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International Development (Official Development Assistance Target) Bill (Money)

Clause 6 — Petition officers – in the House of Commons at 7:45 pm on 3rd November 2014.

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Queen’s recommendation signified.

Photo of Desmond Swayne Desmond Swayne The Minister of State, Department for International Development 8:01 pm, 3rd November 2014

I beg to move,

That, for the purposes of any Act resulting from the International Development (Official Development Assistance Target) Bill, it is expedient to authorise any expenditure incurred under or by virtue of the Act by a Minister of the Crown or Government Department.

Photo of Philip Davies Philip Davies Conservative, Shipley

I just wonder whether the Minister felt any embarrassment about bringing forward this money resolution the week after a report showed how much money his Department gives out that is either wasted or goes in some form of corruption.

Photo of Desmond Swayne Desmond Swayne The Minister of State, Department for International Development

I think my hon. Friend may not have read the report, as I have done.

Photo of Desmond Swayne Desmond Swayne The Minister of State, Department for International Development

One of the things we always discover with reports is that there is always an expectation, or a request, that the Department for International Development will do more, which is the case at present.

We have several very successful programmes for the reduction of corruption. What we have had from the International Commission for Aid Impact is essentially a request that we develop further programmes to deal with corruption at the local level and reduce its impact on the lives of ordinary people. As a DFID Minister, I am happy to consider everything we can do to achieve that, and I regard the report as a useful pointer.

I reject entirely the allegations that any of the current programmes have led to an increase in the level of petty corruption. I think the report has got the wrong end of the stick. It is not clear to me where that information has come from and it is certainly not clear in the report.

Photo of Edward Leigh Edward Leigh Chair, Public Accounts Commission

The problem is that when we have a Departmental budget that, almost uniquely, is awash with money and is growing all the time, and where there is a limited number of countries under very difficult circumstances to which it is being directed, that must increase the possibility of corruption. That is what this report is saying, and that is what we are saying. That is why we are concerned about the amount of taxpayers’ money being wasted.

Photo of Desmond Swayne Desmond Swayne The Minister of State, Department for International Development

The issue before us this evening is the money to be spent in achieving a Committee stage for the Bill, rather than the total amount of money spent as a result of the principle of the Bill, which is what we dealt with in the second week of September. I agree with my hon. Friend, however, that it is absolutely vital that we develop programmes, schemes and methods of ensuring that every single penny is spent as it should be, and that it should not be wasted in corruption. I also draw my hon. Friend’s attention to the fact that the principle of the Bill was agreed overwhelmingly by the House—166 votes to seven. It is the will of the House that the Bill proceeds.

Photo of Anne Main Anne Main Conservative, St Albans

I am sorry if I sound unhelpful but I have gone through every report in the independent audit and there are things that will concern the public, such as the review of the trade development work in southern Africa where we have discovered a payment to the Government of Zimbabwe in contravention of UK Government policy. We do need to keep tight control over money that is spent, or the taxpayer will feel that they are being fleeced.

Photo of Desmond Swayne Desmond Swayne The Minister of State, Department for International Development

It is vital that these matters are investigated and answers are given and that proper schemes are in place and enforced to ensure that the money is spent correctly. The purpose of this money resolution, however, is to give effect to the will of the House, clearly expressed in September, that this Committee proceed.

Photo of Jacob Rees-Mogg Jacob Rees-Mogg Conservative, North East Somerset

Why, therefore, are the Government not bringing forward a money resolution for the European referendum Bill—or, for that matter, the Bill of my hon. Friend Andrew George, because he will be on his feet in a moment if I do not include him?

Photo of Desmond Swayne Desmond Swayne The Minister of State, Department for International Development

I would welcome being at this Dispatch Box to move a money resolution for the European referendum Bill.

Photo of Desmond Swayne Desmond Swayne The Minister of State, Department for International Development

Unfortunately it is not within my gift to do so. That is a matter for the business managers and the usual channels to sort out. I wish it were my decision; I wish I could gratify those wishes, but unfortunately I am unable to do so.

Photo of Stephen Doughty Stephen Doughty Opposition Whip (Commons)

As the Minister has said, this money resolution gives effect to the strong will of the House to see this Bill go forward. Does he agree with me that the very purpose of our development assistance is to help countries to grow—to develop and to establish stronger Government systems—and to tackle the very corruption that inevitably occurs in some of the poorest countries in the world, and that actually we need to build a virtuous circle in respect of these issues, and not just pick things out one by one, as some Government Members are trying to do?

