With permission, Mr Speaker, I should like to make a statement about the Government’s bilateral and multilateral aid reviews, which are published today.
The coalition Government’s decision to increase the UK’s aid budget to 0.7% of national income from 2013 reflects the values we hold as a nation. It is also firmly in Britain’s national interest, but this decision imposes on us a double duty to spend this money well. On my first day in office, I took immediate steps to make our aid as focused and effective as possible. I commissioned reviews of the Department for International Development’s bilateral programmes in developing countries and of the UK’s aid funding to international organisations. These reviews have been thorough, rigorous, evidence-based and scrutinised by independent development experts. They will fundamentally change the way in which aid is allocated.
Recent events in north Africa and the wider middle east have demonstrated why it is critical that the UK increases its focus on helping countries to build open and responsive political systems, tackle the root causes of fragility, and empower citizens to hold their Governments to account. It is the best investment we can make to avoid violence and protect the poorest and most vulnerable. In the middle east and north Africa, we are monitoring events closely and will respond as appropriate.
The bilateral aid review considered where and how we should spend UK aid. Each DFID country team was asked to develop a “results offer” setting out what they could achieve for poor people over the next four years. Each offer was underpinned by evidence, analysis of value for money, and a focus on girls and women. The results offers were scrutinised by more than 100 internal technical reviewers and a panel of independent experts. Ministers then considered the whole picture, deciding which results should be prioritised in each country. Consultation with civil society and other Government Departments was undertaken throughout.
As a result of the bilateral aid review, we will dramatically increase our focus on tackling ill health and killer diseases in poor countries, with a particular emphasis on immunisation, malaria, maternal and newborn health, extending choice to girls and women over when and whether they have children; and polio eradication. We will do more to tackle malnutrition, which stunts children’s development and destroys their life chances, and do more to get children, particularly girls, into school. We will put wealth creation at the heart of our efforts, with far more emphasis on giving poor people property rights and encouraging investment and trade in the poorest countries. We will deal with the root causes of conflict and help to build more stable societies, as people who live amidst violence have no chance of lifting themselves out of poverty. And we will help the poorest, who will be hit first and hardest by floods, drought and extreme weather—the effects of climate change.
As a result of this review, we have decided to focus British aid more tightly on the countries where Britain is well placed to have a significant long-term impact on poverty. By 2016, DFID will have closed significant bilateral programmes in 16 countries. This will be a phased process, honouring our existing commitments and exiting responsibly. These countries are China, Russia, Vietnam, Cambodia, Moldova, Bosnia, Cameroon, Lesotho, Niger, Kosovo, Angola, Burundi, Gambia, Indonesia, Iraq and Serbia. This will allow us to focus our bilateral resources in the following 27 countries: Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Burma, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ethiopia, Ghana, India, Kenya, Kyrgyzstan, Liberia, Malawi, Mozambique, Nepal, Nigeria, the occupied Palestinian territories, Pakistan, Rwanda, Sierra Leone, Somalia, South Africa, Sudan, Tajikistan, Tanzania, Uganda, Yemen, Zambia and Zimbabwe. Together, those countries account for three quarters of global maternal mortality, nearly three quarters of global malaria deaths and almost two thirds of children out of school. Many of them are affected by fragility and conflict, so we will meet the commitment made through the strategic defence and security review to spend 30% of British aid on supporting fragile and conflict-affected states, and to help some of the poorest countries in the world to address the root causes of their problems.
We will have three regional programmes in Africa, Asia and the Caribbean, and an ongoing aid relationship with three aid-dependent overseas territories, namely St Helena, the Pitcairn Islands and Montserrat.
The multilateral aid review took a hard look at the value for money offered by 43 international funds and organisations through which the UK spends aid. It considered how effective each organisation was at tackling poverty. It provides a detailed evidence base on which Ministers can take decisions about where to increase funding, where to press for reforms and improvements, and in some cases where to withdraw taxpayer funding altogether. The 43 multilateral agencies fall into four broad categories.
First, I am delighted to tell the House that nine organisations have been assessed as providing very good value for the British taxpayer. They include UNICEF, the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunisation, or GAVI, the Private Infrastructure Development Group, and the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria. We will increase funding to those organisations, because they have a proven track record of delivering excellent results for poor people. Of course there is always room for improvement and we will still require strong commitments to continued reform and even better performance.
Funding for the next group of agencies—those rated as good or adequate value for money, such as the United Nations Development Programme and the World Health Organisation—will be accompanied by specific pressure from the UK for a series of reforms and improvements that we expect to see in the coming years.
