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Volume 566: debated on Wednesday 17 July 2013

The Department for International Development has three key priorities in Bangladesh between 2011 and 2015: improving the provision of basic services, supporting private sector development and helping to reduce risks to development, including from natural disasters. Over the coming year, DFID will also focus on improving working conditions in the garment sector and supporting free, fair and credible elections.

I am grateful to the Secretary of State for that answer. Will she add to it by saying what our Government might be able to do to help people in Bangladesh achieve decent basic minimum wages for work and safer working conditions, and to enable poor people to receive the finance they need, either for their families or to start businesses so that they can succeed?

We have a range of programmes to help improve livelihoods. Most recently, when my right hon. Friend the Minister of State visited Bangladesh, he announced an £18 million UK-funded programme to help people, particularly factory workers, to develop skills. We are taking a range of measures. I should add that we also work with international organisations such as the International Labour Organisation to improve workers’ standards and drive workers’ conditions upwards.

As the Secretary of State may know, the Prime Minister of Bangladesh was in London last week. I discussed with her the high level of diabetes in Bangladesh, which has one of the highest levels of any country in the world. What health projects do we have in Bangladesh specifically to help to reduce diabetes?

I am grateful for the right hon. Gentleman’s question. DFID has health programmes and general programmes to lift people out of poverty, but also to ensure that they have access to services like health care that can help them get on with their day-to-day lives. I will write to him with a fuller update on whether we engage in any direct diabetes-related programmes, which I hope will be helpful to him.

What is the total size of our aid assistance to Bangladesh and how much of it goes on ameliorating the appalling environmental conditions, given that Bangladesh is situated on the Delta?

The overall programme is about £200 million a year, which is split across a range of activities. Part of it is for basic services like health and education, as I have said; part of it is for economic development; and part of it is to address humanitarian conditions and disaster prevention, readiness and resilience. The final part of the programme is for governance programmes, as I said in my initial answer—these support the Electoral Commission and free and fair elections in Bangladesh—and supporting people so they can access the services and the welfare protection that they deserve.