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Volume 978: debated on Wednesday 13 February 1980

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asked the Lord Privy Seal what further aid he is considering for Zambia.

An agreement covering the £10 million project loan referred to in my answer to the hon. Gentleman's question of 16 January was signed by the United Kingdom and Zambian Governments on 24 January. Zambia's need for further aid will be kept under review.

The Minister and the Leader of the House will be aware that I have already raised the question of the United Nations Security Council's resolution 544, regarding the Government's responsibility to Zambia. He will know, that ever since the bombing of the 10 bridges, the economy of Zambia has been critical. Despite the offer of £10 million in aid to that country, does he not accept that that is insufficient to meet the present needs?

Many would say that £10 million is insufficient, taking into account the overall view of Zambia. However, that was the agreement which was signed by the Zambians. The Government will look at Zambia's need for further aid, particularly in the context of the bridges, as they will for other developing countries in the light of the relevant economic, political and commercial factors and our financial constraints.

Will my hon. Friend explain why Zambia cannot borrow the money on world markets? Is there not a grave risk that the grant of the aid to Zambia will enhance the temporary power of politicians and others with the power to distribute the aid?

I cannot agree with my hon. Friend. The reason why Zambia cannot borrow on the world markets—as I am sure she would like to do if she could—is that her economy is not strong enough. The aid for development will help to strengthen that economy.

Is the Minister aware that the Government of Zambia are in default to hundreds of citizens of the United Kingdom in respect of debts either for insurance damages awarded through the courts or failure to meet bonuses on contracts and so on? Would it not be better to settle the debts from British Government funds before handing out the money to the Government of Zambia?

No, I do not agree with that. Zambia has agreed many of the debts and hopes to pay off the remaining balance when her economy recovers.