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Cancun Summit

Volume 13: debated on Monday 16 November 1981

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asked the Lord Privy Seal if he will make a statement on any discussions at the Cancun summit relating to developed nations giving official aid according to their means.

There was no discussion of this precise question at the Cancun summit.

Does my right hon. Friend agree that there should have been discussion of that question? Does he opine that if other developed nations had given aid according to their means to countries with the greatest needs in the way that Britain has done during the past 10 years, the problems of the Third world would have been reduced? Will my right hon. Friend contrast Britain's record in that respect with that of the USSR and note Russia's appalling absence from Cancun?

I deplore Russia's absence from Cancun. Russia was invited, but it did not come. The other questions were probably dealt with in the statement made by my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister on 26 October. I was not at the summit. Therefore, I cannot speak at first hand about it.

I agree with the Minister's answer about the USSR. But will he confirm that, despite all the promises made by the Prime Minister at Cancun, not a single penny of new money was offered to that conference? Will the right hon. Gentleman also confirm that the Government are still considering further cuts in the aid programme? If so, would that not disgrace the reputation of the House and the Government as a whole?

Cuts generally, or the allocation of money, are being considered. I cannot make a statement at this stage. As regards the allocation of money for the subjects that were agreed at the Cancun summit, there could be an allocation of uncommitted funds within the existing aid programme and a shift of existing aid to the subjects covered—for example, agriculture and energy.

Is progress being made on the proposal that I put forward some years ago for the revision of the Lomæ convention to incorporate an undertaking to observe human rights as a condition of the receipt of aid?

I have not noticed any progress on that subject, but I always bear it in mind.