Dáil Éireann - Volume 335 - 02 June, 1982

Joint Committee on Co-operation with Developing Countries: Motion.

Minister for Posts and Telegraphs and Minister for Transport (Mr. Wilson) (for the Minister for Foreign Affairs): Tairgim:

(1) Go bhfuil sé oiriúnach Comhchoiste de dhá Theach an Oireachtais (dá ngairfear an Comhchoiste um Chomhar le Tíortha Forbraíochta) a bhunú ar a mbeidh 11 comhalta de Dháil Éireann agus 7 gcomhalta de Sheanad Éireann (nach comhalta den Rialtas ná Aire Stáit aon duine díobh) chun scrúdú a dhéanamh:

ar cibé gnéithe

(a) de chaidreamh na hÉireann le tíortha forbraíochta i réimse an chomhair fhorbraíochta, agus

(b) de chlár an Rialtais um Chúnamh Oifigiúil Forbraíochta,

a roghnóidh an Comhchoiste agus chun tuarascáil a thabhairt orthu do dhá Theach an Oireachtais.

(2) Go ndéanfar socrú chun ionadaithe a cheapadh chun gníomhú do chomhaltaí den Chomchoiste nach mbeidh in ann freastal ar chruinnithe áirithe.

(3) Go ndéanfaidh an Comhchoiste, roimh thosach gnó, duine dá chomhaltaí a thoghadh mar Chathaoirleach agus gan aige ach vóta amháin.

(4) Go gcinnfear na ceisteanna go léir sa Chomhchoiste trí thromlach vótaí na gcomhaltaí a bheidh i láthair agus a vótálfaidh agus i gcás comhionannas vótaí go gcinnfear gur freagra diúltach a tugadh ar an gceist.

(5) Go ndéanfar gach tuarascáil a bheartóidh an Comhchoiste a dhéanamh a leagan láithreach, ar an gComhchoiste do ghlacadh léi, faoi [743] bhráid dhá Theach an Oireachtais agus as a aithle sin go gcumasófar don Chomhchoiste an tuarascáil sin a chlóbhualadh agus a fhoilsiú i dteannta cibé doiciméid ghaolmhara is cuí leis.

(6) Gur 5 chomhalta is córam don Chomhchoiste ar comhalta de Dháil Éireann duine amháin ar a laghad acu agus ar comhalta de Sheanad Éireann duine amháin ar a laghad acu.

Mr. O'Keeffe: I should like to draw attention to the fact that this is the fourth time in the past month when we have had a matter of development co-operation before the House and on each occasion the Minister for Foreign Affairs, who is directly responsible for these matters, has not seen fit to grace the House with his presence. Last week when we were dealing with a similar matter we were told the Minister had a commitment elsewhere and no doubt we will be told the same today.

A number of important matters arise from this and I should like to be told something more than that the Minister has a commitment elsewhere, as we were told last week and the week before. I want a commitment or some indication that the Minister for Foreign Affairs will be prepared to come before the House to discuss matters on development co-operation. I want a clear indication on that.

Another aspect that arises from the non-appearance of the Minister on matters of this nature is the apparent decision of the Taoiseach not to appoint a Minister of State with responsibility for development co-operation. Deputies will recall the Taoiseach's attitude in regard to this question some weeks ago when he suggested that such an appointment would be superfluous and supernumerary. Is it an indication of the lack of consideration given to these matters by the Taoiseach that the Minister responsible in this area, or somebody from the Department of Foreign Affairs, is not here today? We have a development co-operation programme and an official budget, to be raised by ourselves, of £26 million. It seems to be a budget which is nobody's [744] baby because nobody at political or Government level seems to be taking the slightest interest in it. There are substantial funds and major policy decisions to be taken but we have not got the Minister for Foreign Affairs to take the slightest interest in these matters. Indeed, we have had the indication from the Taoiseach that there will not be a Minister of State to deal with this.

This is an indictment of the present Government, this manner in which they are handling development co-operation, and I protest on behalf of my party that this very important area is being handled in this fashion. Having registered that protest, I am glad the Government have decided to continue the decision of the last Government to appoint a Joint Committee on Co-operation with Developing Countries. When I decided to establish the committee last year I took the view that it was of primary importance that Members of the House should be fully briefed on these issues, so that they could contribute to policy making in regard to overseas aid. Of course the committee would have another function, that of development education, and that is of great importance because it is clear that many Members of the House have not had an opportunity to be briefed on development aid and therefore do not understand the type of work that is going on and the type of improvements that might be effected in that work. It is my opinion that a joint committee consisting of 18 Members of both Houses will be of considerable benefit from the point of view of disseminating information, and this will be of considerable importance because both Houses will be familiarised with the position.

