Topical Questions

Oral Answers to Questions — International Development – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 16th November 2016.

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Photo of Amanda Milling Amanda Milling Conservative, Cannock Chase 12:00 am, 16th November 2016

If she will make a statement on her departmental responsibilities.

Photo of Priti Patel Priti Patel The Secretary of State for International Development

No country can defeat poverty without sustained economic growth. Later today, the Government will introduce the Commonwealth Development Corporation Bill, which will raise the limit on the level of financial support that the Government can provide to the CDC. By doing so, we will be able to help to create more jobs and to boost economic growth in Africa and south Asia, so that people can lift themselves out of poverty and leave aid dependency behind. I will write to colleagues with further information.

Photo of Amanda Milling Amanda Milling Conservative, Cannock Chase

Will my right hon. Friend outline what humanitarian relief the Government are providing to support those affected by the conflict in Yemen?

Photo of Priti Patel Priti Patel The Secretary of State for International Development

My hon. Friend is absolutely right to raise the appalling scenarios we are seeing in Yemen right now. There is a deteriorating situation and a humanitarian crisis, with an increasing number of Yemenis facing food shortages and suffering malnutrition. There has been a recent outbreak of cholera as well. The UK is the fourth largest donor, and has committed to spending £109 million in Yemen, helping more than 1.3 million Yemenis—[Interruption.]

Photo of John Bercow John Bercow Chair, Speaker's Committee on the Electoral Commission, Speaker of the House of Commons, Chair, Speaker's Committee for the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority, Speaker of the House of Commons, Chair, Commons Reference Group on Representation and Inclusion Committee

Order. There are far too many very noisy private conversations taking place while we are discussing the fate of some of the most vulnerable people on the planet. The message is quite clear: hush or, alternatively, leave the Chamber.

Photo of Priti Patel Priti Patel The Secretary of State for International Development

Last year, we helped more than 1.3 million Yemenis to get access to food, medical supplies and water. My hon. Friend will know that we have recently helped to raise over £100 million, via the UN, to strengthen humanitarian support for people in Yemen.

Photo of Richard Arkless Richard Arkless Scottish National Party, Dumfries and Galloway

Does the Secretary of State understand the frustrations felt by DFID’s partners in civil society organisations and in the wider world about the continued delay in the publication of the bilateral and multilateral aid reviews? When will they be published, and will there be a statement or a chance to debate the proposals in this place?

Photo of Priti Patel Priti Patel The Secretary of State for International Development

I have recently spent much time with civil society organisations, non-governmental organisations and the great organisations doing life-saving work on the ground. We have recently published the “DFID Research Review” and the “Civil Society Partnership Review”. With regards to the development aid reviews—the multilateral and bilateral aid reviews—I can tell the hon. Gentleman that they will be coming by the end of the month.

Photo of Theresa Villiers Theresa Villiers Conservative, Chipping Barnet

I welcome the work the Secretary of State is doing to ensure that UK aid to the Palestinian Authority does not directly fund payments to terrorist prisoners, but will she assure the House that she is doing everything possible to ensure that they do not indirectly fund such payments by freeing up resources that would otherwise be spent on day-to-day PA activities?

Photo of Rory Stewart Rory Stewart The Minister of State, Department for International Development

We have made it clear that our focus will be very much targeted on health, education and co-existence projects. We ensure that any support going in is carefully vetted, with an independent auditor; is directed to what will provide value for money; and, above all, will benefit the Palestinian people.

Photo of Drew Hendry Drew Hendry Shadow SNP Westminster Group Leader (Transport)

Will the Secretary of State agree to put people before profit, following the publication of her Department’s “Civil Society Partnership Review”, and therefore ensure that any private sector involvement in the provision of UK development aid is driven by operational necessity, not the pursuit of profit?

Photo of Priti Patel Priti Patel The Secretary of State for International Development

As I have mentioned, we have published the “Civil Society Partnership Review”, on which I spent time speaking to many of the great organisations involved in the delivery of aid and humanitarian work around the world. We make sure that British aid—UK taxpayers’ money—goes to the right causes via the right organisations, and DFID will continue to pursue that. We are championing taxpayer value, while delivering poverty reduction and humanitarian support and assistance.

Photo of Tim Loughton Tim Loughton Conservative, East Worthing and Shoreham

The scenes of the war crimes committed by Daesh in the Assyrian capital of Nimrud are, on top of their human carnage, truly depressing and a wake-up call to the world that we need to work together to protect the world’s cultural heritage. Will the Secretary of State commit to continuing to play our part within UNESCO, notwithstanding the reservations she may have about the organisation’s finances?

Photo of Priti Patel Priti Patel The Secretary of State for International Development

My hon. Friend raises an important point about the destruction of cultural and heritage sites around the world. I have been clear that, in funding international organisations, we wish to see reform in the system to make sure that money is spent in the right way. We will continue to deliver value for money. DFID will publish the reviews that reflect on UNESCO towards the end of the month and he will see the approach we are taking.

Photo of Tommy Sheppard Tommy Sheppard Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Cabinet Office)

Further to an earlier question, will the Minister commit to fast-track the review of aid for the families of Palestinian prisoners, in the knowledge that any reduction in that aid will bankrupt the Palestinian Authority, undermine politicians who are working for a peaceful solution and play into the hands of those, like Hamas, who want to pursue a course of violence?

Photo of Rory Stewart Rory Stewart The Minister of State, Department for International Development

The Department remains entirely committed to the following principles. First, anything we do must encourage a two-state solution by ensuring that the Palestinian people are served with proper services. Secondly, we must make sure that the money goes in the right way to the right people. That is all about auditing, vetting and making sure that the real beneficiaries are there. Of course we will ensure that the review is done as efficiently as possible to serve the interests of the Palestinian people and the stability of the region.