Live International Development Questions House of Commons


Live International Development Questions

Live coverage of questions in the House of Commons to the international development secretary Priti Patel and her ministerial team.


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allocation for the NHS. There will be a round-up of today's activities

:00:00.:00:00.

in Parliament to night, but first, Priti Patel and her team. Order,

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order. Questions to the Secretary of State for International Development.

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Secretary Priti Patel. UK development assistance has helped to

:00:27.:00:37.

reduce property in tragic Stan. DfID work has delivered important

:00:38.:00:41.

investments and managed public reforms. I'm grateful for that

:00:42.:00:55.

information. On a recent visit there, I saw what was being done,

:00:56.:01:00.

but could she update us as to when projects will get signed off? I

:01:01.:01:06.

thank my honourable friend for his question. The Minister of State is

:01:07.:01:13.

overseeing new programming focused on economic development and details

:01:14.:01:17.

of that will be published in due course. Importantly as well, central

:01:18.:01:28.

Asia and the surrounding area has an important strategic place in

:01:29.:01:41.

delivering alp commitments. It's a country that is at risk from climate

:01:42.:01:45.

change which could risk threatening all the good work that has been done

:01:46.:01:52.

with this part of ten one crime -- DfID's gum.

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-- programme. DfID approach will produce greater economic stability

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in the long run. With your permission I will take questions

:02:18.:02:21.

numbered two and number four together. The assessment of the

:02:22.:02:25.

department in line with long-standing British government

:02:26.:02:29.

policy is that demolitions are illegal under international

:02:30.:02:33.

humanitarian law and undermine the credibility and the viability of a

:02:34.:02:44.

two state solution. The Bedouin village lies under threat from

:02:45.:02:48.

demolition. Demolitions in the occupied territories in the first

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two weeks of January or almost four times higher than at this time last

:02:53.:02:56.

year. What support is being given to those people driven out of their

:02:57.:02:59.

homes and what message is further being sent to the Israeli government

:03:00.:03:07.

that such demolitions are unviable? The honourable member raises two

:03:08.:03:13.

important points. The first is long-standing and we continue to

:03:14.:03:18.

lobby the Israeli government to stop undertaking these demolitions. They

:03:19.:03:23.

are illegal and undermine the two state initiative. The Foreign

:03:24.:03:28.

Minister had a meeting just before Christmas and raised the issue

:03:29.:03:40.

demolitions directly with him. Will the Minister confirm that NGOs

:03:41.:03:49.

operating will continue to receive support? They will and we want to

:03:50.:03:56.

invest in health and obligation. It's having opportunity and hope for

:03:57.:04:01.

Palestinians that will hopefully lead to a resolution in this

:04:02.:04:09.

conflict. Many demolitions occur because it's virtually impossible

:04:10.:04:12.

for Palestinians to get a building permit. What legal support can be

:04:13.:04:20.

government -- can the Department provide? The Foreign Office has done

:04:21.:04:34.

projects supplying support. It is difficult to receive planning

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permission which is one of the reasons why these settlements are up

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and demolition then takes place. Among the demolitions that the

:04:44.:04:46.

Israeli authorities undertake there are some community facilities some

:04:47.:04:50.

of which are funded and developed by money from his own department. So I

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would welcome the Minister's statement, but we need action rather

:04:56.:05:00.

than words and has the time come to actually send Benjamin Netanyahu the

:05:01.:05:17.

bill for structures funded by the British taxpayer? At the moment the

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European Union has not decided to seek compensation. Will the Minister

:05:25.:05:34.

confirm that DfID notwithstanding the efforts of eight senior Israeli

:05:35.:05:39.

diplomat to take down the Minister will continue to fight against

:05:40.:05:44.

collective punishment, demolitions and the expansion of the illegal

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settlements? I think we are conflating two different issues

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here. As the Foreign Secretary said yesterday the Israeli ambassador has

:05:54.:05:56.

already apologised for that incident. That diplomat has been

:05:57.:06:01.

removed from his post as an home. In terms of the overall questions of

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settlements and demolitions I think I have dealt with that in my answers

:06:06.:06:09.

to the other questions. I would like to ban the Minister for his

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responses, but I would like to minister to be a bit more clever and

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tell us how DfID has supported those people who are now homeless due to

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the systematic policy of settlement expansion? The central story on what