Photo of Desmond Swayne Desmond Swayne The Minister of State, Department for International Development

I entirely agree with the hon. Gentleman. He is absolutely right. That is the purpose of this motion today; its purpose is to give effect to the will of the House so that the Bill can move into Committee.

Several hon. Members:

rose—

Photo of Andrew George Andrew George Liberal Democrat, St Ives

I entirely endorse this motion, but as he said a moment ago, its purpose is to give effect to the clearly expressed will of the House. The House also clearly expressed its will on 5 September when we debated the Affordable Homes Bill. I do not understand why the Government are not bringing forward a money resolution for Bill No. 1.

Several hon. Members:

rose—

Photo of Dawn Primarolo Dawn Primarolo Deputy Speaker (Second Deputy Chairman of Ways and Means)

Order. Minister, before you are tempted down that route, I would just like to remind the House that we are only debating the money resolution with respect to this Bill, and no other agreed or not agreed or yet to come before the House money resolution, so no Member should tempt the Minister to speak on any money resolution except the one before us today. That is important because we have only 45 minutes.

Photo of Desmond Swayne Desmond Swayne The Minister of State, Department for International Development

I am guided by your advice, Madam Deputy Speaker, but the fact is that I am no more able to gratify the hon. Member for St Ives than I am my hon. Friend Jacob Rees-Mogg. The fact is that this money resolution gives effect to the will of the House so this Bill can move into Committee.

Photo of Peter Bone Peter Bone Conservative, Wellingborough

I think the Minister made a slight error with his numbers earlier. I think he was referring to the voting on the closure motion, when the debate was curtailed. The vote on the question on Second Reading was 164 to six. Will he enlighten us as to how the decision is made to bring money resolutions to the Floor of the House?

Photo of Desmond Swayne Desmond Swayne The Minister of State, Department for International Development

I stand corrected; my hon. Friend has clearly examined the record more scrupulously than I did. On his second question: that is a mystery to me. It is not for me to determine which Bills have money resolutions and which do not. That is a question that he might properly put to the Leader of the House on Thursday at business questions, because it is effectively his decision. The irony is that this Bill would not have required a money resolution in order to go into Committee had it not been for clause 5, which sets up a new body. The fact is that it is my intention to persuade my right hon. Friend Michael Moore to amend the Bill in Committee by taking out that offending clause.

Photo of Michael Moore Michael Moore Liberal Democrat, Berwickshire, Roxburgh and Selkirk

I am happy to put on record the fact that the Minister and I have been having constructive discussions, and I hope that we will be in a position to bring amendments to the Committee together to deal with the matter that he has just raised.

Photo of Desmond Swayne Desmond Swayne The Minister of State, Department for International Development

I am glad that there is unity across the House, on that matter at least.

Photo of Richard Fuller Richard Fuller Conservative, Bedford

Will the Minister explain the process behind this particular money resolution? In an era in which the country knows that the Government have no money to throw around, what process did he go through to determine that there should be expenditure on progressing this Bill, which, if it is passed, would have serious implications for public expenditure?

Photo of Desmond Swayne Desmond Swayne The Minister of State, Department for International Development

The process is simple. We discussed it a great deal on Second Reading, but my hon. Friend is now effectively attempting to reopen that debate. The Bill was approved according to the clearly expressed will of the House, but it concerns a pledge that was in every party’s manifesto.

Photo of Peter Bone Peter Bone Conservative, Wellingborough

The Minister has got to the crux of the matter. This should be a Government Bill and it should be debated in Government time. It should not have to be pushed through by this back-door means.

Photo of Desmond Swayne Desmond Swayne The Minister of State, Department for International Development

I hardly think that a private Member’s Bill could be referred to as being “pushed through” in that way. If it had been a Government Bill, my hon. Friend might well have complained about the operation of the Whips and about it being railroaded through; he has often complained about that in the past. Surely he does not think that that is happening with a private Member’s Bill; that is absolute nonsense.

Photo of Philip Davies Philip Davies Conservative, Shipley

The Minister keeps repeating that approval of the Bill was expressed with the clear will of the House, but he also announced that 164 Members voted in favour of it. The last time I looked there were 650 MPs, so on what basis does he think that 164 Members represent the clear will of all 650?

Photo of Desmond Swayne Desmond Swayne The Minister of State, Department for International Development

The reason I keep repeating that the clear will of the House was expressed on that occasion is that it manifestly was. As my hon. Friend knows, the will of the House can be expressed through a majority of one. The fact that so many Members voted overwhelmingly in favour of the Bill’s Second Reading shows that that clearly was the will of the House. He is an aficionado of the House’s procedures on Fridays, and he will know that to get more than a quorum on a Friday is a substantial achievement. The fact that the House was filled with so many Members was a tremendous tribute to their strength of feeling and support for my right hon. Friend the Member for Berwickshire, Roxburgh and Selkirk’s Bill.

