Written Question
South Sudan: Mental Health Services
7 Aug 2020, 12:56 p.m.

Questioner: The Earl of Sandwich

Question

To ask Her Majesty's Government what funding they have allocated for mental health programmes in South Sudan.

Answer (Baroness Sugg)

The UK is the leading provider of health services in South Sudan, through the Health Pooled Fund (HPF) (£175m 2018-2023). Through the HPF, UK Aid is improving capacity to identify and manage mental health illnesses in health facilities and hospitals; last year HPF trained 412 health workers on mental health across South Sudan.


UK Aid is also supporting specialised mental health services in areas heavily impacted by violence, through our partnerships with Humanity and Inclusion (£3.7m 2018-2021) and Medair (£16m 2016-2021). We also provide psycho-social support to survivors of gender-based violence as part of a five-year £22 million programme with the International Medical Corps. Finally, UK Aid is working in partnership with the UN’s International Organisation for Migration (IOM) to provide mental health and psychosocial services in protection of civilian sites, with services targeted particularly at vulnerable groups including women and girls.


Written Question
Overseas Aid
7 Aug 2020, 11:50 a.m.

Questioner: Lord Chidgey

Question

To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the letter from the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs of 22 July regarding Official Development Assistance, (1) what analysis and evaluation techniques will be deployed in prioritising the various streams of development projects across the Sustainable Development Goals spectrum, and (2) what measures will be taken to establish the non-recoverable costs of cancelled or reduced programmes as a result of (a) the reduction in funding, (b) the impact of COVID-19, and (c) the merger of the Department for International Development and the Foreign and Commonwealth Office.

Answer (Baroness Sugg)

DFID’s evaluation approach is underpinned by the principles of transparency, rigour and independence, achieved with skilled analytical staff that have a deep and extensive evaluation experience.


Every DFID programme is subject to an annual review which looks at the performance of partners and DFID, including consideration of Value for Money. These reviews are published. Controls are in place to ensure that costs will be identified and recorded in line with Managing Public Money, including where necessary any write-offs or losses. The anticipated decline in GNI and hence ODA, the impact of covid-19, alongside all other key issues will be disclosed as necessary within the department’s 2020/21 Governance Statement.


We will continue to look at how money can be spent most effectively against our priorities, including through the Integrated Review, and the Spending Review – both of which will inform the priorities of the new Department.


Written Question
Africa: Overseas Aid
6 Aug 2020, 4:52 p.m.

Questioner: Lord Chidgey

Question

To ask Her Majesty's Government what progress they have made in redirecting aid programmes in each relevant country in Africa through (1) their country programmes, (2) multilateral programmes, and (3) the World Food Programme; and for full details in each case.

Answer (Baroness Sugg)

Many bilateral and multilateral aid programmes across Africa have been redirected, prioritising health, humanitarian, growth and trade as well as education and nutrition, recognising that these components are vital both for the immediate response to COVID-19, and for longer-term recovery. The UK has successfully pivoted huge amounts of programming to support nimble and innovative responses in African countries.


For example, in South Sudan, the UK is making a significant contribution to government-led efforts to prevent and respond to cases of COVID-19, including through support for infection prevention and control as well as water, sanitation and hygiene activities. The UK’s flagship Sexual and Reproductive Health Programme (WISH) has been adapted in 24 countries across Africa to ensure the continuation of lifesaving services to marginalised women and girls despite COVID-19. Multilaterally, £20m has been provided towards the African Union’s new COVID-19 response plan which funds and deploys health workers, clinical equipment, and capacity building training to all 55 AU Member States. In 2020, DFID has so far provided USD 254million to support the World Food Programme’s operations – this includes a USD 19million contribution to The World Food Programme’s Global Services in response to COVID-19.


Written Question
Developing Countries: Food Supply
6 Aug 2020, 4:51 p.m.

Questioner: Lord Chidgey

Question

To ask Her Majesty's Government what discussions they have had with the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations and the World Food Programme on (1) the availability of food, (2) agricultural production, (3) food supply chains, and (4) governments’ capacities to protect vulnerable populations; and what are the expected outcomes of any such discussions.