The committee will be one step along the road towards development co-operation, but we want to ensure that in regard to development co-operation funds there will not be any political argument. I wish to see acceptance of the UN target but, more important, of the means and the timetable in regard to the achievement of that target. In that respect it is clear there is absolute commitment by my party and I know it is fully supported by Labour. From discussions [745] I have had with members of The Workers' Party there is commitment there in regard to the achievement of the UN target and the timetable in that regard.

It will be somewhat of a problem to take development co-operation issues out of politics until we have a similar commitment from the Government. In the past we had a vague commitment which ended up as no commitment at all. At all times there was an assurance that we would fully endorse the UN recommendation of. 7 per cent and aim to reach it. Then the qualifications appeared — “as soon as resources permit” was the favourite and “as soon as possible” was another such vague qualification. What is lacking from the Government benches is a specific commitment such as that which was given and implemented by the last Government, that is, a phased increase year after year so that the UN target can be reached by a specific date. Our commitment was that it would be reached by the end of this decade. The figure at present is abysmally low.

When we came to office last June the figure was approximately .18 per cent. We provided in the Estimates to increase that to .23 per cent, the increase being from £18 million to £26.335 million. We were committed to further increases each year of .05 per cent.

I wish the Minister for Foreign Affairs was here to give a similar commitment on behalf of the Government. I have not seen the full statement he made to the advisory council last week but, as I understand it, the text of the statement indicated a vague possibility that there may be increases in the future. We had the same old claptrap which avoided any specific commitment. We want to know from the Government where we stand. Is there a commitment or not? If there is not, why not? We have enough vague obfuscations from Fianna Fáil in this area and from now on we want specific answers to specific questions. I do not expect the Minister who is taking the motion to be in a position to reply to this point. It is not his area, no more than it was the responsibility of the Minister of State who handled the other development co-operation [746] issue which came before the House a few weeks ago.

Speaking on behalf of my party and of all those interested in this issue, the time has come to demand a clear statement from the Government. We will have to have a debate to clear up these issues. As regards the question of money and the UN target and our commitment or lack of commitment to it, there are many other issues and policy matters to be discussed. When I was Minister of State with responsibility for development co-operation I decided it was necessary to have a Government White Paper which would outline where we are going and what exactly our policy was in relation to development co-operation. We had a tradition, resulting from the fact that we did not have a bilateral aid programme until the first Coalition Government in the last decade, that any overseas aid went through multilateral agencies. Despite the fact that we started the bilateral aid programme in 1974, up to last year the amount of funds made available to multilateral aid as opposed to bilateral aid was of the order of 70 per cent to multilateral and 30 per cent to bilateral. I feel strongly that we should have more control over the funds being made available and should reverse this figure to some degree at least, if not totally. We made a start in the 1982 Estimates by increasing the amount available for bilateral aid to 37 per cent. I was struck by the figures which were available from Scandinavia and other countries who have a good record in this field. The percentage of funds available for bilateral aid is 70 per cent, almost the reverse of our situation.

That is a question which needs to be discussed and is an area where we need to have a policy. Should we aim to switch our priorities to place greater emphasis on bilateral aid? I do not think this is a political issue but it is important. I feel we should be aiming towards greater emphasis on bilateral aid. The survey carried out by the advisory council indicated that the majority of those who participated felt we should have a greater emphasis on bilateral aid as opposed to multilateral aid. That is significant. I was struck by the cost-effectiveness of the [747] projects carried on by the Department directly in the bilateral aid field and even more so by projects carried on by voluntary agencies, which are known in international terms as NGOs, non-governmental organisations.

Part of our bilateral aid programme was by way of co-financing the operations of the voluntary agencies and, in some cases, of missionaries involved in development activities in overseas countries. There is another policy issue here which must be faced: to what extent can the funds available from official sources be increased to co-finance such work? Naturally the Government would not have any part to play in the funds being raised independently by voluntary bodies, which are quite significant. Last year the figure was £6 million. Co-financing is one of the policy issues which must be discussed. I just mention these points, but there is a multitude of others which need to be discussed.

