§ 1. Mr. Nigel Evans (Ribble Valley)
What financial and technical assistance she gives eastern European Governments to develop their economies. 
§ The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for International Development (Mr. George Foulkes)
Over the past five years, bilateral financial and technical assistance to eastern Europe has averaged around £80 million a year. It is channelled not only directly to central Governments, but to local governments and to non-governmental and civil society organisations. In addition however, the UK has provided assistance through our contributions to multilateral institutions, including our share of EC commitments, which averaged around £200 million a year.
§ Mr. Evans
I am grateful for that response, and it seems that Britain is doing its bit at least. However, Britain is not alone in suffering from the growing influx of economic migrants from eastern Europe, especially from Romania. I understand that Holland, Belgium and a number of other European Union countries are suffering in the same way. What meetings has the Minister had with European Union colleagues to try to persuade them to ensure that the money that we put in is being spent effectively, economically and technically, to ensure that those countries' economies can improve? That improvement would help them, but it would also help other countries that want to stem the economic tide.
§ Mr. Foulkes
Not only have we discussed the matter with our European partners, but I had the opportunity to discuss it with a Romanian Minister who visited us two weeks ago. I discussed with the Romas the type of help 324 that we are giving to improve the position in that country. That help makes it less likely that they will seek to go elsewhere.
§ Mr. Gordon Marsden (Blackpool, South)
Does my hon. Friend share my experience, gained from being co-chair of the Future of Europe Trust, that one of the most urgent priorities for eastern Europe is the extension of civil rights and the rebuilding of civil society? May I urge his Department to give special priority to strengthening non-governmental organisations and other bodies in those countries?
§ Mr. Foulkes
I agree with my hon. Friend. The Future of Europe Trust is doing a good job, as is the Westminster Foundation and a number of other organisations. Many of our resources are channelled into the sort of work that my hon. Friend has suggested. However, we will certainly consider any further assistance that we can give in that direction.