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Bilateral and Multilateral Aid

Volume 529: debated on Wednesday 8 June 2011

We have introduced the UK aid transparency guarantee, under which we have published greater and more detailed information on the Department for International Development’s aid expenditure than ever before, and we have actively encouraged our multilateral and other partners to follow our lead. I welcome the launch today of the Make Aid Transparent website, which is supported by a coalition of more than 50 civil society groups from more than 20 countries.

I thank the Minister for his answer. Just as the Prime Minister has called on others in the G8 to live up to their promises on their aid budgets, will the Minister assure me that the Government are calling on others to increase the transparency of their spending and will he update the House on the international aid transparency initiative?

My hon. Friend is absolutely right that the Prime Minister secured agreement in Deauville that the G8 should begin to lead rather than follow on aid transparency. DFID also leads the international aid transparency initiative, an alliance of 19 major donors. Under our leadership, a new aid transparency standard was agreed in February and is already being implemented by DFID, the World Bank and the Hewlett Foundation, with many more set to follow later this year.

In view of the lobbying of the House tomorrow by international development enthusiasts, will the Minister encourage as many people as possible to turn up, including hon. Members, to make our contribution to international development awareness?

I fully share the right hon. Gentleman’s enthusiasm for international development awareness, and when it comes to transparency there is already much praise for what the UK is doing. For instance, Publish What You Fund recently said:

“As well as focusing on its own breadth and quality of publication, its”—


“commitment to influencing others sets important precedents for aid transparency on a global level.”

Does my right hon. Friend agree that the better we can demonstrate the effectiveness of UK aid, and that it is not all siphoned off into Swiss bank accounts, the sooner we will get the people of this country behind our excellent and worthy notion of spending 0.7% of GDP on overseas aid?

My hon. Friend is absolutely right, and that is exactly why we have set up the Independent Commission for Aid Impact, which can evaluate the impact and value for money of UK aid. Transparency sheds light on all that is done and reduces the sort of corruption that my hon. Friend describes.

Does the Minister accept that the welcome continued emphasis on transparency in Government aid must also apply to businesses? Given the OECD estimate that poor countries lose $120 billion each year to tax havens, three times more than the aid that they receive, what is he doing to require companies to publish what they pay to Governments in developing countries?

That is exactly why we support the likes of the extractive industry transparency initiative, which will ensure that companies contracting with countries fully reveal what exactly they make out of their contracts.