We are placing four organisations in special measures and demanding that they improve their performance as a matter of urgency. Those organisations are UNESCO, the Food and Agriculture Organisation, the development programmes of the Commonwealth Secretariat, and the International Organisation for Migration. Those organisations offer poor value for money for UK aid, but they have a potentially critical niche development or humanitarian role that is not well covered elsewhere in the international system, or they contribute to broader UK Government objectives. We expect to see serious reforms and improvements in performance. We will take stock within two years and DFID’s core funding may be reconsidered if improvements are not made.
Finally, the review found that four agencies performed poorly or failed to demonstrate relevance to Britain’s development objectives. The review therefore concluded that it is no longer acceptable for taxpayers’ money from my Department to continue to fund them centrally. I can therefore tell the House today that the British Government will withdraw their membership of the United Nations Industrial Development Organisation, and that DFID will stop voluntary core funding to UN-Habitat, the International Labour Organisation and the UN International Strategy for Disaster Reduction. That will allow more than £50 million of taxpayers’ money to be redirected immediately to better performing agencies. We are working closely with other countries to build a coalition for ambitious reform and improvement of all multilateral agencies.
As a result of the reviews, over the next four years British aid will secure schooling for 11 million children, which is more than we educate throughout the UK, but at 2.5% of the cost; vaccinate more children against preventable diseases than there are people in England; provide access to safe drinking water and improved sanitation to more people than there are in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland combined; save the lives of 50,000 women in pregnancy and childbirth; stop 250,000 newborn babies dying needlessly; support 13 countries to hold freer and fairer elections; and help 10 million women to access modern family planning.
I believe that those results, which will transform the lives of millions of people across the world, will make everyone in the House and this country proud. They reflect our values as a nation—generosity, compassion and humanity. However, those results are not only delivered from the British people; they are for the British people. They contribute to building a safer, more stable and more prosperous world, which in turn helps to keep our country safe from instability, infectious disease and organised crime.
Aid can perform miracles, but it must be well spent and properly targeted. The UK’s development programme has now been reshaped and refocused so that it can meet that challenge. I commend this statement to the House.
I thank the Secretary of State for his statement and for giving me advance copies of it.
I welcome the Secretary of State’s declaration that our aid programme is both morally right and in our national interest. As he argues against those who decry aid, he will have our strong support. This is not just about charity; it is about justice, tackling global inequality and fulfilling our responsibilities to the world. We put development at the heart of our agenda because we believe we must struggle for a fairer and more equal world.
As things change in the world, as we are seeing in north Africa and the middle east, it is right to review our aid programme, but what should not and must not change is the commitment to spend 0.7% of our national income on aid by 2013. There must be no slipping back on that. Will the Secretary of State tell the House when he will bring forward the Bill to put that promise into law?
Will the Secretary of State campaign vigorously to show that our aid matters and saves lives? The girls and boys sitting in classrooms in Nepal, the Nigerian women who no longer have to walk miles to fetch water and the millions of children who no longer die from preventable disease are proof of that. Is not that the way to build support for aid, rather than by announcing as “new” decisions that we had already made? Will the Secretary of State admit that there is nothing new about ending significant bilateral aid to Russia? We ended it in 2007. Grand gestures of shutting down already closed programmes create a misleading picture of aid and undermine rather than support it. He should know better. As tackling poverty depends greatly on trade as well as aid, will he implement the Bribery Act 2010 now?
Will the Secretary of State acknowledge that after 13 years in which the Labour Government tripled the aid budget, reversing the cuts of the previous Tory Government, this country led the world in tackling global poverty? Is he not concerned that that leadership, which is so important during a global economic downturn, is undermined by his decision to freeze the percentage of aid as a share of national income for the next two years? Can he tell the House how many lives will be lost and how many fewer children will go to school because of the lost £2.2 billion in aid?
Will the Secretary of State assure the House that he will protect his Department from raids by other Government Departments? DFID’s budget is for the world’s poorest, and he must not let other Government Departments use his budget as a source of cash. Will he reclaim the £1.8 million that he gave to fund the Pope’s visit? That was not tackling global poverty, nor was his Department’s loan of £161 million to the Turks and Caicos Islands. He has to be strong and stop his ministerial colleagues using DFID as a hole in the wall.
In our 2009 White Paper, we recognised the need to help people who suffer the twin problems of grinding poverty and living in an area ravaged by violence. It is right that we co-ordinate our development, diplomatic and security efforts, but our aid programme must not become subsumed in our military and security objectives. Of course, in places such as Yemen it is right that our aid efforts complement our foreign and security policy objectives where they can. We are absolutely committed to upholding our security and countering terrorism, but that must be the responsibility of the Ministry of Defence and the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. Will the Secretary of State confirm that poverty reduction will remain the focus of DFID money?
I welcome the Government’s continuation of Labour’s commitment to the international co-ordination of aid through multilateral organisations, and in particular the Secretary of State’s reaffirmation of the EU’s work, but will he reconsider his decision on the ILO?