I asked the advisory council to indicate by way of headings the type of questions we should address ourselves to in the context of drafting a White Paper. The type of questions raised by the advisory council were such as surprised even myself, who thought I was getting to know something about the problems involved in this area. There are literally dozens of questions that must be faced from the point of view of having a clear policy on the part of this Government, indeed on the part of this country, in the area of development co-operation.

That raises the point as to what is happening in regard to the White Paper and on which I want a clear answer from the Minister for Foreign Affairs. The preliminary work on the White Paper had been done. But there remained a lot of further work to be done, including an invitation to different organisations and individuals involved to make submissions on what they felt might be included. As far as I can ascertain the preliminary work done on the White Paper has been brought to a full stop. Does this indicate that the present Government do not intend to carry on this work, that they are going to [748] allow policy issues in the development co-operation area either to drift totally or be decided on an ad hoc basis as they arise? It would be very wrong to allow that happen. It is something that must be prevented at all costs. I would encourage the Government to continue the work on this White Paper because I must emphasise again that the ultimate aim must be not to have this White Paper as a Fine Gael, Fianna Fáil or Labour one but rather one representing this country's policy on which, as far as possible, there should be all-party agreement on the manner in which the objectives are to be attained. There should not be political divisions on questions arising within the context of this White Paper. From that point of view I had hoped that the Joint Committee would have been of help in reaching an all-party concensus.

It is proper for me to take this opportunity on behalf of the Opposition to pose the question: why is it that the work on this White Paper appears to have come to a full stop? Is it occasioned by a total lack of interest on the part of the Government or is there some other reason? One way or the other this House is entitled to know if this Government have stubbed the issue, attempted, as it were to throw the White Paper into the waste paper basket. If that is the case then at least let them say so, then we would know where we stood. That is another important aspect requiring the consideration of this House. Again, we are not afforded that opportunity because the Minister responsible is not even present.

I might now strike a more positive note by welcoming the fact that of all the advances made by the previous Government in this field at least this particular baby of mine has been saved and it appears that the Government intend to continue with our proposal to establish a Joint Committee. That Joint Committee can play a major role in shaping our policy in the field of development co-operation. It will be important also that that committee have the backing and support of the Minister for Foreign Affairs, or whoever will have responsibility for development co-operation, and that he be available to the committee from time [749] to time to discuss various aspects of policy. It will be important also that this Joint Committee — as I had intended — will have a real function to perform and on which people on the Opposition side of the House can make constructive proposals, not just Fine Gael or Labour proposals but proposals in the interest of the country generally and of having a better overseas aid policy.

There is a further small point I must raise here, something that cannot be repeated too often and from which hopefully, by repetition, we might find some results flowing. I believe that the procedure we have for establishing joint committees is utterly cumbersome. We have before the House today an expediency motion. My understanding is that there will have to be a similar expediency motion before the Seanad, followed by a further substantive motion in this House, followed by yet another in the Seanad. Surely we could devise a better system of quickly and effectively setting up joint committees without going through all this rigmarole. I mention that merely in passing. But, bearing in mind the growing feeling in this House that there should be more committee work, we must devise a better system of getting that work under way. That situation has been highlighted even more by the position with regard to the Joint Committee on the Secondary Legislation of the EEC which, again because of the cumbersome steps that had to be taken by the last Government, ended up in that committee never having met during their term of office. The delays entailed in that cumbersome procedure meant effectively, in that situation, that so much in the EEC field was allowed go past without receiving any consideration at all. That is something that should be examined by the Committee on Procedure and Privileges with some changes being affected as quickly as possible.

Generally, I welcome the appointment of this Joint Committee on Co-operation with Developing Countries. So far it would appear that it is the only thing salvaged in this area from the progress made by the last Government, at least something for which we can be thankful. [750] I believe that this Joint Committee will prove to be an important and effective one. I suggest that the present Government might consider the precedent set in regard to the Joint Committee on the Secondary Legislation of the EEC by having the chairman of this latest committee appointed from the Opposition side. That is merely a suggestion but it is something that appears to have worked well in regard to the EEC Joint Committee and might be a good headline to set at the initiation of this committee. That our proposal to establish this latest Joint Committee has been salvaged is a step in the right direction. While welcoming that fact I should say it is absolutely imperative that we avail of the opportunity to highlight the fact that this constitutes only one small advance made by the last Government which has been salvaged. That fact highlights all the more the need for the present Government to indicate clearly their policy in the whole area of development co-operation, indicate also their commitment or lack of commitment, and ensure that these issues are discussed in this House.

