HC Deb 18 June 1984 vol 62 cc15-6
32. Mr. Spearing

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what progress has been made in improving public water and electricity supplies in Grenada with aid from the United Kingdom.

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs (Mr. Ray Whitney)

My right hon. Friend the Minister for Overseas Development is attending a meeting abroad, and is sorry that he is unable to be present. I have been asked to reply.

Projects worth £180,000 and £185,000 have been approved for spare parts for the electricity sector and the water sector respectively. A further power project for the supply and installation of a new diesel engine has also been agreed at an estimated cost of over £300,000.

Mr. Spearing

I thank the Minister for that information, but does he agree that there has been some delay in these matters, and will he examine it? Does he also agree that, in the aftermath of disaster or war, the restoration of public water supplies and electricity supplies is always, or often, a priority? Is not Britain in a good technical position to assist with that, and should not his Department or the Overseas Development Administration be geared up to deal with this as a first priority?

Mr. Whitney

I well understand the concern of the hon. Gentleman, and I assure him that the overseas development division in Barbados has given the highest priority to the part that it can play in the restoration of water and electricity supplies. Indeed, the overseas development division has paid no fewer than 15 visits during the past six months. The progress that it can make depends also on co-operation with the local authorities.

Mr. Bowen Wells

Is it not a fact that the contract for the replacement of the No. 7 engine in the power station in Grenada, which was out of action at the time of the intervention in October, has still not been put out to tender, and a firm order has not yet been placed for it? Through this delay, and through the Overseas Development Administration insisting on its full tendering system, the price of that replacement engine to Grenada has thereby been increased, thus making the Grenada power supply much less secure in the very insecure situation in the island, and putting up the price of electricity in the long run? Surely this is an occasion when the ODA should have acted much more swiftly and effectively?

Mr. Whitney

I understand my hon. Friend's concern. The project for the No. 7 generator has, indeed, been the subject of careful negotiations. Detailed specifications have been drawn up and tender documents are being prepared. I understand that the new engine will be commissioned towards the end of 1984.

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