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Aid Dependency and Job Creation

Volume 579: debated on Wednesday 9 April 2014

5. What steps her Department is taking to reduce levels of aid dependency through the creation of jobs. (903617)

My Department is working hard to grow jobs and end aid dependency. Over the next two years we will more than double to £1.8 billion the amount that DFID invests in job creation and economic development.

Will the Secretary of State set out her objectives for next week’s meeting of the Global Partnership for Effective Development Co-operation and say what her Department’s work with the private sector will achieve?

The meeting in Mexico is incredibly important. It will help us to take the next steps to shape responsible business practices that can, in turn, support sustainable and inclusive economic growth in countries that so badly need it.

Job creation is of course a very worthwhile task, particularly in the emerging economies. Does the Secretary of State agree that secure, dependable jobs that help the indigenous peoples of those nations are what is required to assist those nations?

The hon. Gentleman is absolutely right. One of the most important aspects is to help shape the economic growth that takes place so that, through work, it lifts the largest number of people possible out of poverty. That is precisely the agenda the Department is pursuing.

In every economy across the globe, small businesses are the most secure way to create jobs. What is my right hon. Friend’s Department doing to enhance the provision of finance to small businesses in developing countries?

We are working with a fund for small and medium-sized enterprises that can do precisely that. We have also, with the London stock exchange, focused on the issue of capital markets improving finance more broadly in developing countries—particularly, most recently, in Tanzania.

The garment industry in Bangladesh and elsewhere provides hundreds of thousands of jobs to people trying to work their way out of poverty, but it has too often involved unsafe conditions and poverty pay, and no one in Britain wants to buy clothes made in such conditions. Ahead of the first anniversary of the Rana Plaza disaster, does the Secretary of State now agree that her Government’s decision to withdraw funding from the International Labour Organisation, which protects vulnerable workers, was a short-sighted mistake?

I hope I can reassure the hon. Lady that we are working with the ILO in Bangladesh, and as she knows we have also sent over experts to help with building practices and construction. As the hon. Lady points out, it is nearly a year since the tragic collapse of the Rana Plaza building, and we have worked very hard since then with the Bangladesh Government and industry to make sure that we learn from that terrible disaster.

Although I welcome enormously what the Secretary of State is doing, is not one of the problems in creating jobs in developing countries the fact that major trading blocs such as the European Union are stopping market access to them?

Protectionism, including by the EU, ultimately does not help anyone. [Interruption.] That is one of the reasons why getting a deal in Bali was so important. I had the chance to make that point personally to the director general of the WTO yesterday. [Interruption.]

Order. There are a lot of noisy private conversations taking place, notably at this stage on the Opposition Benches, but I want to hear both the questions and the right hon. Lady’s answers, so let us have a seemly atmosphere in deference to Mr Paul Burstow.