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Topical Questions

Volume 624: debated on Wednesday 29 March 2017

Britain’s small charities do amazing and often highly innovative work in some of the poorest places in the world. Small charities are being given a boost by the financial fund that I have mentioned. I urge all colleagues on both sides of the House to encourage small charities in their constituencies to come forward when the funds are opened this summer.

The Secretary of State has already acknowledged that last Friday was World TB Day. I hope that she is aware that there is an emerging threat of the disease becoming drug-resistant, so what steps are the Government taking to eradicate the TB epidemic and provide treatment for drug-resistant strains?

The hon. Gentleman raises a very important point. TB is a deadly disease that affects so much of the world. We are demonstrating great leadership in this country on how we can tackle and invest in addressing TB as well as antimicrobial resistance, which is a big agenda that the UK has led on. We are funding more work, not only through the Ross Fund, as I said earlier, but through our research reviews.

T3. My right hon. Friend will be aware of the stigma that exists for people with mental ill health and the poor provision of mental health care services in many low and middle-income countries. What steps is her Department taking to combat that problem? [Interruption.] (909535)

Order. We should be listening to the doctor. He had an important message, and I am not sure it was fully heard.

My hon. Friend is absolutely right to raise the important issue of mental health in relation to the global goals and the international disability framework. DFID works across the world, through agencies as well as in countries such as Ghana, to integrate our research to see how we can do more with their health systems to deliver the right kind of support.

T2. This year both the Secretary of State and the Foreign Secretary have visited Ethiopia, the second-largest recipient of UK bilateral aid. Meanwhile, British citizen Andy Tsege has been on death row for over 1,000 days following a show trial and illegal kidnap. What is the Secretary of State doing to return Mr Tsege to his family in London? (909534)

I am working with my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary on this issue. That is how we demonstrate joined-up government and leadership on difficult consular cases.

T8. What steps is my right hon. Friend’s Department taking to support women and girls, given the Trump Administration’s reintroduction of the Mexico City policy? (909540)

My hon. Friend has raised this issue with me previously. On support for family planning around the world in light of America’s policies, I am delighted to confirm that we are hosting a conference in July this year, working alongside Bill Gates, the private sector and others, to continue to demonstrate UK leadership on this issue while challenging others to step up.

T4. I recently met Youth Stop AIDS campaigners from my constituency who are optimistic about the Government’s international family planning summit in July, but they are concerned to ensure that HIV is an integral part of the conference. Will the Secretary of State assure me that an HIV organisation will be included in the civil society steering group that is being set up to advise on planning for the summit? (909536)

The hon. Gentleman raises a really important point about the summit, HIV/AIDS and representation from civil society. I can give him a complete assurance that we are not only engaging but working with civil society organisations. Their voices will be at the heart of our further policy work and development.

My constituents want value for money and transparency in the international aid system. What more can the Secretary of State do to ensure that that happens?

My hon. Friend is right to raise the important issue of delivering value for money in how we deliver UK aid. I can give him and the whole House a complete assurance that, through the reforms we are undertaking, every pound of UK aid—taxpayers’ money—will be spent on delivering for the world’s poorest.

T5. Even before the famine South Sudan had one of the highest maternal mortality rates in the world, but now the UN estimates that 33,000 pregnant women are on the brink of extreme hunger. Does the Secretary of State agree that there is a need for specific aid focused on maternal health, sanitary products and the education of girls and women? (909537)

The hon. Gentleman will know that the UK leads on maternal health support and advocacy for women and girls around the world, and that will continue. The areas he highlights are crucial to our leadership and to how UK aid is spent.

Some people have concerns about the idea of linking trade with aid, but does my right hon. Friend agree that the rule of law, which goes with trade, fosters the wider development of healthy legal practice?

As I said earlier, the UK leads on prosperity and economic development. My hon. Friend is right to highlight the fact that we do not tie in aid and trade, but there is a role for governance and building the prosperity agenda. That is effectively what we are doing through DFID’s economic development strategy.

There seems to be wide agreement across the House that foreign aid is a good thing and an investment, yet the public debate, driven by populism, is incredibly toxic. What are the Government doing to detoxify the public debate surrounding foreign aid?

At a time when there is great need in the world, we have seen enormous generosity from UK taxpayers for the Disasters Emergency Committee east Africa appeal. We have seen the country, as well as the international community, come together to give support and aid to the people who need it the most. We are proud of that, and we stand tall in the world when we stand up for our obligations to the poorest in the world. That is, in effect, what we are doing.