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Peacekeeping and Defence Operations

Volume 560: debated on Wednesday 13 March 2013

6. What plans the Government have to increase the proportion of the aid budget that is spent on peacekeeping and defence operations; and if she will make a statement. (147432)

The Department for International Development and the Ministry of Defence are working together within existing international rules on official development assistance spending to consider how we can better use Government resources in dealing with the humanitarian and development aspects of conflict and instability around the world.

The National Audit Office and the Independent Commission for Aid Impact have both been critical of the effectiveness of the conflict pool. What steps is the Secretary of State taking to reform and strengthen these mechanisms in the cross-departmental work?

As the hon. Gentleman will be aware, the conflict pool is a relatively new mechanism to ensure that the Foreign Office, the Ministry of Defence and my own Department work more closely together in fragile and conflict-ridden situations where we know that partnering up can make a difference. We look with interest at the reports from ICAI and the National Audit Office, and we are looking in the next spending review to see how we can strengthen the process and the effectiveness of the way in which the conflict pool works.

Will the Secretary of State welcome the comments by the Prime Minister that ODA funding can, in some dangerous environments, be used by the military to provide overseas humanitarian aid and development assistance and begin the process of stabilisation?

My hon. Friend raises an important issue. The Prime Minister is right to say that we should be open to new ideas about how my Department and the MOD can work more closely together. As my hon. Friend will be aware, the existing ODA guidelines clearly set out what spend can be counted as ODA and what cannot be, but things such as peacekeeping fall within the ODA definition and we should look at how we can work more closely with the Ministry of Defence.

13. Will that policy not simply take us back to the trade for aid days of the 1990s, when predatory western Governments behaved like payday loan companies and developing countries spent more on servicing debt than on helping people? (147439)

I think the hon. Lady might have asked a supplementary question that related to a different question on the Order Paper, but we should be looking at trade as well as aid. That is the route to sustained poverty reduction.