As had been announced by the Prime Minister in June, at the start of September the UK Government’s Department for International Development (DFID) ceased to exist, merged with the FCO to form the new Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office.
The SMP is strongly opposed to this move and sees this as a significant, and very sad, backwards step in the UK’s international development contribution. While not perfect, DFID undoubtedly did a power of good in its 23 years.
With the strong support Scottish MPs across different parties, the SMP wrote to the Prime Minister in June to communicate our members’ disappointment. We also met with Alister Jack MP, Secretary of State for Scotland, to highlight why this was such an important issue. and our concerns going forwards.
In recent weeks there have been numerous reports that the UK Government is set to renege on its commitment to 0.7% of Gross National Income (GNI) being committed to Official Development Assistance (ODA), as is set in statute. This would directly contradict the written assurances the SMP has received from the Africa Minister, on behalf of the PM, and the Secretary of State for Scotland:
- “The work of UK Aid to reduce poverty will remain central to the new department’s mission. Our commitment to spending 0.7 percent of our national income on aid is enshrined in law and we will continue to be guided by our responsibilities under the International Development Act, including a commitment to poverty reduction. It is right and serves the national interest.”
James Duddridge MP Minister for Africa (22 July letter to the SMP on behalf of the PM)
- “We remain, of course, committed to spending 0.7% of GNI on development. It is right in itself and it serves the national interest.” Rt Hon Alister Jack MP, Secretary of State for Scotland (3 July letter to the SMP)
We therefore very warmly welcome the public assurance in the last week from the Foreign Secretary that the UK will not now end its 0.7% aid commitment.
We encourage the UK Government to continue its commitment to 0.7%, continuing the existing definitions of aid under the DAC rules, and all provisions of the International Development Act.
While we profoundly disagree with the decision to merge DFID and the FCO, we recognise and respect that this decision has been made and implemented, and we look to respectfully work with the new FCDO.
Representing Scotland’s strong commitment to international development, we hope that the values, ethos and impact of the UK’s ODA does not diminish it its new home and we stand ready to support the new Department in this endeavour, however we can.