asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what measures he is taking to ensure that overseas aid spending through the aid-trade provision serves the development needs of the overseas countries concerned; and what share of official development assistance has been absorbed by the aid-trade provision in the latest available 12-month period, relative to 1979–80.
Our appraisal procedures are designed to ensure that ATP projects represent a sound investment for the recipient country. In 1979–80, expenditure on ATP was approximately £29 million, or about 3·5 per cent. of the total gross aid programme. In 1986–87, expenditure on ATP was approximately £81·3 million, or about 65 per cent.—I meant to say, 6·5 per cent.—of the total gross aid programme.
We hope that the ATP will not rise to 65 per cent. of the aid programme. However, it is clear that the long-term trend under the Government is that it has risen, is rising and is likely to rise still further. I commiserate with the Minister, granted the attack by the Minister for Trade on the development criteria for ATP, as reported in Wednesday's edition of the Financial Times. He should be concerned to ensure that development context of ATP provision. If he does, I am sure that he will have the support of both sides of the House and of my hon. Friend the Member for Eccles (Miss Lestor), whom we welcome to the Front Bench.
I wish the hon. Gentleman well, although not too well, in his new responsibilities. I read the characteristically supportive speech by my hon. Friend the Minister for Trade, to which the hon. Gentleman drew attention. As I said at our previous Question Time, we shall respond to the report of the Select Committee on Foreign Affairs in due course. I know that the Department of Trade and Industry will make a valuable contribution to the Government's response to that report.