HC 555


House of commons

Oral evidence

taken before the

International Development Committee

THE 2010 Millennium Development  GOALS REVIEW SUMMIT

Thursday 21 October 2010


Evidence heard in  Public Questions  1-54



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Oral Evidence

Taken before the  International Development Select Committee

on  Thursday 21 October 2010

Members present:


Malcolm Bruce (Chair)


Hugh Bayley

Mr Russell Brown

Mr James Clappison

Richard Harrington

Pauline Latham

Jeremy Lefroy

Anas Sarwar

Chris White



Examination of Witnesses

Witness:  Mr Andrew Mitchell MP, Secretary of State for International Development, gave evidence.

Q1 Chair: Good morning, Secretary of State. Thank you very much indeed for coming in to give evidence. I am sorry you were slightly held up on your way here, but we will crack on.

Obviously, the prime purpose of this is to review the Millennium Development Goals and the summit, but I do not think you will be surprised after yesterday’s announcement that we just briefly might want to explore with you a couple of points relating to that. I am sure that I speak for the whole Committee in saying that we are obviously pleased-delighted, indeed-that the Government is determined to deliver the 0.7% by 2013 that all parties were committed to, but you will appreciate that the fact that it is being done, if you like, in a "hockey stick" kind of approach, which holds the level at 0.56% for two years and then takes it up to 0.7%. That means you will have a big increase in the budget in the third year at a time when you will have cut your administrative costs and overheads by 30%. The question that obviously occurs is: how do you envisage the Department’s being able to absorb that increase in one year and to deliver the practical spending of that money, and the outcomes that are associated with it, in that context? That is a question that is being asked and I think it would be helpful to have your take on that.

Andrew Mitchell: Well thank you very much, Chairman. It is good to be back in front of the Select Committee. I notice we are in the Lloyd George Room today, which underlines the fact that this is a coalition Government. As you say, after an extremely difficult day yesterday, where the coalition has sought to make a number of decisions that we argue are critical for Britain’s economic future, we have been able to make it clear that we will stand by our pledge to the poorest people in the world.

I want to say that I am immensely proud; I cannot think of any decision a Government has taken in the 23 years since I first entered the House of Commons of which I have been more proud than this commitment-an allparty commitment, as you rightly say-to stand by the poorest in the world and not to balance the books on the backs of the poorest people on the planet. So I think it is a very important day for development, about which I know many people-all this Committee-are passionate, as am I.

In respect of the trajectory towards the 0.7% to which you referred, I think that the settlement is as good as it could possibly be. It was a settlement that we argued for with the Treasury. As you rightly say, it does not shield us from scrutiny; our budget may be ring-fenced, but that imposes an extra duty on us to spend the money really well, and that is why of course the administrative reductions to which you referred have been and are being made in my Department, as they are in all Departments across Whitehall.

We have, however, been able to negotiate with the Treasury a deal on head count, which focuses on the programme head count as well as the admin head count. I think I referred to this when I came before the Committee before, but I am now satisfied that as a result of this deal there will be adequate staffing for the programme expenditure, which is virtually the whole of the budget. That, as you say, is extremely important. Otherwise, if you reduce the staffing and increase the budget, you are in danger of tipping the money out of the door and not properly monitoring it or doing everything through the multilateral agencies.

We are absolutely determined to stand by and make those two critical changes I described when I last came before the Select Committee. First, we will have a very strong results focus on everything we do-what we are buying for every hard-pressed taxpayer’s pound that we are spending-coupled with the independent evaluation so that taxpayers and the British public do not have to take the word of Ministers for the fact that this budget is well spent; they will have independent corroboration of that. So that is the answer to the admin point.

In respect of the "hockey stick" that you described, you are right that there is a significant increase, as I am sure the Committee will understand, in the last year, year three, of this settlement-year three and year four-where we reach 0.7% in both those two years. The way in which I think that will be done is through looking at the contribution to IDA 16, where it will be possible to back load that contribution, and that will help smooth out the steep increase in that last year.

Chair: Thank you. Hugh Bayley.

Q2 Hugh Bayley: My back-of-the-envelope calculation last night was that the decision to flat line at 0.56% for two years and then to increase to 0.7%, compared with an increase in three equal stages, will leave between £2 billion and £3 billion less available for distributing as development aid. Is that your calculation?

Andrew Mitchell: What do you mean by less as development aid?

Hugh Bayley: If, as many people expected, the Government had increased from 0.56% of GNI to 0.7% of GNI in three equal stages over the three years, you obviously would have spent more in year one and year two than the Government is proposing, because you have decided to flat line at 0.56% for two years then to increase to 0.7%. My calculation is that the difference between those two projections for increasing the rate of spend is somewhere between £2 billion and £3 billion less than would have been the case if you had increased the budget in equal stages. Is that calculation right?

Andrew Mitchell: Well, I have two points to make. The first is that if you look at the ODA budget for the four years-and the ODA budget, of course, is a calendar year, not a financial year-the figure in this year, which we can say is the baseline year, is £8.36 billion. Next year it will be £8.7 billion; the following year £9.1 billion; in 2013 £12 billion; and in 2014 £12.65 billion. So you can see the profile of the overspend.

I think that any fair-minded person looking at yesterday’s settlement would give tremendous credit to the Prime Minister and to the Chancellor of the Exchequer, and to the Deputy Prime Minister as well, for standing by this British commitment. It underlines Britain’s leadership role in development around the world. I think it corresponds absolutely with the tremendous generosity of spirit that is always shown by the British public, most recently through the response to the Disasters Emergency Committee appeal in Pakistan.

I think it says something about our values, but not only our values as a coalition Government; it is also our values as a people. You can argue that we should have gone above the 0.56% in the first two years, but I think if you look at the settlement as a whole, you look at the very difficult decisions the coalition has had to make, which the Chancellor set out yesterday. I think this is a really fantastic achievement in the settlement we have got.

Q3 Hugh Bayley: Could I ask one other question in relation to funding for conflict states? The spending review documents state that you will spend 30% of your budget in conflict states. I take it that means 30% of bilateral aid?

Andrew Mitchell: No, that is 30% of the ODA budget. Would it be helpful if I just put that in context?

Hugh Bayley: Yes, it would.

Chair: It would, yes.

Andrew Mitchell: This will be an increase from something like 23% or 24% to 30%. So in the scale of the budget it is a significant increase, but it is of that order, so one must not get it out of proportion. It means, because of the very privileged position we are in, virtually all aspects of my budget, apart from the admin spend, will increase.

Don’t believe for a moment this is something to do with militarising the development budget. It is not, and let me explain why. First, the rules that govern the spending of this budget are clearly laid down by the OECD DAC. Just as the military have their doctrine-the military doctrine-of what wins wars, so we have our OECD DAC rules about what is and is not good development expenditure. That is the definition; we have always been absolutely clear that that is the definition of the ODA budget and we will stand by that definition.

Equally, if you do not focus on these fragile states, then some of the most wretched people in the world lose out twice over: once, because they are poor and living in developing countries, and secondly because they are neglected because they are in a conflict state. If you look at these conflict states, none of them, as things stand, is likely to reach any of these MDGs by 2015, and of the 34 countries furthest away from reaching these MDGs, 22 of them are fragile and conflicted states. So I would submit to the Committee that increasing the proportion of the budget that focuses on those states by this amount is absolutely right in the interests of a propoor policy for helping some of the least well off in the world.

Q4 Hugh Bayley: I cannot speak for my colleagues, but speaking for myself, I think it is important to do development in fragile and post-conflict states, because if you do not address the problem of insecurity and the problems of conflict, you cannot do development. I can understand how you can take administrative decisions to direct 30% of your bilateral aid to conflict states, but in terms of us doing our scrutiny and monitoring job, I do not understand how you can ensure when you make your IDA contribution, for instance, that the World Bank will devote 30% of that money to conflict states. It may do so, but are you in a position to direct multinational partners to follow your policy in respect of the UK contribution?

Andrew Mitchell: As Mr Bayley, who knows the World Bank extremely well, will be aware, the way you negotiate these things is you build up towards IDA 16 and Britain’s contribution will be determined by how well spent we think that budget is. That is the reason why the World Bank budget is the subject of the Multilateral Aid Review and we will look very carefully at what they are achieving.

