Brandt Commission (Report)

Oral Answers to Questions — Overseas Development – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 24th October 1983.

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Photo of Mr John Evans Mr John Evans , St Helens North 12:00 am, 24th October 1983

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what representations he has received on his response to the Brandt Commission report entitled "Common Crisis".

Photo of Mr John Evans Mr John Evans , St Helens North

Does the right hon. Gentleman realise that there is tremendous support in this country for the original Brandt report and for the supplementary report? Will he therefore use his best efforts inside the Government to reduce the massive arms expenditure in which the Government are involved in with the extra £10,000 million for Trident, and urge that we should devote more resources to helping the two-thirds of humanity who are suffering from poverty and want?

Photo of Mr Timothy Raison Mr Timothy Raison , Aylesbury

I am aware that there has been considerable support in this country for both the first and the second Brandt report. However, I have to say to the hon. Gentleman that while I believe very strongly in the value of our aid programme, I also believe that this country has to be properly defended.

Photo of Mr Anthony Beaumont-Dark Mr Anthony Beaumont-Dark , Birmingham, Selly Oak

Does my right hon. Friend agree that, with international debt running at some £900 billion, all that has happened so far has merely papered over the cracks? Has not the time arrived when we should be looking at the possibility of a Bretton Woods style conference to make sure that we can help with the long-term problems of the world, which are getting worse by the day?

Photo of Mr Timothy Raison Mr Timothy Raison , Aylesbury

I am not yet persuaded that such a conference would necessarily be helpful. First, we should recognise the gravity of the problem, as my hon. Friend has expressed it. Secondly, we should recognise that our existing institutions have been working very hard and have had some considerable achievements in tackling the problem.