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The Government are fully committed to meeting the United Nations target of spending 0.7% of national income on aid from 2013, and will enshrine this commitment in law.
The Government's position is absolutely clear. Aid is defined by the OECD development assistance committee, and those rules are very clear indeed and strictly laid down. The Government have made it clear, as previous Governments have done, that our aid spending will be defined in that way, and only in that way.
The Secretary of State will know that a significant part of the existing aid budget goes to the Government of Tanzania. Does he share my concern about the recent actions of that Government and of President Kikwete, who have arrested Opposition leaders who currently reside in prison? Will he call for their early release?
Well, my hon. Friend, who takes a close interest in these matters, is right to identify the element within the 0.7% that is spent by Britain in Tanzania. We are in close contact with the authorities about the recent events and are of course reinforcing the importance of the rule of law being followed.
In maintaining the target of 0.7%, will the Secretary of State ensure that the issue of corruption, which keeps coming to the fore in relation to overseas aid, will be at the forefront of his mind as we go forward?
The hon. Gentleman is right to reinforce the point made by my hon. Friend Stephen Mosley in the first question today, which was about the importance of bearing down on corruption. Corruption not only deprives poor people of the services to which they should be entitled, but undermines and saps the confidence in donor countries of taxpayers who see their money being wasted.
Following the two-year freeze in the overseas aid percentage which was announced in the spending review, there will have to be a sharp increase in 2013 to reach the 0.7% target. Can the Secretary of State tell the House what percentage increase in the overseas aid budget in 2013 will be needed to fulfil that commitment?
As the hon. Gentleman knows, next year we are spending 0.56% of gross national income on development. Over the four-year spending period the figures will be 0.56, 0.56, 0.7 and 0.7%. Many in the House would wish to advance further on this important cause, but the public finances are inevitably constrained by the appalling economic position that the coalition inherited.