§ 4.0 p.m.
§ Mr. Philip Noel-Baker (Derby, South)
I desire to raise an item of Government expenditure of £5,000, what they call, I believe, their final contribution to the funds of the Freedom From Hunger Campaign. The £5,000 is an addition to the £30,000 which they have given before.
I want to start by making clear the aim and purpose of the eminent organisers of this campaign. Since it was launched three years ago by the Food and Agriculture Organisation, our British committee has established 750 local committees, has secured the affiliation of 72 voluntary organisations, has obtained from private 408 sources promises of help or actual gifts of nearly £6 million, and still hopes to raise much more. It is operating on a common plan with national committees in 55 other countries that are members of the United Nations.
What is the purpose of this formidable organisation of effort and good will? It is not charity. It is not to buy food for hungry mouths. It is, say the organisers, twofold, and I quote their words:First, to make known the facts of hunger in our twentieth century world, to explain the urgency of the problem, and how it can be conquered; second, to show the peoples of the underdeveloped countries"—it is more convenient to call them, as I shall call them, the developing countries—what they can do successfully to help themselvesThe committee wants to do this—by raising funds to be used for starting work of permanent value in as many places as possible".409 In other words, the money given in Britain will all be used for social and economic development. It will be the first phase of the United Nations Development Decade, for which the British delegate voted in December, 1961. It will, above all, if it succeeds, educate the Governments and the peoples, including our Government and our people here, in the vastly greater task which they must carry through with Government resources before our present decade ends.
It is this task of public education which gives real significance to our British Freedom From Hunger Campaign. In itself, the campaign is and can be only a tiny pilot plan to deal with the biggest international problem, after armaments, which the world confronts today. Suppose it succeeds beyond our dreams. World Refugee Year raised £80 million. If this raised twice as much—£160 million—what could that achieve in solving world hunger?
What are the facts? Mr. Gordon Evans, of the United Nations Association, who has done such admirable work in creating informed opinion on the subject, says that the main purpose of the campaign is to dramatise and humanise the programme of action that is needed. The facts, in all conscience, are dramatic enough. Half the people of the world are underfed. They do not eat enough to keep them healthy, strong and well. But all the same, they are increasing in numbers very fast. Today, the total is 3,000 million. In 2000 A.D., only thirty-seven years from now, half the lifetime of the babies born in 1963, it will be 6,000 million.
When I was at the Peace Conference in Paris, in 1919, I remember learning with astonishment that the population of the great African continent was under 100 million. It is now 237 million. In 2000 A.D. it will be 517 million. The population of Latin America is now 206 million. In 2000 A.D. it will be nearly 600 million. The population of Asia is now 1,500 million. In 2000 A.D. it will be 3,707 million. Who, I wonder, will be the great Powers then? To feed these people, says F.A.O., world food production must be doubled by 1980 and trebled a more difficult task, by 2000.
From what level do we start? What do our words convey when we say that 410 half our fellow human beings are underfed? Ritchie Calder, one of the greatest authorities on the subject, quoted the other day what he called the "Litany of Hunger in the East"—Better to walk than to run.Better to sit than to walk.Better to sleep than to sit.Better to die than to wake.That, he says—is the muted misery of millions It does not shout from the headlines like famine, nor scandalise us like the walking skeletons of Belsen. It is the creeping death of malnutrition, of people dragging out the years of a stunted life, without the energy or the will to help themselves.Let the House look more closely at what this means. Professor Banks, Professor of Human Ecology at Cambridge, wont for the World Health Organisation to the University of Lucknow. He made a detailed survey of the lives of 5,000 people in four villages near there. The infant mortality was 190 per 1,000. In Britain, it is 21. Only half the children born grow up to be adult. Fifty per cent. of the people had hook-worm and another 10 per cent. had other worm diseases, which caused them grievous suffering and drastically reduced their ability and their will to work.
In village schools there was often not a single healthy child. Seventy per cent. in the age group 0 to 14 were tubercular positive. In one district, 92 per cent. of the population suffered from eye troubles. Trachoma varied in different districts from 60 per cent. to 80 per cent. Everyone—men, women and children—were suffering from malnutrition.
Things are much the same in large parts of Africa. There is a common disease in children in Africa, kwashickor. This means, "the sickness of which the first baby dies when the next baby is born". When a baby is weaned by its mother, it goes on a diet which is deficient in protein. Its hair goes grey. Its skin cracks like a crazy paving. Its stomach swells. It lives, and soon dies, in tearless, inarticulate misery.
There is another affliction, zerophthalmia, blindness in infants due to lack of Vitamin A. There is hunger toxicosis, dehydrating a baby, which will die without the complicated treatment of transfusion.
411 Consider the problem of these developing countries through the eyes of a Communist. In the General Assembly of the United Nations, a few days ago, ad Iron Curtain delegate said that United States capitalists had for a century or more been taking minerals, oil, fruit and sugar from Latin America and had made enormous fortunes for themselves. The statistics showed, he said, that the average income of the people of the United States was ten times the average of the peoples of Latin America. The Iron Curtain delegate added, with a sardonic irony not lost on many of the delegates in the Assembly, "And they call it the free world".
We can make the same sort of comparison for ourselves. For three centuries we have had an expanding empire of which, for many reasons, if not all, we were justly proud. Last July, the hon. Member for Louth (Sir C. Osborne) told the House that the average income per person in Pakistan was £19 a year, that in India it was £24, and in Britain was £387. He might have added that in Uganda, now independent, the average income was £20 and that for the five years up to 1961 it had been going down.
With the curse of hunger, poverty and disease there goes the crowning handicap of illiteracy. There are, perhaps, 1,000 million people in the world who cannot really read or write. U.N.E.S.C.O. stated last autumn that of all people between the ages of 5 and 20 only two in five received any kind of formal education. So the great majority of young people in the developing countries today get no schooling at all. If present plans mature less than half the children is Asia will go to school in 1970. How can we hope, in these circumstances, for a system of free democracy to work?
What can the Freedom From Hunger Campaign, with its voluntary contributions, hope to do to meet this vast complex of tragic human problems and mitigate the suffering and waste they involve? It can demonstrate by concrete schemes of development that if the advanced nations want to do it, all those problems can be solved. Indeed, some of them could be solved very quickly and cheaply. Yaws is a horrible disease, but it can be cured by a dose or two of penicillin. Ten cures for a dollar is what 412 it means and if it were wiped out the agricultural output of the countries in which it is found would be immensely increased. Blindness makes a person helpless and a burden on the society in which he lives, but trachoma can be cured by the application of an ointment which is cheap to buy.
Food production can be much increased by simple changes requiring no agricultural revolution. The Western scythe for the sickle multiplied the hay crop threefold some years ago in Afghanistan, while Western hoes did the same for vegetable foods. Better seed multiplied the rice yield in India, Japan, Italy and in many other countries. The farming of fish in the paddy-fields of South-East Asia, introduced by F.A.O. ten years ago, has added protein to the diet of many millions of people. Western experts, Western methods and Western machines can do much more.
It is not a lack of knowledge or resources that need limit our efforts to wipe out these great world evils. The Freedom From Hunger Campaign will demonstrate in many places and in many ways how this can be done. It is giving £12,000 to improve the cattle at Allahabad by cross-breeding the local cattle with Jersey the Brown Swiss bulls; and 300 villages will benefit by the results of this. It is giving £22,000 for a scheme of nutritional education for young women in Uganda to teach them, when they become mothers, how to avoid the deadly deficiency disease of which I have spoken.
It is giving £150,000 to the Department of Land Utilisation in Swaziland—and how vastly important is the argricultural future of Swaziland today—to set up an agricultural college to provide 20 students a year with a two-year course. It is giving £1,000 to enable the fishermen of Aden to visit Malta for a six-week course in modern methods and to learn these methods from the Maltese fishermen. It is giving the F.A.O. £38,000 to establish cheese production in Libya by the importation of Sarda sheep.
So far, the Freedom From Hunger Campaign has committed more than £3 million to schemes like this, and the three great relief organisations—Oxfam, War on Want and Save the Children Fund—have pledged more than another £2 million. All this is admirable work to which the whole Committee will pledge its full 413 support. It will open our people's eyes to the nature of the problem and its vast extent, it will show the receiving peoples how they can help themselves and it will be a notable addition to the work of the United Nations agencies which have been struggling with the problem since 1945. But if we are to avoid a great disaster within two decades from now the Governments must do far more to support the United Nations agencies than they are now doing; to give them moral support, experts and far greater resources than they have been granted hitherto.
The United Nations Technical Assistance Board began, I think, in 1950 with a programme of 25 million dollars for eighteen months. For years, while in opposition, we had great difficulty in making Her Majesty's Government maintain their proper contribution to the total of 25 million dollars. At length we got it up to 30 million dollars and last year—and I am talking of the total—it touched 50 million dollars.
In 1959, Mr. Paul Hoffman's Special Fund was added to the Assistance Board. It began with 25 million dollars a year and in 1962 it was increased to 50 million dollars. But this was far short of the target which was set when the British delegate voted for the United Nations Development Decade in 1961. The target was 150 million dollars and the Secretary-General has said that if the minimum target of the Decade is to be attained by 1970, the resources of these two agencies—the Technical Assistance Board and the Special Fund—must rise by 25 million dollars a year and must reach 300 million dollars by the end of the decade.
Much the most important of the agencies has been the International Bank. It has done splendid work and 600 million dollars worth of loans, mostly to developing countries, have been made in its first fifteen years of work. However, Mr. Eugene Black, who has just retired as Chairman, and who has a world-wide reputation for statesmanship of the highest order, has said that the Bank must lend far more in the years to come.
Mr. Black set up, to supplement the work of the International Bank, what is called the International Development Association, its purpose being to make interest-free loans for what Mr. Black 414 calls "pre-investment projects"—such as water supply, roads, schools, railways, housing, health services; things that must be done before productive agriculture, mineral and industrial development plans can be put on foot.
The I.D.A. will this year commit, in interest-free loans, 500 million dollars, and will exhaust the funds which have so far been put at its disposal. Mr. Black says that the demands will grow very greatly from year to year. Mr. Hoffman, more specifically, and with equal experience of big business and world poverty, says that the International Bank and the I.D.A. must each invest at least 1,000 million dollars a year for the rest of this decade.
