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Volume 959: debated on Monday 4 December 1978

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asked the Minister of Overseas development to what extent she is directing aid to India to deal with the growing problem of small farmers becoming marginal farmers and marginal farmers becoming landless labourers.

I am aiming to use more United Kingdom aid directly to assist agricultural development especially of the poorest groups such as those referred to in my hon. Friend's Question. I am also anxious to ensure that we give all possible help to the development of industrial and infrastructure projects, such as fertiliser factories and power generation, which provide essential inputs for agricultural development. We are, of course, also providing 318 mobile clinics to assist health programmes in the villages of India.

Has my right hon. Friend studied the statement made a few months ago by the Overseas Development Institute? I give a warm welcome to her widening her decisions on aid to infrastructure and co-operative societies of all kinds, not just for agriculture, which makes village life more liveable.

I welcome very much the new programme of the Government of India. I know that they are meeting great difficulties, but the programme is geared towards a greater emphasis on the poorest people, and if our aid programme can be concentrated on the necessary infrastructure we can really be of assistance.