Defence engagement programmes, including those that count as official development assistance, help create the conditions for sustained economic development for recipient nations by increasing the effectiveness and integrity of their defence institutions. We assess the impact of our programmes continuously and subject them to formal evaluation annually.
As the Minister knows, it is the OECD’s Development Assistance Committee, or DAC, that sets out the guidelines for development spending, and it states that spending
“promotes and specifically targets the economic development and welfare of developing countries.”
As the MOD explores new areas, such as cyber-technologies and space-based assets, will the Minister ensure that any development spending by his Department is DAC-compliant and continues to focus on helping the world’s poorest?
I think that the answer to the hon. Lady’s question is that we will do our best, but of course what matters is that we are doing the right military things in order to create the right situations for prosperity and security wherever we are serving around the world. If the activity is not directly compliant, I am not sure that should stop us doing it. The reality is that there are many things that Defence does, not least the forthcoming deployment to Mali, where we will set the conditions for security in a very troubled country, which does not meet the definition, but is a very worthwhile thing to do and has real positive humanitarian effects.