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Africa

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 7:30 pm on 30th March 2009.

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Photo of Malcolm Bruce Malcolm Bruce Chair, International Development Committee 7:30 pm, 30th March 2009

The honest answer is no. One can never get enough information or enough clarity, but I am grateful to the right hon. Gentleman for the existence of the provision, as the fact that we have an annual debate and an annual report is appreciated. I hope that he will take my answer not as a suggestion that the Act is ineffective, but as a statement that we need even more information to have a clearer understanding, as other hon. Members have said. Of course, that information is not always easy to find and it is easy simply to say, "Why can't we get an answer to the question?" Nevertheless, the more we ask the questions, the more confidence our taxpayers and the recipient countries' populations can have that the aid is going where it needs to go. The Act was entirely right but we could do with more detailed reporting.

The Committee moved on from Kenya to Tanzania, and it is worth pointing out that real parliamentary reform is taking place in Tanzania, which is effectively still a one-party state with a very limited Opposition. Nevertheless, following the British example—the Westminster model—the chairman of the public accounts committee there is in opposition; he is a party of one, but he is not from the governing party. In partnership with two other committee chairs, he has dramatically reformed Parliament so that there are regular Prime Minister's questions and regular committee accounts and reports. They have opened up a much more transparent, dynamic Parliament and have reported all that in a book, a copy of which I was given by the chairman of the public accounts committee—it was autographed by him—called "A Parliament with Teeth", which really has started to make a difference in Tanzania—

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