I thank my hon. Friend for his response. While we should not gloat too much at the European Community's expense, does my hon. Friend agree that our bilateral aid programmes are regarded throughout the world as among the most effective and that they compare most favourably in terms of efficiency and effectiveness with those of the European Community? Will my hon. Friend reassure us that, as far as possible, the United Kingdom percentage of our aid programme will be maintained?
I certainly confirm that our aid programme is widely respected for the way in which it is implemented. I give my hon. Friend the undertaking that we shall always work hard with our European Community partners to improve even further the effectiveness of European Community aid. The Horizon 2000 document which was adopted in November 1992 by the European Community helps towards that end.
Does the Minister accept that, in view of their appalling record on bilateral aid, the Government are right not to gloat over the figures? For the next three years, our aid programme will be frozen at £1.9 million, which is a cut in real terms. Although the House recognises the appalling need in many parts of eastern Europe, does the Minister accept that the Government's response should not be at the expense of other developing nations, particularly those in Africa?
I do not accept what the hon. Gentleman said. The British aid programme planning total for this financial year is £2,267 million. In the past six years, the programme has risen by 10 per cent. in real terms.