What is the minimum target that this investment would achieve? It is modest enough. It would be a rise from 1 per cent. to 2 per cent. in the annual rate of growth of the national incomes of the developing countries, an increase in their standard of living by 1970 of only 25 per cent. Of course, such an increase would be, for Britain, which lives by importing food and raw materials and by exporting manufactured goods, a magnificent investment. It would be no less magnificent for the world at large.
But where will the money come from? Where will these agencies get the 25 million dollar annual increase, the 300 million dollars in 1970 for the Technical Assistance Board and the Special Fund, the 1,000 million dollars for the International Bank, and the 1,000 million dollars for the I.D.A.? These sums must come, of course, from Government resources of advanced nations like ours. That is why the most important function of the present campaign is to educate Governments and peoples in the brutal facts which they must face.
Of course, there are other things besides giving aid which Governments ought to do. Above all, they ought to stabilise the prices of the commodities which the developing countries have to sell. Shortly before he died, Mr. Hammarskjoeld said:A fall of only 5 per cent, in the average of their export prices is approximately equivalent to the entire annual inflow of capital which they receive, not from International Bank loans only, but from all other public and private loans and Government grantsIn a recent year, cereals fell by 11 per cent. in price, sugar by 47 per cent., fats 415 by 12 per cent., wool by 32 per cent. and metal ores by 9 per cent. We in this country benefited by these falls in prices of our imports and our export prices for manufactured goods were simultaneously going up.
The terms of trade are still turning in our favour at the expense of these developing countries. It must be a prime object of Government policy to get commodity agreements to stabilise prices, however difficult it may be, Surely, as Lady Jackson argued so eloquently upstairs the other day, we must open our Western markets to the simple manufactured goods which the developing countries have to sell.
Whatever else may happen, the Government must invest much more through the United Nations agencies of which I have spoken. Our present Government have not a very brilliant record on this. For years, as I have said, they stabilised their contribution to the United Nations Technical Assistance Board and the Special Fund at 8 million dollars a year. Last autumn, for 1963, thanks to the persistent efforts of my hon. Friends the Members for East Ham, North (Mr. Prentice) and Dundee, East (Mr. G. M. Thomson), they have added 2 million dollars. They called that a 25 per cent. increase, and it sounds grand, but it will not go far towards meeting the 300 million dollars needed by these two agencies in 1970.
The Government have also given 5 million dollars, spread over three years, to the World Food Fund, an F.A.O. project to use food surpluses to promote development schemes. They have refused to issue in this country Freedom From Hunger stamps, although 76 other countries have found it possible to do so.
In the General Assembly, they voted that 1 per cent. of the national income should be devoted to international aid. I should like to hear very much how this vote has been implemented since then. I agree that they have also given the sum of £35,000 to our British Freedom From Hunger campaign. That is 0.002 per cent. of our annual armaments bill, and would pay Dr. Beeching for eighteen months.
What visionary master mind in what corner of Whitehall hit on that majestic sum? Perhaps he thought that the 416 Government could recoup it from one day's revenue from the new Post Office tariffs, announced yesterday. Whatever the calculation, it is a pretty sordid reflection on the priorities of those who rule us now. It is a derisory sum which the Government should at once and very much increase.
This great international campaign will succeed in its purpose only if it brings Governments to face the realities of this and the other decades that lie ahead. At present, the great military Powers are spending £45,000 million on armaments a year—perhaps as much, says the Economist intelligence Unit, as the whole present income of the developing nations which need our aid. Unless we can have a new vision of this problem, and take the measures which Mr. Black and Mr. Hoffman now advise, we shall face a great world disaster in the lifetime of most hon. Members present here today.
I have quoted many figures about hunger, poverty and disease. But imagination is, alas, the feeblest of human faculties. Have I made anyone really feel the misery and the needless pain which these figures represent? If the Government will face this moral challenge—for that is what it is—and allow Britain to lead the other nations in doing what Mr. Black and Mr. Hoffman have told us is required, they will not only be serving a British interest, they will not only earn a handsome dividend for British trade in years to come, but will do very much to build up, on firm foundations, the authority of the United Nations and the sovereign power of its international law.
§ 4.28 p.m.
§ Mr. Arthur Henderson (Rowley Regis and Tipton)
My right hon. Friend the Member for Derby, South (Mr. P. Noel-Baker) has rendered signal service by raising this problem as the subject of our debate. It is a problem that transcends all party considerations. Indeed, it passes over national boundaries. It is a problem which affects the whole world. It is quite impossible to carry on any longer ignoring the stark facts of the world situation—a situation which, as my right hon. Friend has just told us, results in more than half the total population of the world living on the margin of subsistence in conditions of hunger and affected by disease.
417 Such conditions constitute a premium upon war and conflict. So long as they continue, they will undermine the permanent basis of world peace. We are told of the potential nuclear threat to the welfare of mankind, but here we are dealing with an actual problem affecting the welfare and happiness of the teeming millions of Asia, Africa and Latin America.
My right hon. Friend the Member for Derby, South has quoted some basic facts relating to the problem of world hunger. I will give another. One-third of the world's population lives in the industrialised countries of Europe and North America. The average yearly income of that one-third is ten times that of the 2,000 million people of Asia, Africa and Latin America. It is obvious that so long as we have a world divided into haves and have-nots, so long will we have the undercurrents of seething discontents in those parts of the world which we call the under-developed countries.
It is in these circumstances that, at long last, the United Nations has decided to grapple with this terrible problem. I said that it transcended party lines and national boundaries. In a world divided East from West, and in which £45,000 million a year are spent on the creation and construction of some of the worst weapons of mass destruction that the human imagination is able to appreciate, every single member of the United Nations, 104 members, representing both Communist and non-Communist, all races and all nations, unanimously decided to launch this programme of the Development Decade.
It is not sufficient to regard this as merely providing food and nourishment for the hungry and those suffering from malnutrition, vital as that is to the millions in the underdeveloped countries. Through no fault of their own, these people do not have the "know-how" and the social and economic infrastructures which are so essential in the more advanced countries and to the standards of living which so many of us in the West are able to enjoy. These people are not merely to be given charity. What is essential is that their standards of living should be built up and to do that they must be assisted to develop their economies 418 and to play their part in that development.
This programme—and it is only a programme and there is a long way to go before it becomes reality—provides that until 1970 aid will be given through private and national investment so that the underdeveloped countries can build up their economic and social infrastructures. This means that we have to do a great deal more than we have done.
A great deal has already been done, and we should not underestimate it, by most of the countries of the West, although I agree with my right hon. Friend that we would like to see our own Government doing more. Much has been done, through the Colombo Plan and Point Four and through technical assistance, to train these people to be able to build up their own economies.
I was in Guatemala six weeks ago and I was very impressed with the fine main roads along which I travelled. I congratulated the person with whom I was travelling on the efforts of the Guatemalan engineers, but I was told that the roads had been built by United States engineers with capital provided by the United States. That is a good contribution to that country's economy, but we have to seek to train these countries so that they are able to build up their economies through their own efforts.
One of the main provisions of the Development Decade will be to assist underdeveloped countries by constructing roads, hospitals, drainage systems, railways and factories, and by providing them with agricultural and industrial machinery and other means of developing their own economies. This will not be done without the provision of capital, both private and governmental.
Mr. Paul Hoffman has estimated that at least £1,000 million a year during the next ten years, in addition to what has already bean invested, will be necessary to secure the target set by the programme, namely, that by the end of the decade the aggregate national income throughout the underdeveloped countries will have been increased by 5 per cent. per annum. That may not seem very much until it is appreciated that in countries like India and Pakistan and those of Africa the present annual income is extremely small. If 419 we can secure an increase of 5 per cent. per annum, in due course it will be possible to double the standard of living of these countries.
I do not know whether the £1,000 million will be available. If it is not, this programme will fail. This is not only a moral but an economic challenge. It is in our own interest that the programme should succeed and that the world should no longer be divided into haves and have-nots. I am reminded of what Abraham Lincoln said during the early stages of the American Civil War, that a nation could not endure half-slave and half-free. The world cannot endure when half its population lives in abundance and half in squalor, poverty, disease and misery such as characterise the people of these countries.
That is the challenge which faces us, not only our own people, but all the peoples of the world, irrespective of colour, creed or religion. The challenge was accepted by the 104 nations of the United Nations. We need deeds as well as words. I cannot believe that this is a challenge which we cannot expect to fulfil. In a world spending £45,000 million a year on armaments, I cannot believe that it is not possible for the nations to make their contribution to the £1,000 million a year needed over the next ten years.
I should like to quote what was said by the Secretary-General of the United Nations about the problem of world hunger and the depressed nations and the importance of this programme, the Development Decade. In Copenhagen, in May last year, U Thant said:Shall we be able to make this Decade of Development the achievement in human solidarity we hope it will be …? It is not enough for us in the United Nations to dedicate ourselves to the Decade of Development. We have to take with us the Governments to whom we are responsible and through them we have to reach out to the peoples …Our Decade of Development cannot ultimately succeed unless it is rooted in the wills and hearts of millions of citizens everywhere. It will not succeed unless it can win their sustained support. It will not succeed unless they see it as a great goal of human endeavour and one which they are prepared to make their own …I believe that this debate will help to make the people of our country realise that this is a goal which they can make their own.
§ 4.43 p.m.
§ Mr. John Hall (Wycombe)
I apologise to the right hon. Member for Derby, South (Mr. P. Noel-Baker) for not having been present for the beginning of his speech. It may be that, in consequence, I shall traverse some of the ground already covered and give some figures which the right hon. Gentleman has already quoted.
We have just heard a very moving speech by the right hon. and learned Member for Rowley Regis and Tipton (Mr. A. Henderson). There is no doubt that this campaign, the Freedom From Hunger Campaign, is one which appeals to the humanity of the people of the world. It calls forth the greatest charity—I use the word "charity" in its best sense—but, unfortunately, appeals to the charity of the human race often fall on very few ears.
