Draft International Development (Official Development Assistance Target) Bill - International Development Committee Contents

Examination of Witness (Question Numbers 40-41)


24 FEBRUARY 2010

  Q40  Chairman: Clearly, the DAC and the OECD are, if you like, the ring-bearers for this, which is very important. You have mentioned cross-party agreement, which we already have. What are the mechanisms, or, if you put it the other way round, there are five countries that have achieved the target but none of them went via legislation, so what are the factors that have enabled them both to achieve those targets and hold to them and are there any lessons to learn for a country like the UK which is aspiring to be in that group, other than what we are talking about here?

  Ms Jorgensen: Some of the factors that have been underpinning this are strong political support, strong public support, the ability to get the cross-party agreement, but I think also what we are facing at the moment is significant financial crises and it is putting the aid budget in all countries, including these five, under scrutiny. There has been a debate in Sweden, there is now a debate in the Netherlands, which is what was referred to earlier, about whether or not they will be able to and whether or not they should continue to meet these commitments. In Sweden the outcome has been yes, they will stick to them, and in fact they are now at over 1% and they will remain at that level. In the Netherlands we are not sure of the outcome yet because the discussion is still ongoing. There is a commitment there to a spending cut throughout government. If the target were enshrined in legislation that would be protected, but it is not in fact enshrined in legislation. There is only a cross-party agreement which has allowed them to keep to that level up until now, but if the government says a 20% spending cut throughout and that is not protected in law, obviously, that is at higher risk, so I think you do get a little bit of information about that kind of pressure if it is enshrined in law.

  Q41  Chairman: Thank you very much indeed. That has been extremely helpful and very clear. I think we will be interested to read the account of the Italian review; it might be instructive.

  Ms Jorgensen: And your own, of course, will be coming very soon as well.

  Chairman: Thank you very much indeed.

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