asked the Minister of Overseas Development if she will undertake to examine the possibilities for the purchase of plant, equipment and agricultural machinery in the North-East and other development districts of Great Britain in order to give further aid to the underdeveloped parts of the world and thus benefit peoples both at home and overseas.
Opportunities of directing aid-financed procurement to industries in development areas are kept in mind but it has not been found practicable to relate expenditure specifically to particular districts. The Government have taken steps to encourage competitive industries in development areas; this more than anything else helps to bring increased procurement to those areas.
Whilst I welcome that reply, it does not really go far enough in tackling the problem. Is my hon. Friend aware that my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister mooted the idea two or three years ago? If the factories in the development districts are not available, will my hon. Friend talk to the Departments concerned about the possibility of setting them up so that we get mutual aid both at home and abroad?
While we cannot force developing countries to buy any specific products, we are always ready to inform them of the possible purchases they may make in development areas. If my hon. Friend has any suggestion in mind, whether concerning the North-East or any other development area, I should be very glad to look at it in conjunction with other Departments.