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South America (Aid)

Volume 33: debated on Monday 6 December 1982

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asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what proportion of United Kingdom overseas aid goes to South American countries.

In 1981, 1ยท2 per cent. of the gross bilateral aid allocated to individual countries went to countries in South America. In addition, a proportion of our contributions to multilateral agencies such as the World Bank, the Inter-American Development Bank and the European Community, went to South American countries. Figures for these multilateral contributions are not yet available for 1981, but in 1980 we estimate they amounted to nearly 5 per cent.

What is the estimated figure available in the Minister's Department for the cash that would have gone to Third world countries but did not because it was used for civil and military purposes in the Falklands?

The best way for the hon. Gentleman to learn the answer to that question is to await the statement on aid for the Falklands that will shortly be made in the House.

Bearing in mind our long and historic association with Guyana, will my right hon. Friend assure the House that every possible consideration is given to requests from that country for development and loan aid?

Why is the proportion so extraordinarily low? Is the hon. Gentleman aware that there is great poverty in Latin America? Would it not be a good thing to give additional assistance to the needy countries in Latin America in order to improve our relationships with them, which have inevitably suffered as the result of the Falklands war?

Our policy is to direct most of our aid to the poorest countries, and in general South American countries do not fall within that category. South America has a developmental need, and many of its citizens still live in poverty. It is also important to Britain, both politically and commercially, and we have great historical ties with that continent.

On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. In view of the unsatisfactory nature of the Minister's reply I beg to give notice that, I shall seek leave to raise the matter on the Adjournment as soon as possible.