Friday, January 01, 2010

A really Tory Approach to International Development

Another bit of good news for Conservatives this morning, this time via the columns of The Guardian, where Shadow International Development Secretary Andrew Mitchell lays out his plans for Dfid under a Tory government. And it will gladden your heart. He has some radical - and truly Conservative plans.

A shakeup of Britain's £9.1bn overseas aid budget would be launched by a Conservative government to cut funding to more prosperous developing nations, notably China, and boost it to the poorest, especially those in the Commonwealth.

In the biggest change at the Department for International Development since it was created by Labour in 1997, the Tories would bring in outsiders to review all 102 countries funded by Britain.

He pledged to:

• Review spending in all 102 developing countries funded by Britain with a view to cutting the overall numbers. Mitchell, who pledges to publish details of all DfID funding on its website, said: "I suspect that we will reduce the number ... We would narrow the focus as part of making it sharper and less scattergun."

• Give outsiders a key role in conducting a "proper independent evaluation" of DfID spending and its outputs – for instance, how many schools are built. Mitchell cited the Institute of Development Studies at the University of Sussex as the sort of body that could conduct this work.

• Focus more aid on the 53-strong Commonwealth, which had been "under-valued" by Labour. Aid to India would be preserved because of its "deep historical and cultural relationship" with Britain even though its economy is developing rapidly.

• Transform the work of the DfID. Amid concerns among senior Tories that the department has become too detached from foreign policy, he added: "One of the things we will do with DfID ... is to inject a little bit more business DNA, and indeed a little bit more classic civil service DNA and perhaps a little less NGO DNA."

It would help formulate overall foreign policy on a national security council alongside the foreign and defence secretaries. "We would build on what DfID is today and make it even more successful and perhaps wire it in a little bit better into the Whitehall constellation," Mitchell said.

• Curtail funding to UN agencies if they failed to deliver under a performance-related approach being championed by the Swedish development minister, Gunilla Carlsson. Sweden has reduced its contribution to the United Nations Development Programme.

Read the full article HERE.


David from Ealing said...

Glad to see the emphasis on the Commonwealth.

gordon-bennett said...

The world has been giving aid to Africa for donkeys years to no avail.

It's about time we realised that the Africans do not have the necessary human capital to build or maintain a western style economy and that we should rather spend the money on our own poor.

John East said...

Aid to India would be preserved....

For goodness sake, Ian, India is now in a position to give us aid.

Anonymous said...

As well as removing the NGO DNA from DFID, will they also put a halt to the ghastly 'campaigning' diplomacy that currently prevails at the FCO?

JuliaM said...

Why on earth, at a time when our own country has been virtually bankrupted, are we sending ANY aid overseas?

davidc said...

brokers issue 'buy mercedes shares' advice !

Thatsnews said...

This looks very useful as it could mean that for the first time in years overseas aid might {{gasp!}} actually go to help poor people of the world and to assist them to help themselves.

Techno Mystic said...

Conservatives still clinging to the old fashioned concept of India as a benign ally rather than a modernising predator nation that is quite happy to take all our business away.

DC said...

I like most of the ideas but how you can anyone justify continued aid to India when they spend more than $1 billion per year on their space agency.

James said...

I agree with all the comments so far, I think: it's good to see more attention to the Commonwealth, it's ludicrous for us to be *borrowing* money from some other countries to give it away to other countries - particularly China, where we are actually borrowing money from China to give to them!

I would like to see both figures, the 102 and the 9bn, reduced drastically: we are neither in a financial position to be giving away money we don't actually have, nor do we have any reason to be giving it away to 102 of them like that, particularly rich countries like China and India. The richer recipients should stand on their own two feet, kleptocracies in Africa should not be funded because it will be wasted.

David said...

DFID is only a part of the story. The UK hands over a substantial proportion of its development aid budget to the European Commission (EuropeAid) - take a look at how that's being spent as well!

bewick said...

Must agree with other comments re India. didn't I read recently that they, unlike us, can also afford new nuclear submarines? Aren't they also cosying up to the Russians on trade?

Nothing wrong with either. They are quite free to do as they wish - but why exactly should I be paying for that?

Also agree that given our near bankrupt status we should be looking after our own.

cassandra said...

