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International Development (Official Development Assistance Target) Bill — Report

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 1:00 pm on 27th February 2015.

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Photo of Baroness Northover Baroness Northover Baroness in Waiting (HM Household) (Whip), The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for International Development 1:00 pm, 27th February 2015

That is an interesting point. The problem with the aid budget is that you do not see the level of continuity and predictability that you see in other government departments, so, in some ways, the noble Lord has put his finger on why we have this Bill.

Several noble Lords have linked aid and defence. Of course, we recognise that conflict is development in reverse, with no fragile low-income country meeting a single millennium development goal. Helping rebuild fragile states will help tackle the root causes of global problems such as disease, drugs, migration and terrorism, and is far less costly than military interventions. The United Kingdom is, and has long been, a global leader in promoting a “whole of government” approach to international peace and security. The establishment of a new, more than £1 billion Conflict, Stability and Security Fund in 2015-16 will support a larger and more integrated UK effort in National Security Council priority countries.

The noble Lord, Lord Reid, rightly pointed to the outstanding contribution that the military has provided in supporting civilian efforts to combat Ebola in Sierra Leone. I welcome, as we all do, that close working and am sure that we will need to develop it further in the future. Some ODA is, of course, spent by the MoD as well as by the FCO, DECC, Defra, DoH and the Department for Education. I come back to my main point: we are trying to ensure that aid is predictable. It should not be tied to the entirely laudable aim of ensuring that defence or other areas are properly addressed. That is why we cannot support this amendment and I hope that the noble Lord will be willing to withdraw it.