Skip to main content

Topical Questions

Volume 564: debated on Wednesday 12 June 2013

Since the last International Development questions, I have attended the high-level panel meeting in New York, met the CBI to discuss how DFID can work with business on development and attended the G8 social impact forum last Thursday. You, Mr Speaker, will recall the parliamentary reception we held last weekend in advance of the G8 Nutrition for Growth event, where we secured commitments of up to £2.7 billion to tackle under-nutrition between now and 2020.

Order. There are far too many noisy private conversations taking place. The Secretary of State and Members are addressing extremely important matters, and they should be discussed in an air of respect and consideration.

Last year the Secretary of State said that her top priority was women and girls. What steps is she taking to tackle violence against women and girls, especially in the Democratic Republic of the Congo?

My hon. Friend the Under-Secretary of State visited that region comparatively recently. We are looking at how we can scale up our work on tackling violence against women and girls. The hon. Gentleman will be aware that we are also working hand in hand with the Foreign Office on tackling violence against women and girls in conflict.

T2. In recognition of her achievement in securing the 0.7% of gross domestic product target, will the Secretary of State indicate just how many of her investments are leading to improved trade opportunities for the United Kingdom? (159161)

We invest around £1 billion in wealth-creating projects, but I would like us to do more in the area of economic development. We need only look at the increase in our exports to China to see how other countries developing their economies will ultimately benefit us, too.

T9. Following the excellent WaterAid campaign on world water day earlier this year, what progress has the Secretary of State made on ensuring that access to clean water and sanitation remains a central part of the post-2015 development goals? (159168)

The hon. Lady will have been as pleased as I was to see that sanitation and water feature strongly in the high-level panel’s report passed to the UN Secretary-General a couple of weeks ago. It is really important that we keep that proposed target, which is precisely what the Government will be pressing for.

T3. May I commend the Secretary of State and the Prime Minister for last Saturday’s Nutrition for Growth summit, which showed that improving nutrition is not only about state aid, but about bringing the private sector and philanthropists together to solve the problem of over 1 billion people going hungry? (159162)

I am grateful to my hon. Friend for that question, because it shows that if we are to make a real difference, we need ultimately to see Governments working in partnership with business and encouraging responsible investment. If we can work together and bring in the best science, we will have a real chance of tackling under-nutrition.

T10. A member of my staff, Lee Butcher, recently visited Palestine. He was shocked and stunned to see how Palestinians are treated by the Israelis, for example having no water for weeks on end. What can the Government do to help those Palestinians who are suffering such pain? (159169)

We put as much pressure and argument as we can to improve the condition of Palestinians in Area C, and we very much hope that such issues will be addressed in the peace process, which we wish every success, as it continues over the next few weeks.

T4. What discussions have been had with the Government of Pakistan to tackle the issues of population growth, lack of family planning and high maternity deaths? (159163)

This Government have focused on family planning; indeed, we hosted a conference on it last year. As regards Pakistan, we have a successful programme in relation to health workers. Of course, the ultimate way to tackle the issues that my hon. Friend talks about is through education. If girls stay in school longer, they get married later and have fewer children and, indeed, healthier children.

On a recent delegation to the west bank, we met President Abbas, who confirmed that the Palestinian Authority pays the families of convicted criminals a salary dependent on the length of time they spend in prison. Since DFID provides direct budget support which is indivisible from the Palestinian Authority’s funds, will the Minister explain and justify how British taxpayers’ money can be spent on paying criminals?

We have dealt with this issue on many occasions in written and oral parliamentary questions. I can assure the hon. Gentleman that British funding is ring-fenced and does not in any way go to purposes of that sort.

T5. Does my right hon. Friend agree that it would be possible to link our large aid presence in the British embassy in Jakarta more effectively with our trade presence in order to promote new energy solutions like the first biodiesel plant in the country from Gloucestershire’s Green Fuels? (159164)

That sounds like a very sensible thought. We work closely with UK Trade & Investment in Whitehall, and I would like that to happen more on the ground in developing countries such as Indonesia.