I conclude with a final plea. If the Minister for Foreign Affairs accepts responsibility for development co-operation we should be given a chance in the House to debate the matter. He should give at least some slight indication of interest in this area if it is to be left with him.

Mr. Higgins: As spokesman for Foreign Affairs for Labour I welcome the establishment of this committee. I assure the Minister that our party will facilitate the establishment of the committee. The remarks I have to make this morning will be brief but there are a couple of points which need to be made, one of which flows logically from Deputy O'Keeffe's speech. It is important that we see development co-operation as an aspect of foreign policy. If we fail to do so a number of things will suffer. An impression is created that development co-operation is one aspect of the State's relationship to the developing countries that is discreet and separate from general issues of foreign policy. Nothing could be further [751] from the truth.

The issues of developing co-operation which involve complicated relationships on the theme of development with the developing world are closely connected with decisions that are taken by large institutions such as the international financial institutions and also connected with aspects of trade, for example, from members of the European Community. There is no way in which you can syphon off and present these as distinct issues of development co-operation from the central thrust of foreign policy. It is appropriate to have the Minister for Foreign Affairs present in the Dáil when we are discussing relationships with the Third World. I join with the Deputy in making this minor point that we are discussing within a very short space of time another issue of relationships with developing countries. We discussed the international tin agreement last week and we are discussing these matters in the absence of the Minister for Foreign Affairs. This is unsatisfactory.

The other point I want to make, which deals with questions of omission, is that it is necessary for us to tease out the issues of development in a White Paper. I believe all of us gained when, for example, we had a motion in Seanad Éireann to discuss the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development in Nairobi. That debate gave a tremendous impetus to interest in and concern for the developing world. The publication of a White Paper would do the same. I urge the Minister, who is present here this morning, to convey to his Cabinet colleague our feelings in this regard. In discussing the establishment of this committee on development co-operation it is important that we record the origin of the idea. It flowed originally from a seminar organised by CONGOOD through the co-operation of my predecessor as spokesman on Foreign Affairs among others, Deputy Ruairí Quinn, and Tony Brown. They decided it was necessary to take up the impetus of the Brandt Report, to have a public discussion. One of the ideas which flowed from that seminar and that public discussion was the idea of a committee [752] on development co-operation. I welcome the Government's intention of pursuing this idea. I believe they will be thanked for it.

The Brandt Report, or to give it its full title, the Independent Commission on International Development Issues under the chairmanship of Willi Brandt, which published its report early in 1980, drew attention to North-South differences. I suppose it could be summarised rather crudely by saying it suggested the renegotiation of a new world economy order. When it was introduced here by way of public debate the debate was contributed to in large measure by a number of people who had very practical experience of working in developing countries. We all gained from that debate. The idea of the committee came out of that debate. The committee was established but due to political events had not an opportunity of meeting during the last Administration. I feel that the committee which has been established now will have an amount of very important work to do.

I believe the committee would be strengthened by having a White Paper. I want to be as positive as I can in commenting on the terms of reference. I mentioned in relation to the Joint Committee on the Secondary Legislation of the European Communities the difficulty in securing time for public debate in this House for a report on the work of the committee. There have been about four occasions on which over 90 reports were discussed. When this new committee meet and discuss important issues they may have difficulty in securing time for debate in the general assembly of the Dáil. I believe one of the ways that interest can be secured, that Dáil time can be secured and the interest of elected Members secured, is by the publication of a White Paper. The White Paper would tease out options and models for development co-operation, it would set out the terms of the debate that the committee could look at earlier on and, in so far as the Members of the House would have participated in that debate, they would have a greater interest in the reports of the committee.

The point I stress about the integral [753] relationship of the development co-operation to foreign policy is perhaps the most important point. I am very worried about our participation in international financial institutions. I know our influence is very limited but those international financial institutions are often not assisting the countries who are in the greatest economic difficulties. I would like the Minister for Foreign Affairs to be present to hear me state for the record that I believe this country should be doing much more about breaking the economic blockade and the international financial blockade of Nicaragua where there has been such an immense loss of life recently and where, long before the present disaster, there has been tremendous opposition mounted by international capital abroad to the new Nicaraguan state. I would have welcomed a statement from the Minister about his efforts. I would like to thank the people in the Department of Foreign Affairs and the people in the different State agencies who met the first mission from that country who visited Ireland a few weeks ago. That is just an example of how one's participation at the most general level in international institutions affects and casts a shadow over development aid.