Answer (Baroness Sugg)

The UK is concerned about the increasing risk of acute food insecurity, and we engage regularly with the FAO and WFP to discuss the global food security outlook. Recent discussions have focused on the indirect impacts of COVID-19 on food access and availability, agricultural production and food supply chains, and deteriorating trends.

The FAO and WFP regularly update the UK on their responses, in particular under the Global COVID-19 Humanitarian Response Plan (GHRP). Efforts have prioritised anticipatory action to safeguard livelihoods and increase access to food, alongside global humanitarian logistics services. These aim to ensure continuity of critical food supply chains, strengthened national social protection systems, and safety of key food supply chain workers. The UK remains among the largest donors to the global COVID-19 response and the GHRP. The UK remains among the largest donors to the global COVID-19 response and the GHRP. We will continue to work closely with key partners to ensure assistance reaches those who need it most.


Written Question
Humanitarian Aid: Food Supply
6 Aug 2020, 4:51 p.m.

Questioner: Lord Chidgey

Question

To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the report by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations and the World Food Programme FAO–WFP early warning analysis of acute food insecurity hotspots, published on 17 July, and in particular of the recommendation to preserve and scale up critical humanitarian food, nutrition and livelihood assistance.

Answer (Baroness Sugg)

We welcome this joint report and the recommendations made as they promote a comprehensive approach to tackling food insecurity. The FAO-WFP early warning analysis highlights countries that are at risk of significant food security deterioration, including the secondary impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, and aims to inform urgent action to safeguard the food security of the most vulnerable communities in these locations.


The UK is working with international partners, including FAO and WFP, to closely monitor the situation and take action. As a leading donor to the COVID-19 response we are supporting our partners to ensure essential commodities and services, and pre-position food supplies for those most in need. We have also adapted our existing social protection, agriculture, and food security programmes, including support to the FAO on locust control, to support the most vulnerable.


Written Question
Haiti: Overseas Aid
6 Aug 2020, 4:50 p.m.

Questioner: Lord Chidgey

Question

To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the Department for International Development’s involvement in Haiti, given reports by the community and international agencies of the continuing levels of poverty, unrest, sexual exploitation and abuse.

Answer (Baroness Sugg)

While the UK does not have a bilateral development programme in Haiti, we support Haiti through our contributions to agencies such as the United Nations, European Union and the World Bank Group who have a strong presence on the ground. Our contributions are helping to make sure reconstruction reduces future disaster risks, health facilities are more climate resilient and the economy is better managed and supported. DFID holds itself to the highest standards and UK Aid must be delivered at all times in ways which do no harm. We will not fund any organisation that does not meet our high standards on safeguarding. Evidence suggests that sexual exploitation and abuse increase during crises and we must never be complacent. This is a long-term agenda and DFID continues to drive work to tackle sexual exploitation and abuse and sexual harassment. We are making good progress with initiatives that root out perpetrators and improve support to survivors and victims.


Written Question
Overseas Aid
6 Aug 2020, 4:50 p.m.

Questioner: Lord Chidgey

Question

To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the impact of the diversion of 30 per cent of Official Development Assistance budget to departments other than the Department for International Development on (1) support for the poorest people, (2) the maintenance of transparency and effectiveness procedures, and (3) maintaining focus on poverty reduction.

Answer (Baroness Sugg)

The 2015 Aid Strategy set out the Government’s new approach to aid where we embraced an integrated approach to delivering Official Development Assistance (ODA). This recognised the role of aid in tackling poverty and global challenges such as insecurity and that this serves our national interest. The delivery of ODA programmes by departments other than DFID has enabled us to leverage knowledge, skills and expertise from across government, delivering programmes that contribute to achieving the sustainable development goals and addressing the diversity of today’s development challenges. This collective effort has allowed our ODA programmes to deliver both strong development impact. The Government remains committed to ensuring that every pound spent on ODA is spent transparently and achieves maximum value for money for taxpayers.


Written Question
Overseas Aid
6 Aug 2020, 4:40 p.m.

