Department for International Development

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 7:21 pm on 1st July 2019.

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Photo of Harriett Baldwin Harriett Baldwin Minister of State (Department for International Development) (Jointly with the Foreign and Commonwealth Office), Minister of State (Foreign and Commonwealth Office) (Joint with the Department for International Development) 7:21 pm, 1st July 2019

Indeed. The hon. Gentleman will be aware of—and, I am sure, champions in Strangford—the opportunities that come through Connecting Classrooms. We will all have been lobbied by the wonderful “send my friend to school” campaign, which my hon. Friend the Member for Erewash mentioned. I love that campaign, and I wish I were in a position to announce more than the fact that we will continue our championing of the important work that is being done on education in difficult areas and refugee camps.

Another theme that came up was the importance of our being able to help with tax revenues. Experts within Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs have been able, via spending through another Government Department, to deliver huge increases in tax revenues in some countries. That is proving to be one of the very best ways in which we can spend the overseas development budget. In addition, there is the work that we have done through funding posts within the International Trade Department and the National Crime Agency. We are seeing some real benefits, with money going back to developing countries for them to spend on their priorities. Some really valuable contributions are being made.

A number of Members mentioned the CDC and the amazing number of jobs that it has created. It is important to point out that it has not invested in any new coal projects since 2012, although it does have some investments in fossil fuels. When it is making its policy, it examines whether that is the right thing to do going forward. Obviously, it will make that decision independently. We need to recognise that a lot of the developing world lacks access to energy, which is sometimes an important part of their being able to develop.

We heard about the Scotland Malawi Partnership. I always love paying tribute to that, because it is such a rich partnership. The hon. Member for Glasgow North made a sensible point about trying to map the range of different ways in which civil society links with the developing world.

My hon. Friend the Member for Elmet and Rothwell made a moral point about development. He mentioned UK Export Finance and some of its support for fossil fuel. He may want to raise that with the Department for International Trade with regard to some projects.

I can tell the House—I do not think this got anywhere near the media coverage that the Global Fund announcement got—that the Prime Minister also announced at the G20 that in future all our overseas development assistance will be deployed in line with our Paris commitments. That is a really big announcement that did not get much coverage, so I am pleased to be able to mention it from the Dispatch Box.

A range of other important points were made today. We heard about malaria and work against AIDS, and the number of people whose lives will be saved. My hon. Friend the Member for Stirling mentioned the Chinese belt and road initiative. We do take a different approach to development—there is no question about it—but we find that there are some occasions when our development priorities may overlap, and we are open to looking at those occasions when they arise. We spend a lot of time encouraging the deployment of development assistance from China in the same kind of way that we would deploy it, for example, to multilaterals such as the Global Fund—specifically, at the moment, with the Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of Congo, it would be wonderful to see a bigger contribution to the World Health Organisation from Chinese development assistance.

If I may, I will take just a couple more minutes, Mr Deputy Speaker, but you are giving me that look, so—