I would like to say something positive and, I hope, cheerful in relation to this matter at a time when we need to say positive and cheerful things about some aspects of politics. It is encouraging to have in the House this morning the establishment of this committee. It is encouraging to sense, I hope, a consensus that we will, independently of our domestic conditions, make progress towards achieving the United Nations target figure for aid to the developing countries. It is in striking contrast to, for example, the attitudes of institutions in other countries.

It is very interesting that the Trade Policy Research Centre, under the chairmanship of Lord McFadzean, Dean of Kelvinside, published last autumn a report commenting on the Brandt Report under the title of “Global Strategy for Growth”. Their response to the Brandt Report was to suggest that it did not take into account sufficiently the contribution [754] that private enterprise had to make in the developing countries. When the report comes on later to discuss the international monetary institutions on page 84 it says:

The International Monetary Fund and the World Bank have their part to play in the transfer of resources and must be permitted enough flexibility to adapt to changing circumstances, but in the process the central role of these institutions must not be forgotten. In the case of the IMF, that role is to remain as a watchdog over the shortterm economic policies of their clients and as an impartial source of advice.

It goes on to say that neither institution should be allowed to become either just another bank or a provider of very easy money for developing countries. This comes from one of the most important research bodies in British industry. It is their response to the Brandt Report. They go on to say that if private investment is to take place in developing countries there must be security for such investment.

I note much more generosity in this House by way of response to the Brandt Report, to the formation of this committee and to the work they will do. This indicates clearly a difference between two separate groups of people in two different isles. I note a growing consciousness of our interconnections with the whole world and of our responsibilities for aid.

In relation to assistance for those other countries one hears less nowadays of the old argument that money given for works abroad, either through voluntary bodies or to bodies assisted by Government, was in competition with aidable projects at home. This represents progress. Our generosity in giving to issues abroad indicates a compassion and that is important.

I welcome also the recent emphasis of regarding the work of the Third World as work undertaken in the pursuit of justice. This is helpful. It is a logical development that we express solidarity with the suffering world.

It would be remiss of me on the occasion of the establishment of this committee [755] not to pay tribute to the many people who have worked in the different agencies concerned with the Third World. From speaking to people who have worked abroad in this capacity I have noticed the generosity of vision they have. This clearly demonstrates the point that in the work of development co-operation one is not giving anything away, that one is not creating something in the developing countries but that the growth that takes place at home, in a community and among the workers and among the people who assist them, is often much greater than the objective tangible relief that is conveyed to countries that need it. It is important, when those of us who speak as socialists use the word “development,” to explain what we have in mind. We are not speaking about a relationship between a country that is in possession of greater goods with one that is backward. When we use the word “development” we are expressing our belief in the universality of responsibility and the universality of life and we accept the responsibility of affording countries that very often have been kept backward as a function of market development by the developed economies an opportunity of finding a new place in the world arena.

I should like to put on the record that it was a matter of much personal gratification to me to note the interest Deputy O'Keeffe took in this area while he was in office. He was harnessing a new interest that had grown up among our people but it would be a matter of great disappointment now if the momentum which flowed on from the very positive reaction which the Brandt Report and reports of other development agencies have got here, were to be lost. The establishment of this committee will help but there are two missing links. One is the publication of a White Paper in which would be laid down the principles of our relationship. It is crucially important that this be done and equally it is important to integrate in foreign policies centrally this aspect of relationship with the developing countries.

Mr. Murphy: I shall not delay the [756] House very long. I am extremely pleased that this committee is being established. The legislation is long overdue but I am confident that the 18 Oireachtas members will be able to play a very important part in continuing to forge our relations with these other countries. We have a very good reputation as a nation in terms of the efforts of many individuals and of voluntary groups in helping Third World countries but it is good that we are putting these efforts on a more secure footing. The committee will have the opportunity of bringing before the House issues which are of vital importance to the world in which we live. We speak often of many mundane matters but sometimes because we become involved in much bureaucracy and with many matters that are important in their own right, we forget the plight of many people in the world. There are so many people who suffer from starvation, from malnutrition that there is need for continuous and immediate aid response to help them to survive. There is need also for short- and medium-term planning to allow people to become somewhat self sufficient. If this committee deal with aspects such as this — and I am confident that they will — and continue to focus attention through dáil Éireann on these issues, the people will continue to respond as they have always responded to such matters.