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DfID is doing is that we are doing three types of things for

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Palestinian people. We are supporting state structures, in

:06:36.:06:38.

particular health and education, doctors, teachers and nurses. We're

:06:39.:06:43.

working to get a viable economy and employment created to support two

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particularly small businesses and thirdly we invest in human capital,

:06:48.:06:53.

making sure Palestinian people are educated, healthy and have the

:06:54.:06:56.

opportunities for security and stability in the region in the

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long-term -- short-term, but in the long term there cannot be a two

:07:02.:07:05.

state solution unless we address the issues regarding the Palestinian

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people. What has happened developer is a tragedy and underlines the

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raging's Kallis tactics. -- Kallis tactics. We do all can to support

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civilians and to ensure they can receive the desperate aid that they

:07:29.:07:38.

need. The UK are committed to ?510 million support at the London Syria

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conference last year. And I ask the Secretary of State if she is on

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course to hit that target? Importantly, this gives me the

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chance to restate the house the British government's commitment to

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Syria. We have supported the Pledge of 510 million from the conference

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last year. The United Kingdom can be proud of its support, but we have

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ensured that humanitarian supplies a focus for the region has been the

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right support and we have used our international convening powers to

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work with others globally to ensure we can do everything we can to

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support Syria and the region. At the world humanitarian summit in

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Istanbul last year the United Kingdom permitted to the centrality

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of protection as a fundamental principle. Camber secretary of State

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tell us how that has guided DfID approach to Aleppo on what we can

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learn from the tragedy of Aleppo for future civilian protection. My

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honourable friend makes an important point in terms of the summit last

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year. It's about how humanitarian communities can come together and

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work together. There are a number of lessons, both in terms of agencies

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working together. The pooling of resources, making sure governments

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across the world are working together strategically as well in

:09:16.:09:18.

terms of resource allocation, but also in terms of convening power and

:09:19.:09:27.

how we can challenge governments where they are inflicting harm and

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causing the grief that they are and the devastation that they have been

:09:32.:09:38.

as well and making sure we stand shoulder to shoulder in how we

:09:39.:09:44.

tackle the situation. People give to singing for Syrians because they

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know the money they donate will be spent on prosthetic limbs in Aleppo.

:09:48.:09:55.

What more can the Secretary of State do to make sure that the money is

:09:56.:09:59.

spent in the region and not wasted on advocacy? Can I commend my

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honourable friend is on the worksheet is doing. -- work she is

:10:08.:10:15.

doing. In terms of specifically making sure the money is not wasted

:10:16.:10:23.

and it goes to the region, it's through our trusted partners who

:10:24.:10:35.

help us to measure the outcomes. The Secretary of State is already

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talking about Aleppo in the past tense. Besiege med is still

:10:40.:10:44.

happening right now. The British government can do more, so can I ask

:10:45.:10:48.

what representation she has made to the Foreign Secretary about

:10:49.:10:53.

The honourable lady is right. The situation, not just in Aleppo but

:10:54.:10:59.

Syria over all, is beyond com pretension. In terms of

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representations which each specific name refers to, the Warren Secretary

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and I work hand-in-hand in terms of international working together, the

:11:07.:11:11.

work we do and Syria, when it comes to calling for greater collaboration

:11:12.:11:18.

and access to humanitarian groups, that is what the governorate is

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doing. It is the work of government to provide those representations

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behind-the-scenes. Before the war, Aleppo had Syria's largest

:11:35.:11:38.

populations of Christians. 90% of them have now fled. A bulge what --

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a world watch list will be released that we show the key drivers of

:11:47.:11:52.

migration. What will be done to help the persecuted Christians of Aleppo?

:11:53.:11:56.