Questioner: Lord Chidgey

Question

To ask Her Majesty's Government what management and oversight precautions, if any, they are putting in place to (1) increase accountability of aid spending; and (2) prevent non-attributable day-to-day spending being re-badged as aid.

Answer (Baroness Sugg)

The Government is committed to ensuring that every pound spent on Overseas Development Assistance (ODA) achieves maximum value for money for taxpayers based on the same high standards of accountability and effectiveness as all areas of public expenditure. Individual departments are responsible under public spending rules for monitoring all public money including their UK aid programming and ensuring that they deliver value for money. Robust parliamentary and independent scrutiny of the aid budget will continue – the form that Parliamentary scrutiny takes is for Parliament to decide. UK ODA continues to be spent in accordance with international rules on what constitutes aid as set by the Development Assistance Committee of the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development.


Written Question
Coronavirus: Disease Control
6 Aug 2020, 4:40 p.m.

Questioner: Lord Kennedy of Southwark

Question

To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the ethical implications of the creation of emergency funds by multinational corporations to tackle the COVID-19 pandemic.

Answer (Baroness Sugg)

The COVID-19 pandemic continues to have a severe impact on those who work in and supply global value chains. 292 million jobs in manufacturing supply chains are at high risk globally due to the COVID-19-related drop in consumer demand. These include 73 million in textiles and garment supply chains – a critical source of labour demand for many of the poorest and most vulnerable workers globally.


Multinational corporations have significant reach and can have a positive impact on their supply chains. DFID is partnering with Unilever to deploy a Hygiene and Behaviour Change Coalition to combat COVID-19 where our support is matched in-kind from Unilever. DFID is also supportive of initiatives such as the ILO/IUTC Action in the Global Garment Industry that encourages good practice. We also support the efforts of organisations like the Ethical Trading Initiative and Fairtrade Foundation, who work with companies to ensure good working conditions in their supply chains. Finally, DFID has provided funding to the Business and COVID-19 Response Centre, which is working to accelerate global learning and action to support the most vulnerable people in companies’ supply chains.


Written Question
Overseas Aid: Africa
6 Aug 2020, 12:33 p.m.

Questioner: Lord Chidgey

Question

To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the impact of the extensive flooding across East Africa and the Horn of Africa in the context of the UK aid programme.

Answer (Baroness Sugg)

Across East Africa and the Horn of Africa, 25.8 million people are severely food insecure and 1.3 million have been affected by floods since March. The UK has responded to localised flood impacts through the START Network, including provision of relief items and recovery programming.

We are deeply concerned about the food security situation. Heavy rains in the region have provided conditions conducive to the unprecedented locust outbreaks, which will affect the food security situation even further. The UK is supporting the Food and Agriculture Organisation’s (FAO) emergency appeal to help to control the increase of locusts across East Africa, as well as reduce the risk of swarms spreading into the Sahel.

The humanitarian situation will be exacerbated by the impact of COVID-19. We are urgently redirecting UK aid programmes right across Africa to respond to these compound risks.


Written Question
Uganda: Migrant Camps
6 Aug 2020, 12:25 p.m.

Questioner: The Earl of Sandwich

Question

To ask Her Majesty's Government what additional support they have given to the Bidi Bidi refugee camp in Uganda as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Answer (Baroness Sugg)

Since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, DFID has worked with partners like the United Nations World Food Programme to ensure continuity of life-saving services, such as the delivery of food assistance, to the population of Bidibidi, Uganda’s largest refugee settlement. Additionally, we have supported specific programmes in Bidibidi through Mercy Corps, an International Non-Governmental Organisation, including:

• a campaign - through public address systems, bulk text messages, posters, song and radio – to raise awareness about prevention of the virus, focused on community “hot spots” including shops, bill boards, markets, water points, and food distribution points;

• payments in vouchers or via mobile money to more than 1,850 farmers (57% of whom were women) to purchase high quality seeds from local dealers to ensure they did not miss the planting season; and

• support to small businesses to continue, providing access to basic hygiene supplies, agricultural inputs, and mobile money services. The local dealers that were selected to support the seed distribution referred to above received business development training on topics including business plan development, marketing and record keeping, as well as cash grants to strengthen their business.

