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Cotonou Agreement

Volume 609: debated on Wednesday 4 May 2016

1. How many countries have had aid suspended for corruption or failure to implement good governance under the terms of the Cotonou agreement in the last five years. (904848)

Does UK overseas aid still include revenue support, and does the Secretary of State not agree that such direct Government-to-Government aid often inhibits good governance? Far from encouraging democracy, it actually encourages kleptocracy.

The hon. Gentleman will be pleased to hear that we have curbed general budget support, which has been reduced by nearly 90% since 2010. There is now one remaining programme of general budget support, which will finish shortly.

I disagree that it is wrong to work with Governments. In the end, one way in which we can tackle corruption is by strengthening public finance management and tax revenue authorities. We need to find a balance and provide earmarked support that actually achieves an impact.

Every year, the Palestinian Authority gives £84 million to convicted terrorists serving time in Israeli jails, out of a general fund to which this country contributes part of its £72 million a year in aid to the Palestinians. Is that not corrupt practice? How is it an example of good governance? Will the Secretary of State consider following Canada’s example and ensuring that our aid goes to specific projects in the Palestinian territories?

My hon. Friend will be aware that the trust fund that we are part of is broadly supported by the international community. It is yet to become clear whether the new Canadian Government will change the country’s approach and go back to working in the same way as countries such as the UK. I should also point out that that support sits alongside direct support on the ground, and I can assure the House that no UK aid funding goes to the Palestine Liberation Organisation.

Will the Secretary of State recognise the important role that faith communities and civil society organisations play in holding Governments to account in developing countries? Will she assure the House that the Department for International Development remains committed to supporting civil society, capacity-building programmes and good governance programmes to help promote stability and tackle corruption?

I can give the hon. Gentleman that assurance. Our work with civil society is not only important for the impact that it can have in driving accountability on the ground, as he mentions, but is one way in which we can tackle corruption. It is also vital in changing attitudes towards women and girls, a matter that I care about and that we must make progress on.