When one is talking on a subject like this one is often accused of talking in platitudes. But what is a platitude but a truth that we are tired of hearing? We are constantly told of the hunger, poverty, misery and disease which inflict so many millions of people throughout the world, and after a time we get hardened to it; we get bored by repetition and begin to think that we are talking in platitudes because most of us have no personal experience of this problem. We have not actually seen the conditions about which eve are being told.
I want, therefore, not to appeal to the House on the ground of humanity entirely, but on the ground of enlightened self-interest. It has been calculated that the world population today is increasing at the rate of about 1.8 per cent. per annum. At present, that means that it is increasing by about 54 million people a year—more than the entire population of the United Kingdom. It means, too, that over the next forty years, at a progressive rate the population of the world will have gone up from about 3,000 million to 6,000 million.
The great danger that will face the world as a result of what is popularly described today as the "population explosion" will be to the peace of the world and increasing danger, too, to the forms of democratic government as we know them today.
421 A very interesting conference was held in the United States not very long ago, at which some of the outstanding scientists of the world were present, when this danger was emphasised—that problems would arise, for democratic forms of government as we understand them, from this increasing pressure of population. If we are to meet this problem—and we have not got very long; forty years, after all, is nothing—and if the danger is to increase intensely year by year, we must, I am certain, conscript all the available resources of the Western world.
One major problem is to produce enough food for the increasing population. Another problem is that of achieving some control of population growth, which is very difficult in some underdeveloped countries. There is no doubt that there are many ways of increasing food supplies. We have not yet done more than touch the fringe of the world's food resources—in the sea, for example. But to develop new kinds of food resources we want a great deal of money, technical "know-how" and technical resources.
As much as anything, the underdeveloped parts of the world require technical assistance from skilled men and women. We have not just to provide them with food that we obtain or produce ourselves and hand it over to them; we have, as the right hon. Gentleman said, to help to teach them to help themselves. We have to increase their own ability to maintain their own growing population and make a contribution to the world resources as a whole.
In the past, I have advanced what some people would describe as a rather insane idea; but it is not an unusual thing to hear insane ideas advanced in this House, so perhaps I am in good company. My idea is to try to mobilise the resources of technical skills in the developing Western countries and particularly in our own for the benefit of the underdeveloped countries.
I envisage, for example, a form of conscription for peace. We have conscription for war, or for the preparation for war, and I should like to see the youth of the nation brought into a service where they can receive training in technical skills which they may not possess 422 already and be employed around the world to help the underdeveloped countries which need that kind of skill.
This would have two major advantages. One is that it would give help to the underdeveloped countries which they really need, and the other is that it would give technical training to many young people who might not otherwise get it, which would he of great value to them after they have finished their period of service.
This idea has many problems and difficulties, but it emphasises the main point that I want to make, that if we rely merely upon voluntary effort, upon appeals to the instinct of charity and the good nature of the people of the world, we shall get a very limited response. Cases of this sort are duly supported by a fraction of the people, by a small minority with a strongly developed social conscience who come to the rescue, but this is not sufficient. We have to conscript—and I use that word deliberately—the world's resources of manpower, technical ability, and cash for the benefit of the world as a whole if we are to solve this problem.
I do not want to develop this any more, because there may be other hon. Members who may wish to speak on this topic. I end by emphasising the tremendous danger to the peace of the world if we do not do something quite drastic and revolutionary to meet the danger in the very near future. Time is not on our side. We shall face one of the greatest problems that the world has ever faced if we do not find a way of dealing with this tremendous growth in population and ensuring that its peoples have a reasonable opportunity of enjoying a moderate standard of living.
§ 4.50 p.m.
§ Dr. Alan Thompson (Dunfermline Burghs)
My right hon. Friend the Member for Derby, South (Mr. P. Noel-Baker) said that one of the objectives of his speech was to dramatise the facts, and he did this with the eloquence and humanity that we expect of him.
I should like to carry on one or two of the points made by my right hon. Friend. Never before in our history has there been a deeper ditch or a wider gap 423 between the wealthy people of the world and the poor, between those who lack nothing and those who have need of everything. It is ironical that an American professor, Prof. Galbraith, should write a book on the economics of affluence, a book, in effect, on the economics of satiation and the problems of an economy which is trying to persuade people with two cars to have three and people with two refrigerators to have another one. It is ironic that a person should write this sort of book in a world in which Mr. Norris Dodds, the Director-General on the F.A.O., on his world travels in Asia as few years ago, quoted the example of a family who had one linen sheet which was used not only for bedding but for clothing. When one member of the family went to town dressed in the linen sheet the rest of the family crouched naked in their hut waiting for his return—this side by side with the economists of the West discussing the problems of satiation.
Before the war 38 per cent. of the world's population did not have enough to eat. After ail our advances, this figure has risen to 59.5 per cent., and yet our world stocks are rising. In a recent year the North American output of cereals and other foodstuffs rose by 12 per cent. The paradox is that at a time when the starvation level, measured by arbitrary medical standards, is rising, world stocks of food are rising. There are various things that we can do about this. One was touched on by my right hon. Friend—give people a fair price for their products and get world trade moving between industrial countries and the primary trade countries.
I often think that economists have become obsessed, as we did over the Common Market negotiations, with the pattern of trade rather than the process of trade. If the process of world trade is liberalised, I think that the pattern to some extent takes care of itself. I think that economists have become too obsessed with static examples of patterns of trade instead of looking at international export-import organisations to facilitate the processes of world trade.
Another thing that we must do is to help people to help themselves. We can do this in a variety of ways, which I shall touch on in a moment.
The hon. Member for Wycombe (Mr. John Hall) gave an estimate of the rise 424 in population. It will be 6,000 million by the end of the century. Economists have estimated that every million added to the world's population calls for an addition to the world's food supplies of 13 million tons of cereals and 14 million tons of animal products, by which I mean meat, milk, eggs and the like. Every year about 100 million children are born and about 51 million die. In other words, each year our population increases by about 48 million. A population increase equal to the size of France is added to the world virtually every year. When we break down the figures into regions we see that the rate of growth of population in Europe, for instance, with all its tremendous technological and cultural achievements, is 0.7 per cent. At the other extreme, the rate of population growth in the Ivory Coast is 5.3 per cent.
I think that my right hon. Friend used the term "developing countries". This is a better phrase than underdeveloped countries. The problem of these developing countries is that they have a medieval birth rate associated with a modern death rate, and this is a very serious problem. Some countries, such as China, are tackling their problems efficiently though rather ruthlessly. The Chinese now have a population of 660 million, and they estimate to double that—to about 1,280 million—by the end of the century. In other words, by that time a quarter of humanity will be Chinese. The Chinese are tackling the problem in various ways. They are doing it by directing migration to the more sparsely inhabited lands of the north and west territories, and also by a good deal of ruthless control and hard work. By these methods they are reducing the incidence of famine and plagues in a spectacular fashion, but the more tempting areas of colonisation lie beyond the existing frontiers of China, which brings me back to the point made by my right hon. and learned Friend the Member for Rowley Regis and Tipton (Mr. A. Henderson), who related the diplomatic and military problems to our economic problems.
We have seen China casting covetous eyes on Tibet and Nepal. Tomorrow she may be interested in Mongolia and those parts of Manchuria under Russian control. Siberia has only eighteen people per square mile, compared with the 425 densely populated areas of China. To remove the threat of hunger in the world is to lessen the diplomatic and military tensions that arise. What we need for these backward territories is more agricultural production, which I think in turn depends on giving a greater aptitude to the farmers and workers in those countries to work harder and harder; but here we come to a vicious circle. The people in many parts of these countries are afflicted by diseases like malaria. They want to sit or sleep, and their energy is sapped. Children go to school on a nonexistent breakfast and fall asleep in front of their teachers. Their intellectual processes are slowed down. Their physical processes are slowed down by a lack of food, and they do not produce very much.
These developing countries must have the tools. In the world of electronics and automation, in a world in which we are sending people to the moon and developing nuclear power beyond our wildest dreams, most of the people who cultivate land in India do not have even a scythe. If they had their task would be made infinitely easier. We therefore have to equip these people, encourage the rearrangement of fanning methods and land reform, and provide facilities for health and education.
One of the things that we have to get across to the developing countries—and we are partly to blame—is that they must not always become obsessed with the spectacular highly industrialised schemes. There is no reason why projects for fertilising deserts should be held back for more spectacular ventures. These countries look to Britain and the West and see that in our country industrialisation is accompanied by higher living standards, but I think that this can be a dangerous obsession. One reason why we do not provide a good example is that these developing countries see that industrialisation is a good basis for military power. Some of those countries want to be in on the arms race. We cannot stop progress in electronics, automation and industrialisation, but we can spread information about the need for meeting man's essential needs—food, clothing, housing, health, and so on—in those parts of the world.
One of the reasons for morbidity and mortality in a large part of the world is something that scientists located and 426 diagnosed long ago—a deficiency of protein. We have carried out a tremendous amount of research into this problem. It is not a lack of knowledge that holds these people back. For example, there has been our research into Vitamin A, which is found in oils and mineral fats, which prevents blindness. In Indonesia, a recent pilot project showed that 83 per cent. of the children between the ages of one and six years old had eye diseases which, unless checked, would in adult life cause lesions of the cornea and consequent blindness which would then be irreversible. This could be cured if these people could have food containing Vitamin A or the vitamin itself.
Then there is the lack of Vitamin B.1, which causes beri-beri. It has been shown that if this is present in food, or if it is given in vitamin form, it can cure this disease. The same thing applies in the case of Vitamin C, or ascorbic acid, which prevents scurvy, and Vitamin D, which is vital for proper bone formation. There is a lack of this in the diets of people over a large proportion of the globe. All these vitamins are present in certain high-quality foods, such as meat, milk and cheese, but these foods are very scarce in some continents and unknown in some countries.
Scientists have estimated that a satisfactory diet is provided by about 3,000 calories a day. If there is less than 2,500 there is under-nourishment. Less than 2,000 calories means acute shortage—and most of the areas that we are discussing come into that category—less than 1,500 indicates famine, and a diet of less than 1,000 calories, if prolonged, causes death to ensue. The Nazis, in their concentration camps, disposed of their victims by setting a ceiling of 1,000 calories. This was a highly successful way of massacring the inhabitants of those camps.