Much progress has been made down through the years in our official development assistance programme. The opportunity to discuss Third World development and our involvement with the developing countries has arisen only in past years as a result of the various food aid protocol programmes and so on. The reports that will come from this committee will afford an opportunity for further discussion.

I take this opportunity of paying tribute to the many voluntary organisations who have played a very important part in helping people in the Third World to survive and in continuing, by their efforts, to offer hope to the peoples of these countries. I have spoken with many of those who have helped in this way. They do not regard their work as a personal giving but as an aspect of a mutual [757] sharing and as an approach by which they are giving of themselves for the benefit of others.

I trust that the new committee will get off the ground soon. I am pleased that neither a member of the Government nor a Minister of State can be a member of the committee. It is vital for the successful work of the committee that those who will offer to serve on it will participate fully so that issues can be dealt with expeditiously and attention focussed on the many aspects that plague this world.

There is a general acceptance of north-south mutual interdependence. This is something that must be developed further through many channels. In this respect the committee will be a very useful forum. I congratulate the Minister on bringing forward this legislation.

Mr. Cooney: I join in the welcome that has been given to this committee and I endorse the remarks of Deputy Higgins when he indicated that this country, through the Government and through the voluntary agencies, is expressing solidarity with the suffering of the Third World. The scale of the problem of the Third World was highlighted in the Brandt Report. The cure pointed to by the Brandt Report in terms of structural changes in the Third World posed problems of a huge magnitude. The Brandt Report was also quite horrifying in the evidence it produced of the numbers of people who are dying from hunger and disease. The most urgent role for a country like ours, whose resources may be substantial in internal terms but as far as the scale of the problem is concerned are comparatively insignificant, is to ensure that the money is spent directly and immediately on easing the positive human suffering of those afflicted by chronic malnutrition, hunger and disease which is curable. We should make a positive decision and commitment to ensure that our comparatively scarce funds are spent directly on relieving hunger and suffering. We should discontinue deluding ourselves that our comparative pittance is going to have any effect whatever in bringing about political or social changes of the type which the Brandt [758] Report states are ultimately necessary to cure the suffering of the Third World. It is a delusion if we think we can do that. Too much Government money and money collected by the voluntary agencies is being spent in fostering that delusion.

The Government and private agencies should think about how best to spend Irish money in the Third World. We are agreed that the Third World is suffering and we should ensure that our contributions go directly in ease of that human physical suffering. I received in the post recently a document from Trocaire entitled Development Co-operation Programme. What that report has to say is opposite to the debate and to what I have just said. Trocaire is an institution established by the Roman Catholic Hierarchy to collect money on a systematic and comprehensive basis. The main sources of collection are the schoolchildren of the country and their parents. I have no doubt that the contributors to that fund are by and large under the impression that they are contributing to a fund which will go directly to the relief of hunger and disease. Yet, when one looks through the list of projects funded by the pennies collected from the school children of Ireland one sees some extraordinary final destinations for those pennies. The money is distributed, or one might say, dissipated through Africa, Asia, Oceania, Latin America, and, to use a phrase in the report, “international”. The report also states that the money is also distributed by sector. Reading down the various sectors one sees that there is leadership training, adult education, health and welfare, agricultural and rural development, programmes to promote human rights and combat racism, community organisation, small industries and co-operatives, programmes for the advancement of women, development structures, research and evaluation, regional development funds and small project funds, the Kampuchea reconstruction programme, and the emergency relief programme. They total £2.37 million. That amount of money is available for distribution after deducting 20 per cent of the collection for development education in [759] Ireland. Whatever the Trocaire bureaucracy costs on top of that I do not know but there is £2.37 million for distribution to express, as Deputy Higgins so eloquently put it, our solidarity with the suffering of the Third World. That is a sentiment with which I concur. We should express that solidarity but I believe it can be best expressed by directly aiding those who are dying and suffering from hunger and those who are enduring the ravages of curable diseases which have been eliminated from this part of the world.

