My predecessors in Government have made huge progress in improving British aid by creating an independent aid watchdog, introducing much tougher value-for-money controls and making DFID’s spending even more transparent.
Can my right hon. Friend reassure me that in seeking value for money she will also ensure that British companies and organisations are able to tender competitively for all DFID contracts at home and abroad, and are not in any way disadvantaged when bidding against overseas companies?
My hon. Friend makes a very important point. He will know of, and be familiar with, the regulations on procurement, but I want to assure him and the House that British firms and British small and medium-sized enterprises win a significant proportion of our work. In the last financial year, 74% of our supplier spend was with UK firms.
The Secretary of State has clearly been very busy briefing The Mail on Sunday, along with her anti-aid special adviser. She mentioned transparency, so can she explain why funding for South Sudan, an area of great interest not only to our security forces but to our development needs, is to receive a cut in its budget next year from her Department? Will she continue to fund crucial humanitarian causes such as that one?
I hope, Mr Speaker, that the hon. Gentleman heard my words earlier about the tremendous work of our Department when it comes to humanitarian aid, support and saving lives. The hon. Gentleman is absolutely right: we will continue to champion those individuals whose lives need saving where support is required in many countries around the world. That includes a lot of the institutional reform and the support that we bring.
I welcome my right hon. Friend to the Dispatch Box and assure her that I, too, enjoyed reading the Daily Mail this morning. As part of getting proper value, would it not make sense to reward those organisations that are working for peace within the middle east rather than to have money going to those who seek to encourage terrorism?
My right hon. Friend raises important points. As I have said a number of times today, DFID is focused on value for money, but, as he has rightly pointed out, we will work with organisations in the right way to make sure that we are delivering the right outcomes that meet our Government priorities—both peace and stability, as well as humanitarian causes.
I, too, would like to welcome the Secretary of State and her Ministers to their places, but in doing I wish to remind her of her predecessor’s commitment to transparency and scrutiny of the development budget to ensure value for money. Why, then, with the replenishment of the global health fund, which should be one of the biggest multilateral commitments, just days away, have we not seen the publication of the multilateral and bilateral reviews?
If I may repeat again, we are very focused, and my predecessors quite rightly worked hard and assiduously on value for money and greater transparency. I want to go even further by making the entire global aid system more transparent, more focused on results and more accountable to those we are trying to help. The hon. Gentleman rightly points to the global fund replenishment. A conference is taking place this weekend, and I will be making an announcement over the course of it. I shall also be making sure with that replenishment that we push the agenda of greater transparency and value for money.