Tools for Self Reliance

Oral Answers to Questions — Overseas Development – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 22nd March 1993.

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Photo of Mr Michael Colvin Mr Michael Colvin , Romsey and Waterside 12:00 am, 22nd March 1993

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what assistance he will give Tools for Self Reliance in providing practical help to poorer countries.

Photo of Mr Michael Colvin Mr Michael Colvin , Romsey and Waterside

Will my hon. Friend take this opportunity to congratulate Tools for Self Reliance, which has its headquarters in my constituency and runs some 165 centres for the collection and refurbishment of tools for export to third-world countries? As the Government's philosophy is that the intention of overseas aid should be to assist other countries in helping themselves, will my hon. Friend give favourable consideration to an application, if received, in respect of assistance for the refurbishment and export of tools to make tools, such as lathes and blacksmiths' equipment? If my hon. Friend has seen early-day motion 1050, which has all-party support, will he get the message across to other Departments of State—particularly the Ministry of Defence, which is unfortunately likely to have a large number of spare tools available in the near future?

Photo of Mr Mark Lennox-Boyd Mr Mark Lennox-Boyd , Morecambe and Lunesdale

As I have suggested to my hon. Friend privately, I think that it would be a good idea if Tools for Self Reliance contacted the Overseas Development Administration and entered into discussion with it. Of course, British non-governmental organisations such as the one to which my hon. Friend refers have received strong Government support under the joint funding scheme, whose budget has increased rapidly over the past few years—indeed, it has more than doubled over the past four years. We do, indeed, help such projects, although we should clearly have to discuss what was proposed.

Photo of Bill Olner Bill Olner , Nuneaton

Did the Minister see the exhibition in the Jubilee Room about tools for third-world countries? I agree absolutely that those countries need tools, but does the Minister agree that the reference made at that meeting to the young people of African countries gaining dignity through being able to work could apply equally to the young people of Birmingham, Nuneaton and the west midlands, or anywhere else in Britain, and that we should really be giving the young people of this country some dignity through work?

Mr. Lennox-Boyđ:

As regards Tools for Self Reliance and other similar organisations, the Overseas Development Administration gives significant help and certainly helps through grants in support of appropriate technology projects that help underdeveloped countries in Africa with tools. We certainly make a large contribution in that respect.