Great Lakes

Oral Answers to Questions — Overseas Development – in the House of Commons am 12:00 am ar 27 Ionawr 1997.

Danfonwch hysbysiad imi am ddadleuon fel hyn

Photo of Stephen Timms Stephen Timms , Newham North East 12:00, 27 Ionawr 1997

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs how much of his Department's bilateral and multilateral budget was allocated to the Great Lakes area of Africa in the last year for which figures are available; and if he will make a statement. [11142]

Photo of Liam Fox Liam Fox Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign and Commonwealth Office)

More than £14 million of gross public expenditure was provided to the Great Lakes region in the financial year 1995–96. Comparable information on multilateral expenditure is not readily available.

Photo of Stephen Timms Stephen Timms , Newham North East

I thank the Minister for that answer. In view of his earlier answer, will he reassure the House and the country by expressing outrage at last week's revelation that British arms were supplied to Hutu extremists in Rwanda? Does he agree that it is extremely important that the perpetrators of genocide in Rwanda are rapidly brought to justice if we are to ensure that the welcome British and other aid that has been supplied since 1994 is not wasted?

Photo of Liam Fox Liam Fox Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign and Commonwealth Office)

Indeed, human rights problems cause us great concern not only in Rwanda but in Burundi. The perpetrators of genocide must be brought to trial. We are looking at events in Rwanda to make sure that the trials are fair and that a proper system of justice is applied because, as the hon. Gentleman rightly said, without basic political stability we will be unable to use the large resources that are currently available in the Great Lakes region to help the refugees. The greatest problem identified by non-governmental organisations is moving the stocks that are already in place to the refugees; political stability is required first.

Photo of Mr Andrew Rowe Mr Andrew Rowe , Kent Mid

In such a tangled area there have, of course, been distressing stories of some aid being misappropriated. Will my hon. Friend assure us that, particularly in parts of Africa where the NGOs are far less strong but aid is given, every possible means is used to avoid it being misappropriated or falling into the wrong hands?

Photo of Liam Fox Liam Fox Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign and Commonwealth Office)

Of course we shall try to do that as far as we can, but it would be quite wrong and improper for me to suggest to the House that we have that degree of control over where the aid goes once it has been disbursed. We hope that the organisations to which we provide aid will make the best use of it. We should commend the courage of the NGOs, especially those who have been willing to put their lives in danger to use the aid that we supply for the greater good. We are grateful that people are still willing to take that risk for humanitarian reasons.

Photo of Miss Emma Nicholson Miss Emma Nicholson , Torridge and West Devon

Will the Minister inform the House how much of his Department's bilateral aid programme has been dedicated to education? Education in Rwanda touches only the 8 per cent. of the population who are literate, despite the fact, of which the Minister does not appear to be aware, that for the past two and a half years the Rwandan Cabinet has been a coalition, elected from all parts of society, and a very good Government. None the less, our Government are still not supporting UNESCO through multilateral aid, despite the wonderful work of the organisation there. Will the Minister discuss the matter with UNESCO's deputy director-general, Professor Maurizio Iaccarino, who will be in London this week?

Photo of Liam Fox Liam Fox Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign and Commonwealth Office)

While I am always willing to take part in discussions that I believe will be fruitful, our position has been made quite clear in UNESCO and I need say nothing further on that. Much aid is focused on the internal structure in Rwanda. Since 1994, £127 million of European Union money—of which £18.5 million was United Kingdom money—has been given for human rights, health, education, environment and other projects in Rwanda. The Government have a good record on supporting education projects in Rwanda. It is certainly nothing to feel sorry about. We are proud of our record since 1992.