I rise to present a position opposing the abolition of the Department for International Development.
Since 1997, DFID has been a stand-alone Department and, working with its international partners, has been a leader in international development in times of global crisis. Just one example of DFID support overseas is the Compassion project in Togo, which has been transformative for the lives of many women and children in that country.
The petition states:
The Petition of the residents of the constituency of Glasgow East,
Declares that the proposed merger of the Department for International Development with the Foreign and Commonwealth Office is a retrograde step that will diminish the UK’s respect as a global leader on international development; further declares that the merger is the first clear step in a change of policy, which will inevitably see UK aid explicitly linked to trade rather than being based on need.
The petitioners therefore request that the House of Commons urge the Government to immediately abandon proposals to merge the Department for International Development with the Foreign and Commonwealth Office.
And the petitioners remain, etc.
On a point of order, Mr Deputy Speaker. I know that I am not the only Member who has written to Ministers in the past few months about serious matters yet had responses from quite junior civil servants. Although I respect all civil servants, when I write to a senior Minister on a serious matter of policy—not an individual matter—I expect a response from the Minister. Are you, Mr Deputy Speaker, prepared to give me guidance on how we can make sure that this practice is nipped in the bud?
The Speaker has made it absolutely clear that he expects all Back-Bench questions to Ministers not only to be answered but to be answered promptly, and I am sure that those on the Treasury Bench will make absolutely certain that Ministers are made aware of that rule.