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European Development Fund (Contracts)

Volume 77: debated on Monday 15 April 1985

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27.

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what is the share of contracts from the European development fund won by British companies.

Twenty-five per cent. of EDF contracts are placed in African, Caribbean and Pacific countries. Of those placed in Europe, our cumulative share at the end of 1984 was 192 per cent. For the first time that exceeded our contribution of 17·76 per cent.

I thank my right hon. Friend for what is essentially good news. How do the 1984 figures compare with those of previous years? Does he agree that Third world countries depend for their growth as much on vibrant trade with nations such as Britain as on development aid?

The 1984 figure of 19·2 per cent. was nearly 2 per cent. more than the 1983 figure. As my hon. Friend said, that is an encouraging tendency He is absolutely right to stress the importance of trade

Does the Minister not regard it as a great tragedy that in places such as Bradford there are large numbers of skilled engineers who could be put to work manufacturing tractors, irrigation and agricultural equipment, trucks and other items which would help to combat the food crisis in Ethiopia and elsewhere? What are the Government doing to invest in manufacturing projects in the United Kingdom, which would put British engineers back to work and help to alleviate starvation in the world?

Almost 80 per cent. of the money that we spend through our bilateral aid programme finds its way back to Britain in the form of either goods or services. It is also a fact that the European development fund, the World Bank and other multilateral organisations offer many opportunities, which are often taken up, for British manufacturers to make goods to be sent to the Third world.