has for overseas aid policies, but the truth is that this is a new Department. It is a patch work of a Department. Let us face it, it is a Department without really effective power to do the kind of jobs it ought to be doing. I was glad that we received support on this matter from the hon. Member for York and from another hon. Gentleman on the other side of the House in this debate today.

We on this side believe, as is known, that the aid programme is not on the kind of scale and does not get the kind of priority in the Government's policies which it really ought to have. To achieve improvement there really ought to be a Ministry of Overseas Development under a Minister of Cabinet rank, the kind of Ministry which would have the authority and power and dynamism to give real direction to the nation's aid programme.

I am glad to hear that we are winning converts to this point of view. Indeed, if I may venture prophesy, I should not be at ail surprised if between now and the General Election this will be yet another of the many suggestions which we have been putting up for the running of the affairs of the nation better which will be taken over by the party opposite and we will find a Ministry of Overseas Development proposed in the Conservative Party's election programme.

However, I do not want to detain the House and stand between it and the Minister's reply. I only want to say that in thinking about these very formidable problems of the most effective way of giving aid to the developing world, I come more and more to the conclusion that what we want is to marry more closely together the technical assistance which is given with the capital aid which is given. This, I think, is a reinforcement of the arguments for having one Ministry with central authority in this field in this country.

There are, of course, considerable differences between the various nations one tries to help. Countries like India, or Pakistan for that matter, have reasonably sophisticated planning machinery for absorbing aid, but the African countries, of course, do not, and, therefore, the limits of economic planning there are very sharp indeed. I have always thought that the Commonwealth Development Corporation was a very good example of marrying technical assistance with capital aid. I think that this is an example which gets too little attention these days. I hope that the Government are doing some serious thinking a bout how to co-ordinate technical assistance much more effectively with the capital aid which they give.

It sometimes seems to me that the Government sit back and only react to requests from overseas. There ought to be a more dynamism on the part of the Government in trying to identify the real needs of the developing countries. In the case of people we send out on the technical assistance projects we too often abandon responsibility for them after they leave this country. We know far too little a bout the kind of job they are doing, and we get far too little information from them when they come back.

Of course, there are great difficulties about this. My hon. Friend the Member for West Bromwich (Mr. Foley) emphasised correctly the national sensibilities of these countries, but I am sure that if the matter were approached in the right way, approached in the sense of a sort of dialogue about planning problems, as described by my hon. Friend the Member for West Bromwich, then we should get an immense amount of positive co-operation from the receiving countries and that it would help to ensure that the aid which we give would be used a great deal more effectively.

Certainly, in the Commonwealth we have a great deal of opportunity for working out techniques of mutual aid. I would like to see the Commonwealth Education Liaison Unit—that rather tiny body that survives at the centre of Commonwealth educational co-operation plans—given more power to engage in serious educational planning on a Commonwealth basis. Would it not be possible to try to apply some of the Colombo Plan experience of mutual planning and technical assistance to Africa or the Caribbean?

The hon. Member for Windsor laid great emphasis on the educational aid programme and the amount of help we give to students. Like him, I pay tribute to the work of the British Council. But it is time to take a thorough look at the educational help that we give students in this country. There is a lot in what the hon. Member for Torquay (Mr. F. M. Bennett) said. We should concentrate our educational aid here, as far as possible, in providing the kind of training that it is impossible to get in students' own countries.

What has happened here in the last few years has been extremely interesting. It has been discovered—and that is exactly the word—that we have been providing out of public funds about £9 million in educational aid in respect of a large number of students, mainly from developing countries, who come to the technical colleges in the London area. They come here quite unofficially, and we have given this £9 million of educational aid in a fit of absentmindedness. I am not arguing that we should reduce it, but we should see whether it might not be more efficiently and systematically used.

