Live International Development Questions House of Commons

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Live International Development Questions

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

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80 people, although police said it will not know the total toll until


the end of the year. Do join me for a round-up of the day in both Houses


of Parliament at 11 o'clock tonight. First we have the secretary.


Colleagues the results will be announced when they are available.


That is what it says here! I expect to announce the results of the


ballots at the end of the debate on Grenfell Tower this evening.


Questions to the Secretary of State for International Development.


Secretary Priti Patel. Thank you Speaker. UK aid plays a vital role


in helping the world's poorest in helping tackle and disease and


terrorism put up in Africa since 2015, we have provided assistance to


13.7 million people. Can I congratulate the Secretary of State


this week for population and considering what Mrs Gates had to


say about the impact on migration. Will she consider how the core


funding for organisations such as IP PF and others can be reinstated in


to help the organisations deliver what they have been doing


effectively for some years. The honourable gentleman is right. These


are important organisations and the UK has led the way on family


planning. As we showed yesterday, we are constantly looking at how we can


work with important partners on this very essential issue, in particular


on family planning and modern methods of contraception and we will


review more. Mr Speaker, in the decision by the PM to appointed


joint minister for sub-Saharan Africa, can be Secretary of State


say what her priorities are for driving forehead HMG's priorities.


My friend Mike is absolutely right to commend the two Department


working together and there is a good reason for this because we are not


one HMG, we are one Government about we have the same priorities right


comes to Africa, tackling the big issues but also the essential air of


economic development and growing countries like Africa so they can


become trading... The assessment of the current situation in the


Democratic Republic of Congo and in particular what is the Government


doing to assist the humanitarian crisis that but also to ensure Congo


can move to democratic elections as soon as possible. I thank my


honourable friend and I congratulate him on his reappointment to that


role. He is right to stress the significance of what is going on in


the DRC right now. It is very worrying. There are many human


tearing pressures that we know of in the country and electoral situation


and democratic situation is not sustainable right now. We're working


on the ground and with our partners to ensure we provide support that is


necessary to get the country back on track. In recent years, UK aid has


played a key role in helping Ethiopia become more resilient to


crises by nicking sure people have a safety net so they do not staff.


Would you agree with me that the British public can be proud of what


this Government has done? My honourable friend is right and


having visited Ethiopia recently just a month ago, we have seen UK


aid in action. There is no doubt that the UK is keeping people alive


with the humanitarian situation, the drought that has taken place, that


at the same time we are supporting the industrialisation of Ethiopia


with trade opportunities and British firms creating jobs in the country


itself. The Independent commission for aid impact has reported that UK


development assistance to Africa was down by a massive 20,000,020 16 and


one that Africa is losing out on a spending as the Government diverts


money to countries in Europe and Asia. Considering that Africa has


the highest proportion of its population living in extreme


poverty, can the Minister of State on watching tends to do to reverse


the cuts and make sure Africa does not lose out on funding? I welcome


the honourable lady to her new role and congratulate in joining the


front bench in this role. We have a commitment to .7% and that is a


commitment we are proud of. Seven did this serve 74% and the majority


of the money does go to Africa in programming. I think it is important


to recognise that firstly there is an enormous humanitarian crisis in


Africa and we have throughout the years scaled up and lead the way and


called on other donors to put more money into Africa on famine relief


and we are walking across departments to make sure Africa is a


issue. I have regular discussions with the Secretary of State and


others with the conflict in Syria and we are doing more on the


humanitarian side as well. Will be Secretary of State tell us what has


been done to make sure civilians can leave safely including what


information they are giving them on routes to escape. The honourable


lady, her rights, mass conflict in terms of recapturing the city


itself, in terms of the regional support we are providing, we are


providing support, medical, food, shelter, all the basics that they


need in the region, but they asked specifically about information and


we are working with our partners on the ground working in challenging


situations to give them communication and guidance as to


where the safe places are that they can go to. We might not reach the


question for the lady for Bamburgh. May I use this opportunity to thank


you for your support for Syrians and that of DFID. Singing for Syrians


with all of the support that I have received is now not only to support


medical agencies in Syria but for the schools of disabled children.


Does my honourable friend agree with me that aid is always worth more


spent in the region and with the people caught up in this conflict


are really want is to be able to stay as close to home as possible?