Let us be clear: the one thing that people know about IDA 15 in Britain-those who follow these things closely-is that Britain was the largest donor and that we gave something like $1 billion a year to each year of that replenishment. What I want them to know about the next replenishment is how many kids are getting into school, how much clean water and sanitation you are delivering to people who do not have it. I want them to know the results. Because of the results focus of everything we do now, we expect to reach the 30% figure by the end of this four-year period. Let us be clear: it is not a year-one figure. Looking across the results we are going to achieve and where we hope to achieve them, I think that 30% is a good ballpark figure and I expect us to be pretty much there.

Chair: I don’t want us to get too bogged down on this, because we need to address the MDG summit, but I see a number of colleagues want to come in, so if you can keep it short, Russell-then Pauline, and then Anas.

Q5 Mr Brown: Thank you very much, Chairman. Secretary of State, I apologise; I need to, along with other colleagues, I think, dash out to the Chamber, but I will come back. It is just on this point that Hugh has raised, because earlier in the week the Strategic Defence and Security Review actually had a paragraph in there about our 0.7% and the OECD criteria.

There is anxiety out there in our communities and among some of the organisations that the road that we have embarked on in trying to achieve that goal in 2013 of 0.7% is there; people are focused on that. The anxiety is that what we may encounter, or what we may see, is MoD spend and Foreign and Commonwealth Office spend that suddenly comes into that calculation to help us achieve that 0.7%. Although it meets the OECD criteria, these elements have not, to the best of most people’s knowledge, been included in the aid support that we have seen over recent years. So there is an anxiety that spend from elsewhere that has gone on and not been included in the calculation may suddenly become included in the calculation to make us achieve this goal.

Andrew Mitchell: Well, I hope I can satisfy you on this point, because the OECD DAC rules are extremely precise, for the reasons I just set out, and either funding is or is not OECD DAC compliant.

We already spend money; under the last Government, my Department contributes money to the conflict pool, to the work of the Stabilisation Unit, as does the MoD and the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, so there is joint work that takes place. As I think I mentioned the last time I was in front of the Committee, I have looked carefully around Whitehall at ODA-compliant spending, which I think should continue-subject always, of course, to independent evaluation.

For example, when I was in discussions with the Foreign Secretary about the British Council, it was clear that he would not be able to fund that through his budget and I said that we would look at it. I made it clear back in July that, as much of what the British Council does is ODA compliant-the Committee will understand the very good work that the British Council does around the world, particularly on education-I would not want us as a country to lose the ability to fund that. So I made it clear to the Foreign Office that we would take that over, but subject to the fact that it must be good quality spend that the independent evaluation body says is well spent.

Chair: These are things that we as a Committee will be able to pursue in the coming months. Pauline Latham.

Q6 Pauline Latham: Obviously, I was delighted yesterday when I heard the Chancellor say that we were committed to spending 0.7% by 2013. We recently went to Brussels and some of our money that is counted as overseas development money is given to Brussels to spend on our behalf. I was particularly disturbed, as I think a number of colleagues were, to find that 40% of their total budget is going to Turkey.

How does that square with our 0.7%? I do not think we want to be spending that amount of money on Turkey, or indeed other accession countries, because I do not see that they meet the criteria of the poorest countries in the world. So how are we going to make sure that the money that we give to Brussels to spend on our behalf, which I am not entirely happy with, is spent on what we want it to be spent on and not their goals?

Andrew Mitchell: Well, certainly we do not spend bilateral money in Turkey. One could imagine, Mr Chairman, arguments that Britain supports Turkey being an accession state to the European Union, and one can see reasons why European Union expenditure in Turkey, building up infrastructure and so forth, will make that accession easier.

I think the point that Mrs Latham makes underlines the importance of the Multilateral Aid Review, which is of course looking at the spending through the European Development Fund and will inform our contribution. The Minister of State is in Brussels today having discussions about the budget and I can assure Mrs Latham that we will be doing everything we can to drive up both transparency of where this money is spent and the effectiveness of the way it is spent.

Chair: I am trying to keep this under control. Anas Sarwar.

Q7 Anas Sarwar: Good morning, Secretary of State. Thank you so much for coming this morning. Like everyone else on the Committee, I welcome the Government’s announcements yesterday; I think it is something we can be proud of as a country that all three main political parties support our development targets and goals.

Just picking up on a point made by Russell, you mentioned the OECD definition that you said is clear in terms of what is DAC-able, but DFID’s definition has always been a lot tighter than the OECD definition. Are there any plans to change DFID’s definition of what is development assistance? If so, I think some of us would have some concerns with that.

I have a second point. You mentioned quite rightly about keeping to commitments. I understand the reason why you might need an Lshaped trajectory in terms of the increase in the development budget, but a 30% increase in the last year is a very large leap indeed and the only way we can guarantee that is going to happen is if we do have a commitment that we enshrine in law our 0.7% commitment, which is a promise that all political parties made before the election. So when will that Bill be coming before Parliament? I hope it will be coming before that leap in 201314.

Andrew Mitchell: Yes, the commitment is to legislate during this Session; the Session is quite a long one, being the first of a new Parliament, but that is the commitment and we are absolutely clear, as we have said, that we will legislate for the 0.7% commitment from 2013 to be enshrined in law. That will happen during this Session. Mr Sarwar will appreciate that there is quite a lot of additional legislation following from yesterday and we will have to take our place in that queue, but this is an absolute commitment and we are going to legislate, so I hope I can satisfy him on that point. As and when I have further information on the timing of that and indeed on the full content of the Bill, then of course I will give it to the Committee.

On the OECD DAC definition, we should be clear about this: the commitment that Britain has always made, and that we made in Opposition and in Government, was to stand by the OECD DAC rules. That has been the commitment of the British Government; these are the rules that we operate within. In a very tight expenditure settlement across Whitehall where we have this ring-fenced budget, it is right for us to consider whether other expenditure that cannot be supported by the Foreign Office, like the British Council, which I described, should be picked up under our budget.

I think it was absolutely right to do so. This will all become public; you will be able to look at the way we spend the money. We are going to be the most transparent Government ever, particularly in terms of development, with the transparency guarantee that we published in June-from January, everything being put on the website above £500 of value. So the Committee will be able to help us to get this right, but I am absolutely confident that the OECD DAC rules give us the right platform on which to operate.

Q8 Anas Sarwar: So you accept that DFID’s definition will be changing, then?

Andrew Mitchell: There is no such thing as the DFID definition. DFID is a Department of State. The Government definition of how we spend our money is absolutely in line with the OECD DAC rules.

Chair: Okay, I think we can pursue that separately. I am trying to close this down, but James, did you-

Q9 Mr Clappison: Well, I was just going to open up, I am afraid, on what I think is the very important question that Pauline Latham has asked.

Half our multilateral aid goes to the EU and a very large proportion of the aid that we spend-of the 0.7%, as it will be in three years’ time-goes through the European Union. Secretary of State, you mentioned the European Development Fund; I think our contributions to that are more of a voluntary nature with other EU member states and are done on a nation-state basis. However, money goes to the EU itself, separately-the EU aid budget, which I think is nearly £1.4 billion, a very substantial part of our aid.

We were told on our visit to Brussels that less than half that aid went to lower-income countries; that, as Pauline Latham rightly said, Turkey was the biggest single recipient of EU aid; but also that among the states that received the most aid were states such as Croatia and Serbia and other states in the European neighbourhood, as it were, which are not remotely poor states or states with a lot of poor people in them. What can we do about this state of affairs? It seems that Europe is the weak link in our attempts to help the poorest people in the world.

Andrew Mitchell: Well, Mr Clappison is absolutely right about the nature of the two lines of development expenditure that take place in the European Union. There is the European Development Fund-the EDF-over which we have very considerable influence, and we will exercise that influence on a propoor agenda. The other comes from own resources. We have much less control over that; it is all tied up with the current budget negotiations. The European Union announced yesterday they wanted to increase the budget; we think that the EU budget should be subject to the same constraints that the member states are subject to. We also argue that within that budget, reduced from what was suggested yesterday certainly, the development element should be prioritised and should be tightly focused. So we will be arguing for all these things as part of the budget negotiation.

