MPs back DFID, 0.7% for overseas aid and the SMP

4 Jul 2019
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On Monday 1st July, MPs debated expenditure of the Department for International Development (DfID) in the House of Commons.

CLICK HERE to read the debate.

CLICK HERE to watch the debate.

There was strong cross-party support for the UK’s international development contribution and the work of DfID.

There was also support from MPs and Government for the commitment to maintain not less than 0.7% of Gross National Income on overseas development - a pledge that is set in statute.  

The SMP joins the sector in congratulating successive UK governments in maintaining this commitment and highlights the vital importance of continuing to meet this standard.

Harriett Baldwin, Minister of State for Africa, said:

“While listening to the contributions, I was struck by the consensus that emerged on the importance of the 0.7% commitment, and our pride, as British citizens, that the UK was the first major country to put that into statute, which has gained us remarkable recognition around the world. I am very happy to be part of the Government who put that into statute.

"I also want to make the point right at the beginning of my speech that at the last general election all major parties made a commitment to that figure in their manifestos.​”

MPs also used the debate to celebrate Scotland’s links with Malawi and the work of the SMP, and to encourage DfID to do more to engage the full breadth of UK civic links with the developing world.

Patrick Grady MP (Glasgow North), speaking in his Scotland-Malawi tartan tie, said:

“Taxpayers in Scotland pay for DfID through their taxes and the Scottish Government, with cross party support dating back to the time of Jack McConnell, choose to use a very small amount of their own budget to provide additional and often very innovative support, particularly through the grassroots links with Malawi, which I will say a bit more about shortly.”

"I want to touch briefly on the importance of the Government learning from and engaging with civil society actors.

"I mentioned the Scotland Malawi Partnership. I declare an interest because it provides secretariat support for the all-party group on Malawi, which I chair, and which has issued an outstanding invitation to the Secretary of State, lasting as long as is left to him, to meet the group and member organisations of the Scotland Malawi Partnership.

“The Hon. Member for Wrexham (Ian C. Lucas), who is not here, at the last DfID questions raised the idea of DfID undertaking an exercise of mapping links between local civil society organisations and counterparts in developing countries to see the added value that civil society groups in the UK bring to development.

"That would be worth the Department pursuing in the near future. In Scotland, the Scotland-Malawi people-to-people model suggests that more than 208,000 Malawians and 109,000 Scots are actively involved in the links between the two countries, while a 2018 paper from the University of Glasgow reckoned that 45% of people in Scotland could name a friend or family member with a connection to Malawi.

“Here is an opportunity for a ministerial legacy. What more could the Government do to connect formal Government efforts with those of civil society—not just the large NGOs we are familiar with, but, as my Hon. Friend the Member for East Kilbride, Strathaven and Lesmahagow (Dr Cameron) suggested, the thousands of churches, schools, hospitals, universities and community and diaspora groups involved in two-way partnerships - and not just engage with them, but fund them and encourage them to think innovatively?

“The last piece of DfID legislation was the Commonwealth Development Corporation Act 2017. We recognise the important role that the CDC plays in leveraging private capital into development. I wonder what a “civil society” equivalent might look like.​”

Alex Norris (Nottingham North) said:

“When the Hon. Member for Glasgow North (Patrick Grady) rose to speak, I hoped that he would reference Malawi and he did not disappoint.

"When I was in ​Lilongwe last year, people locally spoke positively about that proud connection that they have with Scotland.”

Responding for Government, Harriett Baldwin, Minister of State for Africa, said:

“We heard about the Scotland Malawi Partnership. I always love paying tribute to that, because it is such a rich partnership.

"The Hon. Member for Glasgow North made a sensible point about trying to map the range of different ways in which civil society links with the developing world.”