Official Development Assistance

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 2:31 pm on 9th July 2020.

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Photo of David Mundell David Mundell Conservative, Dumfriesshire, Clydesdale and Tweeddale 2:31 pm, 9th July 2020

I am very pleased to be speaking after my right hon. Friend Mr Mitchell. Nobody on the Government Benches has done more to improve the lives of girls around the world or to support the world’s poorest, and he has been a real champion of development.

It is clear from this debate and the fact that it is happening that many people disagree with this decision or have serious concerns. I welcome the positive approach that Scotland’s International Development Alliance has taken on this issue in coming forward with a specific request for four commitments from the Government in relation to how the new organisation goes forward. I want to use my time to run through them.

The first is a commitment to poverty eradication and aid effectiveness. That is, of course, partly having the 0.7% target, and it is good that that has been confirmed, but it must be focused on the poorest and those in most need. My own particular interest, being a member of the all-party group on nutrition for growth, is nutrition. In the period since 2015, DFID has seen 50.6 million women and girls reached by the UK’s nutrition programme. The commitment to that programme ends this year, and I would like to see the Minister today or shortly renewing that commitment. It is very important and making a huge difference.

The other three commitments have already been touched on. There is the commitment to accountability, transparency and scrutiny, which means keeping a Committee that scrutinises not only ODA spending, but the Department’s responsibility to ICAI. It is essential that that continues, and if that matter comes before this House, I will be voting to support the retention of such a Committee. Scotland’s International Development Alliance is also concerned to see the retention of the commitment to the strategic development goals and the Paris agreement on climate change. Again, I think the more affirmation of that that is possible, the more it will be welcome.

Finally, as others have mentioned, there is the commitment to safeguarding DFID’s expertise. As Dr Cameron referenced, in East Kilbride, which is in the neighbouring constituency to mine, the Abercrombie House operation is a huge asset to DFID and to Scotland, and we want to see it continue.