Developing Countries (Famine and Debt)

Part of Opposition Day – in the House of Commons at 4:58 pm on 11th June 1985.

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Photo of Mrs Judith Hart Mrs Judith Hart , Clydesdale 4:58 pm, 11th June 1985

I have one small question for the Minister, on which I should appreciate an answer at the end of the debate. As he will know, yesterday I tabled a question to him about aid for Nicaragua. I tabled a previous question to the Foreign and Commonwealth Secretary on the same subject. I tabled the questions because I understand that the European Community is requesting that all EEC members double their aid to Nicaragua. What response will the British Government make to that? The issue may not arise until the next Development Council. Has the Commission made its proposals, and, if not, when is it likely to make them? What do we propose to do to respond, and how far does it look as though we shall turn in the direction of the EEC's more generous and more politically realistic policies towards Nicaragua than those of the United States? I should be most grateful for some information on that matter, as I have failed to elicit anything through my parliamentary questions.

I note what the Minister said. Most people, who have been extremely generous, understand well that there has been no extra money from the Government to meet the crisis in Africa. We should be foolish not to welcome what the Government have done. They have done a good deal, but the expenditure which the Minister mentioned came out of the 1984–85 programme and the Minister's contingency reserve. The concept of a contingency reserve is slightly new to me—for at least a couple of years, we did not have an underspend on the aid programme.