The Secretary of State’s men-only ministerial team talk a lot about how they will empower women in the developing world. Why, then, has he still not decided how much he will contribute to the new UN women’s agency? Why should the women of the world have to wait for the men in his Government to put their money where their mouth is?
On bilateral aid, we welcome the focus on setting aid objectives for each country, but did the recipient countries play a part in that? Will the Secretary of State continue the spirit of the 2005 Paris declaration, which put the developing country in the driving seat and did so much to end the problematic post-colonial relationship between donor and recipient countries? Will he confirm that the decisions to cut aid to very poor countries such as Niger and Lesotho involved co-ordination with other donor countries, to ensure that our decisions do not leave them high and dry? Will he also explain his decision to end aid to Burundi, where there is deep poverty, and which is in the great lakes region, where there is still instability?
I welcome the Secretary of State’s continuation of the previous Labour Government’s focus on results and value for money. We made progress towards the millennium development goals, such as cutting maternal mortality and increasing child survival. To say that that was wasting money is an insult to all those who worked on those programmes, and it is to deny the value of those lives that were saved. I hope we will hear no more of that.
With more than 1 billion people still living in poverty, the Secretary of State is right to recognise that there is a long way to go. As Secretary of State for International Development, he will have the Opposition’s support. We will back him in his work if he keeps faith with British generosity and our duty to the world’s poor.
I think I will take that as qualified support for the Government’s position.
The right hon. and learned Lady emphasises that it is morally right and in our national interests to stand by the very strong commitments that have been made by all parties in the House, which I welcome. We made it absolutely clear when we took office that in sorting out the dreadful economic inheritance we received from the Labour Government, we would not balance the books on the backs of the poorest people in the world, and we honour that promise today. On that point, let me make it clear to her that the legislation agreed before the election in support of the 0.7% pledge from 2013 will come before the House as soon as the parliamentary business managers can find a convenient time.
Let me make it clear that I have cut back the programmes in Russia and China that we inherited. The programme in Russia will be completed by the end of April, and the programme in China will be completed by the end of March, but the coalition Government have made the decision to rein back those programmes—we inherited a continuing programme.
I should make it clear to the right hon. and learned Lady that support came in equal proportions from a number of British Government Departments involved with the Pope’s visit, but that included DFID because, as she will be aware, the Catholic Church and its organisations deliver health care and education in some of the most difficult parts of the world, and DFID has a very strong relationship with the Church on that basis. However, let me put her mind at rest: my Department’s share of the cost of the visit did not come out of the 0.7% budget or the official development assistance budget.
The right hon. and learned Lady also asks whether other Departments are raiding the DFID budget. She should know, because we have made it absolutely clear, that we will stand by the OECD development assistance committee definition of what is and is not aid. We stand by that, and it governs what can and cannot be spent by the British taxpayer under the ODA budget.
The right hon. and learned Lady referred to the guarantee that has been so skilfully negotiated in the Turks and Caicos Islands by my right hon. Friend the Minister of State. The islands are a dependent territory, and we stand by our dependent territories—she will be aware that that is one of the first commitments in the International Development Act 2002. However, thanks to my right hon. Friend’s skill, we have negotiated a guarantee while they sort themselves out, rather than funding from the British taxpayer.
The right hon. and learned Lady asked whether we would reconsider our decision about the ILO. I emphasise to the House that the decision came from a recommendation in the multilateral aid review, which I strongly encourage her to look at, and in which the professional analysis reads:
“The ILO has a wide range of organisational weaknesses including weak cost control and results reporting”
“We will consider, on a case by case basis, funding the ILO in country on specific projects—provided it represents good value for money and is consistent with UK poverty reduction goals”.
That is a fair analysis. However, I invite hon. Members who do not agree with it to have a look at the multilateral aid review and reach their own conclusions. I want to emphasise that the four elements of a decent work agenda—employment, social protection, labour standards and social dialogue—form a core part of my Department’s work in this area, and will continue to do so.
The right hon. Gentleman mentions trade unions from a sedentary position. Let me make it clear that the trade unions, for the work they do, will be able to apply to the global poverty action fund, and I look forward to their doing so.
The right hon. and learned Lady made three other points. The first related to support for the new United Nations women’s agency. The Government strongly support the agency and argued for it to be set up. One of my noble Friends was there last week, and I saw Michelle Bachelet, the brilliant new head of UN Women, on—I think—her first day in office. We have offered her staff in order to assist in her tasks, and when she comes forward with a strategic plan in July, I have no doubt that we will be able to fund it. We will urge other countries to share the burden appropriately, but we will be very strong supporters of what she is doing.
