Overseas Aid (Education Projects)

Oral Answers to Questions — Overseas Development – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 11th July 1988.

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Photo of Dr Michael Clark Dr Michael Clark , Rochford 12:00 am, 11th July 1988

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what proportion of overseas aid from Britain is directed towards education in the recipient countries.

Photo of Mr Chris Patten Mr Chris Patten , Bath

In 1987 almost a fifth of the bilateral programme—some £140 million—was spent on aid for education and training.

Photo of Dr Michael Clark Dr Michael Clark , Rochford

I am delighted with my hon. Friend's reply. However, does he agree that to spend money on education aid to Third world countries is one of the best ways of priming the pump? Bearing in mind the many excellent education hooks in English, does he agree that it is vital that there should be a supply of English language teachers, and is he giving that sufficient priority?

Photo of Mr Chris Patten Mr Chris Patten , Bath

I agree with my hon. Friend about the importance of English language teaching as part of our aid programme. We are expanding English language teaching and 275 English language teachers are now working in developing countries with the support of our aid programme. I am pleased that we have recently managed to increase our English language teaching programme in Sri Lanka, Tanzania, and China. I should like to pay a particular tribute to the British Council, which acts as our agent and does the job with considerable distinction.

Photo of John Reid John Reid , Motherwell North

Is it not a shameful indictment of the Government that when the British people have shown unbounded generosity towards charitable works at home as well as abroad, the Government have halved overseas aid as a percentage of GNP? Will he match the generosity of the people who elected the Government by pledging the Government to support the 0·7 per cent. campaign to make that proportion of GNP the measure of our overseas aid?

Photo of Mr Chris Patten Mr Chris Patten , Bath

The premise of the hon. Gentleman's question is wrong. It is important and valuable that we are now increasing our aid programme in real terms.