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Written Statements

Volume 688: debated on Tuesday 26 January 2021

Written Statements

Tuesday 26 January 2021

Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office

Official Development Assistance: Government Priorities

As agreed with the Prime Minister and the Chancellor of the Exchequer at the last spending review, I have completed the cross-Government review of how Official Development Assistance (ODA) will be allocated against the Government’s priorities for 2021. This statement sets out the process and conclusion of the review, which has ensured that UK ODA is focused on our strategic priorities, spent where it will have the maximum impact, has greater coherence and delivers most value for money.

The UK is facing the worst economic contraction in over 300 years, and a budget deficit of close to £400 billion. At 19% of GDP this is around double that of the last financial crisis. As announced last year, given the impact of this global pandemic on the economy and, as a result, the public finances, we will move to a target of spending 0.5% of GNI as ODA in 2021.

This is a temporary measure and we will return to 0.7% when the fiscal situation allows.

We remain a world leading donor, and based on current GNI forecasts will spend over £10 billion of ODA in 2021.

At the same time, we will ensure the maximum impact from our aid budget by changing the way we allocate ODA to support a more integrated approach. This will allow us to drive greater impact from our ODA spending.

This review has agreed ODA allocations for all Government Departments, sharpening our focus on the core priorities I set out to Parliament in November in the overarching pursuit of poverty reduction: climate and biodiversity; covid-19 and global health security; girls’ education; science and research; defending open societies and resolving conflict; humanitarian assistance; and promoting trade.

This settlement gives us the best possible launch pad to champion our international priorities for the coming year, as we commence our G7 presidency and look ahead to hosting COP26. It maintains the Prime Minister’s promise to double UK international climate finance to £11.6 billion over the next five years. It sustains our commitment to the world’s poorest people, advances our strategic interests overseas, and delivers on the Prime Minister’s ambition to bring greater coherence and strategic oversight to the UK aid budget. The Government will drive forward that agenda in 2021 through clear ministerial accountability and oversight for all our development spend. Looking further ahead, I will lead a cross-departmental review on a new development strategy to ensure close alignment of UK aid with the objectives to be set out in the integrated review.

Departmental ODA Allocations, 2021-22


21-22 Allocation (£m)

















Home Office




Other [1]


[1] Includes DfE, DWP, MOD and Barnett given to the devolved administrations as a result of UK Government spend on ODA. These budgets include ODA eligible costs.


Health and Social Care

Medicinal Cannabis from The Netherlands

I would like to update the House on progress made by the Department of Health and Social Care towards ensuring patients can continue to access Bedrocan cannabis oils from the Netherlands.

The UK has left the EU, and the transition period after Brexit came to an end on 31 December 2020. From 1 January 2021, prescriptions issued in the UK can no longer be lawfully dispensed in an EU member state.

Dutch law does not permit the export of finished Bedrocan oils from the Netherlands. Prior to 31 December, Bedrocan oils were supplied in the Netherlands against UK prescriptions through the proxy of a specialist importer. This was allowed while UK prescriptions were recognised in the Netherlands.

Bedrocan cannabis flowers produced in the Netherlands, and other unlicensed cannabis-based medicines imported from other countries, can continue to be supplied to the UK.

The Government have worked quickly with the Dutch Ministry of Health, Welfare and Sport to resolve the issue. I am delighted to announce that the Dutch Government has agreed to the continued access to the medicine for existing UK patients until 1 July 2021.

This news will bring enormous relief to the families who depend on these medicines and I am hugely grateful to the Dutch Government for working with us closely and quickly on this.

The Department has communicated this to patient groups, clinicians and the supply chain to ensure immediate action is taken to resume supply of these products and that no patient faces a break in their treatment.

The Department are also working in earnest to rapidly explore options for a more permanent solution for supply of these products, and will engage patient representatives and the supply chain.


Home Department

Independent Review of Prevent

The Counter Terrorism and Border Security Act 2019 committed the Government to making arrangements for an independent review and report on Prevent, the Government strategy for supporting people vulnerable to being drawn into terrorism. Prevent is one of the four strands of the Government’s counter-terrorism strategy, CONTEST, and is therefore a critical part of our approach to reducing the risk we face from terrorism.

Following an open competition to appoint a new independent reviewer of Prevent, I am appointing William Shawcross. Mr Shawcross brings with him the necessary skills, experience and independence to carry out this review and provide recommendations to further develop our approach to supporting people vulnerable to being drawn into terrorism in the future.

The appointment of Mr Shawcross demonstrates our commitment to ensuring that the Government’s strategy for supporting vulnerable people to prevent them from being drawn into terrorism is as effective as possible in the future.

The terms of reference for the review will be published shortly once Mr Shawcross has had an opportunity to review them in full and any amendments he might want to make, taking into account any views which have been shared with the review team on the previous terms of reference. These will outline the timescales for completing the review and ensure this important work fulfils the Government’s objective of diverting vulnerable people away from terrorism.