Photo of Tom Clarke Tom Clarke Labour, Coatbridge, Chryston and Bellshill

I can understand why the Minister is getting excited, or even angry, but I urge him not to do that. The hon. Members who are putting him under pressure are not representative of this Parliament, and it is this Parliament that has the right to decide whether there will be a money resolution, just as we have the right to decide whether the Bill makes any more progress.

Photo of Desmond Swayne Desmond Swayne The Minister of State, Department for International Development

I thank the right hon. Gentleman for his concern. I assure him that I can take the pressure. As for the excitement, I am excited about the progress of this important Bill, and with that in mind, I urge hon. Members to support the motion.

Photo of Gavin Shuker Gavin Shuker Shadow Minister (International Development) 8:13 pm, 3rd November 2014

It has been a pleasure to watch the debate for the past few minutes. Watching Members on the Government Benches has been a bit like watching one’s mum and dad arguing.

I want to say a few words about the Bill, and about why we will be supporting the money resolution this evening. I am grateful to the Minister of State, Department for International Development for outlining the financial implications of the Bill. The Labour party stands for a just society not only within our own borders but across a just world. More Labour MPs than any others voted for the Bill on Second Reading. The rights and benefits that we have established for people in the UK derive not from those people’s nationality but from their humanity. We must do all that we can to establish those same rights and benefits for the rest of the world’s people.

Photo of Anne Main Anne Main Conservative, St Albans

I hope that the hon. Gentleman will accept the words of the previous Minister of State, my right hon. Friend Sir Alan Duncan, who said:

“it would be fruitless for us to invest in aid to relieve the plight of the poor in the short term if we did not seek to bring about lasting change.”

He went on to emphasise the importance of tackling corruption. Given that so many aid programmes are showing as either amber/red or red, it is important that we ensure that taxpayers’ money goes to the needy and not to the greedy.

Photo of Gavin Shuker Gavin Shuker Shadow Minister (International Development)

It is hugely important to ensure that aid gets to the right people. Indeed, the reports to which the hon. Lady referred in an earlier intervention make it clear that those who lose out the most are the poorest people in the poorest parts of the world where there is the most corruption. It is up to the Government to defend those people. I want to be generous and say that this challenge is faced by all developed nations when rolling out their aid programmes. I also agree with the hon. Lady about spending the money effectively, which is why I believe we can do much more to make the Department for International Development a real force for good in the world in relation to global institutional reform. It should not simply be the charitable arm of the UK Government. That should be our focus as we take the Bill through Parliament.

We live in a global community, yet every 10 seconds a child dies from hunger and malnutrition. A population more than three times the size of Birmingham dies each year from water-related diseases, and 1 million children die on their first and only day of life.

Photo of Richard Fuller Richard Fuller Conservative, Bedford

The hon. Gentleman just mentioned the charitable arm of the Government. Will he explain how that is different from the charitable feelings that we have as individuals?

Photo of Gavin Shuker Gavin Shuker Shadow Minister (International Development)

The hon. Gentleman has set me up nicely to explain the dualism involved. There is a belief among those who have latterly signed up to the cause that we have a responsibility to spend a significant proportion of our GDP on aid, but that that action represents the end of the process. They believe, for example, that we are getting value for money by buying a certain number of mosquito nets or toilets, or by digging a certain number of wells. In fact, we have to tackle the institutions that reinforce inequality in the first place. We should not therefore view DFID as the charitable arm of the UK Government; quite the opposite—it needs to be a force for transformation.

Photo of Stephen Doughty Stephen Doughty Opposition Whip (Commons)

My hon. Friend is making an extremely strong point. The British people are donating extraordinarily generously at the moment through the Disasters Emergency Committee’s appeal to tackle the spread of Ebola in west Africa, yet Conservative Members are chuntering in their seats and attempting to frustrate the Bill at this crucial time. The House has expressed its will to support countries such as Sierra Leone in developing strong health systems that would prevent outbreaks of diseases like Ebola in the first place.

Photo of Gavin Shuker Gavin Shuker Shadow Minister (International Development)

My hon. Friend makes an excellent point. I commend the Government for the work they are doing in Africa to tackle Ebola. We should be proud that this country is stepping up to the plate while other nations could do much more. However, it is institutional issues such as a lack of universal health care coverage—which we might have an opportunity to do something about in the post-2015 discussions—that will decide the fate of people in future outbreaks. We should not lose sight of that fact.

