Sustainable Development Goals

Part of Opposition Day — [15th Allotted Day] – in the House of Commons at 4:41 pm on 28th January 2015.

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Photo of Justine Greening Justine Greening The Secretary of State for International Development 4:41 pm, 28th January 2015

It can be a huge step forward. My hon. Friend is absolutely right to see the broader opportunities in that Bill for enabling us to increase our ability to tackle FGM at home. One of the most important elements of the Girl summit was recognising that we have issues to resolve here in the UK, as well as playing our role internationally in helping other countries to tackle theirs.

Mary Creagh accused the Government of failing to support a stand-alone goal on health. She seems a little befuddled on this point, as her claim is inaccurate. We have supported a stand-alone goal throughout this process. Going back to the high-level panel report, if she looks at goal 4 she will see that it explicitly states that it is to “ensure healthy lives”. That is partly why, under this Government, spending on health in relation to international development, just bilaterally, has risen from £750 million a year when we came into government to about £1.25 billion a year now. We absolutely have invested in this area.

I should correct the hon. Lady on another matter where she seems to have got her facts mixed up. In a recent interview, she said that spending by the Department on fragile and conflict states has “reduced under this Government”. I have to update the House by saying that that is incorrect. In fact, investment has risen from £1.8 billion in 2009 to £2.8 billion in 2013. On the issue of poverty, where we are talking about matters of life and death, and how we can lift people out of sometimes miserable day-to-day existences, it does not do those people, or the challenges they face, any justice to be kicked about as a political football. If the hon. Lady must engage in what she calls hand-to-hand combat, I ask her at least to get her facts right.

On a stand-alone goal on climate change, I point to our Prime Minister’s own words:

“Climate change is one of the most serious threats facing our world. And it is not just a threat to the environment. It is also a threat to our national security, to global security, to poverty eradication and to economic prosperity.”

In short, climate change is too complex an issue to belong in just one goal; as we have said repeatedly, it needs to be interwoven or mainstreamed throughout the entire post-2015 framework.

I was only too happy to come to this place to talk about the Government’s record on shaping the sustainable development goals. As I said, I would very much have liked women and girls, and particularly tackling violence against women and girls, to be mentioned explicitly in the motion.