asked the Minister of Overseas Development what response Her Majesty's Government propose to make to the recent official proposal of the President of the World Bank that a new international committee of experts should be set up to review the whole field of economic aid and assistance, on the lines of the Franks Committee which preceded the Marshall Plan.
Mr. Woods' important proposal deserves close and urgent consideration, but, as Mr. Woods' speech was made only on 27th October, it is too soon for me to give a considered statement of Her Majesty's Government's views.
That response is welcome as far as it goes, but will the right hon. Gentleman recognise that we are now reaching a time of decision in the whole world structure of economic aid and assistance and it is, therefore, imperative for this country to show an early response and take a lead in meeting this initiative?
Yes, Sir; I welcome the general views expressed in Mr. Woods' speech. As regards the proposal itself for a panel of experts—a grand assize, as he put it—this is a matter which we are urgently considering, and I shall bear in mind the reasons given by the hon. Gentleman for as much urgency as possible.
But would not the right hon. Gentleman agree that, at a time of growing anxiety in the developing countries about the adequacy of aid and of cynicism in the developed countries about its efficacy, there is the highest possible merit in the suggestions made by the President of the World Bank? Will he note that we on this side at least welcome that initiative and hope that the Government will take it up?
Yes, Sir, I shall bear that view in mind. Perhaps I may add —I am sure that I carry hon. Members opposite with me in this—that, if there is to be a grand assize of this sort, it should not be a reason for postponing other decisions outstanding, for instance, on the question of I.D.A. replenishment about which we had Questions a little earlier.