I draw the attention of the House to my entry in the Register of Members’ Financial Interests.
I start by making it absolutely clear that I regard the decision to dismantle DFID as a quite extraordinary mistake. First, it will destroy one of the most effective and respected engines of international development in the world. Secondly, many of the senior figures who are key to Britain’s role as a development superpower are likely to leave and work elsewhere in the international system, destroying at a stroke a key aspect of global Britain. Thirdly, it is completely unnecessary, as the Prime Minister exercises full control and line of sight over DFID’s strategy and priorities through the National Security Council. Churches, faith communities and hundreds—thousands—of supporters up and down the country of Oxfam, Save the Children, Christian Aid and CAFOD are dismayed, as are our many friends around the world, who are shaking their heads in disbelief at this extraordinary act.
Both the Foreign Office and DFID work ceaselessly in Britain’s national interest, but foreign affairs and development, while totally complementary, are not the same thing. I welcome the Prime Minister’s commitment to the 0.7%, but that involves both the money and the OECD rules on what constitutes legitimate aid and official development assistance, and I fear that we will shortly hear that the rules are not quite right for the United Kingdom and we need our own rules. With that, the 0,7% will go up in smoke as the stronger interests plunder the budget and Britain’s development effectiveness dissolves, and with it our international reputation as a world leader in the field.