She is right to raise the plight of persecuted Christians, especially in

:11:57.:12:02.

the context of Syria and Aleppo. In terms of what we can do, it is not

:12:03.:12:11.

just our Department but the Government as a whole making sure

:12:12.:12:15.

that it is known that the persecution of religious minorities

:12:16.:12:21.

is not acceptable. We need to ensure that we work collaboratively across

:12:22.:12:24.

the world with other donor countries and other countries as well to make

:12:25.:12:31.

that case. Following the announcement that the Department

:12:32.:12:38.

would be using drones to drop supplies, how can go technology be

:12:39.:12:45.

used to deliver humanitarian aid in Aleppo and other parts of Syria? I

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thank him for his question. He is right to highlight that we have been

:12:50.:12:54.

innovating and looking at new technology in terms of aid provision

:12:55.:12:59.

via drones. There is a lot of work taking place in this space and I am

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conscious that this House has had a number of debates about other ways

:13:04.:13:06.

of delivering humanitarian assistance, particularly in besieged

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areas. Specifically and within the context of Syria, there is work

:13:12.:13:16.

taking place, there had been discussions and I can assure the

:13:17.:13:20.

House that this is an issue that we are pursuing actively, not just in

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the Department but across the Government. The Secretary of State's

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heart is in the right place, as we know, but the fact is that at this

:13:31.:13:36.

moment in Aleppo and other cities, the greatest humanitarian

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catastrophe of modern times is taking place today. Is it not right

:13:39.:13:45.

that we now admit there is precious little that we in the liberal West

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can do to help the appalling circumstances in Aleppo unless we

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have the support of the knighted nations and Russia? -- the United

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Nations. He makes an important point about in terms of what the

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Government can do, we must never lose sight of the fact that we are

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leading in humanitarian assistance and support. There are people in

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desperate need and it is the right focus that we have interns are

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giving them all of the necessary support. The other point is

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diplomacy. We need to carry on putting on pressure but we make sure

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we use diplomacy as well to put pressure on where it is needed. I

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would like to focus on north-western Syria, the main target of government

:14:32.:14:36.

strikes or on civilians who have fled Aleppo. Can the Secretary of

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State how they are supporting the wounded and displaced civilians? The

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honourable lady, I thank her for her focus once again be humanitarian

:14:48.:14:51.

plight that is taking place inside Syria. In terms of the work that is

:14:52.:14:58.

taking place, there are extensive the monetarily and efforts in terms

:14:59.:15:09.

of relief, and shelter. I have had a lot of time working with all about

:15:10.:15:16.

agencies, we are supporting and funding them directly, to ensure

:15:17.:15:20.

that supplies are getting through. I also caveat the fact that the

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reality is that this is a challenging environment and climate

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and we're getting supplies through, but it is increasingly difficult to

:15:29.:15:37.

do so. Access to energy is a key prerequisite driver of economic

:15:38.:15:42.

bread and development. Over 620 million people in sub-Saharan Africa

:15:43.:15:47.

have no access to energy. The boat's poorest people -- the world's

:15:48.:15:52.

poorest people campaign much more than we do for our energy. That is

:15:53.:15:59.

why we are trying to provide on grid and of great energy supplies to over

:16:00.:16:03.

4.5 million of the world's most in need. I thank him for his answer. I

:16:04.:16:11.

know from my own business to Africa that providing access is absolutely

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crucial to economic growth and prosperity in Africa. Does he agree

:16:17.:16:19.

that the role of the CDC and their investment in Africa is one of the

:16:20.:16:22.

best opportunities are providing that? I absolutely agree, Mr

:16:23.:16:29.

Speaker. This CDC can play a key role. I'm glad the House is showing

:16:30.:16:37.

support for the work that they do. A good example is a company in which

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the CDC has a majority stake which will drive forward energy provision

:16:44.:16:48.

of 5000 megawatts in Africa. 1000 megawatts can support 800,000 jobs.

:16:49.:16:55.

That is a different it can make, and that is why we're doing it. The

:16:56.:17:00.

German government has called on the world back to focus all of its work

:17:01.:17:03.

on climate and sustainability targets and to put an end to

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investment in obsolete and climate damaging technologies. Given the

:17:08.:17:13.

World Bank is the largest recipient of UK aid for energy, will the

:17:14.:17:19.

Government follow Germany's example and use its influence to call and

:17:20.:17:25.

the World Bank to stop investing in fossil fuels? I have set out some of

:17:26.:17:30.

the reasons for which energy supplies are so important to drive

:17:31.:17:33.

development, it is also important that that energy supply is

:17:34.:17:36.

sustainable and environmentally friendly. In all of the project

:17:37.:17:40.

sweep issue, we seek for that to be the case, that includes with the

:17:41.:17:43.

discussions at the world Bank where we recognise the contribution that

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we make. It is a board and they work towards that agenda. Another six,

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sir. I thank him for this question. The sustainability of programmes is

:17:57.:18:04.

crucial and all about programmes are designed with sustainability in

:18:05.:18:13.

mind. When and where it does happen, we want to ensure that a positive

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legacy is left and they leave no one behind. So some of the most poor and

:18:17.:18:21.

vulnerable received the protections that they order be able to expect.

