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Honduras: Financial Assistance

– in the House of Lords at 3:00 pm on 5th April 2004.

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Photo of The Bishop of Liverpool The Bishop of Liverpool Bishop 3:00 pm, 5th April 2004

asked Her Majesty's Government:

What financial or other assistance they have provided to the Honduran Government since the beginning of 2000; and what support they are providing for the development of the Mosquitia region in the east of the country.

Photo of Baroness Amos Baroness Amos President of the Council, Privy Council Office, Lord President of the Council and Leader of the House of Lords (Privy Council Office)

My Lords, since 2000, Britain has provided technical assistance to Honduras to the value of some £3 million. In addition, we provide resources through multilateral donors. In 2001, the latest year for which figures are available, our multilateral contribution amounted to £23 million, including £5 million through the EC. Through the Civil Society Challenge Fund and Joint Funding Scheme, we provided £1.3 million support over the period 2000–04, including supporting a £114,538 grant for a project in the Mosquitia region.

Photo of The Bishop of Liverpool The Bishop of Liverpool Bishop

My Lords, I thank the noble Baroness for her Answer. I have just returned from a visit to that region. What is the attitude of Her Majesty's Government to the renewed plans by the Honduran Government to dam the Patuca river in the Mosquitia region of the country, and what assistance might the Government provide to their government to protect the region's indigenous population and the richly biodiverse environment on which the people depend?

Photo of Baroness Amos Baroness Amos President of the Council, Privy Council Office, Lord President of the Council and Leader of the House of Lords (Privy Council Office)

My Lords, I agree with the right reverend Prelate that the region is very poor. However, there are 62,000 Mosquitia people in a population that includes some 4 million others who are equally poor. One of the things we must do is to help the Honduran Government to raise the living standards for all poor people. That is what we seek to do through our support for their poverty reduction strategy process. We are very pleased that the IMF has just released money through the Poverty Reduction and Growth Facility.

On the environment, we have helped in many ways, but we have decided that our focus has to be on HIV/AIDS and poverty reduction.

Photo of Lord Avebury Lord Avebury Shadow Minister, Foreign & Commonwealth Affairs

My Lords, I recognise that the Government have done something to alleviate the vast problems of poverty in Honduras. However, are not the amounts mentioned by the noble Baroness minuscule compared with the 4.4 billion dollars of foreign debt which burdens Honduras? Has any progress been made in forgiving or eliminating that debt? Can the Minister also say whether Honduras has made any progress in reducing its fiscal deficit to the level required by its 2001 IMF agreement and whether we are giving Honduras any technical help in that regard?

Photo of Baroness Amos Baroness Amos President of the Council, Privy Council Office, Lord President of the Council and Leader of the House of Lords (Privy Council Office)

My Lords, perhaps I may say to the noble Lord, Lord Avebury, that Honduras is one of the most heavily aided countries in the world. While our contribution is relatively low, in 2002 net ODA was over 60 dollars per person, compared with 36 dollars in Malawi and 17 dollars in Rwanda. One of the problems is that Honduras has so much aid resource that much of its capacity is used up in implementing that aid.

With regard to HIPC, Honduras reached its decision point in June 2000 with an estimated 566 million dollars of HIPC relief in net present value terms envisaged. There was a hiatus in its reform programme. Completion point is now not expected until next year, but currently it receives some 100 million dollars a year in interim debt relief.

Photo of Baroness Rawlings Baroness Rawlings Conservative

My Lords, what pressure has Her Majesty's Government put on the Honduras Government to set up a foster care programme to take all the homeless children off the streets?

Photo of Baroness Amos Baroness Amos President of the Council, Privy Council Office, Lord President of the Council and Leader of the House of Lords (Privy Council Office)

My Lords, I am not aware of any pressure from us in respect of a foster care programme. The noble Baroness may be aware that the noble Baroness, Lady Miller of Chilthorne Domer, has asked me a number of Questions on street children in the region. In November last year, I placed a document in the Library of the House which set out all the various projects we are funding in Latin America, including a couple of projects in Honduras. We have sought to deal with that by way of contact with individual governments but also on a regional basis.

Photo of Lord Hylton Lord Hylton Crossbench

My Lords, are the Government aware of the extent of murders of young people in the main Honduran cities? Have they been able to assist the Honduran Government with gun control and police training? Lastly, is there any hope that Her Majesty's Government might be able to mediate between the United States authorities and those in Honduras on the question of youth deportation?

Photo of Baroness Amos Baroness Amos President of the Council, Privy Council Office, Lord President of the Council and Leader of the House of Lords (Privy Council Office)

My Lords, the issue of gangs and deportation of criminals from the United States back to Honduras is a major problem not just in Honduras; it is also a problem in the Caribbean, as well as other parts of Latin America. We are very conscious of the impact on Honduran society. We have been working with the Hondurans on this, not through gun control and police training but through our programme which seeks to control illicit drugs in the country.

Photo of Baroness Thomas of Walliswood Baroness Thomas of Walliswood Women and Older People, Non-Departmental & Cross-Departmental Responsibilities

My Lords, the Minister referred to a dam. Who is supporting the building of that dam? Has an environmental audit been made of its effect, and has any effort been made, as is currently the case with work of this kind supported by the World Bank, to involve local people in coping with the social and other side-effects of the building of a dam?

Photo of Baroness Amos Baroness Amos President of the Council, Privy Council Office, Lord President of the Council and Leader of the House of Lords (Privy Council Office)

My Lords, I did not refer to the building of a dam. I think that that was mentioned by the right reverend Prelate in his supplementary question. I do not know whether there has been an environmental audit. The noble Baroness is right; the World Bank carries out consultation processes on such issues. I shall find out and write to the noble Baroness.