My honourable friend is absolutely right and I would like to commend


her and congratulate her and others involved in singing for Syrians. It


is an incredible charity and I commend her on her work. Providing


support in the region is what makes a difference in terms of changing


lives and saving lives. We have led the way, we have spent over ?2.6


billion in the region providing opportunity for those displaced in


conflict. Quite obvious to see governments in the... Has she made


an assessment of what that would mean for her department on the


ground and is she being the voice of reason in this? It is wrong to


suggest that we are expanding any conflict at all. Our focus and the


Government is one of making short UK aid goes to the people who are


suffering through such a bleak situations on the ground right now.


We are working across Government and with our partners in the region as


well to bring hope where is there is despair and end the conflict with


our international partners as well. Before the conflict, the Syrian


population was composed of 11% Christians. Quite rightly, the


Government have a programme to admit on humanitarian reasons refugees


from the camps. But in the early stages, the Christians were not


going far comes due to intimidation. Can my honourable friend assure me


that there is a fair proportion of Christians in the reception? My


honourable friend makes an important port and we are reaching the most


vulnerable people across Syria including Christians and UK funding


is distributed on the basis that civilians are not discriminated


against on the basis of race, religion RSS city. -- RSS city.


Meeting the target is a manifesto commitment, enshrined in law and the


Government has been unequivocal that we continue to attract on about.


Those committing to the target of spending a certain amount of GDP on


edge, disease Secretary of State agree that poverty reduction must be


at the heart of UK aid spending? I welcome the honourable gentleman to


the house. He is right and that is exactly what our aid spending does


and poverty reduction is at the heart of the definition in terms of


spending and that is what this Government is absolutely focused on.