Q10 Mr Clappison: I think you are absolutely right to argue that. Can we be transparent about this, though, and can we let the public know what the true state of affairs is with the EU aid budget? It is being counted as part of this 0.7% and the EU itself is claiming how good it is at spending aid, whereas in fact most of its aid is going not to particularly poor countries or poor people.

Andrew Mitchell: Would it be helpful, Mr Chairman, if I arranged for my Department to produce a note on the way in which the EU spends aid for the Committee?

Chair: Yes, I think it would. I am going to close this down because we are here to discuss the MDG summit, and while this is tangentially relevant, obviously, because where ODA goes and how it impacts effectively or not on the MDGs is important, it is not central to the purpose of today. I am sorry, but I am really going to insist that we move on to the central agenda, because I have had to shut out two or three other colleagues to try to keep it short. I hope that is not a protest and you are going to ask a question.

Richard Harrington: No, I don’t suppose I’m asking a question.

Q11 Chair: So I apologise to colleagues that have not been called, but I think we have let that run. Thank you very much for that.

To get to the summit outcomes and the follow through from that, I think it was Professor Sachs of Columbia University who said it was the last chance for the world to get it right; I don’t think he was the only person who said that kind of thing. Given that we have only five years to go, that is not an unreasonable statement, but do you think that is a fair assessment of the importance of the summit and-we will have details on this-do you think the challenge was in fact met? Did the international community really step up to the plate at the summit and deliver what was needed to get us to where we should be in 2015?

Andrew Mitchell: Well this was my first international summit quite like this and the UN is a fascinating but frustrating place in which to operate. The Deputy Prime Minister led our delegation and was there for the major General Assembly sessions and spoke in that. I dealt with the lion’s share of the MDG summit itself.

I think the answer to your question, Mr Chairman, is that good progress was made but many of these goals are miles off track. We set a particular priority around three areas: first, mother and child mortality-maternal mortality; secondly, on malaria, about which the coalition feels extremely strongly about making progress; and then there were other areas, including education, in particular nutrition, which we championed, and also a focus with some very interesting discussions about how we try to lift the quality of life for people living in very conflicted countries.

So there was a good coverage of all eight of the MDGs. The extent to which the answer to your question is "yes" will become clear as a result of the general audit of all the commitments that have been made that the Secretary General is currently assembling, which will be published, and then through ECOSOC every year there will be an audit of the way the progress is being made on these goals. In particular, I have put to Raj Shah, the Administrator of USAID, a proposition, which he has accepted, that Britain and America should each year, for every one of the eight Millennium Development Goals, produce an audit of who is doing best and where is the best practice-not particularly, or indeed at all, for finger-pointing purposes, but to try to disseminate best practice.

Q12 Chair: Sorry, do you mean which donor country or which recipient?

Andrew Mitchell: In each of the remaining five years, we should produce an audit for each of the eight goals on where the most progress is being made and which countries are doing best. This might be countries that have made the biggest leap in the previous year, but of course countries that are doing well by definition make a smaller leap, so it might look at where the practice is driving forward delivery on those goals.

We are working at the moment with CGD in Washington and with ODI over the river here on how we would encapsulate that; what would be the metric for delivering those results. That also will help all of us to see the extent to which progress is being made. It will require an unremitting commitment, including from countries that made commitments at the summit, in honouring those commitments if we are to deliver these goals and the world must have an unremitting focus on each of these goals and ensuring that they are delivered to the best possible effect between now and 2015.

Chair: Alright, thank you for that. Chris White.

Q13 Chris White: Just a couple of things to add on to the end of that. You talked about an "unremitting focus" on these goals. Have you thought of adding a strong political focus as well on top of the existing goals-shifting away from the social and economic side of things towards adding a governance and a political side?

Andrew Mitchell: Well the governance and political stuff, of course, is critical to the achievement of most of the goals. I thought when you said a political focus you meant making sure that we use every summit to drive forward this agenda, but you are talking about the political development within countries?

Chris White: Absolutely correct.

Andrew Mitchell: Yes. Well, there is the political development within countries-building up civil society, enabling what at one level you might argue is a sort of "Big Society" internationally. Building up the capacity of civil society in each country to hold its own leaders and its politicians to account for delivering on basic services is fundamental to development and a lot of funding that we use in the bilateral programme is focused on how you assist civil society-the sinews of governance, responsiveness to populations-to develop.

Q14 Chris White: I very much appreciate your answer. Do you think it should be made more explicit in our remit to be able to judge these things over time?

Andrew Mitchell: I think we are pretty clear about the importance of the point that Mr White is making and we certainly try to ensure that it is enshrined in everything we are doing.

Chris White: Thank you. May I continue?

Chair: Yes, carry on.

Q15 Chris White: May I gently remind you that in July you said you wanted an agreement on an action agenda and results-based policy and financial commitments to be made at the summit. Were you disappointed that there was only one such plan?

Andrew Mitchell: I think that Britain has a very strong leadership role in development around the world, and that was very clear indeed at the summit. The focus that we have placed on a results agenda, on moving the development discussion away from inputs to outputs and outcomes-something we talked about at the last session that I attended-is understood.

There is a lot of interest in what Britain is doing, a lot of focus on the independence of aid evaluation that we are setting up-how we measure results, what are the key metrics you require for that. So I was not disappointed and the agenda for action is still emerging and will not be set in stone; it will continue to develop over the next years and we are going to do everything we can to make sure that it really is effective.

Chris White: Thank you.

Chair: Jeremy Lefroy?

Q16 Jeremy Lefroy: Moving on, Secretary of State, the UK Government seemed to concentrate perhaps quite a lot on health MDGs at the summit. Do you think that this creates a risk of having a hierarchy of goals and not treating them all equally?

Andrew Mitchell: Well we certainly focus very heavily on putting girls and women at the centre of development, and we are very clear about the critical importance of that for a whole series of reasons with which the Committee will be familiar. There has been a very strong focus on maternal mortality, partly because it was the goal that is most offtrack, partly because it is an issue that the Prime Minster ratcheted up the agenda at the G8 earlier this year and made clear his and Britain’s very strong commitment to tackling MDGs 5 and 4.

There should not be a hierarchy, but I think it is right that we focus on some of those that are most offtrack and, indeed, part of the reason for increasing the element of the budget spent in conflicted states and in fragile areas is that they are the people who are furthest away from achieving these goals. So what we need to take, in my view-and that is the reason for this idea that Raj Shah and I are working out-is a sheep dog approach to chasing up the MDGs, making sure they are all moving forward and pressing hardest on the ones that are most offtrack, if we are to reach these goals by 2015.

Q17 Jeremy Lefroy: Thank you very much. Just as a follow-up to that, should approaches towards meeting the maternal and child health goals also seek to address population issues?

Andrew Mitchell: Yes, they undoubtedly should. Bill and Melinda Gates were in town this week, producing their "Living Proof" presentation. I strongly commend this to members of the Committee; if anyone wants to see it, it is online. It is, I think, a moving and important demonstration of why development should be one of the great passions of our age in making this progress, which our generations can do for the first time in history, really.

One of the points that they make in that presentation is that reducing under-fives mortality helps to limit family size. It is an incredibly important part of development and we are going to enshrine, in every single bilateral programme where it is relevant, the extension of choice to women over whether and when they have children. That is about spreading the availability of contraception. I think when I was here before I said I thought it was outrageous that only 23% of women in Africa have unfettered access to contraception.

Take a country like Niger. I do not know whether I mentioned this last time I was before the Committee, Mr Bruce, but Niger is one of the most insecure parts of the world. It is economically insecure, food insecure and politically insecure-and the population of Niger is rocketing because they do not have access to contraception, at least in parts. So it is an incredibly important part of this agenda.

I hope very much that, when we are able to publish the results of the Bilateral Aid Review, the figures will be in excess of the specific commitment that Britain made at the summit to save the lives of 50,000 women in childbirth, 250,000 children and to extend the availability of contraception to 10 million couples. I am certainly looking to try to achieve more than that, but I thought that was a good start in the context of the package that the UN produced on maternal mortality.

