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DFID welcomes Rt Hon Priti Patel MP, appointed today as secretary of state for international development

Photo: DFID/CC BY 2.0

Priti Patel before the International Development Committee

14 September 2016

Yesterday was a busy day for the newly appointed Secretary of State for International Development. Here is a summary of events.

Questions to the Secretary of State

For her first ever DFID oral questions, the Secretary of State was asked to outline her Department's record on women, girls, Syria and the Global Fund. She confirmed that the Prime Minister will attend UN Summit on refugees with President Obama later this month.

The Secretary of State said that she will make an announcement on the Global Fund Replenishment in Canada, rather than before. Charities had hoped that an earlier announcement would help to leverage more money from donors.

There were also quite a few questions from Conservative Members on value for money. The Secretary stated that she wanted the Department to work for the poorest people of the world and UK tax payers. She also gave further indication of her priorities ‘I am clear about economic development, jobs and empowerment which will be our focus alongside the transparency agenda.

Read the full transcript

The International Development Committee

The main areas of questions from the Committee were; the Department’s priorities, Brexit implications, aid spending and the arrival of the three reviews - the Multi-lateral Aid Review (MAR), Bilateral Aid Review (BAR) and Civil Society Partnership Review (CSPR).

The Secretary of State opened by saying she was proud to work for the Department. She outlined that her priorities were reducing poverty, prosperity and helping to create a stable world.

Seeking to clarify some of the statements in the Daily Mail piece, Stephen Doughty MP posed some difficult questions about the proportion of money which was stolen or misused. Whilst Patel wouldn’t commit to a proportion, she did say that she has stopped funding to a number of projects over the summer.

On spending money through different Departments, Mark Lowcock the Permanent Secretary said that as long as Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development's (OECD) Development Assistance Committee (DAC) rules were being observed, it didn’t matter which Department spent the money or what the money was being spent on. When asked directly whether she would seek to change OECD DAC rules, the Secretary stated that she had no plans to.

The supporter of Brexit was clear to say that DFID would continue a relationship with the EU and continue to push other European countries to reach 0.7 % of Gross National Income on overseas aid. When asked by Nigel Evans MP whether 100% of DFID spending would be decided in the UK, the Secretary of State was not able to confirm this.

There is still some confusion surrounding who will lead the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) within government. In the session the Secretary of State said that the Cabinet would lead across Government work on the goals and the new report. Yet the Cabinet stated just a couple of weeks ago that DFID would lead this work. The Government was planning to publish a report on SDG implementation, however this has been delayed by the political upheaval and the Secretary could not confirm whether this would be published prior to Christmas.

The Committee were keen to hear more about the MAR, BAR and CSPR. On the MAR and BAR the Secretary of State said that changes had been made and they were not ready to be published yet, but that they might be ready by the end of October.  On the CSPR the Secretary of State said that she was ‘looking to publish' and ‘wasn’t sure on the sequencing’ and so ‘can’t be specific’ she ended by saying that NGOs wouldn’t be waiting months for the reviews.

After an hour and a half the session was interrupted by a vote; but the Secretary confirmed that she would answer further questions from the Committee once the reviews were published. 

About the author

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Bond

Bond's public affairs and government relations manager, Ali has previously worked for Unicef UK and in parliament. She has an MA in International Politics and Development from Newcastle University.