30 MAY 1992, Page 23

LETTERS Out of Africa

Sir: I have read with interest your leader of 25 April and Lady Chalker's response (Let- ters, 9 May). You underestimate the aid a misleading euphemism for government- to-government handouts — and she begs the question. According to Department of Overseas Aid figures we gave China £20 million in 1991 and Singapore £74,000. These are two only of the most notable idiocies.

A number of African dictators have all kept themselves in power as they had access to huge aid coffers.

Lady Chalker suggests that Mauritius and Ghana have changed their policies because of donor pressure. It was only aid that allowed them to continue in the first place.

No successful economy has needed development aid. Neither Venice nor the Clyde required it. They grew because of man's ingenuity, sound money, light but firm government and a liberal trade policy. To suggest that an African or an Asian will not prosper under those conditions is both patronising and racist.

Aid has been described by the distin- guished observer as a tax on the poor in rich countries to benefit the rich in poor countries.


House of Lords, London SW1