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Lord Judd: My Lords, I am grateful to the Minister for giving way. If he is drawing on the substance of the fundamental expenditure review, would he not agree that virtually in words of one syllable the authors of that review questioned whether the resources of our aid programme were now sufficient to meet the commitments which have been undertaken?

Lord Chesham: My Lords, I shall be dealing with that point, if I may be allowed to continue. The FER recommended that we should define better our basic purpose and the aims that serve that purpose. We have done so. Our purpose is stated clearly; that is, to improve the quality of life for people in poorer countries by contributing to sustainable development and reducing poverty and suffering. It is important to note that all our work will be directed to meeting that overarching purpose of poverty reduction and sustainable development.

The FER recommended concentration. In principle, I agree with the recommendation that the ODA's bilateral resources should be concentrated. We are working in more countries and undertaking more complex activities than ever before. Focusing our regular bilateral country programmes on fewer recipients will improve the quality and impact of our aid and maximise our influence. Other countries will continue to benefit from British partnership schemes, the heads of mission schemes and smaller-scale projects often provided with local NGOs. I believe that that answers the question put by the noble Lord, Lord Judd.

Lord Judd: My Lords, with great respect, I am deeply grateful to the noble Lord for endeavouring to meet the point. However, if he reads carefully what he said, he will see that he has not done so. He talks about concentrating the aid programme and establishing priorities but he has not dealt with the criticism in the report that there are not sufficient resources to meet the commitments. Furthermore, he has not dealt with the point that I raised; namely, that the report talks about the possible need to reduce support in the Caribbean when that the Caribbean, at a time of the single market and the European Community, is facing new challenges as it should be trying to diversify away from exclusive dependence on bananas.

Lord Chesham: My Lords, at this hour, I do not believe that it is appropriate to become involved in a discussion on banana regimes and the EU/ACP Lome IV agreement which is in existence at the moment and on which a mid-term review was signed in Mauritius in early November of last year.

Of course, as has been said a number of times from this Dispatch Box, the ODA would rather have more funds to expend. However, we have also discussed from the Dispatch Box the restrictions which are imposed by our friends in the Treasury. Therefore, we have decided that as far as possible, we wish to concentrate the funds that we do have in the best possible way.

The return of artefacts was mentioned. As I am sure the noble Lord, Lord Gifford, knows, in this country that is a matter for the trustees of the museums who are

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independent. In the past the British Museum has said that it is prevented from disposing of any part of its collection by the British Museum Act 1963.

My noble friend Lord Willoughby de Broke asked about the cost of researching and preparing for this Question. I do not have those figures, but all Questions are expensive to prepare and research at this time of night. Of course, that should not necessarily discourage any noble Lord from tabling a Question.

To suggest that the Government should make reparations to the African nations and the descendants of Africans for the damage caused by the slave trade is

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clearly, from what I have said, not appropriate. A great deal of our aid--40 per cent. of our bilateral country programmes--is accounted for by Africa. That recognises the fact that Africa contains many of the world's poorest countries. Therefore, we are playing a major part in helping Africa to overcome its problems of poverty and under-development. But those problems have nothing to do with the slave trade. Slavery has not had the enduring effect claimed for it and the Government do not accept that there is a case for reparation.

        House adjourned at seventeen minutes before eleven o'clock.


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