Here again, we have to spread information about the kind of crops that yield these calories. Historical accidents in different parts of the world, and accidents of soil and climate, in geography, have had much to do with the health of the people living in these areas. If we think in terms of the average calory yield, per million to the acre, we find that a sugar crop produces 10.1; bananas, 5.6; potatoes, 4.7; rice, 2.7; wheat, 2.1; milk, 0.7, and meat, 0.16. These are calory contents. There are other elements in 427 our diet, but these figures provide a good guide, especially in relation to the backward countries.
In Basutoland, 41 per cent. of the people—or nearly half—have goitre. This could be cured by something which is well known to medical science—iodised salt. If it could be given in the diet the lives of these people would be utterly transformed, in terms of health and intellectual activities, and their whole way of life. Malnutrition affects everything—education, production, and the whole range of human activities.
We cannot tackle the overall problem by providing cows' milk. If we could supply the whole of Africa with cows' milk it would cure many of that continent's problems, including ultimately even its aggressive diplomatic problems. What we can do is to use vegetable oils from peanuts or soya beans, which, if not as good as milk, show very good results, which the Africans can prepare for themselves.
Sometimes problems arise because of a nation's concern with cultural and religious matters. India is a good example. She has the greatest number of cattle in the world—190 million. There is one cow for every two Indians. But because slaughter is forbidden by their religion, these cattle are used in the worst possible way—to provide energy, by pulling carts and drawing water. Their droppings are used to provide fuel or for plastering the interiors of houses and floors, Even in respect of the one important use to which Indian cattle are put, namely, the yielding of milk, production is very poor because of the lack of crossbreeding. An Indian cow produces 40 gallons as compared with a Dutch cow's 790 gallons.
Indians are so averse to the taking of life that even in the recent campaign of the Indian Government to kill rats, which were spreading disease, it frequently happened that villagers would capture the rats in their village, put them into sacks, and then, because their religion forbade them kill the rats, steal furtively along to the next village, taking the rats with them and deposit them on their neighbours. These cultural and religious problems can be overcome only by massive programmes of re-education.
We have several aims before us, as outlined in my right hon. Friend's opening 428 speech. Our short-term aim is the temporary relief of under-nourishment. Even that will enable some people to live who might otherwise die. But our longer-term aims are more important—the elimination of hunger and the spread throughout the world of the food surpluses which exist in some countries.
How can we achieve these aims? How can we eliminate hunger? We can do so by scientific methods—improved farming techniques, cross-breeding, the use of better animal and vegetable strains, soil analysis, treatment with natural and artificial manures, irrigation and drainage. All these things lie in the realm of applied science. There are also antibiotics, and the use of insecticides against pests. Our horizons become wider every day—wider than they have ever been before. Revolutionary and hopeful discoveries connected with food production are being made every day. But the important thing about applied science is that it should be applied, and our efforts should be directed to making sure that its benefits are known and applied throughout the world.
But it is not only the benefits of science which should be spread; we also need to spread the benefits of education, by the teaching and guidance of backward rural communities. The Republic of Ghana has carried out something that it calls "mass education assistance". It recruits many dedicated young men in their early twenties who have had a primary education—not men with Ph.D.s or advanced scientific and technical knowledge; those people cannot be spared—but men with a sense of mission—who do nine months' training in rural studies, and are then sent to villages where organised meetings and discussions are held. They get the farmers and workers together and train them. In a way, they provide a liaison between farmers and peasants and the specialist Government departments to whom they apply for help in engineering and scientific agricultural methods. Here the matching of mass information techniques to the knowledge of science and agriculture is having a very useful effect.
There is one other point, which is really an example of what can be done, given the will. Suggestions have been made that an inland sea could be created in the Sahara. That may sound fantastic, and it is true that to create such an 429 inland sea would require the moving of five times as much earth as de Lesseps moved when he built the Suez Canal. But he did not have the benefit of the thermo-nuclear explosion. He had only shovels at his disposal. If our nuclear knowledge could be applied to this positive purpose instead of to the silly explosions which General de Gaulle carried out in pursuit of empty national prestige in the Sahara, it would be much more useful to the population of the Middle East.
If we did this in the Sahara oceangoing vessels could sail right into the middle of the present desert, bringing world trade to the area. We could establish a fishing industry which would provide some of the vitamins, particularly Vitamin A, which I mentioned earlier, and others, to this part of the world which is desperately starved of them, and, of course, increase the fertility of the surrounding area. I suggest that a project of this kind could do far more to stabilise the Middle East diplomatically and militarily than any of the purely defensive or military arrangements which we might make.
I hope I have said enough to convince hon. Members that, although the problem is a complex one, nevertheless we have at our finger tips as no generation before has had a tremendous array of knowledge and expertise. If we can marry that knowledge, as I believe we can, to good will and energy, then I am sure the proposals which my right hon. Friend the Member for Derby, South outlined will be nearer fruition.
§ 5.11 p.m.
§ The Joint Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (Mr. James Scott-Hopkins)
I hope it may be for the convenience of the House if I intervene now. I am certainly very grateful to the right hon. Member for Derby, South (Mr. P. Noel-Baker) for drawing the attention to the plight of the hungry and ill-nourished peoples of the world. I do not dispute the fact that an awful lot of people in the world are badly fed and in bad conditions at the present time.
I hope during the course of my speech to demonstrate that the Government are doing their fair share—indeed, are taking a leading part—in meeting this challenge and in fighting the hunger which exists 430 throughout a large part of the world. Of course, we always want to do more, but we are bound by the limitations of our resources. Even so, I am convinced that we are doing the most we can in the present circumstances.
The Freedom From Hunger Campaign, which has been going on for two and a half years in this country, is a voluntary campaign, and its national committee is under the chairmanship of my noble Friend Earl De La Warr. I congratulate that committee on the tremendous work it is doing in bringing to the attention of our fellow countrymen this work and the need for it. There are now over fifty countries with national committees of this kind, and our country was one of the first in the field. We have reached the halfway stage.
One of the most important matters with which the national committee has dealt to date, and which was mentioned by the right hon. Member for Derby, South, is that of making the people of this country aware of the need of people in other parts of the world for food. To this end the funds collected are being used to increase the production of food in the developing countries and to raise the purchasing power of the large rural population in these countries.
One of the first tasks of the national committee was to seek out worth-while projects in the developing countries, particularly in Africa and Asia. So far about 300 projects have been sent in, each with the approval of the developing country concerned. The projects are scrutinised by an expert committee, which is part of the national committee, and 127 of them have been approved up to date costing around £4 million. The list is growing all the time, both in the number of projects sent in and the number approved. But, of course, the main object, as has been mentioned already in the debate, is to make it possible for the people of the developing countries to help themselves. This is why our national committee has decided that a high proportion of the schemes which it is sponsoring should be concerned with agricultural and other forms of training.
A number of other schemes, such as those for rural water supplies and cooperative societies, or for research into 431 pests and diseases, are aimed at strengthening the developing country's economy rather than directly at food production. I think that they will have a lasting impact on those countries after the actual campaign finishes its course when the five-year period is up.
The right hon. Member for Derby, South mentioned one project in Swaziland where an agricultural college and a short course centre are being financed by this country, partly by the Luton and Leek branch committees of the national committee, costing upwards of £250,000. There are some larger schemes and some much smaller schemes going down to £1,000 or less. The important thing is the way in which the public have been made aware through television, Press and radio of the need for this work and of the work which the campaign committee is doing. Indeed, I believe that there are some 132 hon. Members of this House, of which I am one, who have made a contribution of one hour of their pay. I sincerely hope and believe, and I am sure that the right hon. Member for Derby, South does too, that this will continue.
I want to assure the House that the Government are doing their full share in meeting this challenge. We have contributed £55,000 to the campaign funds. As the right hon. Member for Derby, South said, £30,000 of this was given to the national committee at the outset of the campaign to help it set up its administrative machine. At the same time, £20,000 was given to F.A.O. headquarters in Rome towards its administrative costs in organising this world-wide campaign. That was a direct contribution for this specific purpose. The further £5,000 which was given this year, and which is the subject of this Supplementary Estimate, was an additional donation in response to an urgent appeal from the United Kingdom national committee to help it with a specific difficulty. Inevitably, the costs of the campaign were heavy at the outset and the committee found that the original £30,000 was not quite sufficient to see it through its initial operations; but I understand that in the future sufficient funds will be available from other sources.
This is essentially a voluntary effort. Indeed, we have only to cast our minds back to the enormous amount of money raised through the World Refugee Fund, 432 which was a purely voluntary organisation, to realise what sources can be tapped in this field. We have been extremely glad to give this extra interim help, and I understand that the Committee has now made permanent arrangements for meeting its administrative costs.
§ Mr. P. Noel-Baker
I understand that the Government have given £35,000 to our Freedom From Hunger Campaign and £20,000 to F.A.O. to help it to start its organisation because there was no money in the kitty when it was begun.
§ Mr. Scott-Hopkins
I think the point is that the £55,000 has all gone to the Freedom From Hunger Campaign whether it has gone in this country or to Rome, or wherever else. As long as it is devoted to this purpose, I think I am justified in saying that it is being given to the campaign.
The contribution of £20,000 to F.A.O. headquarters was for 1960–61, when there was no provision in F.A.O.'s regular budget for the headquarters costs of the campaign. I should like to make it clear that for the two years 1962 and 1963 we are giving something above 10 per cent. of the 800,000 dollars provided for these costs in the F.A.O. regular budget—10 per cent., or about 80,000 dollars, for this specific purpose.
But, as has been mentioned, F.A.O. is only one of the specialised agencies of the United Nations. Not only is it important in its own right—with its declared objective of increasing food production, improving nutritional standards and raising the living standards of the rural population of less-developed countries—but it does a tremendous amount of work as executing agency for the United Nations Special Fund and the Expanded Programme of Technical Assistance.
The many forms of aid which this country provides are directed towards the achievement of self-sustaining economic growth in the less developed countries. We are usually the largest contributor, after the United States, to the aid programmes of the United Nations and to the financing of its specialised agencies. In 1963 we shall be paying out about £485,000 as our contribution to the running of F.A.O.; nearly £2¼ million to the United Nations Special 433 Fund and over £1¼ million to the expanded programme of technical assistance.
