I have not recently had a meeting with my West German colleague, but I expect to see him later this week at a meeting of the Development Assistance Committee of the OECD. My officials have naturally had bilateral discussions with their colleagues from other countries, including West Germany, in preparation for or during the various international meetings which have been held on this important subject.
Does my right hon. Friend agree that it is absurd that a country with reserves of $35 billion should be haggling and niggling over a contribution to this important agency? Will he use all his influence with both the Germans and the Japanese to make sure that these international bodies, which are of vital importance to the world economy, and not only ours, are replenished on a sufficient scale?
I agree very much about the importance of the replenishment of the IDA. My hon. Friend will be glad to note that at a meeting held in Japan on 12th and 13th October a considerable amount of progress was made. Among other Governments, the German Government said that they expected to be able to play their part in a replenishment which would be something between $7 billion and $7½ billion from the traditional IDA donors. In addition to that, we would hope to receive new contributions from the oil exporting countries.
Would not the British point of view carry more weight in these discussions, and would we not be able to exercise more influence, were it not for the fact that the British Government have been almost the most frequent arrival at the International Monetary Fund and other international institutions for grants-in-aid or loans of one kind or another? Would it not be sensible if we exercised our minds on the matter before trying to back up the points of view put forward by Labour Members?
That matter goes a little wider than the original Question, but I agree that our influence in world affairs will be stronger as and when our economy becomes stronger. It behoves hon. Members on both sides of the House to make a constructive contribution towards the solution of that problem.