23 Scottish MPs, from three political parties, have contacted the SMP to express their support for five key Scotland-Malawi commitments.
The SMP wrote to all Scottish MPs earlier in the year, briefing them on the bilateral relationships and our members’ work in their constituencies, and inviting them to pledge their support to five commitments in support of Scotland’s links with Malawi.
The commitments include:
* support for Scotland’s 160-year old friendship with Malawi; * support for the UK’s commitment to investing 0.7% of Gross National Income on Overseas Development Assistance (ODA) and crucially, the definition of ODA; * support for the continued existence of the Department for International Development, independent to the FCO * support for efforts to build stronger connections between the UK Government’s international development work and community-led development * support for the findings of the 2019 joint all-party Parliamentary report identifying issues in the way people from Africa are treated as they apply for UK Visas.
The full wording for all five pledges is listed at the bottom of this page.
To date, 23 MPs have replied, across the from the SNP, the Liberal Democrats and Scottish Labour, to pledge their support for these five commitments.
We will continue to engage Scottish MPs, as we do MSPs, to help connect them with our members in their constituencies and represent the interests of our members.
As further Scottish MPs approach us, expressing their commitment in these five areas, we will continue to update this page. We are extremely grateful for the strength of cross-party support for Scotland’s friendship with Malawi.
We welcome the UK Government’s decision for DFID to continue as an independent government department, with its own Secretary of State in Cabinet but are concerned that all seven Junior ministers have a split portfolio with the FCO. We are further concerned by recent reports that DFID officials in country should now report to the FCO and, with many others, fear this weaken DFID’s independence, credibility and effectiveness. We therefore welcome the strong commitment from so many Scottish MPs in this area.
Cross Party Commitments: Full wording of pledges:
- We support Scotland’s 160-year old friendship with Malawi: a historic nation-to-nation and people-to-people partnership underpinned by a sense of mutual respect and mutual understanding. We value this unique bilateral relationship which is composed of hundreds of dignified two-way partnerships between schools, faith groups, hospitals, charities and community groups, and which represents the best of Scottish internationalism. We support the work undertaken by the Scotland Malawi Partnership, to help coordinate, represent and support these many civic links, working constructively with the Scottish and UK parliaments and governments. Scotland is proud of its positive, respectful and outward-looking approach in this area.
- We support the UK’s commitment to investing 0.7% of Gross National Income on Overseas Development Assistance (ODA). This commitment, now almost fifty-years old, was only met for the first time by the UK in 2013 and has, since 2015, been set in statute. The importance of meeting this target cannot be overstated, both for the millions of lives it transforms in the developing world and the powerful symbol it gives of the UK as a responsible, outward-looking nation. We specifically expect to see no decrease to the level of UK ODA support for Malawi, as one of the poorest countries in the world. And we express caution in any widening of the definition of what constitutes ODA and the governmental channels through which it can be spent. ODA is about fighting extreme poverty, the great moral outrage of our time, and should follow the internationally-recognised OECD Development Assistance Committee definition.
- We support the continued existence of the Department for International Development (DFID) as a standalone government department, independent of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, with its own Secretary of State. In this regard we stand with over 100 of the UKs largest charities, respecting the vital role DFID plays and the global leadership the UK has shown through DFID’s work. UK aid should not be a vehicle for UK foreign policy, or its commercial or political objectives.
- We support efforts to explore ways of building stronger connections between the UK Government’s international development work, and community-led development endeavours across the UK, such as the many civic links between Scotland and Malawi. Through its many dignified links with Malawi, Scotland has developed innovative ways to bring together governmental, parliamentary and civic activity as part of one positive national effort. This model works well: it increases development impact, levers wider involvement and professional expertise across civil society, and builds public engagement and support. We believe there is significant opportunity for the UK Government to strengthen its international development work by embracing this Scottish approach, driven by dignified two-way partnership which values and engages the many civic links with the developing world.
- We support the findings of the 2019 joint all-party Parliamentary report identifying issues in the way people from Africa are treated as they apply for UK Visas. It is right that the UK has strong, effective and proportionate border controls but the process of UK visa application for those specifically invited into the UK by respected, credible, proven organisations should treat these individuals with basic respect and humanity. Without this, there is serious risk of undermining the UK’s development, diplomatic and economic engagements with the continent of Africa.