United Nations

Oral Answers to Questions — Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs – in the House of Commons at 2:18 pm on 3rd May 1995.

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Photo of Nicholas Winterton Nicholas Winterton , Macclesfield 2:18 pm, 3rd May 1995

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what is the total annual contribution of the United Kingdom to the United Nations; and what assessment he has made of the return received on that investment. [20434]

Photo of Mr Alastair Goodlad Mr Alastair Goodlad Minister of State (Foreign and Commonwealth Office)

In the UN financial year 1994, we contributed £305 million to the United Nations system. We are satisfied that our financial commitments to the UN are justified by the importance of its role across the entire range of international activity.

Photo of Nicholas Winterton Nicholas Winterton , Macclesfield

Does my right hon. Friend agree that £305 million is a substantial sum of taxpayers' money? Will he advise the House how that sum is allocated to the different United Nations budgets? Will he assure the House that the energy and determination that the Government have shown in reducing bureaucracy and inefficiency in the United Kingdom and within the European Union will be matched by their determination to ensure that that large sum of money is spent effectively by the United Nations not only in our interests but in the interests of the world as a whole?

Photo of Mr Alastair Goodlad Mr Alastair Goodlad Minister of State (Foreign and Commonwealth Office)

Yes. The breakdown of the United Kingdom's total contribution of £305 million is £34.8 million as the assessed contribution to the United Nations regular budget, £129.8 million as the assessed contributions to the United Nations peacekeeping budgets, £52.2 million as the assessed contributions to the United Nations specialised agencies, and £88.2 million as voluntary contributions to various UN programmes and activities that we support. Additionally, we spent £120 million in the United Kingdom financial year 1994-95 in respect of British participation in UN peacekeeping operations, of which £50 million has been reimbursed.

We have supported efforts at the United Nations to root out and eliminate fraud and waste. These include the establishment in September last year of the office of internal oversight services, which was mandated specifically to look into that matter. We shall continue to make every effort to ensure, as my hon. Friend rightly says, that those moneys are well spent.

Photo of Mr John Gunnell Mr John Gunnell , Leeds South and Morley

Does the Minister agree that £305 million, in terms of the overall Government Budget or even the budget of his Department, is a relatively modest sum, given the role of the United Nations? What have the Government done to support current UN work and work by UN agencies in Rwanda? What are the Government able to do or to support to prevent a further outbreak of the dreadful killings that we saw in that area recently?

Photo of Mr Alastair Goodlad Mr Alastair Goodlad Minister of State (Foreign and Commonwealth Office)

The hon. Gentleman describes £305 million as a modest amount in the context of my Department's budget. As he will know, my Department's budget is about £1.2 billion, including the cost of the World Service of the BBC and the British Council. That is quite a substantial sum of money. My hon. Friend the Member for Macclesfield (Mr. Winterton) is quite right; it must be well spent. We have made our contribution in Rwanda, and I hope that, in due course, our contribution will lead to a rather happier future for that country.