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British Charities (Funding)

Volume 518: debated on Wednesday 17 November 2010

3. What funding his Department provides to British charities with international developmental goals operating overseas. (24338)

In 2009-10, the Department for International Development provided £362 million to UK charities and civil society organisations to assist in poverty reduction overseas. The global poverty action fund, which will increasingly shape partnership with charities and non-governmental organisations, was launched on 27 October.

I am sure that the Secretary of State would agree that we need to get funding to the right place. On improving women’s health overseas, does he agree that the focus should be on making interventions in the right place, which is during delivery and childbirth, which account for over 50% of deaths among women? That is where we should be focusing our resources when we fund overseas aid.

My hon. Friend is absolutely right. Reproductive, maternal and newborn health care is the subject of a business plan discussion that is under way. With his expertise, I very much hope that he will contribute to our thinking on that. The plan will be published in January. As he said, we need to focus on the continuum of care, up to birth and beyond. We are quite clear about the importance of the issue, but he will know that placing women’s choice over whether and when they have children is at the heart of all the overseas programmes that we run.

Let me declare an interest in that I recently went to Bangladesh as a guest of Oxfam. I am sure that I join the whole House in paying tribute to the excellent work of British development non-governmental organisations around the world. In Bangladesh, I saw Oxfam’s work in raising awareness of the impact of climate change on some of the world’s poorest. Although the Government’s commitment to continue the work on development and climate change is welcome, the commitment of the international community still falls short. Ahead of Cancun, what steps will the Government take to push for a greater commitment on climate finance from other countries?

I thank the hon. Lady for what she said about the quality of the programme and those who staff it in Bangladesh. I am glad that she was able to visit our programme last week. She has seen a country where climate change affects the everyday lives of millions of people, and she is quite right to underline the Government’s commitment to ensuring new and additional mechanisms for raising international finance to tackle climate change. I will be making a speech on the subject tomorrow, and the Government will be pressing hard in the run-up to Cancun and beyond to see that we make significant progress in this area.

British development NGOs are world class and do a fantastic job, but has my right hon. Friend noticed that they all have their own advocacy departments and produce their own glossy publications? Would it not be better if they co-ordinated themselves slightly more, so as to cut out unnecessary duplication and competition?

My hon. Friend raises an important point. He will have noticed that the global poverty action fund that we launched is principally a matched fund, in order to enable the taxpayer to piggyback on the brilliant development outcomes that many of our NGOs produce. That is the right principle, whereby taxpayer support can focus on results, outputs and outcomes, and not on inputs.