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Development Co-operation: EU

Volume 659: debated on Wednesday 1 May 2019

2. What progress the Government have made in determining the future relationship of the UK and the EU on development co-operation. (910641)

The political declaration recognises our shared commitment to tackling global challenges and achieving the sustainable development goals. We have proposed a future development partnership that allows the UK and the EU to work together to maximise development impact, where it makes sense for us to do so.

I thank the Secretary of State for her response. Bearing in mind that our leaving the European Union could result in fundamental changes to development, is she aware of the concerns of organisations such as Bond, which say that they are not involved enough in what the future arrangements might look like? What more could the Government do to ensure that such organisations are indeed involved?

The EU’s development programmes will be the poorer for not being shaped by the UK and not making use of British and UK non-governmental organisations. I have provided a guarantee to all British suppliers, whether in the private or charitable sectors, so that they can continue humanitarian work on EU programming that has already been put in. I encourage the Commission to lift its eyes and enable us to co-operate on development. That is what we want to do; it is the block to that.

Does my right hon. Friend agree that, when we leave the EU, it will be easier for us to strike trade deals with developing nations around the world—creating jobs for those nations, thus enabling their economies to grow, as well as ours?

I do agree. We should remember that we must ensure that we deliver on the referendum result. It is not just going to offer new opportunities for us and our trading relationships; it could also be a catalyst for changing the way the world trades and helping developing nations trade themselves out of poverty.

The UK has long played a leadership role within the European Union in shaping its development and humanitarian response. Can the Secretary of State reassure the House that even outside the European Union we will maintain close co-operation, so that the world’s poorest do not suffer as a result of Brexit?

I can give the hon. Gentleman those assurances. We want to continue to co-operate with our European partners. We would like to have a sensible development partnership with the EU going forward. Currently, the EU is not as keen on that as us and other nations outside the EU. I hope its programming in the future will be open.

Does my right hon. Friend agree that across the world the UK is seen as a development superpower? Does she agree that our leaving the EU will have no effect on that?

That is quite right; it will have no effect on our ability to be able to do things and to work with partners. I hope that the European Commission, and in particular its legal department, will see sense and recognise that 20% of the non-governmental organisations it currently uses are British because we are world-class. Its programming will be poorer if it does not continue to use world-class organisations.

With time running out, the Government need to arrange a large volume of trade deals in a short period of time—deals they said would be easy but are not. There is a concern that to do so they may promise aid spending as an inducement to a favourable trade deal. Will the Secretary of State today commit to aid spending continuing to be untied and always being based on need alone, rather than for our own commercial and trade ends?