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Comprehensive Spending Review

Volume 464: debated on Wednesday 17 October 2007

4. What impact he expects the comprehensive spending review to have on his Department’s future spending plans. (158520)

With the increases in aid announced last week, Britain will deliver on the promises that we made at the Gleneagles summit in 2005 and make faster progress toward the millennium development goals. We will double aid to Africa, invest more in education and health, and increase our support for growth and good governance. We will strengthen cross-government work on climate change and conflict.

I am grateful to my right hon. Friend for that answer. Can he confirm that the settlement in the comprehensive spending review means that the United Kingdom is now on track to meet the commitment to spend 0.7 per cent. of gross national income by 2013 on aid, and that at least half of all new aid will go to Africa, as promised at Gleneagles?

I can give the confirmation that my hon. Friend seeks—we are now on track to meet that 0.7 per cent. GNI commitment. We are the first Government in British history who have given a time scale by which we will meet the UN target, and we took a decisive and significant step toward that goal with the comprehensive spending review announced last week.

Given the right hon. Gentleman’s success in the spending round, will he confirm that the settlement that he secured will allow for the quadrupling of British aid to Burma, including provision for increased cross-border assistance, backing for the Shan Women’s Action Network and other women’s groups, and funds to assist the worthwhile and valuable efforts of exiled pro-democracy groups—all of which have been recommended by the International Development Committee?

Let me begin by paying tribute to the work of the International Development Committee on this issue and, of course, to the high-profile role that the hon. Gentleman has taken on it. I gave very serious consideration to the recommendations of the IDC report in the summer, and I made sure that there was a carefully drafted response that reflected my determination that there should be a significant increase in the work that we are doing in this area. In addition to the terms of the report and the Government response, we have committed £1 million more toward the immediate humanitarian challenges facing Burma, in the light of the terrible events that we have witnessed in recent weeks.