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Aid Dependency

Volume 571: debated on Wednesday 4 December 2013

The best way to end aid dependency is through creating jobs, raising incomes and generating tax receipts. Since coming into the Department, I have ramped up our focus in this area and encouraged UK businesses to join the development push. Earlier this month, I took 18 companies to Tanzania to showcase development-focused opportunities for investment, and a number of significant partnerships emerged as a result.

A key sign of economic development is when a country can afford a mission to Mars. Will the Secretary of State confirm that the important projects that UK aid has funded in India will come to a natural end in 2015?

My hon. Friend is right to say that countries that are transitioning: development is taking place and, as it does, we too need to develop our approach on how we work with countries such as India. That is why I announced last year that we will move to a new type of development relationship with India, running down financial grants that are under way so that they finish by 2015 and, following on from that, having a relationship based on trade and technical assistance.

What steps is the Secretary of State taking following the Science and Technology Committee’s report on sustainable scientific aid? In particular, what is she doing to support great institutions, such as the Liverpool school of tropical medicine and the London school of hygiene and tropical medicine, that are helping with the aid programme, and to follow up our recommendations?

We have put substantial investment into research, which is sensible for understanding what works and making sure that the UK can really be at the forefront of understanding how to use technology to drive development. The hon. Gentleman will remember that the G8 particularly focused on nutrition. Many of our best institutions were involved in that event precisely because of the science and technology expertise that they offer.

The Secretary of State has done a very good job in putting sustainable development at the heart of her approach to economic development. What steps is the Department taking to promote clean energy in developing countries?

We work hand in hand with the Department of Energy and Climate Change, and the international climate fund gives us a resource base with which to help countries develop the sustainable energy system and approach they will need in the years to come. We have a real chance to make sure that we start them off on a firm footing, and that is precisely what we intend to do.

Does the Secretary of State agree that it is very difficult to have economic development if it is not possible to import and to export? In Gaza, that has left more than 1 million people on food aid, while fuel shortages mean that 3,000 people are affected by raw sewage running into the streets. What is Britain going to do in practice to end the blockade of Gaza?

We are deeply concerned about the constraints that have been placed on the Gazan economy that prevent it from creating the wealth and prosperity that would put it in a position to support public services without foreign assistance. The hon. Gentleman will be aware that there will be a Westminster Hall debate on this matter tomorrow evening. I am sure that he will want to debate it more fully with the Minister of State.