Department for International Development

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 4:41 pm on 1st July 2019.

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Photo of Laurence Robertson Laurence Robertson Conservative, Tewkesbury 4:41 pm, 1st July 2019

My hon. Friend is absolutely right. We could take things even further because, in the commercial sense, if countries across the world are richer, that affords us new markets as well, which is in addition to the humanitarian reasons for aid that she rightly outlines.

DFID’s budget is around the £14 billion mark. While it is certainly a small part of our overall income, as was raised earlier, it is still a considerable amount of money. The aid budget has its critics and criticisms, of course, and I will come on to one or two of them, because some may be valid. Perhaps we can improve matters, and we should certainly never be satisfied with where we are, because we can always do better. We all have constituents who point out that some of our schools and our police are short of money, so if we are going to spend money abroad, helping people who are not from this country, then we must ensure that we spend it wisely and effectively, and this estimates day debate is about addressing the budget in the wider sense.

It is worth touching on exactly how aid works. This may come as a surprise to some, but DFID itself spends around 75% of the aid budget, with the other 25% being spent by other Departments, such as the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, the Department for Health and Social Care and the Home Office, and other outside organisations. Some of the aid that we provide is bilateral and some is multilateral, and I will come on to the difference in a minute.

The National Audit Office report, which came out just a few days ago, says that most of our aid is going to the right places and having a great effect, but it did point out that there is room for improvement. As I go through one or two areas in which we can improve, the observations that I will make are not in any way a criticism of our approach of our aid policy because, as the House has heard, I am supportive of it.