Photo of Philip Davies Philip Davies Conservative, Shipley

The hon. Gentleman said earlier that we should not be judged solely on how much we are spending, and I agree with that wholeheartedly. However, this Bill is precisely about being judged on how much we spend. It does not do any of the other things that he thinks worth while. Does he therefore agree that we should ensure that the money we are already spending is spent properly before we consider increasing it, rather than doing what the Bill seeks to do, which is to increase it first then come back later to see whether it has been spent properly?

Photo of Gavin Shuker Gavin Shuker Shadow Minister (International Development)

It is clear that we need to be able to walk and chew gum at the same time. I do not view it as inconsistent to raise our budget over the coming years in line with a set figure that we have been signed up to for a long time, at the same time as tackling corruption. That policy will form a safeguard for future generations, which is why it has cross-party support.

Photo of Steven Baker Steven Baker Conservative, Wycombe

The hon. Gentleman makes his case with his customary passion and commitment to the cause. The Minister explained that we needed to agree to the motion in order to put the Bill into Committee so that we can then take out clause 5, which makes the motion necessary. If that is the case, what will the Opposition do in relation to clause 5?

Photo of Gavin Shuker Gavin Shuker Shadow Minister (International Development)

Those discussions are going on between Michael Moore and the Government at the moment. It will ultimately be a matter for the Committee to decide, but we are certainly open to any measures that would ensure that the Bill reached the statute book in good time. This should be agreed on a cross-party basis, and I believe that we would all be in a much stronger position if we went into the next election with this legislation in place.

Photo of Anne Main Anne Main Conservative, St Albans

The hon. Gentleman mentioned Africa. One of the commissioners of the Independent Commission for Aid Impact, Diana Good, who oversaw its work there, said:

“We had a number of grave concerns, from the £67 million unused money and misreporting to excessive expenses, against the background of a programme which was regarded as a flagship but failed properly to take into account the impact on the poor. DFID just relied on the assumption that the poor would benefit”.

We owe it to the British taxpayer to ensure that the poor are helped, not just to assume that they are being helped.

Photo of Gavin Shuker Gavin Shuker Shadow Minister (International Development)

We absolutely do. The hon. Lady makes an extremely good case for additional scrutiny. The Opposition hope that we do scrutinise the Department for International Development effectively. I simply point out that as we discuss this money resolution for a Bill about the total size of the envelope, we must not lose our sense of momentum in holding the Government to account. However, I say to the hon. Lady that those are slightly separate issues, and it would be good for the House if we made progress on the resolution.

Photo of Peter Bone Peter Bone Conservative, Wellingborough

The shadow Minister is being very generous in giving way, and I have a high regard for him. He has talked a lot about the issues in the Bill, but we are discussing the money resolution. Does he agree that the tradition in this House is that if a private Member gets a Second Reading, which is difficult to do, a money resolution ought to be forthcoming so that the Bill can be discussed in Committee?

Photo of Gavin Shuker Gavin Shuker Shadow Minister (International Development)

I note that the hon. Gentleman has had considerably more time in the House than my good self—I believe he first sat on the green Benches in 2005, making quite an impact ever since—so I shall leave it to him to follow up that point with Ministers. It is true that we are committed to the Bill, and it is clear that we support the money resolution tonight.

The resolution focuses on money, not just integrity. It is therefore appropriate for us to reflect on the benefits that stem from our being a world leader in international development. Globally, we can see the true impact of poverty and the lack of opportunities, and how inequality and poor governance fuel extremism and hate. If we want the situation to change permanently, the only long-term solution is to invest in development.

Photo of Philip Davies Philip Davies Conservative, Shipley

The money resolution states that it will

“authorise any expenditure incurred under or by virtue of the Act by a Minister of the Crown or government department.”

How much money is the hon. Gentleman prepared to throw at it? The resolution says “any”, so how much money is he prepared to hand over under it?

Photo of Gavin Shuker Gavin Shuker Shadow Minister (International Development)

I am sure that the hon. Gentleman will know, from his preparations for what I hope will be an entertaining speech, that the wording is fairly standard for a money resolution.

Our total spend is currently about 0.7% of GDP, and that will obviously be enforced by the Bill. Forgive me for saying that the general public may be misled—though certainly not by Members of this House—to believe that the amount we are spending is much greater. When asked, they said that on average 19% of our GDP is sent overseas, and when asked how much they thought should be sent overseas, they aimed for about 1.5%, so I am perfectly content with 0.7% to protect the poorest in the world’s community.

