1 Introduction |
1. It is now widely believed that good governance
is essential to effective development. The Report of the UN High
Level panel on the post 2015 development agenda sets out 12 goals
to end poverty by 2030; one of these is 'good governance and effective
institutions'. DFID itself has given increasing prominence to
good governance. It spends £724 million on governance and
security projects, one
of its largest areas of spending. The Golden Thread of Development,
"enabling states to function for their citizens", was
one of DFID s six policy priorities in 2013-14.
An effective parliament is the key effective institution for good
From first principles, it is difficult to imagine
what kind of effective democracy can be built without an effective
Parliament. And Parliament, as with other central institutions
of governance, is an area where an improvement at the centre can
have a multiplier effect on the country as a whole.
2. Many donors, including DFID, recognise that parliaments
are important and fund parliamentary strengthening programmes.
However, over recent years serious questions have been raised
about such work, including its value, the priority given to it,
the way projects are designed, how they are monitored and evaluated
and how they are commissioned and who they are commissioned from,
in particular whether adequate use is made of specialist expertise.
3. 2015 is an ideal time to undertake this inquiry.
It is the 800th Anniversary of the document which symbolises
the importance of the rule of law, Magna Carta, and the 750th
anniversary of the Simon de Montfort Parliament.
We made a number of conclusions and recommendations about parliamentary
strengthening in our report on Burma to which the Government responded
in May 2014 to feed into the Triennial Review of the Westminster
Foundation for Democracy (WFD). In this inquiry we examine the
subject in detail.
4. We had an excellent response to our request for
evidence with a wide range of responses from multilaterals, including
the UNDP and the World Bank; European institutions, including
the French Assemblée Nationale and the EU; Westminster-based
organisations as well as other organisations which have undertaken
work for DFID and a range of experts. We took oral evidence from
the Minister of State and DFID officials, the Overseas office
of the House of Commons and the international parliamentary networks
based in the House, the Westminster Foundation for Democracy,
other specialist practitioners, multilaterals and academics.
We have also drawn on our meetings with developing country MPs
at Westminster and on our overseas visits abroad, most recently
in Burma, Sierra Leone and Tanzania. We held a videoconference
with DFID governance advisers based in several countries in Africa
and Asia. We would like to thank all those who have provided evidence
and assisted us in other ways.
5. The report focuses on DFID, but also looks at
other UK departments and other bodies which carry out parliamentary
strengthening work. Chapter two looks at the value of parliaments
and of working with them even in difficult circumstances, chapter
three at spending on parliamentary strengthening and chapter four
at parliamentary strengthening programmes and how far DFID's implementation
of those programmes follows best practice. Chapter five examines
commissioning, noting DFID's preference for large suppliers, including
US suppliers, rather than smaller specialist organisations. Finally,
chapter six, considers whether more use should be made of Westminster-based
institutions, and what has to change at Westminster if this is
1 DFID Annual Report and Accounts 2013-14, page 56 Back
DFID Annual Report, p13 Back
House of Commons Overseas Office Submission, paragraph 9 Back
There are also other reasons: DFID is publishing a new "How
to Note" on Strengthening Parliaments; the Triennial Review
of the Westminster foundation for Democracy was undertaken in
2014; and its new Chief Executive has been appointed. Back
We also saw a copy of the draft report for WFD's Triennial Review
and discussed it with witnesses. The report is not yet published,
and so we do not quote from it here. Back