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Africa (Emergency Aid)

Volume 86: debated on Monday 11 November 1985

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asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what is his latest estimate of likely United Kingdom official emergency aid to countries in Africa in the current financial year.

The Government expect to spend about £80 million on emergency aid for Africa in the current financial year through bilateral and European Community channels.

In view of the scale and speed of the Government's response to the emergencies in many African countries, which unfortunately has not been emulated by many other countries, will my right hon. Friend confirm that the Government's response has in no way jeopardised the long-term and continuing development aid programmes from the Government to other countries?

I am grateful to my hon. Friend for his remarks. I confirm that we have not had to cut country allocations to achieve the substantial amounts of emergency aid that we have achieved.

Has not the effect of the diversion of funds into the emergency programme been to the detriment of specific long-term aid projects within individual countries' programmes, particularly help to agriculture, without which there will be many more claims for emergency aid in future?

As I have just told my hon. Friend the Member for Chipping Barnet (Mr. Chapman), we have not had to cut country allocations to achieve that emergency relief.

Will my right hon. Friend see what more he can do to use the resources of the Royal Air Force in distributing aid?

I am grateful for what the RAF has done in Ethiopia. If similar occasions arise, I have no doubt that the RAF will respond with its customary generosity.


asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will make a statement on Britain's contribution to Third world famine via chapter 9 of the European Community budget and the Lomé convention.

The European Community has made very substantial contributions towards famine relief in Africa in food aid and other emergency measures over last year and this. The British share over the past financial year and this one is likely to be around £77 million.

Does my right hon. Friend accept that the United Kingdom, as a significant contributor to the Community budget, through the European instruments, gives infinitely more in famine relief to the Third world than many of its critics would acknowledge?

My hon. Friend is absolutely right. The European Community is a large giver of food aid. We play a full share in what it gives.

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that at the recent conference of the Lomé convention in the north of Scotland, which, if I am not mistaken, he addressed, great emphasis was placed on development in addition to immediate food aid? Does he accept the urgency of a long-term development policy, which means that people are not eating their own seed corn?

The conference at Inverness was judged by everybody who attended it to be a great success. We are grateful to the people of Scotland, especially Inverness, for their welcome. The hon. Gentleman is right. There appears to be nobody on the Opposition Front Bench to make the point today; there is no Opposition spokesman here. However, the hon. Gentleman is right to draw attention to the need for long-term development aid.