Lords Questions: China Aid

Baroness Morris of Bolton:To ask Her Majesty's Governmenthow much they have spent on aid to China in the past five years.

Baroness Morris of Bolton: My Lords, I beg leave to ask the Question standing in my name on the Order Paper. In doing so, I declare an interest as a trustee of UNICEF UK.

Lord Brett: My Lords, including humanitarian aid allocated in response to the earthquake in Sichuan, which registered eight on the Richter scale, killed 70,000 people and left 300,000 people injured and millions homeless, DfID has spent on average £34.5 million per year over the past five years in China. In its report last March, the International Development Select Committeeof the other placenoted that DfID had used limited resources to maximum effect, building influential relationships and highly effective aid projects.

Baroness Morris of Bolton:My Lords, I am most grateful to the Ministerfor his Answer. I know that there was disaster relief, but a lot of aid is not disaster relief. If the Ministercasts his eye around the world and sees the great and pressing need that there is, does he think it is right that we give such vast sums of money to a country that is in line to become the second largest economy in the world, and which was able to spend £20 billion entertaining us all so lavishly at the Olympics?

Lord Brett: My Lords, what we seek to do through our international development aid budget is to eradicate poverty. We must not be dazzled by Shanghai and Pudong, although Pudong is dazzling in itself. Four hundred and fifty million Chinese citizens live on less than $2 a day, and 200 million on $1.25 a day or less. The UNhas estimated that in 2007 251 million Chinese people had no access to safe drinking water. We are assisting the Government of Chinato improve their large programmes that deliver to poor people such basic services as primary education, prevention and treatment of AIDS, HIVand TB, water and sanitation and health sector reform.