Here, I come back to the point made by my hon. Friend the Member for West Bromwich, that the starting point is to try to identify the real educational needs of the developing countries. Many of these needs are outside the formal channels of education. As the Ministers knows, I recently had the opportunity to see something of the training programmes run in Israel for African countries. They were very down-to-earth and flexible, and they impressed me immensely. I am sure that there are lessons that we can learn from them. The Israeli programme consists, first, of short courses which prevent people from becoming pro- fessional students and of courses which are tailor-made to the particular needs of a group of people from the developing world. We could do much more of this sort of thing.

The hon. Member for York mentioned the B.B.C.'s proposal for training people in television here. I am sure that this would be an interesting idea, but I cannot comment on its details. The other day I visited the centre for educational television overseas, which is jointly helped by the foundations, the Government, the B.B.C. and the independent television companies. What struck me about its work was not only that it seemed useful and directly related to the educational possibilities of television in the developing countries, but that it was on the kind of small scale which is appropriate for people coming from new countries.

I am afraid that if the B.B.C. had tried to do it, a person coming from an African country might have felt overwhelmed by the vastness of B.B.C. bureaucracy, and the expensiveness of its capital equipment. We should maintain a down-to-earth outlook on this matter, and appreciate the value of doing all sorts of things on a small scale, associating technical assistance with capital development. My hon. Friend the Member for Bilston (Mr. R. Edwards) laid great emphasis on this.

I must ask the Minister whether the Government will publish an annual White Paper on aid, which would give us a much better body of opinion about these matters than we have at the moment. The White Paper on Aid to Developing Countries, Cmnd. 2147, was the first for several years when we tried to analyse its figures, but there were all sorts of deficiencies. It is not possible to discover what are the interest rates on the various loans provided as technical assistance, there are not enough details about the Export Credits Guarantee Department loans. I understand that these cannot be found normally in any Government publication.

I think that a White Paper should be published annually with the tradition being established of a major debate on overseas aid in the House on that White Paper. So just as we debate the Defence White Paper on a major occasion once a year we should debate the overseas aid White Paper. It would be an enormous help in educating and forming public opinion in this country on the importance of these matters.

One final point. A number of hon. Members have pointed to the opening paragraph of the White Paper in which the growing gap between the developing and the developed world is mentioned. There is, perhaps, some danger in emphasising this to the degree we have, because certainly outside it leaves the impression that what is happening is an absolute drop in the level of prosperity in the developing world. If we were to give people the feeling that the aid being given was not producing results, then public opinion might well be discouraged.

I think it tremendously important to record the fact that the aid given so far has produced some very marked results in the countries receiving it. I have recently been in India and Nigeria, and in both cases it really is exciting to see the results coming from the aid received. I would have thought that there was nothing more satisfying that this country could put its hands to in the years ahead than to give aid to the developing countries in a way that would create a world of greater equality in living standards.

3.36 p.m.

Photo of Mr Robert Carr Mr Robert Carr , Mitcham

I wish, first, to join everyone else in thanking my hon. Friend the Member for Windsor (Sir C. Mott-Radclyffe) for choosing this subject for debate today when he was lucky in the Ballot the other week. Of course, I can tell him and the House straight away, on behalf of the Government, that we are delighted to accept the terms of the Motion.

I also appreciate, as does the hon. Member for Dundee, East (Mr. G. M. Thomson), that in this election year we can talk about these subjects, and that we find this subject sufficiently important to talk about although it is one which, as many hon. Members have said, is genuinely non-controversial and the importance of which is recognised by all parties who share equal enthusiasm for it.

I would not push the matter too far, but I thought there was a slight note in the speech of the hon. Member for Dundee, East which was like a shadow of the election. He talked about the modest targets which we had failed to achieve when, in fact, we have set very big targets and have managed to achieve them. Of course, in an enormous programme of this kind one finds a spot here or there where a target has not been reached. But the overlying fact is that British financial aid has doubled in the last five years and that technical assistance has gone up sixfold in the same time. These are enormous increases.

I cannot possibly deal with all the points raised, but I hope to deal with a number of them. I wish to assure all hon. Members that what has been said will be studied very carefully not only in my Department but in the other Departments concerned and that the various ideas put forward will be analysed and carefully considered. The debate has been helpful and many ideas have been expressed.