The right hon. and learned Lady asked me about Niger and whether I would confirm that other donors were involved in the decision. We decided that it was not appropriate to keep a bilateral programme in Niger. Other donors were certainly involved in the decision. Much of the work that is being done in Niger, which she will know is an enormously food-insecure part of the world, is done on a multilateral basis. Last year, I agreed specific support on a humanitarian basis to feed 810,000 people, including 35,500 children suffering from acute malnutrition. Some 81,000 families received seeds, and we sent specific support for 15,000 livestock, which of course is very important to people continuing their lives. We are very much engaged in Niger on a humanitarian basis, but we look to other countries to share the burden, and we strongly support the multilateral architecture in addressing the situation in Niger.
The right hon. and learned Lady also asked about Burundi. We have completed our work on revenue capacity-building. We had a very small programme there, but we judged that it was right to close it. These are tough and difficult decisions, but we thought that we could spend the money better elsewhere. However, TradeMark East Africa, which we strongly support, will be based there as well. Wiring that into the regional infrastructure is extremely important, and work is ongoing on that.
Finally, a letter and a copy of the document “Changing lives, delivering results”, which sets out the results of the review, are available to all Members on the Board. Furthermore, the full multilateral aid review can be read on the internet by anyone who wishes to do so.
Order. A great many right hon. and hon. Members are seeking to catch my eye, but I remind the House that there is another statement to follow and thereafter an important Second Reading debate. If I am to accommodate the level of interest, brevity in questions and answers alike is of the essence.
May I warmly congratulate my right hon. Friend on a truly impressive statement, which was both highly practical and highly moral? May I also make a micro-economic point? It is one thing—and difficult enough—to establish projects in poor countries, but the most difficult thing of all is ensuring their subsequent daily, humble maintenance. When I walked around poor villages in Africa and Asia, I often came across a tap with clean water in it—one of the greatest assets that we can provide through aid—in the middle of the village. However, very often the tap was either dripping or gushing, and when one asked why, one was told that the rubber washer was always stolen within a few days of being installed. Nobody has ever told me what subsequent use the rubber washers are put to, but if the tap does not work or runs out of water, the whole scheme collapses.
My hon. Friend said he was going to make a micro-economic point! He has great experience of such matters from his distinguished past, and he is absolutely right. Seeing assets that have been installed but are not in working order is an enormously depressing aspect of international development. Seeing empty schools in Africa that do not have children to go to them or teachers to serve them is similar to what he described. All our work is designed to achieve effective and transparent results that work not only for British taxpayers but for those we are trying to help.
I declare an interest as the chair of the all-party friends of CAFOD—the Catholic Fund for Overseas Development—group. Does the right hon. Gentleman acknowledge the contribution of aid agencies and non-governmental organisations to the current focus of his Department’s work? Does he also agree with the overwhelming view that the greater the transparency, the greater the support will be from the British people for our objectives in this field? As two examples of how he can act quickly on such matters, may I urge him to accept the advice about implementing the Bribery Act 2010 as quickly as possible and to consider the role of British companies involved in mineral extraction in developing countries?
I certainly pay tribute to CAFOD and the brilliant work of Chris Bain in leading it. I agree with the right hon. Gentleman about the importance of transparency, which is why one of the coalition Government’s first acts was to publish our transparency guarantee. He is right about results and openness. We are all strongly behind the Bribery Act 2010. There are some standing instructions that need to be worked out by a number of Departments, but that will happen relatively quickly and the Act will be fully implemented.
The review was right, and the tighter focus is welcome. The Select Committee on International Development will monitor not just the quantity and transparency of aid, but its effectiveness in tackling poverty and creating the space for development. However, will he explain one or two anomalies in his announcement? Burundi, which has already been mentioned, is a surprising omission, given that it is a poor country, but South Africa is included. What is the case for that, given that every other country on the list is a low-income country? Finally, will he confirm that targeting fewer countries will enable some of the staffing shortfalls that have been so apparent to be addressed, so that DFID staff are fully complemented where they are operating bilaterally?
The Chairman of the Select Committee makes an important point. Programme staffing will be set to ensure that we can implement all the programmes. South Africa is a regional hub—an engine of economic development throughout the region—and much of our programme there is devoted to that. I have explained the position on Burundi, but, clearly, it too benefits from that engine of regional economic development. On his first point, the independent commission for aid impact, which is led by chief commissioner Graham Ward, one of Britain’s most distinguished accountants, reports to his Committee, not me, injecting that independent evaluation of British aid that is so important in maintaining taxpayer confidence in what we are doing.
The Under-Secretary of State for International Development will be visiting Wales shortly. I reciprocate the comments of the hon. Member for Vale of Clwyd (Chris Ruane) about St David’s day. In regard to Lesotho, we think that there are better ways of supporting that country than through a bilateral programme, for the reasons that I set out earlier. When my hon. Friend goes to Wales and meets Members of the Welsh Assembly, I am sure that this is one of the matters that can be discussed.
