Topical Questions

Oral Answers to Questions — International Development – in the House of Commons at 11:30 am on 8th July 2015.

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Photo of Nusrat Ghani Nusrat Ghani Conservative, Wealden 11:30 am, 8th July 2015

If she will make a statement on her departmental responsibilities.

Photo of Justine Greening Justine Greening The Secretary of State for International Development

Last week, at the Overseas Development Institute, in a wide ranging speech, I recognised the high value we place on our partnerships with civil society organisations and announced work on strengthening our relationship further. Yesterday, I had the privilege of joining the Prime Minister at an event for courageous recipients of the Ebola medal. In Sierra Leone, we continue to adapt our approach, including transitioning over the running of Kerry Town treatment unit from the Ministry of Defence. I will attend the international conference on Ebola in New York later this week. Next week, I will be at the Financing for Development Conference in Addis.

Photo of Nusrat Ghani Nusrat Ghani Conservative, Wealden

Given the substantial financial support that DFID provides for education in Pakistan, what assurances has the Secretary of State received from the Government of Pakistan that freedom of speech and religious tolerance of minority faiths, including Christianity, are being taught in Pakistan’s schools?

Photo of Justine Greening Justine Greening The Secretary of State for International Development

My hon. Friend makes an important point. DFID’s education programme, in both Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Punjab, supports the implementation of the Pakistan 2006 reform curriculum, which teaches religious tolerance and respect for diversity.

Photo of Martyn Day Martyn Day Scottish National Party, Linlithgow and East Falkirk

I am sure the Minister will join me in congratulating Malawi on reaching its 51st anniversary of independence this week. DFID’s aid tracker shows that funding to Malawi has reduced from a peak of more than £120 million in 2012-13 to just under £60 million this year. If DFID continues to cut its budget for Malawi, will he consider ways of assisting the Scottish Government in helping to maintain and grow their important links with the country?

Photo of Grant Shapps Grant Shapps The Minister of State, Department for International Development

I do not recognise the hon. Gentleman’s figures. We provide £72 million, plus another £10 million from the UK taxpayer through the Scottish Government, and that is just in bilateral aid; of course, there are then the multilateral and international programmes. In total, it probably adds up to more than £150 million to Malawi.

Photo of Flick Drummond Flick Drummond Conservative, Portsmouth South

On Monday, the British ambassador to Yemen said that 6 million Yemenis were on the verge of complete starvation. In the light of the ongoing commercial blockade of fuels and supplies to Yemen and the failure of the Geneva talks, what discussions are the Government having with the Saudi Arabian-led coalition to stop the violence and meet the increasingly desperate humanitarian need?

Photo of Justine Greening Justine Greening The Secretary of State for International Development

My hon. Friend is right to highlight the dire situation faced by millions of people living in Yemen. We are now urging the Governments of Saudi Arabia and Yemen to work with the UN so that we can get commercial shipping through a new inspections regime and have more humanitarian pauses during Ramadan.

Photo of Lilian Greenwood Lilian Greenwood Shadow Minister (Transport)

The movement of many thousands of refugees from Burundi into neighbouring countries is of real concern, but I understand that there are even larger internal movements away from Bujumbura and growing anxiety about the prospect of food and health crises in the months ahead. What discussions has the Secretary of State had with NGOs working in Burundi about action to tackle this worrying situation?

Photo of Justine Greening Justine Greening The Secretary of State for International Development

We have been discussing with civil society what steps we can take to help the situation in Burundi. As the hon. Lady knows, many countries in Africa routinely face refugee flows within and across their borders, which is why we are right to be doing the work we are on the ground.

Photo of David Davies David Davies Chair, Welsh Affairs Committee, Chair, Welsh Affairs Committee

Would my right hon. Friend consider building more refugee camps in north Africa to which illegal migrants in Europe could be returned to allow their asylum claims to be heard in a fashion fair to all concerned?

Photo of Justine Greening Justine Greening The Secretary of State for International Development

There are many elements of the strategy that need to be in place to tackle the migration crisis. How and where we deal with applications can be part of that, and I know that those discussions are going on inside the EU.

Photo of Stephen Doughty Stephen Doughty Opposition Whip (Commons)

Ten years ago, 250,000 people gathered in Edinburgh as part of the Make Poverty History campaign to argue for aid, debt relief and trade justice. We have seen less progress on the third. What is the Secretary of State doing to ensure fair trade deals for the world’s poorest countries?

Photo of Justine Greening Justine Greening The Secretary of State for International Development

Scotland can be proud of the role it played in helping to shape that critical summit, which the Make Poverty History campaign supported. The hon. Gentleman is right that trade is a key mechanism for lifting people out of poverty, which is why the jobs agenda is now central to DFID’s work.

Photo of David Burrowes David Burrowes Conservative, Enfield, Southgate

How does last week’s Gaza resolution by the United Nations Human Rights Council help aid efforts when it draws an equivalence between Hamas, a proscribed terrorist organisation, and Israel, a democratic state defending itself against attacks on its citizens?

Photo of Justine Greening Justine Greening The Secretary of State for International Development

The UK is deeply concerned by the terrible human cost to both sides of the ongoing Israeli-Palestinian conflict, as underlined by the findings of the UN report that my hon. Friend refers to. We, along with our EU partners, voted in support of the resolution on the report last week. We would have preferred to see a text that gave more weight to Israel’s legitimate right to self-defence and to the threat that Israel faces from militant groups operating from inside Gaza, including Hamas.

Photo of Stephen Kinnock Stephen Kinnock Labour, Aberavon

The Secretary of State will have seen coverage in the Daily Mail and other newspapers about four charities that are supported by her Department that are using aggressive fundraising tactics. No doubt she welcomes the decision by Oxfam to suspend all telephone fundraising in the UK while it investigates these claims of malpractice. What steps will she be taking to ensure that other charities embroiled in this case follow suit?

Photo of Justine Greening Justine Greening The Secretary of State for International Development

As I announced in my opening response to topical questions, we have a process under way within our Department, working with civil society both in the UK and internationally, to look at how we can strengthen that relationship. As part of that though, I believe there will also be a discussion around standards and commitments that NGOs can make to ensure that they are part of a strategy that we are delivering, but a good part and one that does not have reputational risk to it.

Prime Minister

The Prime Minister was asked—