:18:22.:18:29.

The American government operate the global equality fund to make sure

:18:30.:18:32.

that marginalised groups are not left behind. Will my friend consider

:18:33.:18:37.

the UK in initiating a similar fund? My honourable friend is right.

:18:38.:18:43.

Marginalised groups are sometimes the most honourable. Rightly, we

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focus our efforts and attention on the poorest countries in the world

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with the largest known as people in the greatest need of support. But

:18:51.:18:53.

there are other that need support elsewhere. We need to be aware of

:18:54.:18:57.

that and make sure that we have a sustainable impact. I would like to

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have further discussions about the idea he's putting forward. In a

:19:03.:19:09.

recent review, the independent commission on aid impact said that

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no policy... The Department will always look at what we need to do to

:19:26.:19:30.

ensure sustainable and long-lasting transition and support programmes

:19:31.:19:34.

that need to be designed in that way. That runs through all of the

:19:35.:19:39.

decisions we make. We will continue to work in this area and we're happy

:19:40.:19:42.

to consider and look at further proposals for what might improve the

:19:43.:19:46.

of work that is done. Topical questions.

:19:47.:19:58.

UK aid health meet our obligations of the world's poorest, whether

:19:59.:20:05.

giving to Syrian refugees, access to water or creating jobs across

:20:06.:20:08.

Africa. This investment is also firmly in our interests since it

:20:09.:20:14.

tackles the route causes of global problems and focuses on delivering

:20:15.:20:18.

world-class programmes which deliver value for money for taxpayers. The

:20:19.:20:23.

Secretary of State has previously said she is looking at allocating

:20:24.:20:29.

funding to peaceful coexistence programmes, including one that

:20:30.:20:32.

brings Palestinians and Israelis together. Am I honourable friend

:20:33.:20:37.

update the House on this worthy project? I thank him for his

:20:38.:20:41.

question. I am pleased to confirm we are working on a range of

:20:42.:20:48.

programmes. They will support tangible improvements, as my

:20:49.:20:53.

honourable friend has already stepped. This programme is now in

:20:54.:20:56.

its final design phase and will be launched at the beginning of the

:20:57.:21:02.

financial year. Order. I understand the air of anticipation just before

:21:03.:21:05.

Prime Minister's Questions. Can I remind the House that we are

:21:06.:21:08.

discussing matters that affect the poorest people on the face of the

:21:09.:21:10.

planet and they should be treated with respect? The protection of

:21:11.:21:19.

civilians must remain our absolute priority in Aleppo. If we are to

:21:20.:21:26.

provide food, water, shelter and humanitarian relief to civilians who

:21:27.:21:28.

for four years have faced the horrors of an in humane war, we need

:21:29.:21:32.

to make sure that the ceasefire, although currently holding, remains

:21:33.:21:37.

more than a brief pause. Can the minister explain what efforts are

:21:38.:21:40.

being made to ensure that conflict does not reignite in Aleppo and what

:21:41.:21:44.

contingency plan the Department has in place to continue to provide aid

:21:45.:21:52.

for civilians? The honourable gentleman is right that the UK will

:21:53.:21:57.

do everything it can to support the current ceasefire and, importantly,

:21:58.:22:04.

safeguard humanitarian support in the region as well. That is down to

:22:05.:22:11.

our diplomatic tools and efforts. We need ensure that all agencies work

:22:12.:22:14.

together to provide the support that is required. No self respecting

:22:15.:22:20.

conservative believes that you should be judged on how much you

:22:21.:22:23.

spend on something. Spending a guaranteed amount of money each year

:22:24.:22:29.

on overseas aid leads to waste and excess, including the amount spent

:22:30.:22:34.

on consultants. When can we get back to some common sense and stops

:22:35.:22:37.

pending more on overseas aid every year when the money could be better

:22:38.:22:44.

spent at home? I thank my honourable friend for his question. Like all

:22:45.:22:49.