Will my right hon. Friend make two things clear to the NGOs? The first is that they have a shared responsibility with us to make it clear that international development is a moral obligation as well as being in our national interest? The second is that, given that international development aid is now at 0.6% of GDP and will soon be at 0.7%, if people want more aid spent on a specific topic or area, it behoves them to explain which part of my right hon. Friend’s programme they want money to be taken away from, because the Department has now reached the maximum amount of funds that it is going to have during the course of this Parliament.
I will certainly pass on my hon. Friend’s message to the NGOs. They also have a strong agenda of accountability and transparency, and we encourage them strongly in that. The workings of the Global Poverty Action Fund will greatly simplify the way in which NGOs access taxpayer support, and will also be very effective in driving forward that agenda.
Will the Secretary of State join me in applauding the generosity of the British people, not least at the moment through their donations to Comic Relief? Will he also say something about his review’s impact on the poorest of the very poor—namely, the children and men and women with severe disabilities in the developing world, who constantly get lost in these debates, not least because they were not included in the millennium development goals?
The right hon. Gentleman is absolutely right on that point. Some four years ago, I went to Laos and Cambodia deliberately to look at the way in which disability impacted on development. We have not forgotten about this, and disability is clearly recognised in the work that we are taking forward.
More than half the world’s population now lives in urban areas, and less than half in the countryside. Just over a year ago the International Development Select Committee published a report on urbanisation which recommended a large increase in funding for UN-Habitat. I am astonished at the decision to pull the plug on UN-Habitat. Will the Secretary of State look at the report’s recommendations and write a note to the Select Committee explaining how his Department is going to meet them?
The hon. Gentleman makes a good point about urbanisation. Only in the very recent past has the majority of the world lived in towns and cities rather than in the countryside, and the report to which he refers is a very good one. If he looks at the multilateral aid review, he will see the comments that were made about UN-Habitat, and I think that he will find them helpful in understanding the Government’s approach.
May I congratulate my right hon. Friend on putting such a strong emphasis on the effectiveness of aid, given that its purpose is not to make us feel good but to do good? Does he agree with the all-party parliamentary group on Trade Out of Poverty that, although effective aid is important in alleviating poverty, countries can leave poverty behind in the long run only if they have opportunities to trade their way out of it? Will he place great emphasis on encouraging the rich unilaterally to remove tariffs, quotas and other barriers to poor countries trading with us?
I am most grateful to my right hon. Friend for his remarks. He, of course, led our party’s approach to the “globalisation of poverty” review of 2005—a most important document. I entirely endorse what he says about the importance of trade and trading out of poverty. The fact that there is such a strong coalition—if I may put it that way—between my right hon. Friend and Clare Short, who are driving forward this issue, emphasises how wide the support is for what he is doing. That underlines the importance of continuing to work flat out for a successful outcome to the Doha round.
The Secretary of State has said that there will be a new focus on both bilateral and multilateral aid. Will that focus include giving priority consideration to marginal farmers, with women numbering heavily among them? Did he have them in mind in his reference to property rights? How will he ensure that the special measures attaching to the Food and Agriculture Organisation do not interfere with improved focus on the position of women marginal farmers?
The hon. Gentleman will have heard the contrast between what I said about the Food and Agriculture Organisation, which has been placed in a form of special measures, and the World Food Programme, which is doing extremely well under the leadership of Josette Sheeran. We would probably have pulled out of the FAO but it is about to recruit a new director and we want to work with that new director to ensure that the FAO becomes a much more effective organisation. I completely endorse what the hon. Gentleman says about the importance of my Department’s focus on farming and agriculture.
I warmly welcome my right hon. Friend’s statement, giving a renewed focus to British aid policy. He will know that improving good governance is one of the most effective ways of lifting people out of poverty. Will he confirm that, under his new order, there will still be a significant investment in capacity as he develops his targets for developing countries, as this will help them improve their democratic systems and their good governance?
My hon. Friend is absolutely right in the emphasis he places on good governance. Helping people to hold their leaders and their politicians to account is an extremely important part of an open and free society, as events—not least, in the middle east—have made clear in recent weeks. This is an important focus of my Department’s work.
The Secretary of State will recognise that among the most exploited workers in the world are Dalits, garment makers and brick makers working in the very poorest countries. Their way out of poverty is organisation, better employment practices and decent wages. In that light, why is the right hon. Gentleman cutting money for the International Labour Organisation, which provides an important benchmark on the employment basis of those people and, of course, on the rights of migrant workers as well?
