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Trade Links (Scotland/Malawi)

Volume 464: debated on Tuesday 16 October 2007

6. What steps his Department is taking to foster trade links between Scotland and Malawi; and if he will make a statement. (156894)

The Scotland Office does not have a remit for developing international trade, but I am happy to report that UK Government spending on Malawi amounts to some £70 million. For the sake of completeness, I should add that the Scottish Executive’s contribution to international development in Malawi is £3 million.

Notwithstanding Scotland’s close links to Malawi dating back to Dr. Livingstone, does the Minister share my concern that when the new chief of Blantyre—also known as the British high commissioner—was in charge of Scotland, albeit briefly, he set up a Scottish international aid charity and that that charity might be competing with, rather than complementing, the excellent and important work of the Department for International Development, which is, of course, a reserved matter?

If that were the case there would be a concern, but there is not a concern because DFID officials are working closely with Scottish Executive officials on that. I should point out that some 560 DFID officials work in East Kilbride, where a large part of the Department is based, and that extends Scotland’s contribution to international aid and development. When I saw that this question had been tabled, I had hoped that the hon. Gentleman would congratulate the Government on an 11 per cent. increase in international aid, reversing years of decline and cuts to the international aid budget under the last Tory Government, so that we are now well on the way to meeting our international obligations.