Scotland’s Foreign Policy Footprint

Part of Delegated Legislation (Committees) – in the House of Commons at 9:24 pm on 3rd December 2018.

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Photo of Alan Duncan Alan Duncan Minister of State 9:24 pm, 3rd December 2018

I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman for giving credit where it is due. It is very much an illustration of the legacy from my time as an International Development Minister, when in many areas we tried to have match funding. We thought that match funding—“double the love,” in his words—is a good way of raising money. The Government saying that they would double the money encouraged people to give. For non-governmental organisations doing the sort of work that has been described tonight, people giving is a good thing. Where the Government can enhance what people have given, it doubles the love and therefore doubles the efficacy of some of the very good work done by NGOs across the country.

When I was an International Development Minister, I went to Scotland especially to meet all the Scottish NGOs to make sure they were not ignored by the central system in Whitehall, which somehow thinks it is only central money that matters. Of course, the Department for International Development has a massive headquarters in Scotland. I wonder whether the Member for that constituency is here tonight, in which case it would be good to hear them sing the praises of DFID’s headquarters—I think it is in East Kilbride, which I visited on many occasions to see the good work being done from that Scottish centre of excellence.

The hon. Member for North East Fife particularly focused on conflict prevention, which is a very important area. People somehow think that the only way to stop conflict is if the big forces of Government do things, but actually it goes far deeper. Empowering women, having girls in education and making sure that women are included in any sort of peace process is essential for concluding conflict and making sure that the peace thereafter is properly embedded in societies where conflict has been ended. In the absence of women being included, a conflict resolution will never endure.

I applaud the hon. Gentleman’s focus on conflict resolution and, indeed, on conflict prevention. One could argue that NGOs that can go in and make sure that conflicts do not happen in the first place do far more good than those that have to go and mop up afterwards. The cost of a conflict is many times the cost of spending money and investing resources to prevent that conflict in the first place.

The UK Government are committed to building peace and stability around the world, and we wish to draw on the best of British expertise from across the UK as well as overseas.