Not by 7% is extremely valuable in alleviating poverty, but would the


Secretary of State update the house on a important summit she attended


yesterday on family planning and what it has achieved? The issue of


family planning is an enormous issue in terms of development and


alleviation. We convened yesterday with our co-hosts and many other


representatives from around the world came, made big pledges and


commitments to tackle the issue of family planning. The UK has led the


way when it comes to this, but we are working in the private sector to


put more money in this and develop new products. What percentage of the


budget will be spent helping developing countries tackle climate


change? Will she follow Scotland's example and establish a climate


justice fund will her Government tie itself to Donald Trump's attitude to


climate change recently described as pushing the Earth 's climate over


the brink to become like Venice with a temperature of 250 degrees and


reigning sulphuric acid? With regard to this Government's


commitment to climate change, we have a signatory to the Paris


agreement and we are committed to delivering that. When it comes to


percentage of spending, we have a range of spending across the


department -- Government departments, working on this issue


with DFID as well because we know so much over climate change issues have


a massive impact in terms of drought, famine and causing a great


deal of harm in different parts of the world. Constituents are coming


into Parliament today to set out their concerns about Christians in


Syria facing oppression and persecution. Will the Secretary of


State use the aid budget to alleviate the suffering of Christian


communities during that time of trouble? I thank my honourable


friend for her question, UK aid and funding is distributed on the basis


to those in need, but importantly standing up for them and giving them


a voice in parts of the wild is conflict. As well as recommitting to


the UN target of not .7 -- 0.7, how will the Minister consult civil


society before proposing further changes, or relaxation of rules? I


thank the honourable lady for her question, this is an important area


where I have committed to working with all partners, in particular


civil society, and in fact civil society and I, a range of NGOs spent


some time on this issue two weeks ago, and this is an ongoing dialogue


and I would welcome views of other partners on this issue. With high


Government's new-found desire to reach out to other parties for


ideas, precisely which of the 13 policy ideas in Labour's 2013


manifesto does the Secretary of State intend to implement? When it


comes to development I think it is fair to say we are in agreement to


our national commitment to 0.7%. Hence our constructive exchange


right now. With reference to a previous question, on ODA reform, we


should be working on this with our international partners. This year we


are providing a package of humanitarian support to these


particular countries, providing food, shelter and water to those in


desperate need. Can I press the Secretary of State


and asked her what her department is doing to encourage the Ugandan


Government to fully engage in diplomatic efforts to bring warring


parties in South Sudan to the negotiating table? South Sudan and


the conflict there is an abhorrent situation, I have seen that at first


hand. I have absolutely been pressing the Ugandan Government and


also other neighbours in the region, they need to step up effectively,


call out the appalling behaviour we have been seeing in South Sudan, and


the UK's doing everything we possibly can to make sure that


message is heard. Can I congratulate the Secretary of State and DFID for


coordinating the aid effort in South Sudan with other countries. Does she


agree this was let another example where British taxpayers' money is


being widely spent keeping alive men, women and children who have


been -- happen to share the planet with us? South Sudan is a man-made


crisis which has caused thousands to flee their home. UK aid is making a


great difference. Number five, Mr Speaker. Last week DFID launched a


fund specifically for UK's small UK registered charities with an annual


income of less than ?250,000. In I am proud of the work many of our


constituents in Cheadle undertake, and small charities are vital to our


aid programme and for this -- does my right honourable friend agree


with me that providing these funds to our local and small charities, we


can improve the connection between our civil society and the important


work in helping countries overseas? Small charities are a crucial part


of the UK's development over. I would urge all colleagues across the


House to encourage their small charities to apply to this fund,


because there is a great opportunity to build those links nationally and


internationally on these important issues. Will she give priority in


allocating funds to areas of the world such as Yemen, where there is


a humanitarian catastrophe, where 300,000 people are facing a cholera


epidemic? The honourable gentleman is right, and I commend him for


raising the issue of Yemen where the conflict is having devastating


impact, and of course there is a cholera crisis. We are spending


hundreds of millions in providing the necessary life-saving support to


the people who are engrossed in that awful conflict. What assessment has


my right honourable friend made of the remarkable voluntary and


charitable contribution made alongside the Government's work to


relieve the crisis in Syria, and how does the department helped to


facilitate that were? My honourable friend is right to raise this, and


in terms of the support for Syria and the region, UK aid is playing a


significant part, we are one of the largest donors, but also the many


small charities as we have heard, playing a part as well, and the


small charities fund will help to facilitate more UK small charities


to do more on international crisis and conflict. Number six, Mr


Speaker. The UK was at the forefront of drafting those goals, and is


leading a great deal of the implementation. The 28th of March we


published a report, DFID's leads on implementation in making sure the


single departmental plans drive it through domestically. Winger he will


know of my interest in the issue of food waste in particular. Does he


agree that with a goal of 12.3, it is not just enough to have a DFID


led approach, we won't be able to help farmers in developing countries


unless we also tackle the relationship with the supermarkets


in this country as well. The right poll has been a leader in food waste


in this House. It has to be driven by Defra and the Secretary of State


for Defra, monitored by the Cabinet Office and then DFID role is to make


sure that internationally, we are consistent with exactly the kind of


leadership on food waste that the right honourable member has


provided. Winger the commitment to and lamenting the sustainable


development goals comes right from the top of the Government. -- in


implementing. Does -- on my right honourable friend update the House


on when he is asked the officer for national statistics to report on the


UK's progress? Winger red they are currently compiling a report for the


UN, and we will be submitting ourselves to a voluntary assessment


of the UN -- the UK's performance at home and abroad on the sustainable


development goals. Given President from's declaration on the Paris


agreement, doesn't that blow a hole in the UK's objectives on the


climate change agreement as part of the millennium development goals?


The UK's obligation under the sustainable development goals is to


make -- remain committed to our own performance, we are sticking with


the Paris agreement, and we will demonstrate at home and abroad that


we really care about clean, renewable energy. Topical questions.


Yesterday I hosted a fantastic family planning conference here in


London, dealing with the population challenges of regions such as


Africa, but also making -- demonstrating UK leadership in terms


of how we can help those who do not have a voice on this issue. Will the


Secretary of State commitment to change the UK definition of


international aid without consultation and approval from this


House? I have already said that I am engaged in all parties, not just


political parties but also stakeholders and international


colleagues as well, because of course our very clear guidelines on


OECD rules, we will work with all part -- partners to insure that we


can look at the changes necessary. If your tools or your land stolen


and there is no redress through the justice system, or if you are too


fearful to walk to school because you have been raped and no action


has been taken, development is restricted if policy continues. So


what action is DFID taking to make sure that justice systems function


properly in the domestic were? -- poverty continues. Strengthening the


justice systems around the world, particularly in developing


countries, is an essential part in our fight against poverty. But also


building safer communities and countries, and that is the focus of


DFID and UK aid. What is the cycling's -- what is the Secretary


of State doing about the plight of hundreds of thousands of Syrians who


cannot access any UK aid, because they are still under age by the Al


Assad Government. He raises a very serious situation, in Syria and also


the besieged areas in which we are struggling, collectively all


agencies are struggling to get support and aid to people who


desperately need this. We're working with many of the aid agencies on the


ground but also the UN in particular. Who are leading the way


here, and of course it is a devastating situation in Syria, and


we are working with all parties to see what we can do to get supplies


in as and when those windows opportunities appear. Winger free


trade is essentially -- free trade -- can my right honourable friend


update the House on what policies she is taking to update this issue?


