Developing Countries (Aid)

Oral Answers to Questions — Overseas Development – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 20th July 1987.

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Photo of Miss Joan Lestor Miss Joan Lestor , Eccles 12:00 am, 20th July 1987

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs when he will next be meeting Ministers at the development assistance committee of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development to review aid flows to developing countries.

Photo of Mr Chris Patten Mr Chris Patten , Bath

I expect to attend this year's high level meeting of the development assistance committee in early December.

Photo of Miss Joan Lestor Miss Joan Lestor , Eccles

Does the Minister agree that the people of this country have responded incredibly well to all the efforts that have been made to combat some of the terrible tragedies that have occurred in the Third world? Does he not therefore think it a good idea, when he attends the discussions, to set a target of reaching 0·7 per cent. of gross national product as aid in order to encourage these people? Repeatedly, we see reports of the declining level of our aid, which must bring no comfort to the Third world and even less to the people of this country, who have responded so well to the appeals that have been made.

Photo of Mr Chris Patten Mr Chris Patten , Bath

May I begin by welcoming the hon. Lady to her new responsibilities. I know that she is highly knowledgeable about the subject on which she will be speaking.

I agree with the hon. Lady about the response of the public to appeals for assistance for other countries. I am also pleased that at the last development assistance committee review of British aid, the DAC complimented the continued high concessionality of the British aid programme, the large share of our resources that is devoted to multilateral programmes and the relatively large proportion of our aid budget that goes to the poorest countries, compared to the OECD average. We have a quality aid programme, and I am pleased to be responsible for it.

Photo of Mr Michael Latham Mr Michael Latham , Rutland and Melton

When my hon. Friend next meets his fellow Ministers will he discuss with them what can be done to help Zambia, so as to persuade it to stop blocking funds due to be repatriated to this country to constituents of hon. Members, such as one of mine, who is currently on supplementary benefit?

Photo of Mr Chris Patten Mr Chris Patten , Bath

I note what my hon. Friend has said. I have taken up the issue of remittances with a number of Governments in sub-Saharan Africa and will do so again when I have the opportunity.