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Results-Based Aid

4. Mr. Simon Burns (West Chelmsford) (Con): What recent representations he has received on the policy of results-based aid; and if he will make a statement. [311678]

9. Angela Watkinson (Upminster) (Con): What recent representations he has received on the policy of results-based aid; and if he will make a statement. [311683]

The Minister of State, Department for International Development (Mr. Gareth Thomas): Last year, in preparation for the White Paper we received representations on a wide range of issues, including results-based aid. All our aid is designed to achieve results. In 2007-08, our aid resulted in 12,000 classrooms being built or reconstructed, and more than 60,000 health professionals were trained and more than 3 million children were vaccinated against measles.

Mr. Burns: Does the Minister agree that the public service agreement system for measuring the results of DFID's aid is deeply flawed, because it fails to focus on the Department's specific contribution to poverty reduction? Does he agree that the best way to measure DFID's performance would be through genuinely independent evaluation of the transparency of any analysis?

Mr. Thomas: There are two parts to the hon. Gentleman's question. First, I do not agree that the PSA is fundamentally flawed. Secondly, he might not be aware that there have been a series of evaluations of the way in which the Department goes about its business, including by the OECD development assistance committee and the International Development Committee, and there are also regular evaluations by the National Audit Office. I do not think any other process of evaluation is required.

Angela Watkinson: What confidence can the taxpayer have that aid channelled through the European Union is spent effectively, disbursed swiftly and focused properly?

Mr. Thomas: The OECD development assistance committee has also reviewed the quality of European Community aid; it noted a radical improvement in it
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over the past 12 years, which we recognise as well. We regularly work with the EC in a range of countries, not least India and many sub-Saharan African nations, and our staff have noticed a significant improvement in the quality of EC aid over the past 12 years.

Ann Clwyd (Cynon Valley) (Lab): There are many examples of how DFID aid has been used to rebuild civil society in Iraq, particularly in respect of the trade unions. [Interruption.] The trade unions were corrupted under Saddam, but they are now being rebuilt with the help of DFID aid. [Interruption.]

Mr. Speaker: Order. I can just about hear the right hon. Lady's question, but, as usual at this time on a Wednesday, far too many private conversations are taking place in the Chamber. That is very discourteous to the Member asking the question, and to the Minister answering it.

Mr. Thomas: I agree with my right hon. Friend the Member for Cynon Valley (Ann Clwyd), who has done a hugely important job in helping the Department focus on what else we can do to assist the development of civil society in Iraq. Supporting the growth of the trade union movement in that country is just one example of how our aid is making a difference.

Mr. Denis MacShane (Rotherham) (Lab): Is the Minister satisfied, however, with the results from the more than £1 billion of aid given to the Adam Smith Institute and management consultants promoting neo-liberal ideology, thus increasing poverty and inequality in the world? Does he think that the Conservative party's proposal to increase that money to its consultant friends in the City is a good way of spending our aid?

Mr. Thomas: My right hon. Friend draws attention to the suggestions that the Opposition have made. The one that he has highlighted is just one of a series that appear half-baked and unthought-through.

Mr. Geoffrey Clifton-Brown (Cotswold) (Con): We have already heard this morning in relation to Haiti how important it is to maintain public confidence in the delivery of effective aid. Does the Minister therefore support the concept of cash for delivery of aid, which is widely supported, in particular by the Washington-based Centre for Global Policy? If he does, where is his Department operating the policy, which links delivery to successful outcomes of aid?

Mr. Thomas: A recent document, which I had the unfortunate experience of having to read, includes the statement:

That quote was taken from the Tory Green Paper and, I think, alludes to the difficulties of cash on delivery. Such an approach is not much use if Governments do not have the money up front to pay for the extra teachers, schools and textbooks that they need.

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Overseas Development Assistance

5. Mark Pritchard (The Wrekin) (Con): What recent steps he has taken to increase transparency in respect of his Department's overseas development assistance. [311679]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for International Development (Mr. Michael Foster): The Department is committed to increasing the transparency of its aid programme. We have already implemented our White Paper commitment to publish a database of DFID projects on our website. We continue to lead the international aid transparency initiative to enhance the transparency of all global donor aid programmes.

Mark Pritchard: But is it not the case still that far too many project details and log frames remain hidden in the deep vaults of Whitehall? If the Government are serious about transparency, is it not time the public had far more access, so that they can make up their own mind about how DFID spends taxpayers' money?