The hon. Gentleman is entirely right to emphasise that there are four key elements of the decent work agenda, which I mentioned earlier: social dialogue, labour standards, social protection and employment. It is a common purpose across the House that those elements should be supported, and we will work in a variety of ways, including with the trade unions, to ensure that we uphold them.
The Secretary of State will know that the all-party groups on Kenya, Uganda and sanitation and water will be extremely glad to hear that they are still going to receive aid. I notice, however, that Commonwealth Secretariat and UNESCO are being placed into special measures as a matter of urgency. Is there a case for putting the EU in the same category?
We have looked carefully at EU aid spending and while it is true that the spending through the Commission is not as good as it should be, it is nevertheless also true that the European development fund spends British taxpayers’ money quite well. Let me also make it clear to my hon. Friend that although some 17% of the funding comes from Britain, 40% of it is spent on the Commonwealth countries for which I know he has a particular affection.
The Secretary of State suggests terminating the aid programme in Vietnam. I suggest that he look again at the report of the Select Committee after its visit to the country in 2007. It recognised that although the aid relationship needed to change, the graduation of Vietnam to middle-income status was fragile, that many good ideas that could be used elsewhere in the world were being tested, and that the aid relationship, although changing, should continue. Will the right hon. Gentleman look at that again?
We had specific discussions with Vietnam on our programme there, which does not wind down, I think, until 2016—it has the longest tail of any of the wind-down programmes. Vietnam is powering out of poverty, and ensuring that the role of the private sector is fully embraced is a big part of the work that my Department is undertaking. We have agreed the scale-down with the Government of Vietnam, and it works for us and them.
I too commend the Secretary of State and his colleagues on today’s statement and the review behind it. On a visit to Kashmir last week, the outcomes of British aid that I saw in the capital, Muzaffarabad, impressed me. Given his mention of the European development fund, is he satisfied about the hundreds of millions of euros that go via the development fund to Turkey and Croatia, which are neither contaminated with a lot of poverty nor fragile states? If he is dissatisfied, will he take measures in future to ensure that the money is redirected to other countries.
Today’s announcement of the continuation of bilateral aid to the Democratic Republic of the Congo is welcome, but will the Secretary of State continue to press the DRC Government on the importance of transparency in getting UK companies to engage and take risks in that country?
The hon. Gentleman is absolutely right to stress the importance of that agenda in the DRC, which is a strong partner of ours. Over the next four years, we will be doing a great deal of work there, spending on average £198 million, with a strong focus on tackling malaria, ensuring that 6 million people get access to clean water, boosting the electoral system, and ensuring that girls get into school.
Unfolding events in north Africa and the wider middle east could not have been anticipated when the review began. Will the Government’s proposals allow enough flexibility to deal with these issues and with others that are bound to arise in future?
Will the right hon. Gentleman confirm that when he refers to the occupied Palestinian territories, he includes the prison camp of Gaza and the hells on earth that are the refugee camps in Lebanon? Is he aware that the $2.4 million that his Department has awarded for medical aid in the Lebanese refugee camps is enormously appreciated but will last for only a month, which is a symbol of the dire need in these places?
Having visited the flood-hit areas of Pakistan and Kashmir before Christmas, may I ask my right hon. Friend whether he will confirm that the money saved on aid to China and Russia will go to such areas and to the other poorest areas in the world that need the aid most?
How does the Secretary of State justify ending bilateral aid to Cambodia, given that last year 31% of the population were estimated as living under the poverty line, and the country is in danger of missing seven of its eight millennium development goals?
I hear what the hon. Gentleman says, but it is important to recognise whether a British bilateral programme that is small compared with several other bilateral and multilateral programmes was having a real impact. We concluded that such a programme was not the best way of spending taxpayer’s money.
I congratulate my right hon. Friend and his team on an important piece of work that is in the national interest, but may I press him a little further on the subject of the European Union? Would he consider discussing with the EU the possibility of a pan-European review conducted on the basis on which he conducted his valuable review of this country’s aid, to establish whether that would help the EU to deliver its aid more effectively?
We continue to discuss a range of matters with the EU and with Commissioner Andris Piebalgs, who is in charge of development. The multilateral aid review examined the work of the European development fund in much the same way as the bilateral review examined our country-to-country programme. There is ongoing work to be done, but I assure my hon. Friend that we are very much on the case.
Last week I was in Ghana with the all-party parliamentary group on agriculture and food for development. Members of both Houses observed for themselves the critical importance of agriculture not just to the sustaining of livelihoods but to the potential for economic growth in developing countries. I noted the Secretary of State’s concern about the Food and Agriculture Organisation, but what strategic role will agriculture play in DFID’s plans for the future?