One or two general comments to begin with. I should like very much to support what my hon. Friend the Member for Windsor said in moving the Motion, that it must be a matter of a two-way traffic. It is not just a matter of the donor giving and of the recipient country receiving. There must be a genuine partnership. The donor must have both the ability and the will to give, but the receiving country must also have a genuine readiness to co-operate with those who wish to give.

As my hon. Friend pointed out, it would become extremely difficult, to put it no stronger, to persuade British men and women to go to these countries and work and to serve in the way that they have been doing if they were ever to get the feeling that they would not be given the chance to work when they got there and that, as my hon. Friend said, they might possibly sometimes be in actual physical dangers. That is right, but I should also like to say that, so far, our record has been good. British men and women are working happily in many parts of the world, and while we at home may get into a rather nervous state, those on the spot appear more calm and confident about continuing their work. We must do all we can to support them.

I agree with many hon. Members who have said that trade is an essential complement to aid. Indeed, aid without trade will not get us very far. This is not a debate on trade and therefore I cannot say much about it, but I am sure that the House will realise that in our policy regarding imports from the developing countries Britain is a leader in liberality. That does not mean to say that more cannot be done one day, but there must be co-operation between countries and I can assure the House that the intention of the British Government is to play a full part in the forthcoming United Nations conference.

This Motion refers to the expressed intention of the Government to increase aid, and I wish to reaffirm that intention. It was stated explicitly in the Gracious Speech and, as I am sure the House will recall, only recently in a speech which he made in Canada the Prime Minister referred to what we and other countries were doing and described the war on want as the problem of problems in the decades ahead.

I wish to say something about financial aid and technical assistance. The financial aid has doubled in the last five or six years and it is also true that in the last year or two expenditure has remained relatively static. The hon. Member for Dundee, East said that it had reached a plateau. I can assure the House that this was not the intention or wish of the Government. We had expected it to rise more sharply. In the last year we have substantially eased the terms on which we offer aid. We provide a great flexibility. When I was in Asia for six weeks just before Christmas I found in every country I visited a great appreciation of the flexibility and lack of strings which went with British aid, so I feel that we are doing pretty well in that respect.

The static nature of the expenditure is because of the growing time-lag between when we make the commitment and the receiving country's drawing on it. The same experience has been shared by other donor countries and it is not a phenomenon of British aid. It is a problem which is being studied by the Development Assistance Committee of O.E.C.D. in Paris and we are playing a full part in that study, as well as con- ducting studies of our own to see whether we can learn from what has been happening in the last year or two.

Whatever may be the result of the studies there is one conclusion—I do not suggest that it is the only one. It is that tremendous importance must be attached to the transfer by the advanced countries on a vast scale of their knowledge, skill and experience to the people of the under-developed countries. This is the business of technical assistance and one of the reasons why my Department was set up two-and-a-half years ago. It is the reason why the amount of money which we are expending has gone up. I am glad to call attention to the fact that the Vote on Account shows another increase in the Estimate. Information about the detailed splitting up of the Estimate must await the publication of the Estimates in the near future.

We shall be directing our increased effort particularly to the Colombo Plan area, to Africa, and Latin America. We shall also be substantially increasing our spending on the Commonwealth Educational Co-operation Scheme to which the hon. Member referred. That was one of the things to which he drew attention where we are under-spending so far. It is true that it was a little slow in getting under way for a year or two, but at the moment we are spending at a very much higher rate than the yearly average of the quinquennium. It is too early to forecast, but I shall be surprised if the under-spending is as large at the end of the quinquennium as he thought it might be. It is too early to be certain about that, but I stress that in the current year we shall be substantially increasing expenditure under the scheme.

There is a point about expenditure on technical assistance to which I would like to draw attention. That is its geographical distribution. It is still mainly in the Commonwealth, about 90 per cent., but an increasing proportion is now going to countries outside the Commonwealth including Latin America, and Peru, about which my hon. Friend the Member for Richmond, Surrey (Mr. A. Royle) spoke so eloquently early in the debate. I am sure that my hon. Friend the Economic Secretary will have taken note of his plea for economic assistance for Peru.