I think the House will agree that in this sphere alone that is a considerable amount of money to be expended for these purposes. The most important of these programmes are the expanded programme of technical assistance and the Special Fund. They are designed to fulfil the same purpose, to alleviate hunger and want in the developing countries and to bring their economies nearer to the standards enjoyed in the highly sophisticated countries of the West. Our contribution to this Fund has been increased this year by 25 per cent. I hope that other countries will follow the lead that we have given. The Special Fund finances much larger projects than those about which we have been talking. An example is the Near East Animal Health Institute, which has units in the Sudan, Lebanon, and various other places in the Middle East. The project will last for five years and involve a total expenditure of about 5 million dollars.
We give about £3 million a year to the various United Nations relief organisations, including our contribution to the world food programme. In addition, we make a contribution to national disaster funds. Last year, for example, we gave £20,000 in respect of the earthquake in Iran; £15,000 after the Pakistan floods; £10,000 in respect of the Hong Kong typhoon and £10,000 for insecticides following the locust disaster in Iran.
The World Food Programme has been set up jointly by the United Nations and F.A.O. as an experiment in giving food aid multilaterally. It is to run for three years, and it aims to provide food aid to a total value of approximately 100 million dollars. Contributions to the programme are voluntary and may be pledged by countries in the form of appropriate commodities, acceptable services, or cash. Our contribution of 5 million dollars was half in services and half in foodstuffs.
§ Mr. P. Noel-Baker
Five million dollars is 5 per cent. of the 100 million dollars to be raised for the World Food Fund. We are one of the advanced countries which are to help the developing countries. That amount of 5 per cent. is far below our normal quota of the 434 U.N. budget. The hon. Gentleman is now repeating what the Government always say—that we are second, that we are very generous. We are the second richest country in the world and we make a contribution for our own people and for the 43 million people in other parts of the world whom we still rule. What the hon. Gentleman is now saying has convinced me of something which I hesitated to say in my original speech, namely, that the alibi of the Government for doing nothing more in support of our Freedom From Hunger Campaign is that British private generosity is making a contribution.
§ Mr. Scott-Hopkins
That is a most unjust charge. The right hon. Gentleman knows full well that our contribution to the developing countries is very great in proportion to our wealth and resources. The contributions which I have listed are not the only ones. There are other forms of contribution by this country, and I think that in the circumstances 5 million dollars, given half in the form of services and half in foodstuffs, is generous at this stage.
Of course, we all want to give as much as we can to see that hunger and starvation is conquered throughout the world. But it is a continuing problem, and we must keep an eye on our resources and our ability to contribute. The main point is that there are many other spheres in which the Government spend a great deal of money in helping people in the developing countries and I will refer to them briefly.
Probably the greatest contribution which we make to this problem is in the form of helping those countries which lack the resources to solve their problems themselves. With other countries of the highly sophisticated West we give aid in the form of grants, loans, technical assistance and aid in kind, and by facilitating trade with the less developed countries. We are one of the most generous contributors in these efforts, and an important aspect of our aid programme is the provision of facilities for education and training, on which we spend over £30 million annually.
We provide assistance to developing countries, with the full co-operation of their Governments, aimed at educating their men and women and developing 435 their natural resources, raising their standards of living and building up their institutions and services. This programme includes bringing people to this country from overseas for education and training, and supplying qualified and experienced men and women to teach, help and work overseas.
The Department of Technical Cooperation was established in July, 1961, to co-ordinate, promote and carry out arrangements for furnishing aid to overseas countries with which we have technical assistance arrangements. Loans at low rates of interest with long terms for repayment, and grants, play an extremely important rôle in raising the standard of living of the less fortunate countries. There are, of course, other ways in addition to cash contributions by which we can help.
§ Mr. A. Henderson
Does the hon. Gentleman propose to say anything about the programme for the Development Decade?
§ Mr. Scott-Hopkins
In fact I am referring to the Development Decade all the time. The Freedom From Hunger Campaign is part of it. The 100 million dollar fund is part of it, and our aid to overseas developing countries is part. Surely the right hon. and learned Gentleman is aware that I have been talking about that the whole time, as he did during his interesting intervention.
The total economic and technical assistance to less developed countries from this country and from Government funds was approximately doubled between 1957–58 and 1961–62 from £81 million to £161 million. In addition, there is a substantial flow of private funds from this country to the less developed countries. While grants and loans can help, the real need of the developing countries is for increased opportunities for their exports, as was mentioned by the right hon. Gentleman and others. To this end we have been playing an active part in the work of a special committee set up under the auspices of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade to consider measures for the maintenance and expansion of the export earnings of the less developed countries. We have a good record in providing the less 436 developed countries with increased opportunities for trade. This comes into the same category.
In particular, we have supported the efforts made in international fora to secure the elimination of quantitative restrictions affecting the exports of less developed countries. We have played a full part in international commodity agreements designed to avoid excessive price fluctuations, and in this sphere we have been working with other countries and taken a full part in the agreements on sugar, tin, coffee and cocoa. It is the aim of the Government to work towards world commodity price agreements and the stabilisation of raw materials upon which the developing countries depend for their trade. As the House will realise, this takes time and it is not an easy objective to achieve.
Where there are surpluses in the West, and in the industrial countries, there is the problem of getting these surpluses to the developing countries. It is here that the difficulties arise. The United States has had a great deal of experience in administering aid of this kind and has learned about the difficulties and limitations. With permission, I should like to quote what Mr. Orville Freeman, the United States Secretary for Agriculture, said to the Ministers of Agriculture of O.E.C.D. countries last November:We have learned much of the difficulties and the complexities, the hazards and the costs, the very real limitations of such programmes. Precautions must be taken to prevent a disruption of normal commerce or a deterrent effect on local agricultural development. Costs of effective distribution can be higher than the cost of food itself. Many countries lack both the physical facilities and the administrative experience to receive, handle, and distribute food aid.This illustrates some of the difficulties which face us in trying to cope with this problem.
I do not want to finish my speech with the figures and quotations I have given the House. I think the most important element of all is the human element, what we can ourselves do and what we are doing on the human side to solve this problem of helping our brothers overseas in developing countries. In past generations we built up our place in history as a country by our young people going overseas, making their fortunes, and meeting the challenge of the times, which 437 in those days was very great. We face the same sort of challenge today. Our young people have the same sense of adventure. They will benefit from it, and we as a country will benefit.
Our young people, as trained personnel and graduates, are going overseas now in hundreds and in thousands. We are helping to train public servants, supplying and training teachers, supplying doctors and nurses. We are supplying technicians of various kinds and engineers, who are going to these developing countries to help them to go ahead. Altogether there are more than 60,000 students from overseas, mostly from the developing countries, at our universities and technical colleges studying our skills and we are passing on our knowledge to them. In addition, we are giving support to 15,000 men and women serving the Governments of dependent and independent countries of the Commonwealth. Voluntary Service Overseas is sending school-leavers and graduates abroad in increasing numbers year by year.
Apart from the contributions the Government are making to help the developing countries which I have outlined very briefly, we are helping in the technical field. It is up to our young people to meet the challenges with which those developing countries face us, to go out as our forefathers did in years gone by, not to conquer those countries, but to bring them up to the same standard of living, of prosperity and sophistication which we enjoy in this country.
§ Mr. Elwyn Jones (West Ham, South)
Is it not the case that there are far more applicants among young men and women for these opportunities than there are opportunities for young men and women? Is there not room for even greater contributions by the Government to agencies such as International Voluntary Service to increase the availability of these openings for young people?
§ Mr. Scott-Hopkins
This voluntary service is increasing year by year, I am glad to say, but I hope there will not ever be a situation in which we shall lack volunteers for it. We want the highest quality people to go out to help these countries. I am confident that they will not be lacking, as indeed they are not now. The hon. and learned Member made a good point there.
438 The Government make a contribution, not only in this field, but over the whole field of financial aid and technical assistance. In voluntary assistance, also, we in this country should play our part in the battle against hunger, famine and malnutrition.
§ 5.35 p.m.
§ Mr. A. E. Oram (East Ham, South)
It is a good thing that the House has this opportunity of discussing world hunger in the middle of Freedom From Hunger Week. One hopes that this debate, so far as it receives attention in the country, will call attention to the fact that "This is the week this is". I hope that at least a proportion of the millions who see the television programme on Saturday nights—among whom I count myself as an enthusiastic viewer—will regard this week as one of unusual importance because of the campaign taking place as part of an intensification of the longer-term campaign against world hunger. I hope that, as the Minister has said, now 130 hon. Members have joined in the scheme by giving up an hour of pay, that will set an example to others, not only outside but inside this House.
I hope that the Minister will not take it amiss when I say that I thought his speech was somewhat complacent. It was a recital, which we have heard before in this House, of rather minimal figures in face of a problem of immense importance. I had certainly heard much of his speech before, not from him but from the Under-Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, who was speaking for the Government in the debate at Geneva on the Development Decade. I then felt, as I am sure delegates from developing countries felt, that a recital of these figures, which are quite inadequate in face of the size of the problem, is not the best way to arouse enthusiasm among the population of this country nor to arouse in the developing countries a sense that the industrialised countries are doing all that they should.
When I heard the Minister mention figures of £30,000, £20,000, £5,000 and even £3 million, or 5 million dollars, in relation to other projects, I considered that if he added them all together the total would not be very impressive compared either with national incomes or 439 with the size of the problem we are discussing or—and this was the contrast in my mind when he was speaking—with the Service Estimates which we were debating last week and on Monday this week. Those are the contrasts which a speech of such complacency brought out.
The hon. Member for Wycombe (Mr. John Hall), in a very welcome speech, almost apologised for one of his suggestions as being "insane". The idea of what I think he called "conscription for peace" was unorthodox only because of the insane standards which orthodoxy applies in these matters. I often think that arithmetic becomes a different technique when we are talking about armaments from when we are talking about economic matters and particularly the welfare of the people of developing countries.
This Freedom From Hunger Campaign is a massive exercise in aid all over the world. It deserves the utmost support from all Governments and all peoples. I wish that the Government had shown rather more enthusiasm in welcoming this week. I shall give one example. My right hon. Friend the Member for Derby, South (Mr. P. Noel-Baker) mentioned it, although I think he got his facts a little out of date. That is the question of the stamp which is to be issued.
