DFID-FCO Merger

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 10:36 am on 18th June 2020.

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Photo of Dominic Raab Dominic Raab The Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs 10:36 am, 18th June 2020

I thank the hon. Gentleman for his constructive and measured response to this proposal. He asked a series of serious questions, and it is incumbent on me to respond to them. He asked about protecting the aid budget. We have made clear that we remain committed to 0.7% of GNI. He asked about consultation. Of course, there were discussions across Government about this, and it has been looked at closely. The Prime Minister had indicated, with the establishment of joint Ministers across the FCO and DFID, that we wanted to take steps down this path to further integration. As I mentioned in my previous responses, what has really focused our minds is what we have learnt in coming through the challenge of coronavirus on the international level.

The hon. Gentleman asked about third-party support. The former Foreign Secretary, Sir Malcolm Rifkind, has welcomed it. My right hon. Friend Jeremy Hunt has welcomed it. The Chair of the Foreign Affairs Committee has welcomed it. He said that no NGOs did, but I can quote James Cowan, CEO of the HALO Trust, a landmine clearance charity, who said that he welcomes this decision because UK policy

“is very siloed…
and needs to be broken down” and brought together. We certainly endorse that. Aid policy and the aid budget will be at the centre—it will be the beating heart—of our international decision-making.