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World Food Council

Volume 897: debated on Monday 4 August 1975

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asked the Minister for Overseas Development if he will publish a White Paper on the recent proceedings of the World Food Council.

No, Sir. The first session of the World Food Council was of short duration and mostly concerned with work of a preparatory and organisational nature. The Written Answer which my hon. Friend the Parliamentary Secretary gave to a Question from the hon. Member for Rochdale (Mr. Smith) on 3rd July—[Vol. 894, c. 531.]—gives a brief account of the results of the first session.

Is my right hon. Friend aware that the British decision to contribute 100,000 tons of fertilisers at that meeting at a cost of £15 million is very welcome? Can he now take an initiative in the World Food Council to consider the consequences on world food supplies of the very large-scale purchases by the Soviet Union in the world grain market, which could produce a situation similar to that which occurred a year or two ago which disrupted the whole pattern of grain supplies throughout the world, especially to the developing countries?

On the first point, I thank my hon. Friend for his remarks. On the second point I should like notice, but I shall certainly consider what my hon. Friend has said.

Will the right hon. Gentleman confirm that it is the Government's policy to concentrate their aid overseas on helping countries to grow their own food and that they will concentrate on rural development schemes because that is the real long-term answer to helping the less-developed countries?

Yes, Sir. It is our policy to concentrate more of our aid on agriculture and, indeed, on rural development generally. I hope to present shortly a White Paper which will spell out our policy in more detail.