Source: British Parliament News
18 June 2020
Responding to an urgent question, the Foreign Secretary updated MPs on plans to merge the Department for International Development (DFID) with the Foreign Office.
DIFD is responsible for administering overseas aid and the FCO promotes the UK’s interests abroad. They will be joined to create the new Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office.
Today, Wendy Chamberlain MP asked the Secretary of State for International Development for a statement on the merger.
Dominic Raab: “inextricably interwoven”
Responding on the International Development Secretary’s behalf, Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab, told the House that joining the two departments “will start immediately” and be completed by September.
Mr Raab said that the Prime Minister will” set the UK’s overall international strategy” through the National Security Council. He said the commitment to spending 0.7% of the UK’s gross national income on development would be retained.
He said that events such as the Covid-19 pandemic have demonstrated that the UK’s “national interests and our moral responsibilities” are “inextricably interwoven”.
The Minister stated:
“For too long, we have indulged an artificial line, dividing the goals that our aid budget and foreign policy serve.”
Wendy Chamberlain: “why now?”
Responding to the Minister, Wendy Chamberlain, said that the merger was, similar to the U-turn on free school meals for children during the summer holidays, a plan to “cancel meals for the world’s poorest”.
She said that DFID is “a world leader” and “what global Britain is all about”, noting that the decision has been condemned by three former Prime Ministers (Tony Blair, Gordon Brown and David Cameron).
Ms Chamberlain questioned why the move was happening now, “when our aid is needed the most”, and why it was happening before the proposed integrated review. She also asked whether reports that DFID employees only found out through social media were true, and whether unions had been consulted, calling on the Foreign Secretary to retain all jobs.
She also asked if international development will retain a Cabinet Minister and a seat on the National Security Council, and if the Government has any intention to repeal or amend any laws about international development.
The Member concluded:
“What will happen to all new DFID projects, which reportedly have been paused, and will the Foreign Secretary have a say?.”
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