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Merger of Department for International Development and Foreign and Commonwealth Office

Volume 679: debated on Wednesday 9 September 2020

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.—[Presented by David Linden, Official Report, 8 July 2020; Vol. 678, c. 1086.]

[P002587]

Petitions in the same terms were presented by the hon. Member for North Ayrshire and Arran (Patricia Gibson).

Observations from The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs (James Duddridge):

The Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office was launched on 2 September 2020 following the Prime Minister’s 16 June announcement that the Department for International Development (DFID) and the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCDO) would merge.

The FCDO pursues our national interests and projects the UK as a force for good in the world. We promote the interests of British citizens, safeguard the UK’s security, defend our values, reduce poverty and tackle global challenges with our international partners. This is the mission the Foreign Secretary has set out, which will remain central to the new department.

As we have seen with the covid-19 pandemic, the world will become even more complex and competitive, with growing, interconnected challenges and opportunities for the UK. That is why the Prime Minister decided that now is the right time to reform how the Government operates internationally. We need a new all-of-Government approach if we are to secure our values and interests, reduce poverty, confront global challenges and be a stronger force for good in a changing world.

As the PM has said, the new FCDO will put our world-class development programmes at the heart of our foreign policy in a world-leading department. The commitment to spending 0.7 % of our national income on aid is a manifesto commitment and is enshrined in law. This is about maximising the impact of our aid budget to help the world’s poorest, while making sure we get the best value for UK taxpayer’s money.