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East Caribbean Islands

Volume 21: debated on Monday 29 March 1982

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asked the Lord Privy Seal if he will make a statement about the level of development assistance to the East Caribbean islands.

British bilateral aid to the Eastern Caribbean islands in 1980 was £12 million. A table showing expenditure by country will be published in the Official Report. The 1981–82 figure is expected to about £13 million. About 40 per cent. goes to the dependencies and the rest to independent Commonwealth countries and regional projects.

The East Caribbean islands also benefit from British contributions to the Caribbean Development Bank, the European development fund, the Commonwealth fund for technical co-operation and the United Nations agencies.

Does the right hon. Gentleman recognise that these economies are highly vulnerable and will be dependent on overseas aid from Britain—which has a special responsibility towards them—for many years to come? Does the right hon. Gentleman also recognise the special difficulties facing Dominica, following hurricane David? As a result of the damage done by that hurricane, its economy has still not been restored.

The answer to both parts of that question is "Yes". I met the Prime Minister of Dominica, Miss Charles, to discuss the problems involved. We have given considerable aid—which is at sea on its way—to the island's banana industry, which has suffered considerably as a result of hurricanes.

May I congratulate my right hon. Friend on the assistance that he is giving to the East Caribbean islands? Will he review the whole programme in the light of the fall in prosperity in almost all those islands because of the reduction in the price of their natural products, such as bananas, nutmegs and other tropical produce? That reduction in prosperity will lead, in turn, to even greater instability than in Grenada, Dominica, and to some extent, St. Lucia. From the Select Committee's recent visit to the area, I know that such action would be welcomed throughout the British Commonwealth.

What applications for aid have the Government received from the Government of Grenada since the coup? What aid has been given and what is the British Government's attitude towards applications that they may receive now, or in future, from the Government of Grenada?

In 1980—the last year for which we have figures—Grenada received £53, 000 of technical cooperation, £10, 000 of capital aids and other grants and £195, 000 in loans. We have made it clear to the Government of Grenada that we do not like their human rights record. I shall not go into that point now, as I have done so before. However, when their record improves, we shall consider their problems.

Following is the table:

Gross Bilateral Aid Expenditure 1980


Technical Co-operation

Capital Aid

Gross Aid Expenditure

British Virgin Islands2769551,231
St. Kitts-Nevis305472777
St. Lucia230693923
St. Vincent295525820
Turks and Caicos Islands4128491,261
Regional Caribbean7412621,003