When we look at that distribution by sector we see that of the £2.37 million only £382,000 is going for health, agricultural and rural development. Where does the remainder of that money go? It goes to a myriad of quasi-social political projects and I should like to indicate some examples. In Brazil we spend £10,000 for legal aid and £7,000 to make an educational film for landless peasants. The school children in my parish who contributed to the Trócaire box did not have any idea that their money would end up making an educational film for landless peasants in Brazil. We sent £8,400 for awareness raising and leadership training programmes for women in Brazil and yet in Tanzania we spent £5,715 on the provision of water supply, less than we spent on making an educational film for landless peasants in Brazil and less than we spent on making an educational film on ethnic minorities at a cost of £7,000 in the Honduras. How crazy can one get when one is frittering and dissipating scarce resources on projects such as those when there are people dying of hunger and disease?

If the Catholic Hierarchy want to promote social and political revolution in the Third World and effect the changes the Brandt Report says are necessary in order to bring about the justice in the Third World that we all want to see, they should say so. They should tell the people specifically that they are collecting for that purpose and that the money is going for that purpose and not for the relief of hunger and disease. I feel strongly when I read the horrifying figures in the Brandt [760] Report of the scale of famine, human suffering and disease that every penny we can produce for the Third World should be spent directly in alleviating those problems. I urge that institutions such as Trócaire, the Department of Foreign Affairs and the Exchequer, who are spending money on these social-politico objectives, divert every penny directly towards combating disease and easing hunger. It would be far more economical if all this was done through an efficient agency. We have two such efficient agencies, Gorta and Concern. If the money that is available for expressing our solidarity with the suffering in the Third World was given to those practical people it would have far more effect than being dissipated and frittered on some of the nonsense I see in the Trócaire report.

Minister for Posts and Telegraphs and Transport (Mr. Wilson): Táim buíoch do na Teachtaí, ceathrar ar fad, a labhairt ar an ábhar seo ar an moladh atá roimh an Teach.

I should like to deal with the points made by Deputy O'Keeffe. The Minister for Foreign Affairs regrets that he cannot be present. From the tone of what Deputy O'Keeffe said one gathers that he thought the Minister for Foreign Affairs was deliberately absenting himself from the House, but surely the Deputy realises more than most that it is the nature of his Ministry that he would be absent more often than most Ministers from the House and in being absent is about his business. There is no indication at all of the deep commitment that the Minister has for the problems covered by the motion before the House to set up this committee. I assure the House that the Minister's commitment is as strong as the Deputy's own commitment is.

Deputy O'Keeffe welcomed the setting up of the Joint Committee on Co-operation with Developing Countries. He mentioned a White Paper in this context. I will not make any comment on that. I think a parliamentary question was answered recently—I speak as one less wise in this matter—indicating the Minister's present position on it. All the requests that the Deputy made will be conveyed to the [761] Minister. They are on the record of the House anyway, but I personally will convey to the Minister what Deputy O'Keeffe had to say in the matter.

Deputy Higgins also welcomed the expediency motion and mentioned the desirability of a White Paper. I am sure both Deputies will have an opportunity to hear the Minister on that in the future. The whole matter of how it was important to regard this as an aspect of foreign policy was raised by Deputy Higgins. No doubt both in the committee and in this House when the proceedings of the committee are being discussed there will be an opportunity to discuss all these matters and in particular what has flowed from the very extensive Brandt Report which can give rise to a clash of ideologies. This should make the operations of the committee all the more interesting. Deputy Higgins paid a tribute to those who work in developing countries and was insistent that we should take cognisance of the fact that this international activity is an aspect of foreign policy not unconnected with fiscal and financial policies, and I am sure they will all provide an opportunity for serious debate in the committee and in the House.

Deputy Murphy also welcomed the expediency motion and I know he was doing this as one who matched his present words with former deeds in the Third World or in the south part of the country of the north-south axis which was mentioned in the Brandt Report.

Deputy Cooney took the subject on to a somewhat different plane and I do not intend to make any comment on his analysis of where the money went for a certain private organisation, but again I am sure he has given food for thought to everybody in the House who is interested and that that thought will issue in debate later.

Mr. Higgins: I assure the Minister that Deputy Cooney's opinion is rejected in my party.

Mr. Wilson: That is a matter between Deputy Higgins's party and Deputy Cooney's party and there will be plenty of opportunities for them to put the thesis [762] and antithesis and the committee may come up with a synthesis.

Question put and agreed to.

Acting Chairman (Mr. Noonan, Limerick-West): A message will be sent to the Seanad requesting its concurrence in this resolution.