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Volume 984: debated on Monday 12 May 1980

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asked the Lord Privy Seal if he will make a statement concerning his plans for assistance to Zimbabwe.


asked the Lord Privy Seal whether he will increase the amount of aid available to Zimbabwe.

I refer the hon. members to the statement which my right hon. Friend made on 15 April. The amount of British aid available to Zimbabwe remains as stated then.

Does the Minister agree that, although there were different views about the amount, there was general comment on the tardiness of response? Does he not agree that this country has a specific responsibility for the former tribal trust areas, where there was no infrastructure of administration for some time? Will we be able to help if requests are made in that area?

The requests for help will come from the Zimbabwe Government. They will discuss those requests with us, and we shall allocate the aid that we have promised already according to the joint wishes of the Zimbabwe Government and ourselves.

Although there was a general welcome for the decision to grant £75 million over three years, is the Minister aware that some assessments indicate that Zimbabwe may need up to 10 times that amount? Will the hon. Gentleman be a little more forthcoming and give some indication of the possibility of further aid from Britain, and also from some of the richer member States of the Common Market, which have benefited for so long from the excessive generosity of Britain towards the Common Market, budget?

I shall communicate the latter point to my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister, who will be dealing with the matter at the Council of Ministers. In our figure of £75 million we have allocated all that we can for the moment. It is for the other countries—and many are already pledging sums—to fill the balance of the amount that Zimbabwe will need. We are still pressing many countries to help Zimbabwe.

As the first step in that process, will the Government transfer aid that is at present allocated to Tanzania to Zimbabwe, as the former country does nothing but kick Britain in the teeth?

While taking the point made by my hon. Friend, I am afraid that the aid for Tanzania is committed already, and has been for some time. We cannot go back on Government commitments.

On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. I have been trying to catch your eye.

I am sorry. I did not realise that the right hon. Lady had tried to catch my eye.

I apologise to you, Mr. Speaker. I wish to ask a short, but double, supplementary. What did Mr. Mugabe have to say to the Prime Minister on Friday about his need for increased aid, especially increased technological assistance? Why is the aid mission still not going to Zimbabwe two months after independence? What proportion of the £7 million reconstruction aid is expected to be spent during the next few months?

On the latter part of the right hon. Lady's question, I expect that quite a lot of the £7 million will be spent this year. It is a question of its being ready, available, and they can spend it.

I have not yet heard about the contents of conversations which took place between the Prime Minister and Mr. Mugabe.