As the pandemic continues to evolve, we are closely monitoring the situation across Uganda, including in the refugee settlements, and prioritising our support accordingly.


Written Question
Detention Centres: Refugees
6 Aug 2020, 12:18 p.m.

Questioner: Lord Hylton

Question

To ask Her Majesty's Government what discussions they have had, and intend to have, with UNHCR and other governments and agencies, about (1) the resettlement of refugees and migrants, and (2) preventing existing refugee camps and detention centres becoming permanent.

Answer (Baroness Sugg)

The UK maintains an ongoing dialogue with UNHCR and a range of other partners, including other governments and agencies, and has a strong and constructive relationship across a range of asylum and resettlement issues.

Our resettlement schemes offer a safe and legal route to the UK for vulnerable refugees in need of protection. We work closely with UNHCR in the operation of our schemes. UNHCR is uniquely placed to identify those living in formal refugee camps, informal settlements and host communities who would benefit most from resettlement to the UK.

Refugee camps provide vital humanitarian assistance including shelter, food, clean water, and sanitation and medical services, but can also limit movement and longer-term options for refugees. As such, they are normally considered temporary measures of last resort. While camps provide a vital lifeline for many refugees a relatively small number (around 5.3 million refugees) live in them, with the majority in urban areas, informal settlements and out-of-camp individual accommodation.

We actively engaged in agreeing the Global Compact on Refugees, which aims to boost refugees’ self-reliance while simultaneously supporting generous host communities and countries – an approach that the UK has helped to develop and champion.


Written Question
Overseas Aid: Females
6 Aug 2020, 12:12 p.m.

Questioner: Lord Collins of Highbury

Question

To ask Her Majesty's Government whether the Adolescent Girls' Education and Empowerment programme planned by the Department for International Development will still take place.

Answer (Baroness Sugg)

The UK Government remains committed to delivering 12 years of quality education for all girls. Education, particularly girls’ education, will remain a top priority in the new Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office, and a priority for the Prime Minister personally. In my role as Special Envoy for Girls’ Education, I am working to accelerate progress towards getting marginalised girls into schools, staying there and staying safe, and benefitting from quality learning. I am working closely with international partners to encourage greater global ambition, coordination, and investment on girls’ education.


Written Question
Remittances
5 Aug 2020, 1:57 p.m.

Questioner: Lord Jones

Question

To ask Her Majesty's Government what estimate they have made of the amount in remittances sent abroad from the UK in (1) 2018, and (2) 2019.

Answer (Baroness Sugg)

Based on available data it is estimated that the UK sent remittances overseas in 2018 totalling $10.4 billion and that in 2019 the estimated total of remittances sent overseas from the UK was $10.5 billion. Recognising the importance of remittance flows to developing countries, the UK, together with the Swiss government, launched a Call to Action in May to highlight and address the significant predicted fall in remittances caused by the COVID-19 crisis. We are working hard to improve the flow of remittances by improving price transparency, supporting digitisation and working across Government to address issues of money transfer operators de-risking.


Written Question
Vaccination: Coronavirus
5 Aug 2020, 10:57 a.m.

Questioner: Lord Kennedy of Southwark

Question

To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they are taking to ensure that there will be an equitable distribution of a COVID-19 vaccine among developing nations, if such a vaccine is developed in the UK.

Answer (Baroness Sugg)

As the world grapples with the burden of the COVID-19 pandemic, the UK has been clear that equitable global distribution of a vaccine will be the best defence, enable collective recovery and reduce the risk of repeat outbreaks.

The UK is supporting the COVAX Advance Market Commitment (AMC) which aims to ensure access to COVID-19 vaccines in developing countries. At the Global Vaccine Summit, which the Prime Minister hosted on 4th June, the UK repurposed £48 million to the AMC. At the Summit, AstraZeneca also announced a commitment of 300 million doses of the University of Oxford candidate vaccine to the COVAX facility.