I come from money to people, because in the Department of Technical Cooperation, although we often inevitably measure our performance in money, it is really with people that we are concerned. I should like to deal with the numbers of British experts abroad. As my hon. Friend said in moving this Motion, there are 19,000 in all in the developing countries. There are three types of these experts. There are those who are on permanent and pensionable terms. They are going down in numbers. There are those fully qualified and experienced British experts, men and women, who serve on contracts of two or three years' duration. The number in that category is going up. Finally, there are the young volunteers, and that is another category which is going up. So we have two categories going up and one going down. It is, I fear, inevitable that the decline in the number of those on permanent and pensionable terms will out-balance in the years ahead the increase in the other two categories.

As I told the hon. Member for Dundee, East in answer to a Question the other day, the net decrease over the last three years has been about 700, but I must say quite clearly that my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister was correct in the figures he gave the other day. This is a confusing field because there are many categories of people concerned. In his hurry, the hon. Member misread HANSARD when referring to the Question I answered the other day. The total number is 15,696—not 1,596, which is what he said.

Photo of Mr George Thomson Mr George Thomson , Dundee East

I meant to say 15,000.

Photo of Mr Robert Carr Mr Robert Carr , Mitcham

That is why I interrupted the hon. Member. I wondered why he stuck to hundreds rather than thousands.

Apart from those recruited and paid for by my Department, the Crown Agents and the British Council also recruit. It is difficult to be sure at any moment—I appreciate the difficulty of the House here—regarding categories about whom we are talking. When I am asked a Question in the House the hon. Member will realise that I have to reply to the exact wording of the Question. I can confirm that when my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister said the other day that there were about 18,000 in all in the Commonwealth that was correct. It corresponds to the figure I have just given of about 19,000 in all the developing countries, i.e., including foreign as well as Commonwealth developing countries.

I associate myself with the warm tribute paid by my hon. Friend the Member for Windsor to the Colonial Service, which has served not just nor primarily this country but the territories in which it has worked so magnificently for so many years. Many of those people are still on the job but wearing new hats, and long may this continue.

Growing up alongside this older type, however—and it is one of the main jobs of my Department to stimulate this—is what I might call the new Englishman abroad. I had better be careful and add quickly the new Scotsman, the new Welshman and the new Ulsterman abroad also. He and she are increasingly men and women who give up a few years out of a home-based career for service abroad. I underline, however, as my hon. Friend the Member for Windsor said in moving the Motion, that in this new type of service there is just as much need—and those who are giving this service are showing these qualities—for that degree of adventure, integrity and service which so distinguished the Colonial Service in the different conditions of older days. Our younger volunteers are a special and outstanding part of this new service and the fact that they are young is in itself important.

Several hon. Members have referred to the problem of the youth of the various countries. I do not say that this is all that is necessary, but one of the advantages of the young volunteers is the fact that they are young. They will be able to go and make quicker contact with the problems of the young in these countries and, I hope, will help us, especially as their numbers grow, to tackle some of the problems associated with the young.

I was glad to hear the tribute paid by my hon. Friend the Member for Richmond to the team of young volunteers whom he saw at work in Lima. It is interesting particularly because this was a team. Here were two graduate volunteers sent out under the United Nations Association together with eight V.S.O. cadet volunteers, including two electrical apprentices. They knitted together into a team which, as my hon. Friend said, is doing magnificent work. His tribute to them was well deserved. I cannot give a specific answer today about the Land Rover, but I have noted my hon. Friend's question. Basically, however, this is the sort of equipment which the receiving countries normally undertake and manage to provide and it does not usually come through the voluntary movement. I doubt whether it can do so in the future.

I should like now to say a word about new recruitment. Since 1961, with the introduction of the Overseas Service Aid Scheme, the formation of the Department of Technical Co-operation and the expansion of regional programmes, the number of appointments made by the D.T.C. has steadily increased. The 1963 figures showed an increase of over 60 per cent. over 1961. For all appointments by the British Government, not only by the D.T.C., but by the British Council and so on, the figures have risen from 1,550 in 1961 to 2,000 in 1962 and 2,700 in 1963. The figures for 1963 I have only recently obtained. There is, therefore, success in this respect and we have to be determined to ensure that it continues.