Q18 Jeremy Lefroy: Just a very quick follow-up to that: in my own experience of living and working in developing countries, access to water and sanitation is of particular importance-particularly for women, who are the ones who actually have to get hold of the water on a daily basis. Sanitation is obviously the cause of a great number of health problems. Do you think that perhaps we should have a bit more focus on that?

Andrew Mitchell: On water and sanitation?

Jeremy Lefroy: Yes.

Andrew Mitchell: Well, I think that the emerging results of the Bilateral Aid Review suggest that we will, and I do-I think it is vitally important. I spent 24 hours with a very poor family in a tukul in Ethiopia and there were various things that had transformed the lives of that family in the last few years. Within the last year, they had access to clean water seven minutes away from their tukul; before that, they had had to walk every day for more than an hour to get clean water. The transformative effect of that on this family and this village was extraordinary.

I very much hope, as I say, that when we publish the results of the aid review we will be able to give a step change and a big increase to spreading water and sanitation to people who do not have it.

Jeremy Lefroy: Thank you.

Q19 Chair: If I can just point out, in the last Parliament this Committee produced reports on both sanitation and water and on maternal health, which I think are still extremely relevant to the issues that are being raised. I think one of the things on maternal health that made members of the Committee very angry was the number of women who died or suffered severe problems in childbirth and the number of children who died within the first month simply because there was a culture of indifference to the situation they were in.

Many, many simple things could and should be done. Access to contraception is one of them, but there is also the way they are treated when they are delivering babies or the babies are newly born; there is some quite scandalous lack of address. If more can be done to focus on those issues, a lot could be achieved in really quite a short space of time.

Andrew Mitchell: I very, very strongly agree with that. One thousand women will die today in childbirth-what should be one of the happiest days of their lives; 333,000 every year. It is an absolute scandal. I think all of us underestimated the importance of nutrition and that is one of the reasons why we are going to focus much more on nutrition. I was very struck, in a meeting on nutrition, by a pastor making a presentation who looked this large international audience in the eye and he said that for a little child, a little baby, in our world today to die from starvation is sacrilege. I thought it was a very powerful point that he made and he is absolutely right about that.

Chair: Anas Sarwar.

Q20 Anas Sarwar: The summit’s new maternal and child health strategy has attracted £2.1 billion of new money by 2015 from the UK Government. Is all that new money and will that be coming from DFID’s multilateral or bilateral pot?

Andrew Mitchell: It is all, by definition, new money, and it will be coming from both. Because of our focus on results, we look at how we can achieve those results at best possible value and make the most progress and then we fund it accordingly. By February or March next year, having had the results of both the Multilateral Aid Review and the Bilateral Aid Review, we will be able to give you a very full answer to that question.

Q21 Anas Sarwar: Okay, thank you for the answer. When I am speaking to charities, one of the frustrations that a lot of them raise is that they feel that women are only generally mentioned when it comes to maternal health strategies or contraception. Do you perhaps feel we should be placing a greater emphasis on MDG 3 in gender equality and mentioning women more there through, perhaps, education?

Andrew Mitchell: I think that the position of women and children runs through every aspect of international development; they are the people who bear the brunt of conflict in ways that you will be sadly very familiar with. They bear the brunt of all aspects of development. Tackling malaria particularly affects women and children; producing wealth creation mechanisms like microfinance particularly empowers women. In almost every aspect of what we do, the position of women and children in development is absolutely central.

Of course, we have seen the announcement about the new UN agency for women and I had the opportunity to see Michelle Bachelet, the new head of the agency, during the summit. We have pledged every possible support; we will obviously give them financial support when we see their plan and see how they want to spend British taxpayers’ money, and also give them technical and other support if they would like it. I think that new agency has the potential to underline the point behind your question for all of us.

Anas Sarwar: Thank you.

Q22 Chair: The delivery on the health issues is spread across a number of agencies. You have mentioned already your point about the United Nations, a wonderful but frustrating organisation, and we found that in a number of the reports we have done; there are good agencies, but the co-ordination sometimes is lacking.

The particular ones that have been highlighted are the Population Fund, UNICEF and the World Health Organisation. First of all, is there anything you can do or you feel can be done to try to make these work more closely together? You mentioned your proposed joint initiative with USAID in terms of the MDGs generally, but could more be done not only to co-ordinate but to have some kind of accountability that would say, "We have agreed to do this together and we want to measure how we do it and we are going to tell you afterwards what we achieved"?

Andrew Mitchell: Well accountability and transparency are absolutely critical to maintain public support for development spending. In tight spending rounds across G20 countries, maintaining support for this vital area of work depends on the public’s being able to see what they are getting for their money and understand the results that are being achieved. It is difficult in the UN; the UN all too often marches at the pace of the slowest ship in the convoy, if I may mix my metaphors.

The one agenda that the UN is seeking to drive forward has strong supporters in the UN but there are also those who are much less supportive, and the place is, as your question implies, riddled with turf wars. We have to make progress on this otherwise the public will become increasingly less willing to see their money being spent in that way. We need to make this much more effective as well. The British Government is absolutely committed to trying to drive forward the agenda that you described, but with the UN it is slow work.

Q23 Chair: Well, some members of the Committee have been allowed by the Government Whips to visit the UN in a couple of weeks’ time. We are a significant contributor to the UN. To what extent is the UK Government able to, I suppose I would say, apply pressure to the UN and to say, "Our contribution depends on your co-ordinating the agencies more effectively"? We are really less interested, as you put it, in the turf wars and more interested in how we can get the results. As a major donor, are we in a position to put some pressure to get the results?

Andrew Mitchell: We certainly are and that pressure has been exercised by both the last Government and by this Government, to the extent that we are able to. Our diplomats who are engaged in this-the quality of the diplomats who are taking forward that agenda-are absolutely first class. We just have to continue to push hard for those achievements. But it does take time and it is very difficult to quantify how much time it is going to take, but it is an agenda that we think is extremely important.

In terms of the Millennium Development Goals summit, Britain had a very significant influence behind the scenes and in front of the scenes helping the Secretary General to negotiate and achieve the maternal mortality deal, which the Deputy Prime Minister announced in New York. Britain also put a great deal of effort into trying to assist to ensure that we achieved the deal on malaria, which will lead, I hope, over the next five years, to Britain’s reducing by half the appalling rate of death from this disease in 10 African countries.

Chair: Hugh Bayley, on exactly that point.

Q24 Hugh Bayley: I very warmly welcome the greater emphasis that DFID is putting on malaria, but how will you ensure that in meeting these targets that you have set for yourself, the work will complement work related to other health MDGs, rather than the malaria focus drawing resources away from the wider health system?

Andrew Mitchell: Well, the Chancellor of the Exchequer in Opposition made it clear that our commitment on malaria would be supported by up to £500,000 expenditure each year. Although, as I say, we focus on the results of what money achieves not on the headline figure for the money, I am quite clear that that involves both very direct and targeted interventions on malaria, like the availability of bed nets and so forth, but also strengthening health systems.

You have to do both, which I think is the point that you are addressing, and we will do both. Because of this focus on results, when we publish next year what we are going to do, I think that the interlocking nature of these things and the logic for pursuing certain results-for trying to buy particular results-will become very clear for precisely the reasons that I think underlie your question.

Q25 Hugh Bayley: I welcome the pledge you have made about the 10 African countries; I think it is important to focus, as you say, on what aid achieves rather than just on the fact that resources have been made available. You have identified, as far as I have seen, two of the 10 countries: Zambia and Ghana. What process are you going to use to identify the others? How will you make sure that the programme of work and funding that you are providing dovetails in with the work of other agencies and private sector bodies like the Gates Foundation?

Andrew Mitchell: Well firstly, the answer to the second part of that is we will do it through the Multilateral Aid Review, looking at who is achieving results and the extent and the value of those results in terms of what they cost. That will help us to build up our intervention on malaria.

