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Aid Policy (Strategic And Political Reasons)

Volume 82: debated on Monday 1 July 1985

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asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs how much United Kingdom aid was given for strategic and political reasons in the latest year for which figures are available.

Our fundamental objective in making aid allocations is to assist economic and social progress in developing countries; but we take account also of political and commercial considerations where appropriate. It is not possible to relate these factors to precise statistics.

Is it not wrong for Britain's aid policy to be geared to any extent, however small as a percentage of our total aid budget, to giving aid for strategic and political reasons when aid should be going to the poorest people in the poorest countries as a matter of priority? Surely it is no aid policy to give money to repressive or military regimes scattered around the world for purposes which may coincide with the policies of the Ministry of Defence and the Foreign Office, but not with the administration of the Minister's Department.

My budget is a civil aid one, and it is not spent on the provision of military aid. There are many calls on my Department's budget, and we concentrate to a great extent on the poorer countries. I believe that we have a good record in that respect, and that is how it will continue to be.

They give a bit, but, taking Ethiopia as an example, the amount of food that they have given has been minimal, exceeded by India, let alone the West.