Photo of Gavin Shuker Gavin Shuker Shadow Minister (International Development)

I will, but I do so for the last time.

Photo of Edward Leigh Edward Leigh Chair, Public Accounts Commission

To get back to the money resolution and the very important constitutional point made by my hon. Friend Mr Bone, does the Labour party think it is right and proper for the Government to expedite a money resolution for one private Member’s Bill—this Bill—but not for the European Union (Referendum) Bill, which many of us view as equally important?

Photo of Gavin Shuker Gavin Shuker Shadow Minister (International Development)

The vagaries of coalition politics are new to us all, including Opposition Members.

Photo of Tom Clarke Tom Clarke Labour, Coatbridge, Chryston and Bellshill

On a point of order, Madam Deputy Speaker. Given that we are debating a money resolution for the International Development (Official Development Assistance Target) Bill, is it in order to expand the debate to deal with matters European?

Photo of Dawn Primarolo Dawn Primarolo Deputy Speaker (Second Deputy Chairman of Ways and Means)

I would say to the right hon. Gentleman, as I have already told the House, that this is not a general debate on the policy of money resolutions; it is specific to the International Development (Official Development Assistance Target) Bill. Members have referred to others in passing, but they are not the subject of this debate. We are using up time in a time-limited debate. I am therefore sure that Members will stay in order, and I will certainly keep them in order by not allowing them to expand the debate to any other Bill.

Photo of Gavin Shuker Gavin Shuker Shadow Minister (International Development)

The Bill will be truly memorable, given the recent interventions.

The challenges we face are often global, and they require global leadership. It is clear that if we want to achieve a post-aid world, the 0.7% target must be met. That will require consistent leadership by developed nations; and passing the Bill, for which tonight’s money resolution is obviously needed, can only enhance the opportunity to encourage other developed nations that have made commitments to step up to the mark.

Money is only a small part of the story, because global leadership is also needed. That is why we will guard against DFID becoming the charitable arm of the UK Government when it can be an instrument for global development and change. It is true that the 0.7% target is enough to provide the most effective anti-malarial vaccine to every child in need, send 50 million children to school and provide sanitation for nearly everyone who needs it, but development is about much more than a single vaccine, sending one child to school or punching a hole in the ground. It is about providing a platform for empowerment and self-sustainability that will end the need for aid in our lifetime. I think that I speak for Members from across the House when I say that that should be our aim. We may disagree on the route to achieving it, but Opposition Members believe that passing the money resolution is a serious step forward, and we are backing it and the Bill.

Photo of Michael Moore Michael Moore Liberal Democrat, Berwickshire, Roxburgh and Selkirk 8:26 pm, 3rd November 2014

It will not surprise the House to hear that I support the money resolution. I am delighted that the

Government have introduced it, and I am grateful to them for it. I welcome the speeches made from both Front Benches—

Photo of Michael Moore Michael Moore Liberal Democrat, Berwickshire, Roxburgh and Selkirk

And especially from the Back Benches. They have helped to shine a light on some of the issues involved in the Bill. I am not too hopeful about reaching agreement on them during the remaining stages of the Bill, but I hope we might do so.

On 12 September, we had a very striking result—whether it involved the whole House or otherwise—with 164 right hon. and hon. Members in favour of the Bill and only six opposed to it. That demonstrated that there was broad support across the parties for the idea of putting the United Nations target for official development assistance at 0.7% of gross national income into law.

During that debate, many interventions and the speech of Philip Davies opposed the principleof the Bill and raised concerns—such concerns have been raised again this evening—about how official development assistance is spent, whether it comes from UK taxpayers or from others across the world. I expect and hope, assuming that we have a money resolution and can go into Committee tomorrow, that Sir Gerald Howarth will make many of those points and ensure that the Bill is thoroughly scrutinised in Committee.

Photo of Peter Bone Peter Bone Conservative, Wellingborough

I am grateful to the right hon. Gentleman for the progress he has managed to make with his Bill. Does he agree that, given the majority he achieved, it would have been absolutely outrageous if a money resolution for his Bill had not been brought forward?

Photo of Michael Moore Michael Moore Liberal Democrat, Berwickshire, Roxburgh and Selkirk

I can see where the hon. Gentleman is going with his intervention, but may I just say that decisions about other Bills, to which he may or may not be alluding, are way beyond my pay grade? Selfishly, as far as my Bill is concerned, I quite agree with him.

