International Development Strategy

Debate between Lord McConnell of Glenscorrodale and Lord Goldsmith of Richmond Park
Monday 6th June 2022

(2 years ago)

Lords Chamber
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Lord McConnell of Glenscorrodale Portrait Lord McConnell of Glenscorrodale (Lab)
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My Lords, I beg leave to ask the Question standing in my name on the Order Paper and, in doing so, draw attention to my entry in the Lords register.

Lord Goldsmith of Richmond Park Portrait The Minister of State, Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs and Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (Lord Goldsmith of Richmond Park) (Con)
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My Lords, the Government published their UK strategy for international development on 16 May this year. The strategy puts development at the heart of the UK’s foreign policy. It sets out a focused set of priorities: delivering honest, reliable investment; providing women and girls with the freedom they need to succeed; stepping up our life-saving humanitarian work; and taking forward our work on climate change, nature and global health.

Lord McConnell of Glenscorrodale Portrait Lord McConnell of Glenscorrodale (Lab)
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My Lords, I thank the noble Lord the Minister for his Answer on behalf of the Government, and I would like to be positive: it is good that we now have a strategy. It is long overdue. It is good to see some clear priorities, and I welcome the recommitment to the sustainable development goals and to long-term, consistent planning. However, the strategy does appear to reverse a long-term commitment—under Labour, Conservative and coalition Governments—to putting conflict prevention and peacebuilding at the heart of this country’s development strategy. It is hard to find references to conflict in the strategy document. There are two, a paragraph on page 16 and a paragraph on page 30, and they appear to be an afterthought. Do the Government understand that those who live in conflict-affected and fragile states have the least opportunities, the least safety and the least hope, and that therefore they should be at the heart of the whole development strategy? What action will the Government take to ensure that the priorities they have outlined do not sideline conflict prevention and peacebuilding?

International Development

Debate between Lord McConnell of Glenscorrodale and Lord Goldsmith of Richmond Park
Tuesday 8th February 2022

(2 years, 4 months ago)

Lords Chamber
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Lord McConnell of Glenscorrodale Portrait Lord McConnell of Glenscorrodale
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To ask Her Majesty’s Government when they will publish their new strategy for international development.

Lord Goldsmith of Richmond Park Portrait The Minister of State, Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs and Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (Lord Goldsmith of Richmond Park) (Con)
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My Lords, the Government will publish a new international development strategy this spring and it will guide our work for the coming decade and beyond. It will align our development work with the aims and objectives of the integrated review.

Lord McConnell of Glenscorrodale Portrait Lord McConnell of Glenscorrodale (Lab)
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My Lords, in our increasingly interdependent world, successive Secretaries of State for International Development and Prime Ministers have recognised the crucial importance of conflict prevention and peacebuilding in our international development strategy. That is precisely because those who are affected by violent conflict are those who suffer from the least development and the fewest opportunities; of course, those conflicts spill over and affect us in our country too. Will the Government give a cast-iron guarantee that, in the priorities outlined in the new international development strategy, this cross-party approach will be continued and that support for conflict prevention and peacebuilding will continue to be a priority for the United Kingdom?

Lord Goldsmith of Richmond Park Portrait Lord Goldsmith of Richmond Park (Con)
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I absolutely can provide that guarantee. The UK is committed to working to prevent and reduce the frequency and intensity of conflict and instability, and to minimise opportunities for state and non-state actors to undermine international security. As the noble Lord said, it is absolutely in our national interest to mitigate the global impact from terrorism, serious and organised crime, and health threats, as well as regional impacts of conflict.

Philippines: Typhoon Odette

Debate between Lord McConnell of Glenscorrodale and Lord Goldsmith of Richmond Park
Wednesday 5th January 2022

(2 years, 5 months ago)

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Lord McConnell of Glenscorrodale Portrait Lord McConnell of Glenscorrodale (Lab)
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My Lords, I beg leave to ask the Question standing in my name on the Order Paper and, in doing so, draw the House’s attention to my register of interests.

Lord Goldsmith of Richmond Park Portrait The Minister of State, Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs and Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (Lord Goldsmith of Richmond Park) (Con)
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My Lords, we were saddened to see the devastation wrought by Typhoon Odette, known internationally as Typhoon Rai, on the Philippines on 16 and 17 December. We offer our deepest sympathies to those who have been affected. The UK has committed £750,000 to the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies’ emergency appeal launched on 18 December. This will go towards supporting the recovery needs of affected people, including water, sanitation and shelter. The UK is one of the top four contributors to the UN’s Central Emergency Response Fund, which is contributing $12 million to the UN’s humanitarian response plan for Typhoon Odette.