The UK is committed to ensuring valeting countries can combat


poverty through focusing on free trade. -- developing countries. We


are encouraging trade preferences with poor countries to make this may


help them trade their way out of poverty, and that is an area DFID is


focused on. So the whole house can benefit from the mellifluous tones


of the honourable lady, perhaps she can face the House when opening full


is -- answering. School students from Wrexham and the suit to


southern Africa have had a tremendous relationship through


personal contact with students in Europe and Africa. -- De Soto. How


can we enable that to continue? The honourable gentleman is right to


raise these amazing partnerships between our schools in Africa and


the UK, and of course DFID is leading the way through many of the


programmes we have, but also through the connecting classrooms programme


that is taking place in many honourable and right honourable


members' schools. Speaker-macro, trade not aid is the route out of


poverty for developing countries. With the Secretary of State agree --


would the Secretary of State agree that leaving the EU will allow this


country to lower its tariffs and allow developing countries to trade


with us? My honourable friend makes a very, very important and relevant


point. As someone who also campaigned to leave the EU, I think


it is absolutely right that when we bring forward our trade preferences


through future legislation as we leave the EU, that will enable many


poor countries to leave behind poverty and get on the path to


prosperity. 95% of drinking water in Gaza now being unsafe to drink,


we're now fast becoming -- approaching the part -- pod of Gaza


being uninhabitable is. What is the Government doing to ensure we do not


reach that point, and pushing the plans for a desalination plant?


According to the UN office for the coordination of humanitarian


affairs, most homes in Gaza are only getting water for a few hours every


three to five days. The availability of safe drinking water has become


worse, the UK encourages all parties to find a sustainable solution to


the problem, and in the longer term continues to urge the authorities to


ensure fair distribution of water. Can the Secretary of State assure me


that her department will work closely with disability focus


organisations, so that the UK's efforts to improve access to


education for disabled children in developing countries are successful?


Let me start by welcoming my honourable friend to the House. We


are committed in the UK to focus on disability in poor countries, and


also importantly enable those that are disadvantaged in some of the


most pro--- poorest parts of the world. Yet the macro myself on the


honourable member for Brock still have been to Jordan and met the


people on the ground who are really worried about the potential


instability as a result of accepting so many Syrian refugees. What the


Government agree that ensuring stability in host countries who are


opening their doors is an absolute priority? The honourable lady will


have seen the impact of the Syrian conflict that is happening in Jordan


and the region, and Jordan as a host country has been heavily supported


by the United Kingdom, by UK aid, to provide all the essential things


they need. Can the Secretary of State insure their department works


to try and ensure that more women in the developing world have access to


advice and support on contraception and family planning? My right


honourable friend is right, and I would state again that we hosted a


summer yesterday on this very issue, and will continue to lead the way in


standing up for women's rights in developing countries, but also


pioneering more work and support in family planning and contraceptives.


Does the Minister agree with me that proposals in Israel, discussed last


month by the Israeli Government, on this construction of a Gaza seaport


to ease the situation in Gaza, and will support this initiative? The


idea of a new seaport could open up all sorts of things in Gaza, and


change the situation for the people there quite materially. It is a very


interesting proposal, and I'm interested to see how far it is


taken. Yet the macro -- British funded refugee


camps across Turkey have been preventing illegal migration into


Europe. Is it time to commit a similar scheme in North Africa.


We are providing a great deal of support to migrants with


humanitarian aid, and looking at the flows of people.


The British Government is leading the response to West Africa. Can the


Secretary of State update the House. Parred in East Africa specifically


we have led the way in humanitarian and emergency food assistance, given


help to over 2.4 million people. Questions to the Prime Minister.


Caroline Flint. Question number one. Mr Damian


Green. My right honourable friend is


welcoming the king and queen of Spain on their state visit to the


United Kingdom and I am sure the whole House wishes them well. Isn't


today's report that the National Grid made ?3 billion profit in 2016


at the expense of households further evidence the Government is not


delivering their energy prices? Will the Government agreed to