Foreign Affairs

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 10:22 pm on 7th May 1981.

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Photo of Mr John Maxton Mr John Maxton , Glasgow Cathcart 10:22 pm, 7th May 1981

If I said military aid, I withdraw that. I meant to refer to aid tied to political considerations—the attitude that the hon. Member for Dorset, South was condemning the Russians for adopting—and aid tied to what one considers the best political regime, regardless of the poverty of the country involved.

The Government have an appalling aid record. They are wrong economically, because unless we raise the level of wealth in the poorest countries it is doubtful whether the West will survive economically in the long run. If we put money into the Third world, we shall become increasingly wealthy. But that should not be the argument.

My right hon. Friend the Member for Leeds, East (Mr. Healey) said that 10 million people have died in developing countries as a result of wars. UNICEF estimates that 15 million children under the age of five die of starvation every year in the developing world and that 800 million people live below the poverty line and suffer from malnutrition. It is not a question whether we depend on them or they depend on us. It is a moral question. If we can save one child by increasing our aid, that is morally right. It is time that we started looking at foreign policy from a moral point of view and not always from a self-interest angle.