Lord McConnell of Glenscorrodale Portrait Lord McConnell of Glenscorrodale (Lab)
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My Lords, I thank the Minister for his Answer and the embassy in Manila for all its action over the last three weeks. I visited the Philippines as a VSO international volunteer shortly after Typhoon Yolanda in early 2014 and saw for myself the devastation that these extreme weather events have on a country that has weak resilience and more extreme weather events than any other country in the world. I have watched since then the way in which climate change has accelerated the regularity of these events. I have two questions for the Minister. First, will the forthcoming international development strategy properly recognise the importance of disaster risk resilience, to protect development rather than see it blown away in a matter of moments? At the same time, will the Government recognise the critical importance of volunteers in the humanitarian response to these kinds of disasters? They are most often on the ground in the community and able to respond very quickly, so will they be reprioritised in future international development funding?

Lord Goldsmith of Richmond Park Portrait Lord Goldsmith of Richmond Park (Con)
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I can give an emphatic yes to both those questions. The noble Lord is right to identify the Philippines as being particularly on the front line in relation to climate extremes. This is the 15th typhoon to hit the Philippines in the last year. That phenomenon underscores the acute vulnerability of the Philippines and other climate-vulnerable nations to these now unfortunately inevitable changes.

International Development Strategy

Debate between Lord McConnell of Glenscorrodale and Lord Goldsmith of Richmond Park
Thursday 25th November 2021

(2 years, 7 months ago)

Lords Chamber
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Lord McConnell of Glenscorrodale Portrait Lord McConnell of Glenscorrodale (Lab)
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My Lords, noting my interests in the Lords register, I beg leave to ask the Question standing in my name on the Order Paper.

Lord Goldsmith of Richmond Park Portrait The Minister of State, Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs and Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (Lord Goldsmith of Richmond Park) (Con)
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My Lords, the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office is leading work on a new cross-governmental international development strategy. The strategy will establish an ambitious and positive vision for the UK’s approach to development in a new global context. It will set out the UK Government’s strategic development goals and demonstrate how the UK plans to remain a leader on development. It will be published in spring 2022.

Lord McConnell of Glenscorrodale Portrait Lord McConnell of Glenscorrodale (Lab)
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My Lords, the terribly sad events in the English Channel in the past 24 hours will shame this generation in history for our failure internationally to cope with displacement and the millions of people who are running from fear or poverty. They cross dangerous seas because they are either terrified of the lands and people they have left or because they believe there is no other route to a better life. Do the Government agree that the best way to help those people is to ensure that they can have a better life in the countries from which they originate? To do that, we need to support safe and secure societies and sustainable development, so will the sustainable development goals of the United Nations be central to the new international development strategy, and will the Government continue to support the important work on conflict prevention and stability that has been a mark of UK international development over the past 15 years?

Lord Goldsmith of Richmond Park Portrait Lord Goldsmith of Richmond Park (Con)
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My Lords, the Government strongly agree with the arguments put forward by the noble Lord. The IDS priorities are fairly straightforward: honest, reliable, sustainable infrastructure in developing countries precisely to deliver the progress and stability necessary to avoid the situation that we saw yesterday; delivering Covid-19 vaccines; life-saving humanitarian support to those who need it; getting more girls into school; preventing sexual violence in conflict; and leading the fight against climate change and environmental destruction.

Overseas Development Assistance

Debate between Lord McConnell of Glenscorrodale and Lord Goldsmith of Richmond Park
Wednesday 26th May 2021

(3 years, 1 month ago)

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Lord Goldsmith of Richmond Park Portrait Lord Goldsmith of Richmond Park (Con) [V]
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My Lords, even with the reduction in funding, the UK remains a major donor to the UN. The UK is currently the fifth biggest contributor towards the UN’s regular and peacekeeping budgets. We will be maintaining all our assessed contributions to Vienna, including upholding our share of the UN regular budget. It may be the case that noble Lords did not foresee such a situation, but I suggest that, equally, most did not foresee the economic fallout that we have seen over the last 18 months as a consequence of the completely unexpected pandemic.