I assure my hon. Friend the Member for Windsor, however, that no fewer than 23 per cent. of all fresh appointments were officers with previous overseas experience. Therefore, we are finding it possible to make use of people with previous experience on a fairly considerable scale. We shall certainly continue to do this.

How are we setting about building up this recruitment? The first method is secondment. We have taken steps within the Government service to make secondment easier. A working party is considering the problems of secondment from local government service. There are arrangements for secondment from the teaching profession whereby teachers can go abroad for a few years without losing seniority in their pay scale or without losing superannuation rights. In the universities, we have in the last year or so appointed a committee under Sir Charles Morris to help the flow of university secondments. Considerable progress is being made.

In addition to secondment in the public service, we are taking up the suggestion mentioned by the hon. Member for Wednesbury (Mr. Stonehouse) of appointing some extra staff to home-based institutions. There are a number of examples of this which there is not time to go into today. However, it is an aspect which we are not only talking about but getting on with.

Thirdly, we are trying to approach the problem by mobilising the resources of the various professions and industries. In the medical field we have had the Porritt Report. In the public administration field we have had the Bridges Report. Overseas co-operatives have been mentioned, and there is the Peddie Report. In regard to agricultural and natural resources, I hope within a week or so to be publishing the first report of the Bawden Committee. I also hope to publish before many weeks have passed a report on the geological surveys of the Brundrett Committee.

In other words, in all these main fields, we have had committees studying what needs to be done. Their Reports are coming in. I am glad to say that we in the D.T.C. are managing to give our immediate replies to them so that the Reports and our replies to the recommendations are in most cases being published simultaneously. I can assure the House that we intend to press on with this.

The second leg of the Motion refers to training. At the end of the last academic year there were no less than 51,000 students from the developing countries studying in further education here. This is a higher figure than I have given before. Previously, our estimates were between 40,000 and 45,000, but it is apparently true that in the last academic year—we have more accurate information now—the number was nearer 51,000. I hope that this increase continues.

There are many trainees in industry. We would like to have more information about this. We know of some 5,000 or 6,000, but many come here on their own initiative without any preparation at all. So we will look into this matter. I think that the matter provides some problems and scope for work in the future. I thank the British Council for the work which it does in looking after these overseas students.

On education overseas I agree with the remarks made by several hon. Members. In the long run the most important thing of all for us to do is to build up the developing countries' own educational establishments. There the biggest contribution we make is in teachers. Last year we recruited about 1,700 teachers in this country, not all by the Government. The British Council recruited over 200. My Department recruited nearly 500. Then there were missionary societies, voluntary agencies, university secondment, and all the rest of them. In total this resulted in about 1,700 British teachers going to developing countries last year.

I stress to my hon. Friend the Member for Windsor that we pay great attention to the growing importance of teaching English. I assure him that Aid to Commonwealth English will continue after 1964–65. We are doing all we can to establish links between universities, technical colleges and education establishments of all kinds in this country and their opposite numbers in the receiving countries.

I want to conclude with a brief reference to the question of organisation. It is easy to talk of a Ministry of Overseas Development, but, whatever Ministry there is as is made clear when one goes to West Germany, the overseas Departments and the Treasury will have to come into the picture. At best, this is maginal. We should deceive ourselves if we imagined that setting up a new Ministry with a new name would suddenly give a new sport to this work. When the need arose, we set up my Department. If the need is ever proved, I am sure that the Government of the day, whatever it is, will make a change.

Question put and agreed to.

Resolved,That this House welcomes the increase in Britain's aid to developing countries recorded in Command 2147, and urges Her Majesty's Government, in implementing the expressed intention to increase this effort still further, wherever possible; to have especial regard to the recruitment of British men and women to serve overseas, to the training in this country of students from overseas, and to the support of educational institutions in the developing countries.