Food security and agriculture are at the heart of many of the programmes that we operate in food-stressed areas. We are working increasingly closely with the World Food Programme, not only on the provision of emergency aid but on trying to enable food-insecure areas to change the way in which they secure their food so that it is sustainable in the long term. Very good work is being done in Karamoja, in northern Uganda, and we intend to intensify it.
The Secretary of State said that he would put more money into the development of democracy in 13 of the 16 countries that he listed. Elections have already taken place last year and this year, so we have missed the boat on those. Can we be certain that the programme will continue and that we will carry out intensive work with some of the countries that have not done as well as they might have in reducing corruption in the electoral process, not just during the four-year period that has been mentioned but, if necessary, for five or six years?
My hon. Friend has asked a very good question. Over the next four years, we will work intensively to try to boost freer and fairer elections. As I said in my statement, we shall be working in 13 countries, notably Zimbabwe. We have made it clear that if there is a proper route map towards freer and fairer elections in that country, we shall be able engage much more directly in development work there.
It is all very well for the Secretary of State to be charming about Mrs Bachelet, the head of UN Women, but when I heard her speak at the Commission on the Status of Women last week, she pointed out that she still had to raise the bulk of the $500 million dollar budget of UN Women. Britain was the fourth biggest donor to UN Women last year, but although some 30 other countries have made commitments for 2011, we have thus far failed to do so. UN Women has an ambitious programme to tackle violence against women, to empower women, and to ensure that women’s voices are heard in some of the poorest countries in the world. Why has the Secretary of State not yet made a decision?
I think that I was respectful rather than charming about Mrs Bachelet, but as soon as we have a plan that we can fund, we will fund it. We have already provided some transitional funds. As the hon. Lady will know, there is specific funding to tackle violence against women, and she can rest assured that the Government strongly support this agency, as we always have. When we see the plan, we will fund it.
I welcome the tighter focus of the aid programme, but the India programme continues to present a juicy target for aid sceptics who criticise it for being directed at a nuclear power and a space power. Does the Secretary of State agree that it would be fairer for them to acknowledge that the civil nuclear programme is playing an essential part in meeting India’s energy deficit, and that since its inception the space programme has focused largely on development, using satellite technology to give Indians in rural areas access to long-distance learning opportunities, remote health care and crop-related weather analysis?
My hon. Friend makes an extremely good point. India presents a paradox, because although it has the programmes to which he refers, there are also more poor people in India than in the whole of sub-Saharan Africa. Our programme is in transition: we are shifting its focus on to only three of the poorest states in India, and over the next four years up to half the programme will be spent on pro-poor private sector investment for development. We will not be there for ever, but now is not the time to end this programme.
In future, all our programmes will have detailed evaluation criteria from day one whether or not they are in conflict-affected areas, and, of course, the Independent Commission for Aid Impact will evaluate whether the taxpayer is getting good value for money. These criteria therefore apply across all our programmes, not just those that are easiest to evaluate.
I welcome my right hon. Friend’s statement on the refocusing of our aid to target it and get value for money from it. Does he agree that education, particularly for girls, remains a top priority? What is his Department doing, and what more can it do, to encourage education throughout the developing world?
My hon. Friend is absolutely right. For reasons he will readily appreciate, one of the best development investments we can make in terms of outcomes is to get girls into school, which is why that is such a key target for us. Over the next four years, Britain will educate 11 million children overseas, far more than in the whole of Britain, and, as I have said, at 2.5% of the cost. Therefore, if any of my hon. Friend’s constituents say that this programme should be repatriated, he should point out that 2.5% of the cost would not even get one laptop per class.
An Inter-Parliamentary Union delegation visiting a former communist country last week was shocked to hear from the head of a trade union that she was under pressure to relinquish her post so that she could be replaced by a Government stooge. We offered her hope from the International Labour Organisation, which is the only effective body that can influence her Government. Why are we denying the ILO funds?
As the hon. Gentleman will have heard me say, we are maintaining our membership of the ILO. However, if he looks at the report—which he can download from the internet immediately after this statement—he will see the professional analysis of the ILO’s work, and he may then decide that there are organisations that might be better than the ILO in assisting the lady he mentioned in the specific circumstances he described.
Save the Children, which is a very well-supported charity in West Worcestershire, has particularly welcomed this review. The Secretary of State has just emphasised the importance of educating girls. Can he tell us how many more girls will receive an education as a result of this review?
I am afraid that I cannot give that precise figure to my hon. Friend off the top of my head, but I shall write to her on the matter. What I can tell her is that last year Britain educated about 5 million children overseas, but that figure will rise substantially in the future.
Further to the question asked by my hon. Friend the Member for Slough (Fiona Mactaggart), does the Secretary of State recognise that the new agency UN Women needs some certainty about its budget in order to prepare its strategic plan, rather than the other way around? Will he therefore lead from the front, instead of delaying his decision as to how much to commit to this vital UN agency?
