I thank you, Mr Speaker, for granting this urgent question and the Secretary of State for being here. This country’s commitment to spend 0.7 % of our national income on overseas aid is a clear expression of how deeply the UK public care about eradicating poverty overseas. The public are therefore right to feel betrayed by the Secretary of State’s speech today, in which she has suggested that global poverty can be utilised as a lucrative investment opportunity. It is deeply concerning to learn of her plans to redefine aid through today’s media reports.
As the rules that govern aid spending are set at an international level by the OECD, can the Secretary of State tell us what precise rules she wants to change? In the absence of any detail, we can only speculate on how she believes these new investments will help the world’s poorest. Her claim that private investment is a win-win is not based on the evidence. We all know that there are both winners and losers from foreign investment in the global south. Her vision will leave the most vulnerable people at the mercy of global markets.
Does the Secretary of State recognise that her approach will mean major development issues that are not considered profitable will no longer get the funding they need? The press report that this private investment will replace public contributions to the UK’s aid budget. Will she confirm whether this is indeed her plan? I think the public deserve to know.