Aid and Development Programmes

Oral Answers to Questions — Overseas Development – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 9th November 1967.

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Photo of Mr Frank Judd Mr Frank Judd , Portsmouth West 12:00 am, 9th November 1967

asked the Minister of Overseas Development what is the estimated current cost to Great Britain's balance of payments of the Government's overseas aid and development programmes.

Photo of Mr Reginald Prentice Mr Reginald Prentice , East Ham North

I would refer my hon. Friend to my predecessor's reply to the hon. Member for Antrim, North (Mr. Henry Clark) on 2nd February, 1967. Put shortly, about one-third of any increase in the aid programme would have a direct effect on our balance of payments.

Photo of Mr Frank Judd Mr Frank Judd , Portsmouth West

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?

Photo of Mr Reginald Prentice Mr Reginald Prentice , East Ham North

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.

Photo of Mr Frank Judd Mr Frank Judd , Portsmouth West

asked the Minister of Overseas Development when he will restore the cuts made last winter in Great Britain's overseas aid and development programmes.

Photo of Mr Reginald Prentice Mr Reginald Prentice , East Ham North

The total amount of aid next year will be higher than this year, but I cannot give a precise figure yet as several aspects are still being worked out.

Photo of Mr Frank Judd Mr Frank Judd , Portsmouth West

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?

Photo of Mr Reginald Prentice Mr Reginald Prentice , East Ham North

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.

Photo of Bernard Braine Bernard Braine , Essex South East

Will the right hon. Gentleman give us a little more information about that? When will the Government be in a position to announce the figure for next year?

Photo of Mr Reginald Prentice Mr Reginald Prentice , East Ham North

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.