We are looking across all the countries where we have a bilateral programme and bids are now coming back from our offices overseas, in close consultation with local civil society, international NGOs and the British charities and so on involved in those countries. Those bids are coming back and we are evaluating them and we will, I hope, be able, as I say, to set out in each country the intervention we are making and the results we are going to seek to achieve for malaria-and, indeed, for other key MDG areas that we are targeting. We hope to be able to do that in every country where we have a bilateral programme.

Q26 Hugh Bayley: And it is over what period, the halving?

Andrew Mitchell: Over five years.

Hugh Bayley: Five years. Thank you.

Q27 Chair:   Just before I bring in Jeremy Lefroy, are you in a position to comment on reports today that the incidence of malaria in India is apparently being substantially under-reported because of poor record keeping or the lack of record keeping, particularly in rural areas? How much background information do you have and will that influence your assessment of the bilateral programme in India, where, as you know, the Committee is planning a visit early in the new year?

Andrew Mitchell: Yes. The news is very depressing from India this morning about the prevalence of malaria. I have heard the reports; I have not seen the reports, but we will certainly be following that up. This is a disease that kills 4,000 people needlessly every day, of whom 75% are under the age of five. If four people died on the Isle of Wight today from malaria, it would be a front page story on every newspaper for the next week, probably throughout Europe. The fact is they do not, and the international community needs to take forward this battle against malaria with a great deal more vigour than we have done in the past.

Chair: Sorry, did you want to come in on that particular point, James?

Q28 Mr Clappison: Just generally on malaria, I very warmly welcome what has been announced on this. In many ways, just as the Chairman has said, it is an under-reported and perhaps under-acknowledged condition, but a very, very serious problem. At the time of the public expenditure constraints that we are seeing in other areas, and the inevitable public concern over those, will you ensure that the work that is being done with malaria, and the very good results that we hope will come from that, will be fully reported to people? That is the sort of spending that people can understand and would approve of, I believe, at a time of very, very difficult public expenditure choices.

Andrew Mitchell: I absolutely agree with what Mr Clappison says. It is extremely important that we should be able to demonstrate what we are achieving with their money-and do so independently of politicians, as well, in order to carry credibility.

Chair: Jeremy Lefroy and then Anas Sarwar.

Q29 Jeremy Lefroy: Just very briefly, Secretary of State, we had a session last week of the AllParty Group on Malaria, which I chair and which Pauline is very much involved with. We concentrated very specifically on logistics and how in one particular country-I think it was Tanzania-the stock-outs of malaria drugs were a real problem and a particular solution had been found. Is it your Department’s intention to look at not just the more general aspects such as vaccines and development of new drugs, but the basic things on the ground-the things that can easily be solved and would prevent needless deaths?

Andrew Mitchell: Absolutely, and we are currently, I think, consulting on a malaria business plan that will help us to drive forward this agenda. In respect of the particular issue you raised, that is in Tanzania?

Q30 Jeremy Lefroy: At the moment, yes. It is a programme that has been developed using SMS technology and is very, very successful and very cheap. I would very happily-you are probably aware of it.

Andrew Mitchell: Yes, SMS technology is making a huge difference in a whole range of different aspects of life in developing countries and indeed it is very strongly supported by the British Government through the backing, for example, of M-Pesa in Kenya, with which you will be familiar, Mr Lefroy. We intend to give every boost we possibly can to that use of technology for the reasons that your question implies.

Q31 Jeremy Lefroy: That is very encouraging to hear and if you would like our report on that when it comes out in due course, then we would be very happy to contribute towards the business plan.

Andrew Mitchell: I would, thank you.

Chair: Anas Sarwar, then Pauline Latham.

Q32 Anas Sarwar: I fully welcome the malaria strategy; I think it is absolutely the right thing to do and I think James summarised it perfectly when he said that publicising the results of that strategy is what gets the buy-in from the British people about why we need an international development programme.

I just want to change tack slightly. Pneumonia is also one of the most serious diseases for children under five in developing countries. Do you think at some point we should be developing a pneumonia strategy similar to the malaria and measles strategy that we have?

Andrew Mitchell: The Gates Foundation and Bill Gates have been particularly focused on that. Of course I do not know the extent to which vaccination can play a critical role in this, but there is no doubt at all that the use of vaccination is incredibly good value for money and we want to drive that forward with our international partners in every way we possibly can.

All these diseases that kill children-diarrhoea, of course, is one of the biggest killers in the world-have to be tackled in a whole variety of different ways, which come together to stop them. As part of our development strategy, as part of our health strategy, we will be taking all that work forward.

Chair: Pauline Latham.

Q33 Pauline Latham: We always talk about malaria, but there are other, very serious diseases like TB, HIV/AIDS and other neglected tropical diseases. Is malaria a global word for all these things or are we still going to spend as much money as we have done in the past-it is not ring-fenced anymore-to cure all these other diseases, or at least put people in remission?

Andrew Mitchell: Well the answer to that is yes. We cannot, of course, be everywhere-

Pauline Latham: No.

Andrew Mitchell:-and we must concentrate our firepower where we can make the most progress. That, of course, does not mean only taking the easier areas, but making progress in the difficult areas, too.

We have made a particular strong point about malaria because we feel very strongly about this disease, for the reasons that I have set out before for the Committee. When we look, for example, at the Global Fund through the Multilateral Aid Review, we look at the work they are doing on HIV/AIDS, TB and malaria and we draw different conclusions on how effective they are in those areas as well, as we follow the evidence and reach conclusions from that. We are obviously very keen to make progress on all those areas. I think that we will be able to make progress in all those areas in the coming years.

The fact that we focus so strongly on malaria does not mean that we neglect the other areas, but that we need to prioritise and ensure that we lead by example, and other countries do things in other areas that we perhaps take a back seat for. Attacking all these diseases, particularly the three you mentioned and those mentioned by Mr Sarwar, is fundamental to lifting up very poor people-helping them to lift themselves up-from the grinding poverty that we see around the developing world.

Chair: Chris White.

Q34 Chris White: Talking about priorities, were you satisfied with the priority that the Government took with development goal number one-talking about halving the proportion of people in developing countries who are hungry?

Andrew Mitchell: I think that we need to do much more work on nutrition. That is because I think that we have not fully understood the extent to which nutrition is pivotal to the life chances in those first two to three years of life of a child and the enormous number of people, particularly in SubSaharan Africa, who are malnourished. I think we can do more about this and we must do more about it.

I was very pleased indeed at the MDG summit to see the way in which, under an Irish and American lead, this agenda has been made much more prominent. We are going to spend quite a lot of money on doing research into aspects of nutrition in the next few years to try to make sure we understand properly how we can make our interventions more effective. So I think that the importance of nutrition and the focus, particularly of the international community, on the L’Aquila Agreements, are very important for making progress on MDG 1. We will do everything we can to make sure that progress is continued.

Q35 Chris White: Great. Is this going to be linked to the scaling up nutrition programme?

Andrew Mitchell: Yes, I think nutrition is at the heart of MDG 1, or it is a very, very important ingredient of it. The governance structures for taking forward this agenda are not yet right. We have offered to sit on the leaders’ group on nutrition, but there is not yet agreement on quite how that will operate at a more working level. Partly because of the turf lines that the Chairman was referring to, there is not yet adequate co-ordination on that. On both those points-the leadership point and the working level co-ordination-we are absolutely determined to get this right and drive forward this agenda.

Chris White: Thank you.

Q36 Chair: Just as a comment-I think Jeremy Lefroy wants to come in-you say quite rightly that we cannot be everywhere and we cannot do everything, even though we are a major donor. I am speaking really, I suppose, of the Committee’s ownership here. There are issues like nutrition, sanitation and maternal health that we have identified, reported and urged DFID under the previous Government to ensure that they prioritised and followed through.

Can we have your broad reassurance that you accept that if there are changes of strategy in those areas, they need to be properly planned and developed? The danger is with these things that there is a fashion; sometimes nutrition is the issue or maternal health is the issue, when in reality they have to be followed through over a long period. You take my point that there are concerns out there that priorities may suddenly change and not be followed through?

Andrew Mitchell: Yes, I do take that. I meant to add to your question earlier, Mr Chairman, that the Committee produced a report on water and sanitation in the last Parliament. My predecessor but one, I think, said that the Government had taken their eye off the ball on that and recognised that the Committee had kept the Government up to the mark.

