Select Committee on International Development Minutes of Evidence

Examination of Witnesses (Questions 60 - 63)




  60. We have had a fairly wide-ranging discussion this morning. Permanent Secretary, is there anything that we have not covered that in that briefing which says "If pressed" you feel you ought to be sharing with us or if anything does strike you that we should have covered perhaps you would like to send a note; I think you are sending us various notes.
  (Mr Chakrabarti) Yes, we will send you the various notes. I think the one thing that—in my discussion with you recently—I would like the Committee to look at, push on, think about is the G8 and NEPAD process on Africa. We did not have the chance to talk about that today. The summit is only a week away now. Beyond that, I think implementation, where is it going, is it going to make a real difference? I think we are quite excited by the NEPAD process.

  61. Following the breakfast at Number 10, what we said—and we had a discussion about this earlier—is that everyone here is on side, everyone in the UK is pretty much on the side; we have to get the others on the side. I think that our impressions in Washington were that there was not very much thought going into the G8 conference and certainly this was not something which struck any chords. So I have written to the Prime Minister, following that breakfast, sent a copy to the Secretary of State, saying that we are very happy to do our bit, I, by writing to parliamentarians in other G8 countries or actually picking up the telephone and talking to people. I will have a word with the Secretary of State after the 7o'clock vote tomorrow night to say that I think it is for her special advisor to think through how best we can help on that. Otherwise we just have a dialogue with ourselves here and the NGOs here and we all sign up, we all agree, the Prime Minister goes off with great expectations, but I do not think anyone ought to under-estimate the challenge there is in Canada of getting delivery on this. If we can help in any way and I think if colleagues suddenly start getting telephone calls it does make them sit up a bit and think. I appreciate that time is of the essence but that maybe the greatest contribution we can make on that.
  (Mr Chakrabarti) Thank you, that is fair enough.

  62. One other point is this. I think I am right in saying that DFID now has more fast-stream applicants than practically any other department in Whitehall. If at any time my colleagues or others who are going through the Department want to come to see what it is like at the Westminster end—you give them courses about how not to answer parliamentary questions we understand—it might be helpful for them to see how we try and draft questions or whatever. I think we would all be happy individually to spare a couple of days to have someone come and spend time with us in our offices so they can see how this bit functions.
  (Mr Chakrabarti) That would be really helpful indeed. Thank you very much for that offer. We will follow it up. Just a point of clarification on that, we have always been the most popular department that actually runs fast-streamers; we just have not been able to take as many until very recently. That is the difference.

  63. We will have to hope that if the Chancellor is as generous as he keeps on saying he is going to be to DFID you will be able to take a lot more.
  (Mr Chakrabarti) Yes.

  Chairman: Thank you very much.

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