I welcome the fact that the efficiency and effectiveness of our official development assistance spending was a central feature of the debate a few weeks ago, as was entirely right. As currently constructed, the Bill includes a proposal, in clause 5 and the schedule, to introduce an independent international development office. The money resolution is required because of that provision, and it is fair to say that the specifics of the proposal have led to some discussion between the Minister, the Department and others who are interested in this matter.

Photo of Philip Davies Philip Davies Conservative, Shipley

Given that the office is the right hon. Gentleman’s initiative and that the money resolution is specifically about it, how much does he have in mind for its cost?

Photo of Michael Moore Michael Moore Liberal Democrat, Berwickshire, Roxburgh and Selkirk

As little as possible, and that is the key to this whole process and to the discussions between the Government and me. Those discussions will be developed further in Committee if that is the will of the House. Specifically, we are talking about not only the principle of spending this degree of taxpayers’ money on official development assistance but appropriate scrutiny. I have listened carefully to the Government’s concerns, and I hope that we can find something that respects the principle, but does not burden the taxpayer with the undue costs of the machinery of government.

Photo of Philip Davies Philip Davies Conservative, Shipley

Let me try again. If the right hon. Gentleman is not prepared to put a figure on the cost, will he at least give us a cap, or is he asking us to write a blank cheque for his Bill?

Photo of Michael Moore Michael Moore Liberal Democrat, Berwickshire, Roxburgh and Selkirk

I am not asking for a blank cheque. I certainly accept that this House needs to take a view, in due course, on how much should be spent. [Interruption.] That will be a matter on which the House can reflect on Report and beyond. The important principle of scrutiny is one on which Government Ministers, shadow Ministers and others agree. I hope that it will not be difficult to come to an agreement in Committee that will respect the principle of scrutiny.

We have a huge responsibility to the developing world to ensure that we help them out of poverty and into a much more hopeful future. We also have a responsibility to taxpayers in this country to ensure that the effectiveness and efficiency of that development assistance is appropriate and that this House is scrutinising it. I hope that we will be able to deliver that in Committee and when we report to the House in due course.

Photo of Tom Clarke Tom Clarke Labour, Coatbridge, Chryston and Bellshill 8:31 pm, 3rd November 2014

I did not expect to speak in this debate. To be honest, I did not expect the debate to go on for this long. During my time in the House, I have managed, as a result of coming high in the ballot for private Members’ Bills, to have the privilege—I am trying to keep in order, Madam Deputy Speaker—of introducing what are now two Acts of Parliament: the Disabled Persons (Services, Consultation and Representation) Act 1986 and the International Development (Reporting and Transparency) Act 2006.

Getting a private Member’s Bill through the House is no easy achievement, and I was able to do it thanks to wonderful support. There is also the challenge of getting enough Members here on a Friday—something that ought to change—so when we address the specific issue before the House tonight, let it be remembered that many, many Members turned up on a Friday to give their overwhelming support to this Bill.

Having referred to the two Acts with which I was associated, let me ask this: was it unusual for a money resolution of this kind to be introduced? No, it was not. When the first Act on disability went through the House, the Prime Minister was Mrs Thatcher. Mrs Thatcher was no spendthrift, but she was very obliging. Her Government introduced a similar money resolution.

Photo of Edward Leigh Edward Leigh Chair, Public Accounts Commission

The right hon. Gentleman is a very valued and experienced Member of this House and a real parliamentarian, so will he confirm my understanding that it is absolutely unprecedented for a Government deliberately to block a money resolution for a private Member’s Bill? Therefore, really we are talking about double standards, and that is not fair to Back Benchers.

Photo of Tom Clarke Tom Clarke Labour, Coatbridge, Chryston and Bellshill

I seek to support the money resolution before the House. That is where I stand. As the Minister has said, it is not a great request; it is almost an administrative matter. We do not even know at this stage—it is subject to the discussions in Committee—whether the clause the resolution covers will be agreed between the right hon. Member for Berwickshire, Roxburgh and Selkirk (Michael Moore) and the Government. But are we so mean that we will not even allow discussions to take place? The raison d’être for supporting my International Development (Reporting and Transparency) Act 2006 was that we wanted to see more scrutiny. We did not want taxpayers’ money simply being thrown away. We wanted to address the very serious problems of world poverty, which this Bill addresses.

Photo of Stephen Doughty Stephen Doughty Opposition Whip (Commons)

My right hon. Friend is making some powerful points. Does he not agree that both the previous Government and the current one have seen tackling corruption and ensuring that effective aid is spent well as absolute priorities? The Department for International Development is regarded as one of the most successful Departments delivering development assistance globally. The very fact that some Government Members can cite concerns about some of the programmes is a testament to the fact that we are open and transparent and open to auditing, and that should be celebrated.