Mr. Foster: The summary information about projects has been on the website since August last year. Given that we are engaged in the international aid transparency initiative and want a common standard for reporting, it would be perverse for the UK to publish our own data now in the detail that the hon. Gentleman requires, only for it to have to be changed, potentially, upon agreement with our international partners. That would not represent good value to the taxpayer.

Mr. Lindsay Hoyle (Chorley) (Lab): Does the Minister agree that transparency is important to the taxpayer, but that we must back that up with a full audit trail to where the money is spent?

Mr. Foster: I agree that we should have the recommended independent evaluation and that the audit trail should be made available, so that people can have confidence that the money spent by the Department gives good UK aid on the ground.

Ministerial Meeting (Sweden)

6. Anne Milton (Guildford) (Con): What matters were discussed at his recent meeting with his Swedish counterpart. [311680]

The Secretary of State for International Development (Mr. Douglas Alexander): I last met my Swedish counterpart, Gunilla Carlsson, on 14 December at a ministerial meeting at the Copenhagen climate change summit, where we discussed co-operation between the European Union and developing countries in support of an agreement that meets the needs of the poor and most vulnerable people.

Anne Milton: Does the Secretary of State agree that the Government can learn from the Swedish Government's focus on giving aid where it makes the most difference and linking it to multilateral agencies that have clear evidence on its effectiveness?

Mr. Alexander: I admire both the generosity and the effectiveness of Swedish aid, but I also welcome the fact that in recent months the Swedish Government have been in discussion with DFID about what lessons they can learn from the UK.

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Mr. Andy Reed (Loughborough) (Lab/Co-op): Sweden obviously has a good record in delivering aid and meeting the target of 0.7 per cent. of GDP. What lessons is it learning, and what can the Minister learn, about the effectiveness of long-term good governance as the way of meeting our millennium development goals by 2015?

Mr. Alexander: The tragic situation in Haiti reminds us all of the centrality and importance of basic Government services being delivered, and the very damaging consequences where those services are not present. That is why, in one of our previous White Papers, there was a specific focus on governance, which continues to be a central theme of the work that we do in the Department.

Climate Change

7. Jim Sheridan (Paisley and Renfrewshire, North) (Lab): What plans he has to provide financial assistance to lesser developed countries for the purposes of their adaptation to the effects of climate change. [311681]

The Minister of State, Department for International Development (Mr. Gareth Thomas): My right hon. Friend the Prime Minister has committed £1.5 billion over the next three years to help developing countries tackle climate change. Half of that will be spent on helping poor and vulnerable countries adapt to the effects of climate change.

Jim Sheridan: As part of a cross-party delegation, I recently visited some of the most vulnerable communities in the Pacific islands, where we saw at first hand the devastation that rising sea levels cause. Will my hon. Friend therefore tell the House what further financial or, indeed, other assistance we can give those people to help their communities?

Mr. Thomas: My right hon. Friend the Prime Minister's announcement was part of an effort at Copenhagen to galvanise fast-start finance and help developing countries, such as those that my hon. Friend has just described, to get the funding that they need immediately in order to make their countries more resilient to the impact of climate change. My right hon. Friend the Prime Minister and other Ministers helped to secure commitments worth some $10 billion a year by 2012 to help with that challenge.

Mr. William Cash (Stone) (Con): Will the Minister go to the international water conference in March, given that people from Pump Aid, whom I met today, and Water Aid are concerned about the situation not only in Haiti but elsewhere-in Africa and the rest of the world-regarding the serious problem of sanitation?

Mr. Thomas: At the risk of ruining the hon. Gentleman's reputation, may I commend him for his consistent campaigning on water and sanitation issues? He will be aware of the substantial increase that we have made in aid for water and sanitation projects. He has asked me a specific question about a specific conference, and I shall have a look at that and write to him privately.

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Prime Minister

The Prime Minister was asked-


Q1. [311690] Danny Alexander (Inverness, Nairn, Badenoch and Strathspey) (LD): If he will list his official engagements for Wednesday 20 January.

The Prime Minister (Mr. Gordon Brown): I am sure that the whole House will wish to join me in paying tribute to Corporal Lee Brownson and Rifleman Luke Farmer from 3rd Battalion The Rifles. They died in Afghanistan this week, and our thoughts are with their families and friends at this very sad time. Last night, I read through the moving tributes of their fellow soldiers to the immense bravery, selflessness and camaraderie that they displayed serving their colleagues, the British people and the people of Afghanistan, and they will not be forgotten.