The British development community, whether it is DFID or the brilliant NGOs that we have, is quite selfconfident. We must be transparent; we must make sure that we are held accountable through independent evaluation, not our own evaluation, and we must be sure to tell the Committee what we think are the priorities and to listen carefully to the Committee, from your experiences around the world, on whether those priorities are right and be able to have a discussion and a debate about them. I read what the Committee produces with great care and interest and so far I think that we are pretty well aligned in terms of the things that the Department, the Committee and Ministers think are important.

Chair: Thank you for that. Jeremy Lefroy.

Q37 Jeremy Lefroy: Thank you. Did you, Secretary of State, get any indication from colleagues in other countries that they share what is now your goal of an emphasis on agriculture, particularly smallholder agriculture, as a way of tackling hunger and improving nutrition? That is number one.

Number two, did you also detect any concern at the recent very large scale purchases of agricultural land, particularly in Sub-Saharan Africa, by countries that are perhaps looking to deal with their own food security and perhaps have not got food security in the host countries as a priority?

Andrew Mitchell: In respect of the second point, I think not particularly, although again the transparency about these arrangements and how they are concluded is very important. It is not directly relevant, but in his brilliant book The Plundered Planet, Paul Collier sets out the seven stages by which natural resources should be developed and exploited, and the transparency element that he puts in there is incredibly important in respect of the agricultural holdings that you described in the second part of your question.

As far as the first part of your question is concerned, I think that a lot of these issues were ventilated at the side event of the summit on nutrition, food and agriculture. I think there is also quite a lot of interest, which I talked about at the summit, among people in the different experiences in West Africa and East Africa-in East Africa, partly through social protection, partly through work in ensuring that you stimulate production near food-insecure areas in order to try to tackle areas of food insecurity. I think in East Africa very good progress has been made on that.

In West Africa, we continue to see very difficult circumstances in Niger and Chad; that is why the British taxpayer has intervened directly through NGOs who are tackling issues of nutrition, and livestock preservation as well is very important indeed in this area, which has been continually food-insecure.

I have had two or three meetings with Bernard Kouchner, the French Foreign Minister, to try to make sure-this is an area where the French have very deep experience, connections and shared history-that there is greater co-ordination and leadership within the international community for tackling the difficulties. I think the contrast between East and West Africa, and the way in which progress has and has not been made, is something that people are focusing on. I talked to Josette Sheeran at the World Food Programme with great care to try to make sure that these lessons are learned and that food security is promoted.

Jeremy Lefroy: Thank you.

Chair: Are you going to ask the gender question?

Q38 Jeremy Lefroy: Yes. Could you perhaps update us on how you are going to use DFID’s bilateral and multilateral reviews to put women’s and children’s needs at the centre of the programme?

Andrew Mitchell: Well I think, rather as I said in the answer I gave to Mr Sarwar, that they are at the centre. When we publish the Multilateral Aid Review and the Bilateral Aid Review, it will be clear not only why they should be at the centre of development policy but how we are making changes to ensure that they are.

Q39 Jeremy Lefroy: Do you think there is a potential conflict between an emphasis on results and that much more long-term goal?

Andrew Mitchell: No I don’t. It is a question that quite often gets asked about the independent evaluation. I think the Committee either has or is shortly to meet and interview the Chief Commissioner designate, as it were.

In order to do a proper evaluation of development, you need to enshrine two different strands of excellence. One is the NAO value for money, accountancy-driven strand. However, in assessing how effective development is, you also have to add the academic development expertise that you find in organisations like Alison Evans’s ODI over the river and Lawrence Haddad’s group at IDS down in Sussex. You get effective evaluation of development, some of which is enormously long-tailed, only if you marry those two strands of expertise together. That is what we hope will become clear from the independent aid watchdog.

Q40 Chair: There is, I don’t know, a concern about the relationship between donor countries and recipient countries on gender issues. I can think of two examples where the Committee got very stark engagement. One was in Afghanistan where we raised the issue with President Karzai of women’s rights and issues and the fact that women had been excluded from Government and that it was reported that 80% of women in Afghanistan were regularly beaten by their husbands. When we raised this with President Karzai, he said this was a cultural matter. I have to say that I do not accept that the international community should be funding countries who say, "It is a cultural matter that we should beat our wives, and you have no right to intervene."

Similarly, Northern Nigeria, I think, has the highest maternal mortality rate in the world; girls as young as 12 are getting married, getting pregnant, being expected to deliver children alone and unassisted, and dying in childbirth. Do we not have a right to say, "Sorry, there are absolute values here; there are rights here"? That is not about paternalism or patronising; it is about fundamentally fighting for those rights and supporting the groups who do it. How do you deal with that?

Andrew Mitchell: Well these are complex issues that have to be dealt with in a number of ways, but let me make two specific comments. The first is that, in my view, one of the most effective interventions you can make to tackle the problem that you described in Afghanistan is to get more girls into school and as fast as you possibly can. The Committee will understand that I think we now have 2 million girls in school in Afghanistan who never went to school before.

The impact down the generation over a number of years-it is not instantaneous-of having more girls educated through schools is incredibly important. They increasingly take leadership positions in their own Government-there is evidence of that happening in Afghanistan-but also in their own communities, driving forward the importance of girls’ education having had it themselves, ensuring that their own children become doctors, teachers and so forth, and having fewer children as a result of education, as all the research shows. So there are long-term ways in which we tackle precisely the point that you make, Mr Bruce.

Other aspects of this are true as well. If you were to say, for example in Ethiopia, that the treatment of the leader of the Opposition by the Prime Minister and the respect for human rights are not good enough and therefore we are going to withdraw the aid that we are giving to Ethiopia, what is the effect of that? The effect of that effectively is you will be taking children out of school. So we have to be very careful not to use an intervention to make an important point that would have the reverse effect on the ground from that which we want to achieve.

Should we speak out? Absolutely, and we will speak out and I hope the Committee will feel that this Government speaks out more than any previous Government has done on issues of human rights. We made clear our revulsion at what happened in Malawi to those two gay men who were treated so badly by the Government, and we will continue to speak out on human rights issues wherever human rights abuse takes place.

Q41 Chair: Okay, thank you for that. On the issue of the commitments on the MDGs, I think you are quite right to say that the UK took a lead and has taken a lead right from the start, from Gleneagles right the way through to the last MDG summit. Other countries have been less forthcoming; Italy, Spain and Greece are identified. Greece may have its problems, but nevertheless these are commitments. Italy does not have the same excuse.

What can be done to try to ensure that when Governments make pledges they are followed through? I know you can say we lead by example, and I think we can all agree that the UK does lead by example, but what more can be done collectively by the international community to hold people to account? There is real resentment and anger in many developing countries that commitments were made, were not fulfilled and had they been then we would not be so off track; it is as simple as that.

Andrew Mitchell: Well, as you rightly say, we try to lead by example. That gives us, I think, an authority-a moral authority, too. We need to hold leaders to account on delivering what they have promised. That is one of the reasons, I believe, why Tony Blair made sure that people signed the Gleneagles commitment on television, so that it was there for all their civil society in their own country to see what they had signed up to. It is extremely difficult, too, to hold to account leaders in developing countries for not standing by the promises that they have made if members of the G8 do not stand by their promises.

It is a rich irony that the one leader who was there at the G8 in Gleneagles, and who is also there in post today, is the Prime Minister of Italy. I have often asked why Italian civil society does not manage to hold him to account for the promises he has made and broken. It may have something to do with the ownership structure of the media in Italy, but the fact is that it is very important that we hold people to account.

In my view, every year at the UN we should identify those countries who have stood by their commitments and those who have not. I think that would be a good innovation. Obviously, there is some resistance from some countries, but transparency is very important on these matters-transparency for their own taxpayers, so they can see what their leaders are doing in their name, and also for the people we are trying to help in poor countries.

Chair: Thank you. I am quite sure that the UK’s example must at least give comfort to civil society in those countries that want to hold their Governments to account. That is an important point. Hugh Bayley.

