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Multilateral Organisations

Volume 114: debated on Monday 6 April 1987

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asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what proportion of United Kingdom aid goes through multilateral organisations other than the European Economic Community.

In 1985–86, 23 per cent.—that is £279 million— of the gross aid programme went to multilateral organisations other than the European Community.

Is the Minister aware that many Opposition Members would like to see that proportion increased, since it is very much in the interests of developing countries that, as far as possible, aid should be without the sort of strings that generally accompany it when it is provided on a national or multilateral basis through the EEC? Can he assure us that he is actively seeking to change that percentage in the right way?

I find that for about 50 per cent. of the time I am criticised for our multilateral contributions going up too much, and the other 50 per cent. of the time I am criticised on the other flank with regard to our bilateral contributions. I believe that we have the balance about right. I was particularly pleased recently that we were able to make a contribution of £524 million to the replenishment of the International Development Association. The hon. Gentleman will also know about our contributions to the International Fund for Agricultural Development special programme for Africa and to the UNICEF global immunisation programme, which I mentioned earlier.