Conservatives, I too want to focus on making sure that every penny of

:22:50.:22:52.

taxpayers money goes to helping the poorest, and that is the commission

:22:53.:22:57.

about Department. At the same time, he will note that overseas

:22:58.:23:00.

development assistance saves lives and transforms lives. He

:23:01.:23:05.

specifically refers to spending on consultants. That is something that

:23:06.:23:10.

my Department is looking at right now and we are currently reviewing.

:23:11.:23:16.

The replies must be heard with courtesy. It is rather alarming when

:23:17.:23:20.

some of her own backbenchers are not according to the proper respect. She

:23:21.:23:28.

must be accorded that respect. Thank you very much. We receive much

:23:29.:23:33.

lobbying over the Israeli and Palestinian need for delivery on the

:23:34.:23:39.

ground, but what is the minister's assessment of the effect of

:23:40.:23:42.

terrorism and how difficult it makes to deliver on the ground to those

:23:43.:23:46.

who really need it, whether it is education or humanitarian aid? The

:23:47.:23:54.

honourable member makes a good point. We have talk about

:23:55.:23:58.

demolitions and settlements. The only long-term stability in that

:23:59.:24:01.

region requires protecting the security of Israel as an absolutely

:24:02.:24:09.

essential plank along with guaranteeing an independent,

:24:10.:24:12.

autonomous Palestinian state. The most sustainable aid is paid through

:24:13.:24:18.

trade. Will my right honourable friend therefore ensure that when we

:24:19.:24:22.

leave the European Union and the customs union, that we give top

:24:23.:24:27.

priority and free access to our markets to exports from the poorest

:24:28.:24:33.

countries? My honourable friend will note that our priority is of course

:24:34.:24:37.

economic development and making sure that, through our aid, we are

:24:38.:24:41.

delivering long-term sustainable economic development and prosperity

:24:42.:24:43.

in everything we do. He is also right to note that we are working

:24:44.:24:48.

across government as we leave the European Union to look at unilateral

:24:49.:24:52.

trade preferences and the work we can do to grow our trade footprint

:24:53.:24:59.

across the world. Unlike the honourable member opposite, we're

:25:00.:25:03.

the SNP except that data shows that last year the UK was one of the only

:25:04.:25:09.

six countries to meet the 0.7% aid target. This includes the Scottish

:25:10.:25:13.

Cup men's international aid fund. What assurances can be given that

:25:14.:25:16.

the Government's commitment to that target is unwavering and will

:25:17.:25:19.

continue to be fulfilled beyond the next election? We have been

:25:20.:25:25.

unequivocal in our commitment to 0.7%. On top of that, it is a

:25:26.:25:31.

manifesto commitment. The focus of my Department is to focus on poverty

:25:32.:25:35.

reduction and ensured that that money is spent to drive taxpayer

:25:36.:25:40.

value and deliver programmes to the poorest in the world. The honourable

:25:41.:25:48.

lady wanted to ask a question earlier, issue no longer inclined to

:25:49.:26:00.

do so? Thank you. This election amid the -- the select committee saw the

:26:01.:26:08.

amazing work done by CDC. Not only is it reducing energy for millions

:26:09.:26:11.

of people, it is creating a lot of jobs. Can we encourage them to do

:26:12.:26:17.

even more schemes like that? I thank the honourable lady for paying too

:26:18.:26:22.

good to the important role the CDC by bringing the rigour of the

:26:23.:26:25.

private sector with the genuine values of the public sector and we

:26:26.:26:33.

have shown the ability to provide hydro power that provides energy for

:26:34.:26:43.

millions of people. Will she be consider her Department's decision

:26:44.:26:54.

to cut everything up -- every single penny... I thank the honourable

:26:55.:27:00.

gentleman for his question. People have heard in the previous responses

:27:01.:27:04.

our commitment to coexistence programmes and how they will not

:27:05.:27:08.

just ride the right values but actually help to bring the two

:27:09.:27:12.

communities together in a constructive way. In addition to our

:27:13.:27:17.

focus in targeted spending on public schemes such as health and education

:27:18.:27:21.

programmes within the region. Order. Questions to the Prime Minister.

:27:22.:27:32.

The Prime Minister. This morning I had meetings with ministerial

:27:33.:27:38.

colleagues and others in addition to my

:27:39.:27:39.