Q42 Hugh Bayley: Aid is important, of course, but the primary responsibility for getting kids into school and making clean drinking water available lies with the Governments of the countries concerned, and we must not allow back-sliding leaders of developing countries to point at Berlusconi and say, "Well if he’s ignoring commitments he made, that’s fine for me to do as well."

I know DFID does some good work on strengthening governance, supporting civil society and empowering parliamentarians to hold their Government to account, but to what extent are you sure that this is mainstream? To what extent are you sure that, as part and parcel of a health sector development strategy in Tanzania, for instance, you expect your local DFID office and, even more importantly, the local minister of health to consult parliamentarians regularly, to engage them in developing the health strategy and ensure that civil society organisations are able to ask the difficult questions?

Andrew Mitchell: Those are exactly the questions I ask when I go to visit one of our programmes. Tanzania is an interesting case in point, because Tanzania, of course, has benefited from very substantial amounts of direct budget support and we should only use direct budget support where we are absolutely satisfied that the probity of the systems, the way in which British taxpayers’ money is being spent, is transparent so that parliamentarians and civil society can see for themselves what is happening with this money and what it is being used for.

It is, if you like, a more sophisticated version of what you sometimes see outside schools in Africa, particularly in Tanzania and Ghana, where up on the wall of the school is the amount of money going into the school, from where it is coming and what it is meant to be used for. It is about developing that sort of accountability. In some places in Africa now if a teacher does not turn up, the children can text message a number to ask where their teacher is. All this is extremely important.

There are degrees of this, although the best way of doing development, if you can be sure you can trust the probity of the systems that are being used, does not necessarily allow for that degree of accountability. So in Tanzania, the country that you mentioned, I am looking very carefully at the results that we want to achieve, to ensure that we can follow the money and be really clear that we are getting proper value, both for the people we are trying to help and for the British taxpayer.

There are various ways in which you build up civil society. For example, there is the work that is being done in Rwanda on building up revenue collection, where the expertise that Britain has been able to bring so that revenue can be raised is now very clear in the figures. I think this year over 50% of the money they raise will come from their own resources; there has been a big increase in the amount of the tax take and the tax base as a result of that work. So that is very important.

It is about building up governance structures; for example, on the West Bank, helping Prime Minister Fayyad to develop sinews of accountability, which will be so vital if the two-state solution is successful. That is the sort of work that we are involved in and it is an increasing part of our work. It is quite difficult to evaluate, but by no means impossible. We will do more of that work as time goes by.

Chair: Thank you for that. Pauline wants to come in and then we will hear Anas. Pauline Latham.

Q43 Pauline Latham: We have these Millennium Development Goals and you could say that goals are targets. Criticisms can be made of targets-that you spend money to achieve a target by box ticking rather than the money getting where it needs to be. Not all targets can be met over the short term; we might need to put some money into something that takes much longer, but that money is very valuable.

How certain are you that the measurement, which is very important, and the fact that we need results will allow for money to be spent in the longer term that does not necessarily produce instant results-it might take much longer for those results to come through? Are you sure that that money will be there for the long term rather than just short-term tick-box goals?

Andrew Mitchell: The results structure moves away from tick-box goals, I think, because of the way in which you work out these results. Of course, what I have described means that different offices of my Department in Africa are now able to look transparently at the cost of getting children into school. There have been discussions between offices, the one asking the other, "How is it that you can get all these girls into school for £40 a year? We can’t get it below £55 a year." So that I think is a huge move away from the tick-box culture.

The other point that seems to me to be very important from your question is that you should have multi-year settlements. So you should be clear to countries, so they can plan in the long term, about the likely budget flow they are going to have. One of the things that we strongly supported from the last Government, to take Rwanda again as an example, was that there was a ten-year indicative budget, subject to the usual safeguards, so that the scale and the extent of the support that Britain would give to Rwanda, in this case, was identifiable for the Government and they could plan accordingly. I think that is very important: to give longer-term stability for funding helps you to gain these development gains that are so important.

Chair: Anas Sarwar.

Q44 Anas Sarwar: Just on the point of accountability and transparency, we all truly believe in development and the only way we are going to end the dependency culture in a lot of countries is if we have revenue systems and tax systems. You have given the perfect example of Rwanda and the great work that we have done there. Can you outline other discussions that you had at the summit with other countries about the importance of creating tax revenue systems and tax justice systems?

Andrew Mitchell: Well, it is a core part of our activity that we should be transparent and also that countries should raise their own tax. In particular, Pakistan is a very good case in point, because the relief effort that Britain led for Pakistan means that we now require an exceptional offer from the international community to support Pakistan in dealing with the dreadful effects of these floods.

However, we cannot ask our own taxpayers to pay if Pakistan’s taxpayers-or the wealthy or better-off in Pakistan-do not also shoulder a fair tax burden. So we hope very much that Pakistan will now embrace these macro-economic reforms that have been discussed for a long time but not yet implemented, which will have a direct effect on the amount of revenue they raise themselves.

Q45 Anas Sarwar: Pakistan is one case in point, but part of the problem in a lot of these countries is corruption in Governments themselves, and part of the reason why they do not want effective tax systems is because of the impact it would have on their own Governments and their own Cabinet and Government members. I know that is not directly DFID’s remit-perhaps it is more the Foreign Office’s-but what negotiations and discussions are taking place in terms of putting some kind of conditions down on some of the aid that we are giving to countries where there are large issues with corruption?

Andrew Mitchell: When you are dealing with corruption, you have to decide the extent to which you can engage with a Government where the concerns about corruption are very great. That, for example, is one of the reasons why-again, to stay with Pakistan-we made it clear that no British taxpayers’ money-the £134 million worth that the British taxpayer has put into the emergency relief and the rebuilding phase so far, and the £60 million that has come from the Disasters Emergency Committee appeal, thanks to the generosity of people up and down Britain-goes through the Pakistani Government, because of the very concerns that you are voicing. It goes either through the United Nations or the international NGOs who are engaged there. You have to take a view, but above all you must be sure that you can demonstrate to taxpayers that their money is being spent accountably.

Q46 Anas Sarwar: Just one final point, Chair. I am sure you will agree, Secretary of State, that one of the highlights of the summit was President Obama’s address on the new direction of US development policy.

Andrew Mitchell: Yes.

Anas Sarwar: He mentioned the new law he was introducing in the United States with extractive industries and making sure that companies were publishing what money they were giving to individual countries and Governments in their tax systems.

Andrew Mitchell: This is the Dodd-Frank amendment?

Anas Sarwar: Yes. Is that something we are considering doing in the United Kingdom, and if so, when would any such legislation come forward?

Andrew Mitchell: Well we are, as you know, strong supporters of the Extractive Industries Initiative-the EITI-and that of course is a voluntary code; it is not a law. The law to which you are referring in America is obviously a law as opposed to a voluntary code. We are watching with great interest how that is developing. It is not a DFID lead; it is more a BIS lead, so my colleague Vince Cable is in the lead on that and we are watching with great interest to see how it develops. Greater transparency is extremely important and I think that we should move in a sensible and measured way in this direction, and we will see what lessons there are to be learned from the step that America has taken.

Chair: Richard Harrington.

Q47 Richard Harrington: Thank you, Chairman. Secretary of State, apologies for my absence in the middle of this; it was due to the delights of DCLG questions, for which I wasn’t even called. But anyway-

Andrew Mitchell: The many travails of effective Members of Parliament.

Richard Harrington: Indeed so. The sacrifices we make for party and country.

I would just like to stretch this section on ownership and accountability, particularly the transparency bit. I know this is not specifically relevant to MDGs, but while on the trip to Europe that Mr Clappison mentioned, I asked a question to the Commissioner about your ideas about transparency going down to an example that you stated publicly about people at the airport in Rwanda with laptops and people in the villages being able to report on the ground what has happened. The Commissioner seemed very much to be totally uninterested in this, and felt that it was de minimis and too trivial for a man of his great status to take any notice of.

Andrew Mitchell: Which Commissioner was this?

Richard Harrington: The one-Piebalgs, yes. I just wondered, because to me it is such an example for all international aid and transparency and accountability, whether you would care to comment on this and how you felt the micro side of reporting transparency could be extended to our European partners?

