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Oil Price Increases

Volume 892: debated on Monday 12 May 1975

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asked the Minister of Overseas Development what specific action is being taken by her Department to help developing countries hardest hit by the rise in oil prices.

The contributions we have made to the United Nations Emergency Operation for the hardest hit countries have totalled £84 million. Of this sum, £72 million was contributed directly either as bilateral aid or through various international agencies and £12 million through our share of contributions made by the European Economic Community.

I welcome that reply. Does my hon. Friend agree that, although the oil crisis has been serious for us, it has been disastrous for many developing countries, particularly the Asian countries? In the light of that, does he agree that perhaps the Government should rethink the question of cutting £20 million from the aid programme?

I certainly agree with the first part of that question. My right hon. Friend has already dealt with the subject of the second part.

Does the Minister agree that many countries affected by the oil crisis also suffer from natural disasters affecting food? Does he not agree that there is room for the Government to take positive steps on matters such as commodity prices to bring immediate help to those countries?

We have already done a fair amount in terms of food aid and we propose to do more. My right hon. Friend and her right hon. Friend the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food will be attending a meeting in Rome in the not very distant future on this subject. As for commodity prices, that subject was very much under discussion at the Kingston Conference and any further reference to it will probably need to come from my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister.