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Topical Questions

Volume 614: debated on Wednesday 14 September 2016

Since my appointment I have visited India, where I called for the delivery of an ambitious UK-India partnership. I have also visited Lebanon and Jordan, where I saw at first hand how UK-funded programmes are delivering education and humanitarian support to the residents of the Zaatari refugee camp. I look forward to working with all our partners throughout the world where British leadership and experience are valued.

Given that a 20% increase in funding for the global fund from Britain is perfectly affordable in the context of Britain’s rising aid budget, and given that such an increase would trigger further sizeable increases in contributions from the United States and from Gates, why can the Secretary of State not tell the House now whether she will meet that 20% request?

I have already said that I will be doing that, along with my colleagues. I spoke to my Canadian counterpart yesterday about our replenishment of the global fund, and other support. The global fund does amazing work in meeting global objectives. I shall make an announcement about our replenishment this weekend, at the Replenishment conference.

T2. The sustainable development goals that were agreed in 2015 are crucial to ending poverty, fighting inequality and injustice, and tackling climate change by 2030. What is the Secretary of State doing to implement those goals in the United Kingdom? (906330)

I only just heard my hon. Friend’s question, but I picked up his reference to global goals, which represent a comprehensive plan when it comes to fighting poverty and meeting our strategic objectives. I assure him that my Department is focusing on delivering on those goals, and on meeting our manifesto pledges on aid.

T3. The Secretary of State’s predecessor kindly agreed to meet the Scottish Minister for International Development and Europe, Alasdair Allan. Will the new Secretary of State commit herself to an early meeting with him, and to positive engagement with devolved Administrations ? (906331)

Again, I only just heard the question, but I think it was based on the need for positive dialogue with colleagues in the Scottish National party. If it was, absolutely: that is exactly what I shall be doing.

T4. What assessment has my right hon. Friend’s Department made of the humanitarian situation in Venezuela? (906332)

Of course, international assessments of Venezuela note that it is suffering a deep economic crisis and not just with inflation, but also because there is a health emergency there—a shortage of medicines and a humanitarian crisis. Strangely enough, Venezuela’s economic and political policy models have of course been championed by the Labour party, and we can now see what those policies have led to, with the economic catastrophe in Venezuela.

T5. The Secretary of State’s predecessor said to me that the outcome of the bilateral and multilateral aid review would be published in the early summer. It is lovely weather today, but hardly early summer; when will it be published? (906333)

I look forward to publishing both of the reviews, and since they were draft reviews when I came into the Department, I am looking at them to make sure they meet not just the Government’s priorities, but also DFID’s new priorities. I look forward to publishing them later this year.

T6. I recently visited Uganda and was proud to see British taxpayers’ money being used to vaccinate children against all sorts of diseases, but rubella is one area where we are failing to help. Please will my right hon. Friend look at ways in which we could use international development aid to vaccinate children against this hideous condition? (906334)

My hon. Friend raises an important point. The UK is the largest donor to GAVI, the Vaccine Alliance, which protects children from rubella through measles and rubella vaccinations, and of course GAVI has been set up very much to do exactly what my hon. Friend says. We have the UK aid match scheme, and Sense International has received over £200,000 for this very purpose in Uganda and Kenya in particular. I look forward to hearing from my hon. Friend about his findings from his visit.

Yesterday, the all-party group on Syria—[Interruption.]—met so that we could, with friends from Syria, remember our colleague Jo Cox—[Interruption.]

Order. I really do think that this question in respect of the seriousness of the situation in Syria, and in deference to our late colleague Jo Cox, should be heard in silence.

Yesterday, the all-party group on Syria met so that we could, with our friends from Syria, remember our colleague Jo Cox. May I ask the Secretary of State, further to answers she gave a moment ago with regard to besieged areas, what discussions she has had with colleagues in the region about making sure that sufficient resources are stockpiled in nearby areas so that as soon as that humanitarian window opens we can make sure those areas get the help they need?

The hon. Lady is absolutely right once again to highlight the appalling crisis and the conflict we see in Syria right now. Further to the points I made earlier, with the new cessation of hostilities coming into force we are of course focused on all avenues of access to get humanitarian aid and support into many parts of Syria that have not seen aid or any humanitarian support for a considerable time. With regard to the discussions I have been having, I have been speaking to colleagues in the region and colleagues across government, and I have also been speaking to our international partners about how we can get that aid through to these critical locations.