Photo of Tom Clarke Tom Clarke Labour, Coatbridge, Chryston and Bellshill

My hon. Friend is absolutely right. What this Bill seeks to do is build on the Act that I introduced. In reality, Members who introduce private Members’ Bills can only go as far as the Government of the day are prepared to go. I know that the right hon. Member for Berwickshire, Roxburgh and Selkirk will have been involved in all sorts of discussions with Ministers, and I know that that will continue. The Committee, which meets tomorrow, has a say in the matter as well. To give the Committee scope to deal with the principles that the House endorsed on Second Reading, the Minister has rightly judged that there is a requirement for this measure. Some people are extremely mean-minded; perhaps it is because they are opposed to the principle of 0.7%. I say to them with respect that the House has already decided on that matter, and it had the right to decide because each of the three major parties had that commitment in their manifestos.

Photo of Edward Leigh Edward Leigh Chair, Public Accounts Commission

What we are saying is that the Government have to be consistent. If they are pushing this money resolution on the basis of a Back Bencher’s Bill passed by Back Benchers and the Government, then they cannot block another money resolution on another Bill. That is all we are saying. It is totally inconsistent and an attack on the rights of Back Benchers.

Photo of Tom Clarke Tom Clarke Labour, Coatbridge, Chryston and Bellshill

To be perfectly frank, I will not be drawn into the arguments about another Bill. I came to the House tonight to support the International Development (Official Development Assistance Target) Bill money resolution. If there is a debate on other matters, then let that take place. The right hon. Member for Berwickshire, Roxburgh and Selkirk has made his case. I am appalled that we are having this discussion. Given that the principle has been decided, the major political parties have made their commitments and there was such a high level of support on a Friday for this Bill, this administrative necessity should be put before the House and approved. I might get even more angry if I say any more, so I will not. The case is made. I invite the House to do the decent thing and pass the money resolution.

Photo of Anne Main Anne Main Conservative, St Albans 8:37 pm, 3rd November 2014

I will be brief because I know that there are other colleagues who wish to speak. We would be doing a disservice to the House and to members of the public if we did not point out that there are some serious concerns about the way that aid is used. We are not expecting people not to want to help the poor; we want to help the poor. I went through all the reports today, and I am sorry to say that, under the transparency of assessment of the programmes, so many of the programmes are failing to deliver aid because of problems with corruption and problems in those countries. Today, we owe it to people to scrutinise what is being spent on behalf of the British public.

Photo of Anne Main Anne Main Conservative, St Albans

I am sorry but I will not give way, because the next speaker will be an Opposition Member and so many Government Members wish to speak.

On the work just in southern Africa, ICAI has said:

“The shortcomings that we saw in the programme and its serious deficiencies in governance; financial management; procurement; value for money; transparency of spending; delivery and impact, as well as its failure to use DFID’s body of knowledge in trade and poverty, have led to a marking of Red for the programme.”

The public expect us to be helping the poor and needy; they do not expect this. If Opposition Members have not been through the aid programmes, I would ask them to do so, because there are serious concerns about people lining their pockets and corruption. It is very difficult to get this sorted. Unfortunately, some of the reforms are not being put in place in some of the other countries. I suggest that before we start throwing more money at the problem, we help DFID by scrutinising these aid projects, and ensuring that the money we currently spend is well spent and getting to where it is supposed to go. I am pleased that DFID has dropped the innovative side of trying to find things to throw money at, because, unfortunately, “innovative” was not always in the best interests of the poor.

Photo of Philip Davies Philip Davies Conservative, Shipley

Is it not worse than that, because the money resolution we are discussing is not about giving any more money to anybody in need or in any overseas development—it is about creating a whole new organisation of bureaucrats? That is what we are being asked to pass; it does not give any help to anybody in need.

Photo of Anne Main Anne Main Conservative, St Albans

My hon. Friend is absolutely right about that. The report published on 31 October says:

DFID has not…developed an approach equal to the challenge, nor has it focussed its efforts sufficiently on the poor. While some programmes show limited achievements, there is little evidence of impact on corruption levels or in meeting the particular needs of the poor.”

Surely that is what all of us are interested in, rather than just throwing money at the matter. I will bring my remarks to a close, but I caution against rushing this through before we tackle the fact that we are not delivering money to the poor.

Photo of Stephen Doughty Stephen Doughty Opposition Whip (Commons) 8:40 pm, 3rd November 2014

I rise to support the money resolution and the case made by the Minister, my hon. Friend Gavin Shuker and my right hon.

