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Volume 448: debated on Monday 3 July 2006

To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what assessment he has made of the impact of the withdrawal of British direct budgetary support to the Ethiopian Government on the human rights situation in Ethiopia; and if he will make a statement. (80617)

We withdrew our direct budget support because the Government of Ethiopia breached one of the three commitments underlying our aid partnership—respect for human rights. As set out in our 2005 conditionality policy, a violation of any one commitment could lead to aid being interrupted, withdrawn or delivered in a different way.

We have, therefore, not carried out a formal assessment of the impact of the withdrawal of British budget support on the human rights situation in Ethiopia; however, we are determined to see an improvement. We monitor the human rights situation closely, and many of those detained last November have now been released and an inquiry into the events of June and November 2005 has also been launched by the Government of Ethiopia. We await its conclusions.

All donors have agreed that the development partnership needs a greater focus on governance and human rights. This involves developing programmes to support governance reforms, but it also involves insisting on an open dialogue between government and donors on governance issues. This has begun.

In order to minimise the impact of withdrawing general budget support on the poor, we have developed with the World Bank a new Protection of Basic Services (PBS) grant. The aim is to protect and promote the delivery of basic services by local government in Ethiopia while making the administration of local services much more transparent and accountable to people at the local level.