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FCO Merger

Volume 678: debated on Wednesday 15 July 2020

What assessment the Government made of the potential merits of merging her Department with the Foreign and Commonwealth Office prior to the announcement of the integrated review of security, defence, development and foreign policy on 26 February 2020. (904781)

Both the merger and the integrated review are evidence of this Government’s commitment to a unified British foreign and development policy that will maximise our impact around the world, project our values and be a stronger force for good—they go hand in hand.

The Bond network says that it has not been consulted on this merger and the integrated review has been restarted behind closed doors. Will the Government commit to meeting Bond and other civil society organisations so that those on the frontline can inform the new Department’s aid priorities?

Baroness Sugg leads in the Department in meeting the CSOs, and there are regular meetings ongoing. The integrated review is working over the summer to pull together the key issues, and development is an absolutely critical strand within that.

Last week I asked the Secretary of State what partner organisations and non-governmental organisations were consulted prior to the announcement of the merger of the Department for International Development and the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. She said that the statement on the merger was first made to Parliament and that there has been ongoing consultation since then. This stands in stark contradiction to what the Prime Minister said previously when he told this House that there had been

“massive consultation over a long period.”—[Official Report, 16 June 2020; Vol. 677, c. 678.]

Therefore, was the Prime Minister aware he had taken a decision without any evidence to support it, or did he mislead Parliament to create an illusion of legitimacy for this ideologically driven, disastrous merger?

As set out in previous answers, the Prime Minister made the announcement of the new departmental framework to Parliament first, and there are ongoing discussions led by Baroness Sugg and the permanent secretary with the CSOs and the NGOs.