Friend Mr Clarke. I am disappointed listening to Conservative Back Benchers, because it seems that they are attempting to undermine the clearly expressed will in this House in a vote on a Friday and to use this debate to pursue other agendas. That is disappointing because DFID helps some of the poorest people in the world, who are suffering from diseases such as Ebola and so on

—[Interruption.]

Mrs Main is waving her report at me. I have read many reports about DFID’s effectiveness over the years, and the fact that those reports are available, that they are read by Ministers and by the Opposition and that questions are asked is testament to DFID’s openness and transparency in its programme. It is very misleading to quote selectively from those reports and not refer to the vast majority of DFID’s programmes, which are extremely effective in delivering poverty eradication and tackling some of the big challenges in our world.

Photo of Philip Davies Philip Davies Conservative, Shipley

The hon. Gentleman seems to be missing the point of the money resolution: the Government are already spending the amount of money that he wants spent on overseas aid. That is not at issue here; we are being asked to sign a blank cheque to create a new bureaucracy and organisation which does not give any money to poor people around the world.

Photo of Stephen Doughty Stephen Doughty Opposition Whip (Commons)

It is more bluff and bluster from the hon. Gentleman: the type of rhetoric about blank cheques and throwing money at problems. If that is the view, would these Conservative Members say we should not be supporting the efforts against Ebola in west Africa, or we should not be helping to immunise children across the world, to educate people or to strengthen the Governments who need to be in place and to be strong to tackle the very corruption these Members are talking about?

Photo of Peter Bone Peter Bone Conservative, Wellingborough

The hon. Gentleman is making a powerful speech, but it is more like one for a Second Reading debate. The issue we are dealing with today is a money resolution. If the will of this House was expressed by 283 votes to nil, for example, would it not be right for the Government to introduce the money resolution measure? Is that not the approach that has been taken in this House in years gone by?

Photo of Stephen Doughty Stephen Doughty Opposition Whip (Commons)

You have given a clear direction already, Madam Deputy Speaker, that Members should not be drawn down other routes about other money resolutions. We are talking about the money resolution for the International Development (Official Development Assistance Target) Bill, which was passed by a clear will of this House. I am extremely disappointed that some Conservative Members are attempting to frustrate that, insert other agendas and rhetoric, and create a misleading impression of a Department that is regarded—and has been, whichever party has been running it—as one of the leading Departments in the world for tackling poverty.

Corruption has been spoken about a lot, but both the previous Government and this one have spent significant time on strengthening anti-corruption activities. By ensuring development, growth and strong Governments, we create a virtuous circle that tackles the very corruption and problems these Conservative Members seem so exercised about. It is a shame they do not often turn up for more debates on international development to talk about some of these issues and engage constructively on them, rather than trying to bring in other agendas. As I said, we can look at plenty of reports about DFID. It would be misleading to suggest there is no corruption in the world—of course there is. Of course there are challenges in programmes and programmes that can be dealt with more effectively, but we ought to be proud of the fact we have the systems in place to establish that, instead of suggesting that the whole development programme is a huge mess and none of it is making any difference—that is patently not the case. I want to stand firmly in support of this money resolution and stand against the nonsense, bluff and bluster we have been hearing from some Conservative Members.

Photo of Peter Bone Peter Bone Conservative, Wellingborough 8:44 pm, 3rd November 2014

I think that there is a lot of misunderstanding tonight. We seem to be hearing arguments for and against 0.7%—I happen to think that it is a bad idea—but that is not what we are discussing tonight; we are discussing a specific money resolution. Nobody outside will understand the importance of what is happening here, which relates to the conventions of Parliament and the way that Parliament works.

The Bill should clearly have a money resolution, as should all private Members’ Bills that pass through this House—[Interruption.] My hon. Friend Philip Davies makes a good point, so I will correct that statement. In my view, there should be a debate on a money resolution for private Members’ Bills that receive a Second Reading. That is what we have tonight, and that is right. That does not mean that we have to vote for the money, but we have to be able to discuss it.

What people are up in arms about tonight is the fact that for a previous Bill that received a Second Reading the Government did not move a money resolution. When the House votes by 283 to zero, one might think that is a pretty clear indication of what it thinks. What we are saying is that if we let this procedure carry on unchallenged—

Three quarters of an hour having elapsed since the commencement of proceedings on the motion, the Deputy Speaker put the Question (Standing Order No. 52(1)(b)).

The House divided:

Ayes 295, Noes 7.

Division number 66

See full list of votes (From The Public Whip)

Aye

No

Question accordingly agreed to.