All of us have also been deeply moved to action by the still unfolding tragedy of the people of Haiti, some of the poorest people in the world facing some of the most extreme hardships imaginable; and our thoughts and condolences go also to those families in the United Kingdom who have been directly affected by the tragedy. We must, first, provide all support; secondly, improve international co-ordination; and thirdly, help put the Government of Haiti back on their feet so that they are able to deliver reconstruction.

This morning I had meetings with ministerial colleagues and others. In addition to my duties in the House, I shall have further such meetings later today.

Danny Alexander: I join the Prime Minister's tribute to the two brave soldiers who lost their lives in Afghanistan and welcome the steps that he is taking to support the people of Haiti. I welcome also the consultation on the broadband next-generation fund, but 10 per cent. of the population of the highlands will be left out, according to the Government's consultation, and the rest will be in the final third grouping-despite broadband's enormous economic benefits. The fact is that businesses cannot wait. Why does the Prime Minister think that it is acceptable to leave out 10 per cent. of the population overall, and to leave the rest of rural Britain at the end of the queue?

The Prime Minister: The whole purpose of the digital initiative is to include as much of the United Kingdom as possible in having fast broadband, and that is why we are making available £1 billion to businesses to be able to do so. That will mean that 95 per cent. of the population of the country will be guaranteed broadband and fast broadband very soon. In other areas, we hope to make advances-in the Scottish circumstances, in consultation with the Scottish Administration--and I hope that the hon. Gentleman finds that, over time, we will be able to solve the problem of those remaining rural areas that will not at the moment get broadband. Our programme means that we will be one of the countries that will have the fastest broadband more quickly than any other, and that will help develop large numbers of businesses in this country, and help unemployment to continue to fall.

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Dr. Tony Wright (Cannock Chase) (Lab): Some time ago, the City Minister, Lord Myners, said that he thought that it was becoming too easy for good British companies to be taken over by foreign predators. Now that we have had the outrage involving Cadbury, does my right hon. Friend agree?

The Prime Minister: Cadbury employs more than 5,000 people in this country, and it is a very important company for the future of this country. We are seeking assurance and have received information from Kraft about the importance that it attaches to the Cadbury work force, to the Cadbury name and to Cadbury's quality in the United Kingdom. We hope that Kraft's owners will make sure that Cadbury's 5,500 workers can retain their jobs, and make sure that new investment goes into a product that is distinctly British and sold throughout the world. So we will do everything that we can to make sure that jobs and investment are maintained in Britain.

Mr. David Cameron (Witney) (Con): I join the Prime Minister in paying tribute to Corporal Lee Brownson and Rifleman Luke Farmer. They died serving our country. We must honour their memory and we must look after the loved ones whom they have left behind.

Everyone in the House, and in the whole country, has been touched by the scale of the tragedy in Haiti. We can be proud of the British response: the public, who have donated generously; the members of the fire service, who volunteered immediately; and the NGOs, who are doing such a good job in Haiti. Does the Prime Minister agree that there will come a time when we should reflect on how Britain, and the international community, can make the initial rescue effort even better, even faster, and even more effective? More immediately, will the Prime Minister update the House on the further action that Britain is intending to take to assist the international relief effort?

The Prime Minister: I am grateful to the right hon. Gentleman. It is of course a matter of immediate action followed by an assessment as to what can be done better in future. As I suggested two years ago, having a reconstruction and stabilisation agency that is ready, on tap, to deal with these problems is something that the United Nations must consider very seriously.

As for relief to Haiti, this still unfolding tragedy requires, first of all, firefighters and others to rescue people from under the rubble, and that is happening wherever possible. It requires food and medical supplies and, indeed, energy resources to be brought into Haiti, and that is happening as well. It requires the co-ordination of the medical services, which is being done principally by the Americans, but I can say also that we are sending a boat, RFA Largs Bay, to help with the effort; it will be able to help to unload supplies into Haiti. That is a decision that has been made this morning.

At the same time, I have talked to President Obama about what we can most do to help in the reconstruction of the Government effort in Haiti so that the Government can take further control over decisions that are to be made in the country. We have agreed that we will help to rebuild the office of the interior, the treasury and other areas where work can start so that the civil government can perform. We have medics in Haiti who are doing what they can to help.

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