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Volume 537: debated on Wednesday 7 December 2011

British development in Bangladesh promotes resilience to national disasters, gets girls into school, tackles maternal mortality and helps the Government to raise their own revenue through support for fair and transparent taxation. I plan to visit Bangladesh shortly to ensure that British taxpayers’ money is well spent.

Having seen some of that work that the Secretary of State’s Department is doing in Bangladesh, may I first congratulate him on it? More specifically, what help does he think his Department could provide, perhaps alongside other Departments, to ease the political logjam that seems to bedevil Bangladeshi society from top to bottom?

My hon. Friend has seen for himself why the issue he raises is so important. A key part of our work is helping ordinary people to hold their political leaders to account, which we do through strengthening accountability and the Government’s ability to raise taxes, and through strengthening local media. I have recently given a significant accountability grant to the BBC World Service Trust to do just that.

Climate change is having a serious impact on food security and production in Bangladesh—the production of rice and wheat is forecast to fall by around a third by 2050. What additional resources or funding will be made available to help some of the poorest in the world, given the effect of climate change on their food production?

The hon. Gentleman is entirely accurate about the effects of climate change on very vulnerable people in Bangladesh, where only a fairly small rise in the water level could wipe out hundreds of thousands of homes. We are directly involved in protecting 15 million vulnerable people from those effects of climate change, and we will continue—through, for example, the development of scuba rice, which grows in very difficult circumstances—to target malnutrition.