Mozambique (Hansard, 3 December 1990)
HC Deb 03 December 1990 vol 182 cc16-7
36. Mr. Pike

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs whether Her Majesty's Government propose to make any additional aid available to Mozambique.

The Minister for Overseas Development (Mrs. Lynda Chalker)

We have a substantial programme of assistance for Mozambique, which we aim to continue. Gross bilateral aid flows in 1989 totalled over £22 million. For the international relief effort we have this year pledged 10,000 tonnes of food aid and £3.5 million of other relief assistance, plus a further £3 million in support of Mozambique refugees in neighbouring countries. We shall continue to do what we can to assist.

Mr. Pike

Despite what the Minister said, I am sure that she is aware of the case that was made recently by Oxfam, which underlined the urgent and appalling situation in Mozambique, on which I reported following my brief visit to Mozambique earlier this year. I am sure that we all look forward to the end of the civil war in that country. Will the Minister now take steps to increase aid before further people die unnecessarily in Mozambique?

Mrs. Chalker

The Government have not been ungenerous to Mozambique. We have always said that what we needed above all was a ceasefire. We warmly welcome the agreement arrived at in Rome on Saturday, under which the Government of Mozambique and Renamo have agreed to concentrate Zimbabwean troops in the Beira and Limpopo corridors. We believe that that could lead to a general ceasefire and a political settlement. We shall do all that we can from outside to help in that. When peace is restored, we can review the general rehabilitation that we know is needed in Mozambique. I hope before long to be able to go there again to make an assessment of some of the things that are needed.

Mr. Wells

Should not my right hon. Friend be congratulated on being very generous with British aid money to Mozambique, including the restoration of Beira port and the railway line to Zimbabwe? Is it true that she has received the grateful thanks of the Mozambique Government for all that she has been doing?

Mrs. Chalker

My hon. Friend is right. The Mozambique Government are most grateful for the work that we have done—which my hon. Friend described—and for the work being done by the Portia port services in Maputo port. The Mozambique Government have also done well in keeping to the targets for economic and social rehabilitation, which is why we are continuing our support. At the meeting of the consultative group on Mozambique to be held in Paris next week, we shall decide what more should be done. I remind the House that more than £50 million of programme aid commitment has been spent in Mozambique since 1985, and that is additional to the emergency aid that has totalled more than £55 million since 1987.

Mrs. Clywd

Is not the Minister's failure to obtain additional aid for Mozambique an example of the invidious position in which the Overseas Development Administration finds itself as just a junior arm of the Foreign Office? If the ODA were to carry a Cabinet post, the right hon. Lady could sit at the Government table arguing with the Treasury for additional money for the ODA. Given her obvious merits, why did she not fight tooth and nail for a seat in the Cabinet? Has not she let down the women—

Mr. Speaker

Order. That is rather wide of Mozambique.

Mrs. Clwyd

Is not it true that, had the right hon. Lady obtained additional money for Mozambique because she was a member of the Cabinet, she would not have let down women throughout the country, including those who want additional resources for overseas development?

Mrs. Chalker

I have been pleased to obtain additional resources for the overseas aid programme and. I shall concentrate on doing that. That is why I wish to be single-minded about my task. I have had no row, of any sort, either with my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister or with my right hon. Friend the Member for Bath (Mr. Patten). That suggestion is a fiction created by the media and assisted by the hon. Lady.

Britain has done reasonably well by Mozambique. However, in our project aid and our technical co-operation, we have sought to give it practical help at a time when civil war has been raging. I am delighted to continue with that vital work for Mozambique, for the remainder of the developing world and for eastern Europe.