§ Mr. Oram
I am going to correct my right hon. Friend, so the Minister need not correct me.
I am glad to say that a stamp is to be issued in this country. I believe it is to come out tomorrow, but in the first instance the Government decided not to issue the stamp. Only when a Question was asked and extra pressure was put on the Government could they be persuaded to change their mind.
§ Mr. P. Noel-Baker
My hon. Friend's Question gave me the information that the Government refused and subsequently gave way.
§ Mr. Scott-Hopkins
Perhaps I may be allowed to clear up a little inaccuracy. 440 There are two stamps to be issued tomorrow, one for 2½d. and another for 1s. 3d. They will be issued midway during the week, which is an important time for them to be issued.
§ Mr. Oram
My main point is that in this, as in many other matters connected with world hunger, the Government drag their feet.
I want to point out the limitations of aid from Western countries in tackling world poverty. I am all for that aid—I hope that I have indicated that I think that should be very much greater—but however generous may be the grants in aid from developing countries, the generosity can be the opposite if seen in a context of a decline in the prices of the foodstuffs and raw materials that the developing countries seek to sell on the world market.
I have accused the Minister of making a complacent speech. An that he described in terms of the aid that has come from the West has been wiped out by the decline in prices of the commodities which the developing countries seek to sell The balance of advantage has, therefore, been with the West, not with the developing countries. That gap has been widening rather than narrowing, and the aid we have given has only stopped the gap from widening a little more.
That is why I say that the Government's attitude in these matters is complacent. Time after time they trot out this familiar list of the things they do, but what they do is really nothing in terms of the real problem, which is that because we in the West are getting advantages on the world commodity markets the people in the developing countries are getting less. Over the last decade, the terms of trade have gone entirely in our favour, and entirely against the interests of the developing countries.
That is why, though aid is important, trade is so much more important. That is why the commodity schemes to which the Minister referred are of great urgency. He has claimed that the Government have done something about coffee, tin and sugar—yes, there are these schemes, but I suggest that here again this problem of declining commodity prices has not been tackled with 441 nearly the sense of urgency with which it should be tackled. The Minister says that these things take time. That is true, but there is a danger of using talk about commodity schemes as an excuse to do nothing about them.
I remember that the big idea emerging from the Ottawa Commonwealth Conference in, I think, 1958, was commodity schemes. I remember that when we were negotiating for British entry into Europe, and there was a Commonwealth problem, it was said, "Ah, but commodity schemes will take care of that problem." When it was found that we could not get into Europe and had to think of an alternative, the Prime Minister said, "Oh, we will get commodity schemes." So whether we are in Europe or out of it, or whatever the time may be, there is much talk about these things and all too little action.
I should like the Government to think not only in terms of these internationally-arranged commodity prices—which I consider to be the most effective long-term safeguards for the welfare of the people in the developing countries—but also in terms of schemes which this country can undertake entirely on its own. I mention the commodity plan put forward by Mr. St. Clare Grondona, a most eminent economist, who has developed a most important scheme which this country could adopt on its own. I have heard the Chancellor of the Exchequer refer to that scheme as being most interesting and helpful—here again, sympathetic noises, but never any action.
I therefore urge that the Government, in approaching this question—the most important question of our generation—should think in terms, not only of aid but of fair trade for the developing countries; above all, not only in terms of complacent talk, but in terms of getting on with something as soon as we can.
§ 5.45 p.m.
§ Sir John Barlow (Middleton and Prestwich)
I confess that at the beginning of this debate I had not intended to speak, but as so many of the speeches are so near my heart I feel impelled to do so. I have told the House before of my interests in tropical agriculture in different parts of the world, and for that reason this debate particularly 442 appeals to me, because we find that so much of the poverty of the world exists in the tropical agricultural areas. My family was one of pioneers of the rubber planting industry in Malaya, and I have been interested in the tea, coconut, palm oil and copra industries.
Those who have followed the development of Malaya over the last fifty years will realise what a wonderful job the Colonial Office and the private sector of development have done there. We have now passed to the people there a rich, fine country, and they have carried on with their freedom and made a greater success of it than probably any other of the emergent territories. I am particularly pleased to follow the hon. Member for East Ham, South (Mr. Oram) because I had the opportunity of travelling with him in the wilds of Borneo about four years ago, and I can see that he has remembered many of the lessons he then learned. Unfortunately, our travels were cut short. The General Election of 1959 was suddenly announced, and we both had to fly home hurriedly to secure our re-election.
This debate has very largely revolved around what the Government are doing, and the Parliamentary Secretary has shown that the Government have for many years done a great deal of useful work in the development of these Commonwealth countries and to help the underfed and the hungry. I also appreciate the speech of the right hon. Member for Derby, South (Mr. P. Noel-Baker). Some of us who have known him for at least 45 years know the tremendous work he has done during that time on this and similar lines, and I was delighted to hear him.
I want to emphasise more particularly what has been done, and what can be done, in the private sector. The development of tropical estates producing rubber, tea, copra, and other things, has done a tremendous amount to help the local population. We have made profit out of it at times, and, at other times, incurred great loss—I agree with the hon. Member for East Ham, South there, but I shall deal with prices later. In prewar days, most well-run estates had a relatively far higher standard of living than existed in this country. I do not speak in terms of absolute income, but the idea of the Welfare State was far better developed on many properties in 443 Malaya, India and Ceylon in the 'twenties and 'thirties than in this country. All well-run estates at that time had their own schools, hospitals, crèches, maternity benefits and so on—things which were quite unknown then in this country. An immense amount of British capital has been spent on these developments for the mutual benefit of all concerned.
When I say that it probably costs £150 an acre to plant a rubber estate and about £300 an acre to plant a tea estate, the tremendous amount of wealth in these countries will be appreciated. That money is largely spent on labour. The people receive the benefit of good wages and good conditions, but perhaps the greatest benefit they receive is the example set of how to run agriculture efficiently. Before the development of these estates the budding of rubber trees on clonel seed was quite unknown. Now that these great European estates have been developed, the benefit has been passed on to local farmers in different countries. This has been a wonderful source of education and of wealth to these people.
One cannot discuss this subject without mentioning also the excellent work of the Colonial Development Corporation which was started after the war. In its early days the Corporation made many mistakes, just as any similar corporation would make mistakes. It had to experiment by trial and error. It found what it could do successfully and it had many failures as well as great successes. My one and only criticism of that Corporation, in view of the excellent work that it did, was that it did not differentiate between commercial work to make money and benevolent work to improve the country and the conditions of the people. When one tries to mix the two, one usually does not make a great success of either. Both are necessary, but it is best to keep them apart and to have different peoples and organisations developing them.
§ Mr. E. Fernyhough (Jarrow)
How does the hon. Member square that with the argument at the beginning of his speech when he spoke of what the rubber and tea planters had done? They mixed desirable commercial projects with desirable social projects.
§ Mr. Deputy-Speaker (Sir William Anstruther-Gray)
Perhaps I should intervene for a moment to remind the House that we are discussing a Supplementary Estimate and the debate should be concentrated on the Freedom From Hunger Campaign. I do not know that the Colonial Development Corporation comes into that directly, although an incidental reference to it is fair enough.
§ Sir J. Barlow
I hope that my reference has been quite sufficient to prove my point.
The hon. Member for East Ham, South referred to the difficulty about prices. Many of these tropical countries have developed two or three commodities, such as rubber, tin and cocoa, from which they have specially benefited and which they can produce very efficiently. This has meant that the whole of the economy of these countries has relied on two or three very speculative commodities in which there have been violent fluctuations of prices. It is quite wrong to expect the economy of a whole nation to rest entirely on two or three speculative kinds of produce, and for that reason most of these countries have tried to develop small local industries.
In many cases we have provided a large amount of capital for this purpose, although we know that in world markets these schemes are quite uneconomic and could never produce efficiently. For this reason, it would be of great financial benefit to us and to these countries if a scheme of stabilisation of prices were developed. It would mean much greater efficiency for both the producer and the user. I do not think that such a scheme is impossible. It has been tried, successfully in some cases. It has failed in others, but it is important that we should go much further with this idea than we have gone up to the present.
A great deal of the money which has gone overseas has been used very wastefully. We have helped many of these small emerging countries in the past and we can help them in the future, but in many cases they are not making it easy for us to help them now. It is essential when using modern machinery and techniques to have a certain limited amount of European supervision. This we now find increasingly difficult to maintain. It would be to the greater interest of these countries and of ourselves if they 445 recognised this fact and allowed more of our enterprising young men to go out and help develop the countries as young men have done in the past.
When these developments are successful there is in every case a substantial revenue from Income Tax and, in many instances, from export duty, and the countries concerned benefit greatly. Revenue is raised from taxation for the development of education and of agriculture and for the large-scale employment of labour.
These are the lines along which we can help the world, and the Commonwealth in particular, far more than by the collection of small funds for a World Hunger Week or anything of that kind, This is a great world problem. Although having a week to help the hungry draws attention to the need to do something to help these people, it does not begin to solve the real problem.
§ 5.57 p.m.
§ Mr. R. E. Prentice (East Ham, North)
Towards the end of the very powerful speech with which my right hon. Friend the Member for Derby, South (Mr. P. Noel-Baker) opened the debate, he spoke about the limitations of the human imagination in being able to comprehend what world hunger means. He drew attention to these limitations in speaking in terms of thousands of millions of people or in terms of calories and of the difficulty of finding a yardstick by which to measure the scope of this subject.
I have referred before in the House, and make no apology for referring again, to the yardstick which I find useful in measuring this problem in real terms. I have a daughter of whom I am very proud. She is now 11½ years old. I calculate that since she was born about 1,000 million other children have been born, and I am sure that, generally, their parents were or are as fond of them as my wife and I are fond of our daughter. About 150 million of these children are already dead. Most of them have died unnecessarily because of hunger or disease associated with inadequate diets.
Of the rest, between one-half and two-thirds face a life in which they are constantly threatened with that kind of disease; a life in which they will never have an adequate diet and an existence in which their average expectation of life 446 may be about thirty-five years. It is against that background that we are discussing this Estimate and the purpose which it is meant to fulfil.
