Does my right hon. Friend not agree that in the present economic context the cost to our balance of payments is being grossly over-estimated and that it is high time that some detailed work was done on this matter to illustrate the true cost?
Yes, Sir. I think that we ought to do some study into this. It is very difficult to get precise figures. Approximately one-third of the aid programme is a direct cost to the balance of payments in the short run, but in the longer term there are other advantages to the balance of payments accruing from aid, and that is something on which we ought to have more data. I will put in train studies to that effect.
Does not my right hon. Friend agree that the cuts made last winter were out of all proportion to the economic problems with which we are confronted in Britain, and does he realise that there will be no satisfaction in the House until they are restored at the earliest possible opportunity?
I cannot say at this stage whether the figure for next year will be more or less than the £225 million target for last year. The aid programme of any Government is bound to be conditioned, among other things, by its own balance of payments situation.
There are three main factors. There will be an extra £5 million of food aid as a result of the Kennedy Round. We know that. There is the question of I.D.A. replenishment, and there is a Question on the Order Paper about that. There is also the mitigatory aid for Singapore and Malaysia on which we are at a very early stage of our talks with those countries.