HC Deb 16 February 1983 vol 37 c162W
Mr. Proctor

asked the Secretary of State for the Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, pursuant to the reply by the Minister for Overseas Development to the hon. Member for Basildon of 8 February, whether the Minister discussed the allegations of harassment and torture of white and black Zimbabweans and the matter of law and order in Zimbabwe with the Government of Zimbabwe during his visit; whether he took recent developments in that country into account in deciding to increase the amount of British aid payable to Zimbabwe; whether he asked for any reassurances in this regard from the Zimbabwe Government before signing the new aid agreement; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Raison

I did not discuss allegations of harassment and torture or matters of law and order with the Government of Zimbabwe. My hon. Friend the Minister of State discussed certain matters of law and order and allegations of maltreatment during his visit to Zimbabwe in January and was given certain assurances. The purpose of my visit was to enable me to review with the Zimbabwe Government the progress of our aid programme.

The agreement that I signed does not increase the amount of aid pledged to Zimbabwe: it provides for £5 million of our independence pledge, together with £15 million of ECGD-backed loans from British banks, to be used to supply British goods, particularly for Zimbabwe industry. The purpose of our aid is to contribute to stability in Zimbabwe which will be beneficial to all sections o the population.

Mr. Nicholas Winterton

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will stop further payments of British aid to Zimbabwe until he is satisfied that those in detention are brought to trial and funds held by British passport holders are released.

Mr. Raison

No. We do not believe such action would be the right way of expressing our concern about delays in bringing those in detention to trial, nor would the withholding of our aid be a constructive way of trying to solve the problem of blocked funds. The purpose of our aid is to assist Zimbabwe's economic recovery which will, in turn, help the country to meet its financial obligations.