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Bilateral Aid

Volume 118: debated on Monday 29 June 1987

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asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what amount of bilateral aid is being made available to each Central American country in the current year.

British bilateral aid to the five Central American republics, Belize and Panama during 1986 totalled £16·4 million, which includes £11·6 million Commonwealth Development Corporation finance. I shall publish details of our aid to individual countries in the Official Report. Figures for the current year are not yet available, but they are likely to be similar.

Is the Minister aware that since 1979 the Government's record of aid to Central America has been one of continually decreasing aid to Nicaragua, and increasing aid to neighbouring countries such as E1 Salvador and Honduras? Does he not think that it is time that British aid to Nicaragua was increased in line with the development of that country and the improvements in the living standards of its people? Will he take this opportunity to condemn American-organised and inspired terrorist violence against the Government of Nicaragua, which leads to the death of so many innocent people in that country?

I am interested in, but not surprised by, the Left-wing fixation with Nicaragua, often to the exclusion of much poorer countries. We are constantly being pressed by Opposition Members to ensure that more of our aid programme goes to the poorest countries in the world. As I have had to tell the hon. Member for Vauxhall (Mr. Holland) from time to time, there are 50 countries that are poorer than Nicaragua.

Does my hon. Friend agree that, rather than sloganising politically about the virtues of the Government of Nicaragua, those who are genuinely interested in solving the plight of the people there would do much better to invite the Government to do all that they can to encourage the Central American states to come to some agreement about coffee prices, because they are at the heart of Nicaragua's exchange problem?

The following is the information:

The breakdown between countries is:

Capital aid

Technical cooperation

Disaster relief

Commonwealth Development Corporation





Costa Rica522,00011,016,000
El Salvador47,000193,000