§ 73. Mr. Hayward
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he plans to increase the level of British assistance to Bangladesh.
§ The Minister for Overseas Development (Mr. Chris Patten)
During my recent visit to Bangladesh I announced a major new commitment of commodity aid, and also further commitments of food aid and flood rehabilitation assistance. Overall, our aid expenditure to Bangladesh this year is expected to exceed last year's level.
§ Mr. Hayward
On my hon. Friend's answer in relation to flood rehabilitation, will he say how much of the increased aid is likely to go towards providing improved housing in Bangladesh, which has been severely damaged by the floods?
§ Mr. Patten
Some of the extra assistance that we have provided will, I hope, go towards low-cost housing schemes through non-governmental organisations. I should like to see more projects suggested by NGOs in that area, which we could assist through our joint funding scheme. I believe that the Government of Bangladesh would welcome that as well.
§ Mr. Shore
I welcome the Minister's announcement on further aid for Bangladesh. However, is he satisfied that in that tormented country the funds and other commodity aid that he mentioned are reaching the people who really need it and are not being diverted by the military for partisan political ends?
§ Mr. Patten
I understand the right hon. Gentleman's concern. I am satisfied that our aid programme is providing effective help to the poor people in Bangladesh, who deserve every bit of assistance that we can provide for them.