Andrew Mitchell: Well it is, for the reasons that Mr Harrington has said, extremely important and the example that I use is an example of how civil society can hold their leaders to account because they are better informed. In Rwanda, the example you gave, the President is trying to wire up the whole country so that everyone can have access to the internet. That will take many years-there are many other aspects to this, including education as well as availability of hardware and so forth-but it is incredibly important in driving forward the accountability agenda.

I am surprised that the Commissioner did not think this was important, because in other discussions with him he has seen the merit and the virtue of openness and transparency. However, in view of Mr Harrington’s comments, we will return to that agenda with him. The Minister of State, Alan Duncan, is seeing the Commissioner tonight and I will ensure that he raises this point on behalf of the Committee when he does.

Richard Harrington: Thank you.

Chair: Pauline Latham and then Russell Brown.

Q48 Pauline Latham: Picking up on what Anas Sarwar said about taxes, one of the concerns of certainly Christian Aid, who were lobbying us all yesterday, was the fact that large companies go into very poor countries and end up not paying taxes there. I know that is not really your remit, but could you pass on to the Secretary of State Vince Cable that that is something that does need taking up, because it is draining the countries who could get a big tax take from large companies? I am not going to name any in particular, but they are making a lot of money in countries and putting something back, but not enough. If they were paying their right amounts of tax, the countries would benefit from that and, in addition to the money that international development puts in, it would help them be much more selfsufficient.

Andrew Mitchell: Yes, it was a very good lobby yesterday. I went and addressed them in the Methodist Hall in the morning. One should never forget the extent of the passion and the drive that the brilliant NGOs like Christian Aid bring to this agenda and the huge benefits that everyone gets from that.

In respect of the three points they were making yesterday, the first one, Mr Chairman, was to say thank you to the British Government for standing by its commitments at a very difficult time. In respect of the point that Mrs Latham makes, the whole transparency agenda will help with this; we have this law, to which Mr Sarwar referred, in America, and we can see how that develops and learn lessons from that. Vince Cable and the Department for Business are in the lead on this, but the fact that the transparency agenda is making progress in this area, and will make more progress, is extremely welcome.

Chair: Russell Brown.

Q49 Mr Brown: Thank you very much, Chairman. Secretary of State, my colleague Anas Sarwar mentioned the new US global development policy and an emphasis there on transparency and accountability within development. It does resonate with what our Government is looking at and the objectives. Can you say how you might intend to work with the US Government and President Obama on this agenda?

Andrew Mitchell: Yes. The relationship with Raj Shah, who is not my opposite number but the USAID administrator, is a very close and good one. We talk frequently and see each other frequently. There is no doubt at all that there are areas where Britain and America should be working more closely on development.

I think that the statement that President Obama made about the future direction and thrust of America’s development policy was enormously welcome. So I think over the coming years you will, I hope, see a closer relationship in terms of the approach that we are both taking in areas where we both have an interest, and it will be interesting if the Committee has any reflections on how that relationship can be made yet more effective.

Q50 Mr Brown: Can I just ask a further question? It is in respect of ensuring that the World Bank’s new funding commitments for education are focused on areas where most children are out of school. How do you intend to ensure that that is not just a statement and that it does become a firm commitment from the World Bank?

Andrew Mitchell: Yes. They are going to increase their zero interest and grant investment in basic education by $750 million, with a focus on the countries that are not on track to reach the education MDG by 2015, particularly in SubSaharan Africa. We will be able as a result of the Multilateral Aid Review to look very specifically at where money is being spent and how effectively it is being spent.

We will make our aims for the multilateral spend-our spending that goes through the World Bank and indeed other multilateral agencies-dependent on the results that we want them to achieve. So if I have understood your question correctly, there is no question of our not pushing forward, through the World Bank, on all the MDG activities that they are pursuing and, in particular, on education.

Q51 Chair: Secretary of State, earlier on you indicated some of your thoughts about how you would ensure that the commitment to achieve MDGs by 2015 was taken forward year by year. What about what happens after 2015, which I think people now recognise we have to talk about and which we did not really want to talk about before the summit? DFID have said you will play a full part in that, but what will you be wanting to include post2015 and how, for example, would you accommodate the sort of role that was not envisaged in 2000 for security, climate change and human rights? Do you see those kinds of issues incorporated and how do you see the architecture changing?

Andrew Mitchell: Yes. I worry a bit about focusing on the after-2015 at this stage, because I think it gives people a let-out for not focusing unremittingly on progress in each of the next five years on each of the eight goals, which is why we have this new initiative with the Americans to focus very directly on that.

Clearly, it would not be responsible to ignore what happens after 2015 and our thinking is at an early stage. It will get, by definition, more focused and more informed the closer we get to 2015. I do worry that focusing too much on that gives us a let-off in reaching these goals. I want the energy and the vigour of my Department to be devoted to boosting efforts for all eight of those goals and not side-tracked at the moment into thinking too much into what goes on beyond 2015. I think there will be lots of people who have views on that and those views will gather in intensity and depth as we get nearer to 2015.

Q52 Chair: So does "play a full part" mean quietly work away behind the scenes to look beyond, while publicly holding people to account on the-

Andrew Mitchell: It does, to a very large extent. We certainly will have views as we get closer to 2015 and we will undoubtedly have a leadership role in disseminating and promoting those views around the world, but for now I think we need to focus on the immediate goals over the next five years and adopt the mantra of Cardinal Manning, who was in the news recently during the Pope’s visit, that, "I do not ask the distant shore to see, one step enough for me." I think we have the picture of the distant shore, which is hitting these goals, and we need now to focus on how we get there in the next five years.

Q53 Chair: One final point in terms of the new Government’s architecture was the establishment of the National Security Council. How does that work in pulling together the work of your own Department, Foreign Affairs and Defence? These cut two ways. People have concerns, obviously, that, to put it crudely, Foreign Affairs and Defence will raid your budget. I think you have given us assurances that you will not be looking in that direction. The more positive thing is that there is a logical co-ordination across these Departments. Is the National Security Council really helping to achieve a better framework for delivering that?

Andrew Mitchell: The National Security Council is a really important and valuable innovation in the machinery of government. It brings together, as you say, all these different parts of the Government who have an interest in it, so that on it sit the Prime Minister and Deputy Prime Minister, Foreign Secretary, Defence Secretary, Development Secretary, Chancellor of the Exchequer and indeed the Minister charged with the lead on climate change, Chris Huhne. It means that for the first time, instead of having a bilateral negotiation between the Ministry of Defence and No. 10, all of us have an involvement in issues of Britain’s security interest.

That must be right, because in the end national security is not just about tanks versus aircraft. It is about tanks versus the number of police that you train in Afghanistan, the amount of effort you put into building up accountable governance structures in the Yemen and how many girls you get into school in the Horn of Africa. These are all issues that pertain to our national security and our national interest, and they come together through the National Security Council.

We have from the development perspective produced I think some extremely interesting and valuable papers, which have circulated around the Council and have informed its discussions and its results, and other Departments have produced papers that we have been able to read and consider too. So I think it makes for much better results in governance terms in Britain on these very complex issues.

Although some commentators and journalists have said that the Security and Defence Review was driven by the expenditure settlement-and to some extent all these things are driven by available expenditure; there has never been a defence review that has not had to take account of that-this report, I think, will stand the test of time and people looking at what we have said in the National Security Council in that report over the next few weeks will, I hope, conclude that this is a much better way of doing these things than we have ever done them before.

Q54 Chair: So you will perhaps be able to share with us some specific outcomes relevant to your Department that have benefited from this process?

Andrew Mitchell: Yes, absolutely. I hesitate to mention a speech that I gave to the Committee, but I made a speech on the link between development and defence about a month ago and if anyone would like a copy of it, I would be very happy to provide it.

Chair: Okay. Well thank you very much indeed. Thank you for making yourself available, particularly given the chopping and changing of the debates, but that is where we are at the moment. Thank you very much indeed for coming to this particular inquiry. We have a number of additional evidence sessions to take before we complete it, but you will obviously get our report in due course and I am sure you will deal with it in the usual efficient way.

Andrew Mitchell: Thank you very much, Mr Chairman.