Aid Spending

Oral Answers to Questions — International Development – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 28th February 2018.

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Photo of Daniel Kawczynski Daniel Kawczynski Conservative, Shrewsbury and Atcham 12:00 am, 28th February 2018

What steps she is taking to promote value for money in aid spending.

Photo of Harriett Baldwin Harriett Baldwin Minister of State (Department for International Development) (Joint with the Foreign and Commonwealth Office), Minister of State (Foreign and Commonwealth Office) (Joint with the Department for International Development)

It is vital that aid spending delivers rigorous value for money and is well spent. Indeed, my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State has said that we must ensure it “cannot be better spent”. All projects are measured against a robust monitoring framework to ensure they remain cost-effective.

Photo of Daniel Kawczynski Daniel Kawczynski Conservative, Shrewsbury and Atcham

I thank the Minister for that answer. I am sure she will agree that she constantly has to justify to the electorate the amount of money that is spent overseas. With that in mind, what steps are being taken to ensure that more of the equipment utilised is British, that more of the non-governmental organisations employed to carry out the work are British and that the armed forces, where appropriate, are also involved in helping these projects?

Photo of Harriett Baldwin Harriett Baldwin Minister of State (Department for International Development) (Joint with the Foreign and Commonwealth Office), Minister of State (Foreign and Commonwealth Office) (Joint with the Department for International Development)

My hon. Friend is absolutely right to highlight the important role that our armed forces have played, not only in tackling Ebola in Sierra Leone, but in tackling the hurricane in the Caribbean last year. As he will know, the Secretary of State and I are both former Ministers in the Ministry of Defence and we are keen to ensure we work closely with our colleagues there.

Photo of Diana R. Johnson Diana R. Johnson Labour, Kingston upon Hull North

I was concerned to read that £160,000 of the £5.8 million of UK aid spent with Venezuela was being used for training its repressive security services. I understand this was under review last summer, so will the Minister update us with the latest on that?

Photo of Harriett Baldwin Harriett Baldwin Minister of State (Department for International Development) (Joint with the Foreign and Commonwealth Office), Minister of State (Foreign and Commonwealth Office) (Joint with the Department for International Development)

My understanding is that the small amount of spending that happens in Venezuela is to support human rights organisations and the British Council’s work on education. I shall certainly take back the hon. Lady’s representations to ensure that what she says is not the case.

Photo of Kate Osamor Kate Osamor Shadow Secretary of State for International Development

I thank the Minister for her answer. How can we win back public support for what aid does if she believes that the best way of spending aid money is through the armed forces, and with more on outsourcing to the private sector and less on actual poverty reduction? Does she not see that that approach will only add a misperception to the growing doubt on who is best placed to deliver aid?

Photo of Harriett Baldwin Harriett Baldwin Minister of State (Department for International Development) (Joint with the Foreign and Commonwealth Office), Minister of State (Foreign and Commonwealth Office) (Joint with the Department for International Development)

I am sorry that the hon. Lady did not welcome the amazing work we are doing through the delivery of international aid, through so many different organisations, be it in partnership, such as she seems to resent, with our colleagues in the conflict, stability and security fund or by working with colleagues in the health service on their amazing response to the outbreak of disease in camps in the Rohingya crisis.