Monday, 22 June 2020
Campaign response – Don't risk the future of children/Please protect UK aid through this merger
Recently some constituents have written to me expressing their concerns over the impact that the DFID-FCO merger may have on UKAid and its ability to help the poorest and most impoverished people around the world.
Constituent will know that I am a supporter of our international aid and I am proud of the UK’s commitment to spend 0.7% of our budget in international aid, which is helping to build a safer, healthier, more prosperous world for people in developing countries and in the UK.
British aid goes towards vaccinating children from preventable diseases, enabling them to go to school and helping people work their way out of poverty, as well as providing food, nutrition and medical care.
Foreign aid also provides added value to our security and trade policies. Foreign development assistance can often make an important contribution towards in supporting stability and sustainable development for the recipient country, leading to better foreign relations and prospect for a more preferential trade deal with them.
It is in our interest to maintain our foreign aid policy because it also helps to promote UK interests abroad and ensure our position as the world’s leading soft power nation is secure.
At the same time, I understand the concerns that many constituents have raised with me regarding the inefficiency of certain aid and relief programmes that DFID had been running, and the need for the allocation of this budget to be made accountable to, and provide the best value for money, to UK taxpayers.
I am glad these points were shared by the Prime Minister in his statement on Global Britain in the Commons and in response to my question to him during his statement: “I am grateful to my hon. Friend. What is actually happening, of course, is that DFID and the FCO are now joining together to become a new Whitehall super-Department for international affairs, which will be of huge benefit to our ability to project Britain’s sense of mission about overseas aid. For too long, frankly, UK overseas aid has been treated as some giant cashpoint in the sky that arrives without any reference to UK interests, to the values that the UK wishes to express or to the diplomatic, political and commercial priorities of the Government of the UK.” (https://bit.ly/3hCgsn3)
It would be wrong to suggest this latest merger as cynical move to roll back on our humanitarian commitments to the world. What it does represent, is a new and innovative approach by the UK to international relations, in order to secure our values and interests in a rapid changing world – bringing together this country’s strength and expertise to bear on the world’s biggest problems.
When DFID was created in 1997 it was the right set-up for that era. I pay tribute to the incredible work that DFID officials have done over the years, earning DFID and the UK a well-deserved reputation as one of the leaders in the world when it comes to humanitarian relief and development aid.
But our world has changed since then. At present, the division of responsibility between DFID and FCO means we are unable to always be as effective as we could on the global stage.
This latest merger is about streamlining Whitehall to ensure both its effectiveness and efficiency – Having a single new Department will give the UK the change required to maximise our positive influence around the world without losing any of the expertise.
The Prime Minister has made it clear that we will continue to commit to spending 0.7% of GNI on international development, and that it will be at the core of our new foreign policy approach.
I will continue to support and speak up for our aid efforts around the world and to ensure that they remain effective and sustainable.