The COVAX AMC will incentivise vaccine manufacturers to produce sufficient quantities of eventual COVID-19 vaccines and to ensure access for the world’s poorest countries. Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations, and the World Health Organization are working together to ensure that the vaccines are affordable and available equitably. Through the deal with AstraZeneca, the University of Oxford COVID-19 vaccine candidate have been committed towards the COVAX Facility.


Written Question
CDC: Tax Havens
4 Aug 2020, 4:30 p.m.

Questioner: Baroness Bennett of Manor Castle

Question

To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they have any plans to prohibit CDC Group from investing in companies based in tax havens or linked to companies based in tax havens.

Answer (Baroness Sugg)

There is no internationally recognised definition of a “tax haven.” CDC respects the tax policies of governments and supports their ability to tax. Whilst the development of domestic tax policy is the responsibility of governments, CDC requires its investee companies to approach tax is a responsible manner. CDC requires that: investee companies should be compliant, should not engage in base erosion and profit shifting, and should not engage in egregious tax planning.

Wherever possible, CDC invests directly into the country in which an investee company is located. If CDC invests through an intermediate country, it does so only if the country is compliant with international tax transparency standards as monitored by the OECD’s Global Forum on Transparency and Exchange of Tax information.

CDC’s policy on the payment of taxes and the use of offshore financial centres is available on CDCs website. This policy has been agreed with DFID and is reviewed annually.


Written Question
Developing Countries: Health Services
4 Aug 2020, 10:34 a.m.

Questioner: Lord Kennedy of Southwark

Question

To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of progress towards the Every Woman Every Child goals.

Answer (Baroness Sugg)

The UK government welcomes the Independent Accountability Panel’s recently published report. The report highlights that global progress towards the Every Woman Every Child 2030 targets were already lagging by around 20%, and now with the current COVID-19 pandemic are likely to slip further, with significant impacts for pregnant women, children and adolescents.

The UK Government is committed to work with others to end preventable deaths of mothers, newborns and children by 2030. We are working to ensure essential health services continue despite the challenges of the pandemic. Our approach covers sexual and reproductive health and rights, maternal and new-born health, nutrition, and water, sanitation and hygiene services, all of which can help prevent mothers, new-borns and children dying unnecessarily.

We are also leading internationally: the UK hosted the Global Vaccine Summit on 4 June and raised $8.8 billion for GAVI, the Vaccine Alliance’s, next five years (2021-2025) of work, including the UK’s pledge of £1.65 billion. Using these vital funds, GAVI will immunise a further 300 million children and save up to 8 million lives against vaccine preventable diseases.


Written Question
Poverty
3 Aug 2020, 1:28 p.m.

Questioner: Baroness Goudie

Question

To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the impact of the merger of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and the Department for International Development on the world's poorest people.

Answer (Baroness Sugg)

Spending 0.7 per cent of our national income on aid is enshrined in law and we will continue to be guided by our responsibilities under the International Development Act, including a commitment to poverty reduction.


Written Question
Palestinians: Electricity
3 Aug 2020, 1:27 p.m.

Questioner: Baroness Tonge

Question

To ask Her Majesty's Government what representations they have made to the government of Israel about reports that rolling blackouts are being implemented in Palestine as a result of a contested accusation that electricity bills have not been paid.

Answer (Baroness Sugg)

During the period of September to December 2019, we were aware that the Israel Electric Corporation implemented power cuts to parts of the West Bank, citing outstanding payments from Palestinian power distributors. We understand that that the Government of Israel and Palestinian Authority were able to reach an agreement to end the power cuts.


Written Question
Overseas Aid
3 Aug 2020, 1:26 p.m.

Questioner: Baroness Sheehan

Question

To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the First Secretary of State’s announcement of a £2.9 billion package of reductions to the Government’s planned Official Development Assistance (ODA) spend for 2020 on 22 July, what arrangements they have put in place to tailor ODA spending further during the remaining months of the year.

Answer (Baroness Sugg)

The Department, working with HM Treasury and other Government departments, is continually planning to ensure the UK meets its Official Development Assistance (ODA) commitment. As normal, there will continue to be adjustments in-year to individual departmental ODA spend to meet the 0.7% target. DFID has been preparing for this by working with our Ministers and other aid spending Departments to prioritise our lifesaving aid, stop the spread of coronavirus and ensure our aid delivers the best value for money for the British taxpayer.