Lord McConnell of Glenscorrodale Portrait Lord McConnell of Glenscorrodale (Lab)
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My Lords, please note my entry in the Lords register and the interests noted there. The speed and scale of these cutbacks is having a catastrophic impact on the reputation of the United Kingdom. The cutbacks and closure of programmes in health, education and other areas are dangerous and costing lives. We learned just yesterday that a programme initiated by War Child—an organisation that helps children in war—to which the United Kingdom Government promised £0.5 million of match funding, has now been delayed for a further year in Afghanistan. That leaves older children there with probably no option but to head in this direction, over the English Channel, and to try and migrate to the United Kingdom and western Europe. Will the Government reconsider this decision and ensure that these programmes, which have been cut with such speed, are allowed to continue for the next year or two until 0.7% returns?

Lord Goldsmith of Richmond Park Portrait Lord Goldsmith of Richmond Park (Con) [V]
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My Lords, we are continuing to support Afghanistan, with £145 million of investment next year. Since 2001, we have provided £3 billion in development and government assistance to Afghanistan. Our aid has helped significant improvements in that country. Life expectancy has increased from 50 in 1990 to 64 just two years ago. Some 8.2 million more children have been to school; 39% of them are girls. We have insulated our programmes in Afghanistan as much as we possibly can, in most part, from the effect of the reduction to 0.5%. Covid has obviously changed the balance of calculations and forced us to focus on tackling this additional threat to Afghans’ health and livelihoods, but the programmes have, by and large, been protected.

VSO: Volunteering for Development Programme

Debate between Lord McConnell of Glenscorrodale and Lord Goldsmith of Richmond Park
Tuesday 16th March 2021

(3 years, 3 months ago)

Lords Chamber
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Lord Goldsmith of Richmond Park Portrait Lord Goldsmith of Richmond Park (Con) [V]
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My Lords, I am not able to provide that announcement—that declaration—unilaterally. However, the noble Baroness is absolutely right that ICS volunteers like her have made a lasting impact in some of the world’s poorest communities, while building up their own skills, confidence and job prospects. It is a cherished part of the programme and the funding that we have provided over the years—a source of pride for this country. As I say, the decision will be delivered as soon as possible.

Lord McConnell of Glenscorrodale Portrait Lord McConnell of Glenscorrodale (Lab)
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My Lords, the Government have form on this: they announced the cuts to the ODA budget this year on the day after the last Summer Recess. The Chancellor avoided referencing the ODA cuts in his Budget speech last week, and I suspect that this announcement might be coming at the end of next week, to avoid parliamentary scrutiny during the Easter Recess—just as the cuts start to bite. Can the Government guarantee that there will be an announcement before the Easter Recess? In making that announcement, will they understand that the VSO, as much as any other organisation, has changed its strategic purpose to build partnerships on the ground and develop volunteering that makes a real difference inside partner countries, rather than simply supporting children and older people from this country going to volunteer on a temporary basis? It is a strategic approach by VSO that is making a real difference.

Lord Goldsmith of Richmond Park Portrait Lord Goldsmith of Richmond Park (Con) [V]
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My Lords, I will not take issue with anything that the noble Lord said in the second part of his question, although I question the cynicism that he has shown on the timing of government decisions. I will convey his powerfully delivered message to the FCDO, and, as I have said before, I and other colleagues will do what we can to ensure that we have the quickest possible resolution.

India: Restrictions on Freedom

Debate between Lord McConnell of Glenscorrodale and Lord Goldsmith of Richmond Park
Monday 15th March 2021

(3 years, 3 months ago)

Lords Chamber
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Lord McConnell of Glenscorrodale Portrait Lord McConnell of Glenscorrodale (Lab)
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My Lords, in my view these reports of restrictions on freedom of expression and organisation in India follow directly from the decision in 2019 to end the autonomy of the people of Kashmir and impose severe restrictions there, locking up political leaders and ending freedom of expression. Do the Government agree that India cannot claim to be the world’s largest democracy if it continues to restrict freedom of expression and freedom to organise? Will the Government make representations to India that, if it wants to be part of the democratic nations of the world, it must stick to these values rigidly?

Lord Goldsmith of Richmond Park Portrait Lord Goldsmith of Richmond Park (Con) [V]
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As one of the world’s largest democracies and one of the world’s oldest, India and the UK have a broad and deep relationship. Long may that continue. On Kashmir, India and Pakistan are long-standing and important friends of the UK; we encourage both countries to engage in dialogue to find lasting diplomatic solutions to maintain regional stability. We are of course concerned by the lack of communication between India and Pakistan and its impact on tensions, but it is for them to find a lasting political resolution on Kashmir, taking into account the wishes of Kashmiri people. It is not for the UK to prescribe a solution or act as a mediator.