Clause 8 - Transparency

Part of International Development (Reporting and Transparency) Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 10:15 am on 15th February 2006.

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Photo of Mark Simmonds Mark Simmonds Shadow Minister (International Development) 10:15 am, 15th February 2006

As with the other new clauses, my party welcomes the simplification and clarity that the new clause provides by replacing clause 8. We also welcome the additional provisions on corruption and governance, which the Minister explained, and which he will know from comments on Second Reading cause concern to some of my party colleagues—and to Members from other parties as well.

I have proposed two amendments to the new clause. The first relates to a point I made in respect of a provision we debated earlier: we believe that the wording of the new clause will allow the Secretary of State to do what he or she sees fit, rather than what Parliament desires, which is to have the specific information referred to. Unusually, the Minister has not given a particularly full response on that point. I would like him to give a fuller response on why this amendment cannot be included. If he fails to do so, I will have no option but to return to this point on Report.

My amendment (b) to Government new clause 2 relates to aid effectiveness and millennium development goals 1 to 7. As the new clause is currently drafted, the report could get away with some general comments in a couple of paragraphs about those issues. We would like it to be made clear in the Bill that, in respect of the minimum of 20 countries—or of the 25 that the Minister has assured the Committee he will report on up to the end of this Parliament—the aid effectiveness will be analysed against the specific MDGs in those countries. Otherwise, DFID might choose to draw on only the most successful examples in a particular year.

The Minister started to address the other issue I would like him to deal with in his introductory remarks on the new clause. It is to do with the objective described in subsection (2)(a)(iii), which is to

“make provision for the independent monitoring and evaluation of the effectiveness of policy and expenditure in achieving its stated objectives”.

I share the Minister’s view that it would be totally unrealistic and not cost-effective to have to do that for all 130 countries to which DFID gives assistance.   However, I do not accept that it is unrealistic and not cost-effective to do so for the 20 or 25 countries in respect of which analysis of effectiveness will, as the Minister has accepted, be put in the annual report and I cannot see why that cannot be done.