I can reassure the hon. Lady that we are in very close touch with UN Women. When the plan is produced, I am sure we will be able to fund it. Meanwhile, we have given some hundreds of thousands of pounds in transitional funding to assist the agency to get to that point. This agency has only just been started; the hon. Member for Slough (Fiona Mactaggart) suggested we failed to fund it last year, but it has only just come into existence. With the transitional funding, it will be able to produce its strategic plan, and then I am sure we will be able to fund it.
I welcome the Secretary of State’s excellent statement. Will he join me in paying tribute to the excellent work of UNICEF, which saves the lives of millions of children around the world, and will he now publish, in full and in detail, the review’s analysis of UNICEF’s performance?
My hon. Friend will be able to download the review straight after this statement. UNICEF is doing a brilliant job, and I can assure him that we are going to be able to double its funding in the next two years and support it because of the excellent results that it is achieving and the very good work that it does.
Can the Secretary of State tell us what proportion of the current aid programme is allocated to multilateral aid, what proportion is allocated to bilateral aid and what the proportions will be after his reviews are put in place?
If the hon. Gentleman downloads the reviews, he will be able to see the precise figures. The proportion used to be about 50:50, but it will be slightly different in the future. I stand to be corrected but, as I recall it, the multilateral element increases slightly, principally because of the very strong support for the World Bank. I will write to him on this matter.
I thank my right hon. Friend for his commitment to an ongoing aid relationship with the island of St Helena, whose citizens are, of course, British citizens. Can he confirm that proposals for the airfield on the island are still firmly on track?
My hon. Friend is right to identify St Helena as an important dependent territory which rightly has our support. He will know that negotiations are ongoing on three key areas which, when they are the subject of agreement, will form the basis of a contract. I hope to be able to give the House more information in due course.
CDC is not one of the organisations that has been assessed as part of the multilateral aid review, because we are in the process of reforming the way in which it operates. The point that we have made in a written statement to the House is that widespread consultation is taking place on how we inject more development genes into CDC. Those negotiations and discussions are continuing, and I hope to be able to say more to the House shortly about how that will proceed.
My hon. Friend will be able to see that the figure for India is frozen at its current level for the next four years. If he looks at the results, which are available on the internet, he will see the different proportions of spending, but I can tell him that there will be less direct budget support under this Government’s programme than there was under the previous Government’s.
The Prime Minister, both in Kuwait last week and yesterday, has held up freedom of association as something that Britain should support, so this attack on the International Labour Organisation will horrify every trade union worker around the world. Britain founded the ILO, and in the 1980s the ILO was central to getting rid of Soviet communism and apartheid in South Africa. I know that the Secretary of State has to represent Lazard and the banking community, but this attack on working people around the world is shameful.
That may have been a little over the top. First, we are not withdrawing from the ILO. We have made it clear that we will not be making any voluntary contributions to it. We remain a member of the ILO, but the subscription is paid for by the Department for Work and Pensions. Where countries find that the ILO is able to provide a specific service that offers value for money and effectiveness, they will be able to take on its services.
The Secretary of State’s performance today has confirmed, yet again, that he is the only Member of this House who can really run overseas aid. Given that, will he confirm that the extra £21 billion the previous Government forced us to pay to the EU to provide aid in the poorer EU states should come into his Department?
The Secretary of State said, in response to my right hon. Friend the Member for Coatbridge, Chryston and Bellshill (Mr Clarke), that the Bribery Act 2010 will be implemented soon. Given that combating bribery, fraud and corruption is paramount in ensuring that aid gets to the right people and the right places, could he be a little more specific about when he anticipates Labour’s Bribery Act being implemented and what he is doing to press his Government on this very important matter?
I have made no secret of my very strong support for the Bribery Act—anyone who holds this office realises how incredibly important it is. I would say that the hon. Lady is a member of a party that did not do an awful lot about this in its 13 years in government. However, we will ensure that, once the wrinkles are ironed out, the legislation is up and running as soon as possible.
Order. It is always a pleasure to hear the hon. Gentleman but I have a faint suspicion that he toddled out of the Chamber at one point, which is of itself not a criminal offence, but it does rather disqualify him from participating in the exchanges on the statement. We will hear from him again soon I am sure.
Why on earth are the Government lending £160 million to the Turks and Caicos Islands, which have a very high gross domestic product per head, and why are we also allowing the Cayman Islands to borrow a similar amount of money without introducing anything to tackle their tax haven status?
The hon. Gentleman did not listen carefully to my earlier response, which was that the Government are supplying a guarantee to the Government of the Turks and Caicos Islands so that they have a period of time in which to sort out their financial difficulties. If all goes well, there will not be any costs at all to the British taxpayer as a result.