Written Question
Overseas Aid: Poverty
3 Aug 2020, 12:59 p.m.

Questioner: Baroness Goudie

Question

To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to their announcement that they have identified a £2.9 billion package of reductions in their planned Official Development Assistance spend, what steps they are taking to ensure that reductions in such spend are made to programmes that have been found to be less effective at poverty alleviation.

Answer (Baroness Sugg)

The First Secretary led a careful review process to look at every strand of the ODA budget and assess the impacts of spend. ODA spend for 2020 was prioritised to focus on key strategic objectives including poverty reduction for the ‘bottom billion’, tackling climate change and reversing biodiversity loss, championing girls’ education, UK leadership in the global response to Covid-19, and protecting the UK’s science base. These priorities will help the government to deliver our manifesto commitments and ensure that the UK is a global force for good.

The work of UK Aid to reduce poverty will remain central to the new department’s mission and we will continue to be guided by our responsibilities under the International Development Act.


Written Question
UNRWA: Coronavirus
3 Aug 2020, 12:56 p.m.

Questioner: Lord Judd

Question

To ask Her Majesty's Government what discussions they have had with UNWRA about any additional funding required to meet costs resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic; and what assessment they have made of the decision of the governments of Germany and Italy to increase contributions to that organisation.

Answer (Baroness Sugg)

We are aware of increasing needs in the region due to the impact COVID-19, including in Palestinian refugee camps and continue to monitor the situation closely. We are currently reviewing options for support to UNRWA and recognise the central role it plays in the region until a just solution is found for refugees. Until that time, we support all efforts to increase funding to UNRWA, including from key partners such as Germany and Italy.


Written Question
Overseas Aid: Poverty
3 Aug 2020, 12:56 p.m.

Questioner: Baroness Goudie

Question

To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they plan to take to ensure that the merger of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and the Department for International Development enables the maintenance of good quality, poverty-focused aid.

Answer (Baroness Sugg)

This Government is unashamed in believing that its job is to promote British influence around the world, to try to change the world for the better, and to get best value for the British taxpayer who spends so generously to help others. This change will help us do that.

Our reputation as a world leader on development issues comes from three things: our thought leadership; the scale and quality of UK development programmes; and excellence of our analysis, long term perspective and staff. None of these will change with the creation of the FCDO, but our development work will now be better aligned with foreign policy and the broad UK national interest. It should make our development work even more effective. DFID has been a more effective spender of aid than any other Government department – that expertise must be brought into the centre of the new department.

The work of UK Aid to reduce poverty will remain central to the new department’s mission and we will continue to be guided by our responsibilities under the International Development Act.


Written Question
International Assistance
3 Aug 2020, 12:53 p.m.

Questioner: Baroness Goudie

Question

To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they plan to take to ensure that (1) development and humanitarian concerns are heard at the highest levels of the Government, and (2) there is policy coherence in those areas across Departments.

Answer (Baroness Sugg)

From the 1st September, the Foreign Secretary will lead the new Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office. His seat at Cabinet will ensure that development and humanitarian concerns are at the heart of Cabinet decision-making. The Integrated Review will refresh systems to ensure policy coherence across HMG.


Written Question
Overseas Aid: Coronavirus
3 Aug 2020, 12:48 p.m.

Questioner: Lord Chidgey

Question

To ask Her Majesty's Government what estimate they have made, if any, of the reduction in the annual UK aid budget as a result of the reduction in the UK Gross National Income due to the economic impact of COVID-19.

Answer (Baroness Sugg)

Given the likely decrease in the size of the economy this year, and therefore a decrease in the value of the 0.7% commitment, a package of £2.9bn of reductions in the Government’s planned ODA spend has been agreed. This package includes underspends, delaying activity and stopping some spend. The package will see some reductions made now, with arrangements in place to tailor spending further during the remaining months as we start to gain a clearer economic picture. As normal, there will continue to be adjustments in-year to individual departmental ODA spend to meet the 0.7% commitment.