The Freedom From Hunger Campaign is a wonderful thing, and we should all support it in every way that we can. I believe that we can be encouraged by the fact that throughout the country hundreds of local committees have been established and thousands of people are not merely giving money, but are working to support the campaign. Politicians in general, and Conservative politicians, in particular, have been inclined to underestimate the latent idealism of the British people in matters of this kind. There is an idealism which has been tapped by this campaign, and it is a movement which can grow.
Television may have had quite an impact here. One of the incidental benefits of television is that it has brought the outside world into people's drawing roms. When people see hungry children, with swollen bellies, they realise what hunger means. When they saw the conditions which existed in the Congo in the early stages of the crisis, people were anxious and willing to give money. When people saw the effects of the earthquake in Iran last year, they crowded outside the Red Cross headquarters in London to see what they could give and what they could do to help in the disaster.
People are responding to the Freedom From Hunger Campaign, which is the main subject of our debate. But I state very strongly—and here I agree with the hon. Member for Middleton and Prestwich (Sir J. Barlow)—that a campaign of this kind will be only of limited benefit unless it is a catalyst for something much bigger. The whole purpose of the Freedom From Hunger Campaign Committee is to capture the imagination of people so that the country can embark on permanent schemes which will have a long-term impact on the problem. Otherwise, the projects which are being sponsored by various groups throughout the country, useful as they will be, will only be scratching the surface of the enormous human problem with which we are concerned.
This long-term action has got to be by Government and by voluntary action, and it has got to be undertaken in this country and in all the other richer countries. 447 I reject completely the Joint Parliamentary Secretary's view that what we are doing is satisfactory in relation to our resources. What we are doing at the moment does not measure up to the requirements. In fact, our Government and the Governments of the other richer countries in the West, and in the Communist world as well, have a duty to stop thinking in terms of what they imagine they can afford and to start thinking in terms of what the situation demands.
We are discussing this problem against the background of the United Nations Development Decade, which has been referred to by many other speakers. During the 1950s the average national income of the underdeveloped countries went up 3 per cent. a year. The population went up by an average of 2 per cent. a year. Income per head on average went up by 1 per cent. a year. That is an average in which we are generalising about something like 2,000 million people. In many cases their living standards went down and have been doing so for a long time.
The objective of the Decade is that by 1970 we should have an average rise in the national incomes of these countries of 5 per cent. a year—by no means an impossible objective. It is something that we can achieve and it is an objective for which the British Government and every other Government voted at the United Nations. But none of the Governments concerned has measured up to the real challenge that has been presented since they recorded that vote.
Let me take one of the figures to which the Parliamentary Secretary referred, relating to the contribution which we are making to the Expanded Programme of Technical Assistance and the Special Fund. He said that we had increased that contribution by 25 per cent. in the current year. But when we voted for the Development Decade resolution we went on to vote, in the same session of the General Assembly, for a consequential resolution which called on us and all the countries concerned to increase our contributions to the Expanded Programme of Technical Assistance and the Special Fund by 50 per cent. in 1962 and by further amounts in 1963 and the succeeding years.
In fact, we were content in 1962 to keep our contribution to the same figure as 448 it had been for some years previously, and then only to increase it by 25 per cent. this year. We are not the only defaulters. I am not suggesting that we have a worse record than other countries. The countries in the richer parts of the world have in general failed to meet the challenge, and they have to meet it in a much bigger way.
There are overwhelming arguments in support of that contention, of which the most important is the moral argument—the simple fact that it is unfair and wrong for this great gap to exist between the standard of living of one-third of the human race, on the one hand, and two-thirds, on the other, a gap which is growing and is intolerable to anyone who applies his conscience to this matter.
But there is also the argument of enlightened self-interest. We are a trading nation, and our future trade depends on prosperity in the rest of the world. The International Labour Organisation has a motto, "Poverty anywhere is a threat to prosperity everywhere". That again is part of the framework of the subject that we are discussing.
The other part of our enlightened self-interest is in terms of the international situation. Not only is the gap growing between the standard of living of some countries and others, but people in the poorer countries are becoming more aware of this and more discontented about it. The political situations which result from it are becoming more turbulent and will create more trouble. My right hon. and learned Friend the Member for Rowley Regis and Tipton (Mr. A. Henderson) referred to Abraham Lincoln's remark that the United States, one hundred years ago, could not survive half-slave and half-free. That is right. The world today, in terms of communication, is a smaller place than the United States was one hundred years ago, and the threat that this represents to our security is thereby all the greater.
There is one other aspect of the problem to which I should like to make a brief reference. That is the question of the disposal of food surpluses. I am glad that one of the steps the Government have taken has been to make a contribution to the world food programme of the Food and Agriculture Organisation. We have been told that we were making this contribution to the value of 5 million 449 dollars to be spread over three years. It is about a year ago that I raised this question in an Adjournment debate. At that time the Government said that they would do nothing. Since then they have reversed the decision, and this is very welcome. But this is a very poor contribution.
Consider what other countries are doing. Canada, with a much smaller population than ours, is contributing as much as we are. West Germany is to provide 8 million dollars against our 5 million dollars, and the United States is to provide 50 million dollars worth of aid to this programme. That is a genuine contribution to the Freedom From Hunger Campaign. There should be more Government studies of this problem and of the use of food surpluses. Even in this country, which is a food-importing country, we are becoming embarrassed by surpluses of some commodities. The Price Review reflected that fact in relation to milk production and other commodities.
We are getting into a period of a growing paradox, when certain richer countries are embarrassed by food surpluses while the rest of the world lacks food. As the Joint Parliamentary Secretary said, this problem cannot be solved simply by dumping food surpluses in the hungry countries. He referred to Mr. Orville Freeman's remarks in this connection. If we were to distribute food surpluses round the world, they would not make much of an impact in solving the problem of hunger.
A lot of thought has been given to this problem in the F.A.O., particularly by Mr. Sen, who has defined the way in which food surpluses can be used constructively. He has pointed out that capital development is held up by the inflationary position arising from extra wages paid to the workers on capital projects. Suppose large numbers of workers are engaged in building a dam or some other large capital project. They want to spend their wages on extra food and other consumer goods. This creates a pressure on local markets. It may create an inflationary situation. It may even create a strain on the balance of payments situation of the country concerned.
It is in that sort of situation that the gift of food surpluses can have a real 450 impact and be of real help in the development of that country. There is no doubt that the recent five-year plans in India have been helped by the gifts of food surpluses from the United States under their PL480 programme. This is an idea which can be developed constructively so that the food goes in to coincide with the capital development. It is not helpful if the food is simply dumped in such a way that it depresses the price which the local farmers get for producing it and discourages them from taking the steps which are needed. If it is related to the situation which I have mentioned, it can be helpful.
There are other possibilities. Surplus food can be related to welfare food programmes, such as food for expectant mothers, or for school meal programmes, in these countries. It can be related to the short-term setbacks in food production following land reform. A developing country often has to postpone plans for land reform because it cannot envisage the loss of production involved in the short term even though it may increase production in the long term. It can be related to the creation of food reserves to deal with famines or bad harvests, and things of that sort, and to the creation of stocks of grain to feed animals.
There are special ways in which food surpluses can be used throughout developing countries on a bigger scale provided that we and other richer countries go in for this in a big way and carry out a lot of study and research on it and make the right contributions. The F.A.O. has given a lead in this programme to which we are making this modest contribution which I hope will be increased in future.
I have already given one example of the many ways in which our national effort must increase. It must also increase in the form of capital aid in technical matters. I particularly believe that there is a case for a British peace corps on the lines of that in the United States to mobilise volunteers to work in the developing countries. Our efforts to arrive at commodity agreements to provide stable markets for these countries must increase.
The Freedom From Hunger Campaign will be a wonderful thing provided that it sparks off more long-term programmes. The danger is that many people in the country will make this one-and-for-all 451 gesture and will regard this as a temporary piece of charity. They may have a bread and cheese lunch and give the proceds to the fund or they may give one hour's pay, as many of us have done. That is all very well in its limited way. But this campaign will be of permanent value only if it sparks off long-term plans and brings about change in the attitude of this country and of other richer countries towards the poorer countries of the world. Nothing else will measure up to the challenge of the times in which we live.
§ 6.13 p.m.
§ Sir William Robson Brown (Esher)
I listened to the hon. Member for East Ham. North (Mr. Prentice) with great interest, but I regret that in his opening remarks he implied that there was a lack of interest and sincerity on the Conservative benches in this matter. May I remind him that World Refugee Year was inspired by a young Conservative Member of Parliament, and I am sure that the hon. Gentleman would not denigrate the work done in that respect. There no party political bias in this matter. The appeal is universal. Certainly it is national, and, therefore, to bring party politics into it would be a profound mistake.
§ Mr. Prentice
I did not use words in the sense that the hon. Gentleman has indicated. I said that I thought that politicians in general and Conservative politicians in particular had underestimated the idealism of the British people in this matter.
§ Sir W. Robson Brown
That is a slight variation of what I said, but the taunt is the same.
I do not think that if this appeal is couched properly and is properly planned it will merely be a matter of our giving one day's pay and a tea party and we shall be finished with it for ever. It would be wrong if that were to happen. That would be a hypocritical act and would be an attempt to buy off our consciences so that, having seen a distressing photograph of a little child, we might be able to say that we had done something.
When I was a small boy I gave my pennies towards the missionary funds on Sundays. Small children all over the country regularly gave subscriptions innocently believing that they were doing 452 a Christian act and making a little sacrifice which to them was important. In my mature years, I find that generally the money was not used nor was it sufficient in quantity for the basic purposes to which it should have been put. I am satisfied that if more money had been applied to the education of children in Africa and other places our problems today arising from the "wind of change" would not be so difficult. Now, in the second half of this century, we are again faced with precisely the same problem.
I am genuinely worried that in the postwar period money which has been made available to certain Governments has in too many cases never found its way to the people who really needed it. The generous and big-hearted aid of the United States has sometimes been used to support corrupt Governments in the countries to which it went.
