I do not expect that our alignment to the Community's Generalised Preference Scheme will cause any major problems. Our bilateral aid is not primarily intended to compensate countries for difficulties arising from world trading conditions, but we always consider a country's overall economic situation when planning our aid programme.
Will the Minister explain why he thinks that the overall position for certain countries, particularly ex-Commonwealth countries, will not be worsened? Is it not a fact that the draft regulations for the new European GPS will place certain countries, particularly those in Asia, at a disadvantage compared with their present position in the Commonwealth? Will he take steps to balance the disadvantages that they will thus suffer?
The hon. Gentleman is overlooking the Community's declaration of intent regarding the countries to which he has referred. The Community has every intention of honouring the declaration of intent that it made.
We know that the Government are negotiating in the EEC on a number of matters concerning the developing countries, and we understand that they are seeking to negotiate rather more aid provision from the EEC to the Asian countries which, as my hon. Friend the Member for Acton (Mr. Spearing) said, will suffer greatly from the new generalised preference scheme. Is the Government's refusal to accept the official aid target of 0–7 per cent.—unlike the other countries of the EEC—proving a considerable and serious barrier to making progress with the negotiating objective that the Government have in mind?
No. As I have pointed out on many occasions, the performance of individual Governments is far more important than any commitment they may make to a target, particularly if that commitment is made without any dale attached to it.