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Global Poverty and Inequality

Volume 697: debated on Tuesday 15 June 2021

What steps he is taking to ensure that tackling global poverty and inequality remains a priority for his Department. (901227)

What steps he is taking to ensure that tackling global poverty and inequality remains a priority for his Department. (901241)

The UK’s overseas development assistance continues to serve the primary purpose of reducing poverty in developing countries. We are proud that we remain firmly committed to helping the world’s poorest, and we will spend £10 billion on overseas development assistance this year—spending more on international aid in 2021 as a proportion of our gross national income than the majority of the G7.

With Brexit, the UK has the freedom to be a truly global nation, not just in trade and diplomacy, but also in leading the world in tackling climate change, poverty and inequality. Does my hon. Friend agree that we have an opportunity to expand our presence abroad, particularly in developing nations, so that we have personnel on the ground who really understand the issues faced in these countries and who can advise on how aid can be specifically targeted to ensure real measurable help is given where it is needed most?

I agree that we have an opportunity to expand our presence abroad, particularly in developing countries. As part of the UK’s diplomatic and development expansion, we now have heads of mission in Lesotho, Vanuatu and Eswatini. We are also opening a new British embassy in Djibouti and upgrading our two existing offices in Chad and Niger to full embassy status.

As a Labour and Co-operative party MP, I am so proud that tackling poverty is at the heart of the co-operative movement. What assurances can the Minister give that the co-operative sectors, which do so much to alleviate poverty in developing countries, will not be impacted by cuts to the aid budget? Will he commit to reinstate the 0.7% aid budget target?

I can certainly commit to going back to 0.7%—that is the Government’s intention when the fiscal situation is right. I can agree to co-operate with co-operatives across the developing world—with a small C and a large C—including the Fairtrade movement.