There is a certain arrogance in mentioning it, but it is hard economic common sense that one of the great problems of these countries is that they create too many families. They are building up the problem themselves. We must try to educate these people to have smaller families. Family life is profound and essential, but there comes a point when it adds to the problems and difficulties in some of these countries. We shall have to be extraordinarily careful in this matter. I say without offence to the religion of the people in India that that nation is making a bold and imaginative approach to this problem. This is something to which we in Great Britain should pay attention in all that we try to do to help these people.
As the hon. Member for East Ham, North, said, the Government's contribution clearly is inadequate. But the whole campaign is inadequate and savours too much of the soup kitchens of the hungry 'eighties in this country. The idea seems to be that we have to keep these people alive because we are worried about them, that they are under our feet and that we have to do something about it. We should not approach these problems in the soup kitchen spirit. We should give these people employment. They and their children do not need soup kitchens. Anything of a temporary and palliative nature will not touch the problem.
What we must send out to these countries is men as well as money. It seems 453 to me that many of these countries will never on their own build up a self-reliant economy which will support them. An example of this is India. There are more Englishmen working in India than there were when it was one of the Dominions in our complete and absolute control. The brains of this country have been going oat to help India to build up its economy. In some countries, which are not even as advanced as India, irrigation is more important than food. Food is essential, but it is important that irrigation engineers should go to these countries and properly survey the land and get the Government's co-operation in irrigation schemes.
Labour is another thing which can be used in these countries to great effect. I saw a film several months ago about Chinese who were working on an irrigation scheme. They were using mass labour in substitution for machinery which was not at their disposal. If we ask people to do something for themselves we are not denigrating them; nor are we reducing their dignity. In fact, we are enhancing it. If they feel that they are helping to build something for themselves we are doing something positive for them and their character.
The same applies to agriculture. I am advised by experts in agriculture that if the land in these countries were used properly and intelligently it could produce a large volume of food for the people in them. I believe that that is true. Many of our energies should be directed towards that end.
The same also applies to what I call gradual industrialism. It is not necessary to build vast steel works. We must first teach people in these countries to repair their old agricultural machinery and tractors. The hon. Member for Dunbartonshire, East (Mr. Bence), who is an engineer, will understand what I mean. Once a man starts to use the tools of engineering in a fitting shop he can make very good progress. I have often been impressed by the extraordinary intelligence about machinery that the people in these countries have. I do not like to call them natives because that is liable to be misunderstood.
§ Sir W. Robson Brown
I did not wish to appear to be patronising. What we must try to do is not to give these people charity but to lift them up to independence. This is a long-term task of great importance.
The Government have been criticised for what they have done, but it seems to me that to have a campaign for one week is not enough. It must be a dedicated and continuing effort, because there is so much in this country today that is done for us that we now have to learn to do something for other people abroad. We have conquered poverty in our nation. There is a lot of money in the hands of a lot of people that is, perhaps, not used as wisely as it might be. When the results of their contributions and efforts are brought back to them visually by television and other means, they can see that the money is used wisely and well, so that we do not need to get back to the time when the small boy put his pennies into the missionary box and never had more than the barest of pictures of what was done with it.
When Governments do something for other Governments, there is the subtle inference that we are trying to influence them. They feel, "You are doing it because you have to and because it is expedient". But when the people themselves help people in other countries, it is an entirely different matter. The aid is not suspect but is taken at its proper valuation.
When people of our country help people of other countries they are reaching out the hand of friendship. If there is one thing that the world needs today it is the hand of friendship from one to the other. I hope and believe that as a result of this debate the people will realise that to make a contribution of one sort once only is simply not enough.
§ 6.52 p.m.
§ Mr. E. Fernyhough (Jarrow)
I hope that the hon. Member for Esher (Sir W. Robson Brown) will also realise that it is simply not enough for the Government to be interested in this campaign for one week only. As one of my hon. Friends has said, the big thing about the Freedom From Hunger Campaign is that it has touched something in the British people which many of us had begun to feel had become completely lost.
455 When there is so much cynicism abroad and when the world is so full of selfishness it is refreshing to find countless thousands of ordinary people being moved by old-fashioned morality, if I may put it that way—feeling, as it were, for their fellow men. The big thing about this campaign is that it strikes the right kind of chord. It brings out the best impulses in people. That is why not only the scheme is worth while, but the Government's contribution is so miserable.
Over the last few weeks, we have been dealing with Estimates amounting to nearly £2,000 million for the three Services—the Army, Air Force and Navy; and they have been passed with very little ado, with few complaints and with hardly anybody saying that we could not afford them. When we compare those figures with the miserable sum of the present Estimate, we are revealing something of our real values.
The object of the campaign is to try to bring immediate help to people who are dying daily in their thousands from poverty and disease. If any of the nations which are the beneficiaries of this aid were to be attacked or threatened by Communism tomorrow, there would be a readiness to pour millions of pounds into those countries in the shape of tanks, guns and aircraft.
It should be realised, however, that where somebody dies from disease, it is just as bad as dying from Communism. Life has ended. Life is being ended unnecessarily every minute of every hour of the day for tens of thousands of people, people who could be alive, who could live a natural existence, if only the resources of the developed nations, their scientists, their technicians, their "know-how" and their ability to produce were being poured into those countries as they are being poured into militarism.
I remember 1926. The hon. Member for Esher has referred to soup kitchens. We had soup kitchens in the mining areas in 1926. Many of us would not have had a breakfast had it not been for the soup kitchens. It was the poor who helped the poor. It was not the rich who helped us.
§ Mr. Fernyhough
I remember Arthur Cook, the miners' leader, in 1926, when a 456 million miners and their wives were literally being starved to death because the wages for which they were asked to work were not sufficient to justify a reduction. The miners did not strike for more pay in 1926. They struck merely to keep that which they had.
Arthur Cook used a wonderful phrase which I have never forgotten. At a great meeting in the constituency of my hon. Friend the Member for Stoke, Central (Dr. Stross), he said, "You cannot grow the flower of peace in the garden of poverty". What Arthur Cook said in relation to industrial peace in Britain in 1926 applies in the international sphere in 1963.
We cannot grow the flower of peace in a world which is two-thirds poverty-stricken. This is where the real danger to peace lies, because hungry men occasionally become angry men, and angry men become irresponsible. When they become irresponsible, it is surprising how much we are prepared to devote to disciplining them, which would not have been necessary had we been prepared to act and help generously before their hunger drove them to rebellion.
One of the things that disturbs me about this kind of situation is that there is nobody in the House of Commons, on either side, who, if he could hear the cries of hunger and see the bodies of the victims day after day, would not say that we must do more. There is a tendency, of which we are only occasionally reminded, to shut these things out of our minds. I do not want us to shut this problem out of our minds, because I want the chance for future generations to inherit our earth.
I do not believe they will be able to inherit it unless we do something about this problem because I believe that this is a problem which can ultimately engulf and destroy the world. Just as Britain could not this century have gone on with the disparities which there were in this country in the last century between those at the top and those at the bottom, so the world cannot go on in this century with great disparities between the rich and the poor nations, with nothing or very little being done about them.
I agree with the hon. Gentleman the Member for Middleton and Prestwich (Sir J. Barlow) about the importance of 457 commodity prices, the prices for the exports of the underdeveloped countries. I quite agree that it is very necessary that we should do something to see that they get a fair return for the raw materials we take from them. It is very important, when we are discussing territories for which we have responsibility or have had responsibility in the past, and when we talk about their trade, that we should also remember that if the prices which they get for the commodities they export go down, then they have that much less money with which to buy goods from us. That is partly the reason why Commonwealth trade has tended to decline. It is not because those countries wanted to take less, but because they have been getting less for their exports and have had their imports reduced by that much, thereby affecting our trade.
This is a very big issue. I think it is the biggest issue confronting the world. It is certainly the biggest issue confronting the West, and I say that unless we can deal with this problem, and unless we can deal with it reasonably quickly, then all talk about containing Communism becomes utter nonsense. Wherever there is poverty, hunger or disease of the magnitude that these evils exist in some of these territories, men will say, "Any system or philosopsy which will get us quickly out of this, which will relieve us of this disease and poverty, we will subscribe to, and any such system we will embrace".
That is why I hope that the Government next year, when they are deciding how to apportion their resources, will decide to do a little more in this direction, and a little less in that other direction which I mentioned, because I am quite sure that in this direction they will be able to do more to defend those things for which they are supposed to stand than by devoting £2,000 million to defence, which, in the days of nuclear weapons, no longer exists.
§ 6.33 p.m.
§ Mr. Tam Dalyell (West Lothian)
This discussion has been conducted in the wide terms of food, and I had hoped that some little part of it might have been in the rather tighter context of protein. In hungry areas such as the Nile Valley and Northern Nigeria no one has complained of the shortage of carbohydrates. The 458 problem is the shortage of proteins. This is not my personal view only but the view of Professor Richie Calder with whom I shared a platform ten days ago and who has made a life study of this problem.
Because other hon. Members want to speak on other subjects today I shall confine myself to just one positive suggestion. In November, 1962, at Lavers in the south of France, a French subsidiary of B.P. and a team under a man called Champagnat discovered a process whereby straight-chain hydrocarbons can be converted into proteins, valuable in animal feeding. This is a discovery of immense significance, perhaps one of the most important of the last twenty years.
It may be asked, where does this tie up with freedom from hunger? B.P. is a company, the majority shareholding of which is owned by Her Majesty's Government. The suggestion I have is this, that the Government make full inquiry into how this process, by which one changes straight-chain hydrocarbons into protein, is being brought to this country, and that an inquiry be made especially into whether protein can be manufactured on such a large scale, first of all, not for humans at ail but for animal feedingstuffs. Because, suppose we were able to deliver animal feeding-stuffs of high protein content to developing countries, that would give them the take-off into economic growth which is really essential and would give them a helpful capability of supplying health-giving food for industrial populations.
So this seems to me one of the absolutely crucial matters. To save time, as other hon. Members want to raise other subjects, I will sit down now, asking for an assurance that that will be looked into. The scientists of B.P., I know, will co-operate. I ask for this inquiry particularly with a view to the practical study of the manufacture of protein as a possible means of providing employment in oil refinery areas where there is unemployment, such as the north-east of England, Scotland, and Northern Ireland. I ask that there may be a full investigation.
§ Question put and agreed to.