Aid Statistics

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 Joan Ruddock Joan Ruddock , Lewisham, Deptford 12:00 am, 20th July 1987

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what information he has as to the combined average percentage of gross national product given to developing countries as official aid by Belgium, France, Holland, Italy and West Germany.

Photo of Mr Chris Patten Mr Chris Patten , Bath

Total net official development assistance provided by Belgium, France, Holland. Italy and West Germany, as a proportion of their combined GNP, is estimated to have been 0·55 per cent. in 1986.

Photo of Joan Ruddock Joan Ruddock , Lewisham, Deptford

Does the Minister accept that that percentage is considerably in excess of what Britain is making available? Does he realise that, notwithstanding his earlier answer about the quality of our aid, quantity is clearly important? What steps will be take to ensure that Britain's aid to the poorest countries is increased to a higher proportion of our GNP, and when will it reach the United Nations recommended level of 0·7 per cent. of GNP?

Photo of Mr Chris Patten Mr Chris Patten , Bath

Our position is exactly the same as that of all previous Governments, who have not been able to give a timetable for achieving the target. The hon. Lady mentioned the proportion of our aid budget going to the poorest countries and I am sure that she will have noted what I said to the hon. Member for Eccles (Miss Lestor).

Photo of Eric Forth Eric Forth , Mid Worcestershire

Does my hon. Friend agree that aid given voluntarily by individuals is intrinsically of much more value than taxes levied on an unwilling population and distributed according to an arbitrary figure decided by outside sources? Will he encourage individual giving to charities of people's choice as the best means of helping the Third world?

Photo of Mr Chris Patten Mr Chris Patten , Bath

I believe that individual giving and contributions by the taxpayer can make an important contribution to the development of countries that are less advantaged than our own.