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Departmental Overseas Aid Activity

Volume 685: debated on Monday 7 December 2020

What recent estimate he has made of the proportion of his Department’s overseas activity which is accounted for as aid. (909793)

Around 0.01% percent of defence expenditure is reported as official development assistance, reflecting the fact that the majority of defence activity falls outside the definition of ODA.

Given that military aid is not eligible for the OECD’s goal of ODA, although a stable and peaceful Government is surely helpful for the economic development and welfare of developing nations, is it time for our military aid to be included in the many exceptions list, or is it time for a review of the OECD definition so that the good work of our armed forces can be recognised and accounted for as part of the Government’s aid commitments?

My hon. Friend is right to acknowledge the important contribution that defence activities make in helping to create the secure conditions essential for sustained economic development. As he may have heard me say to the hon. Member for Oxford West and Abingdon (Layla Moran), to be constrained by the definition would do a disservice to our freedom of manoeuvre as the Ministry of Defence, but we very much hope that ODA rules could be changed to reflect the very wide range of activities that defence is involved in but that currently are not accounted for as part of our ODA spend.