Please visit the EUREFERENDUM blog for a detailed and shocking revelation about TATA India and how they are benefiting from hundreds of milions of pounds to close a UK steel mill losing thousands of valuable jobs.
Why on earth are we handing over billions of pounds to a country that is not only our fierce competitor but they also hate and despise us.
The fact that India has a bigger space industry/hi tech industry/industrial capacity/far more cash reserves seems to escape the Westminster village idiot class only too happy to throw cash around as if we actually owed India a dime!
India is building nuclear submarines and our muppet politicians are helping them do it with money we desperately need at home.
Ten billion pounds a year for heavens sake Iain, think what that would do for our OAPs struggling to stay alive, ten billion could eradicate OAP poverty in the UK completely!
What are we doing giving away money we have to borrow, that our childrens children will be saddled with to people who should be standing on their own two feet, we are not able to support the world, we can barely support ourselves.
How much of this ludicrous aid budget is stolen and salted away/wasted?
The third world needs good government NOT more bent dictators with Swiss accounts, you cannot buy good government, it has to come from the people themselves.
What are the political classes playing at? Sabotaging our own future wealth and prosperity with stupid green suicide games while giving away cash we need at home.

Local Member said...

No mention so far of the taxpayers' money that DFID gives to UK Trade Unions for propaganda.

I see UNISON is getting £500,000 of our money. It is also a huge funder of the Labour Party.

In the 1960's, Harold Wilson closed down all UK space research, saying we could not afford it. Since 1969, India has run a large space programme, and in 2009 sent a probe to the Moon. For a summary of what is a truly impressive national effort, see:

There is no way we should be subbing a rich, advanced country that has decided to spend its taxpayers' money on such projects.
DFID boast:
"In 2002-07, we gave more than £1 billion to India, and from 2008 to 2011, we will be investing another £825 million, up to £500 million of which will be spent on health and education."

India could easily afford to do this, but naturally prefer the UK taxpayer to fund their essential services, while developing their high technology sector as ours fades away.

Then there is China, to which we gave £118 million in 2008/09, and most bizarrely of all, Russia, although they "only" got £373K.

As Enoch Powell said in another context, "we must be mad" ...

Osama the Nazarene said...

The Conservatives promise a more competent and joined up government and this is another example of it.

However I do agree with the comments about India. To continue and sub India must be a "political" decision on the part of Mitchell. Perhaps all those British companies with call centres there! They are well and truly a wealthy country now though with huge inequalities which they must themselves resolve.

Anonymous said...

What imperialist arrogance from the Tories. Concentrating on the Commonwealth reverts us back to the position that we were in before; ignoring Francophone Africa. The DRC and Rwanda would all get screwed under these Tory plans. Haven't you visited there Iain?

Iain Dale said...

Rwanda is a member of the Commonwealth.

cassandra said...

Its a tragedy and a bloody scandal that these billions of pounds are being spent on our behalf is so desperately needed at home.

The Westminster village idiots keep acting as though the UK still had money in the bank, we are broke FFS.
The UK is mired in a quagmire of crippling debts, mass unemployment stalks us like a nightmare beast, national disintegration with whole generations of young people who wil likely never know a job, whole communities become baron and desolate with the insane political parasite classes gleefully creating the perfect conditions for second world status by deindustrialising our economy right at the point of planetary cooling we will be left without power.
The utter blind stupidity, the utter treason of sabotaging the UK economy AND giving away money we have to borrow from the bankster classes is beyond comprehension and this lunacy isnt confined to the socialist morons, it is now a stated Tory goal for heavens sake!
The message has to delivered to the Westminster fools before its too late.

Anonymous said...

The only 'really Tory' approach to this provider of right on overseas work placements for the sons & daughters of the chattering classes would be to close it down & roll everything back into the FCO.

Like the British Council, which has been corrupted by NuLabour & focuses more on multicultural initiatives & climate change advocacy than language links, the DFID is just wasting billions on hand-wringing, bleeding heart projects, like the 'women's park' in Helmand province, pushing liberal values that are way beyond where their client cultures are or want to go.

Pushing British values per se also needs a fundamental review, given that the last 10 years under Blair & Brown have debased these values & undermined our ability to tell any other nation how they should best be developing or organising themselves.

Our focus should surely be on pushing (British) English as the global language, expanding access to the Open University (& other leading UK universities) in Africa & other regions and focusing on areas where the UK has something to give & gain from, particularly in the knowledge, legal & finance, trading, agriculture & technology sectors, i.e start pulling through business for British firms rather than just provide 'third sector' consultancy.

Anonymous said...

For exactly the same reasons we give on Red Nose day & Children in Need.
The Conservatives now have to monitor where the money ends up.
Not how much is given.

Anonymous said...

It doesn't matter whether Rwanda is a member of the Commonwealth. The DRC, Rwanda and the whole central Africa security complex are linked. To ignore the DRC is to ignore Rwanda and vice versa.

Houdini said...

So aid to nuclear power India is a good thing? Or I am just being cynical in thinking it a vote winner for the asian vote?

I do so hope this isn't going to turn into the hypocritical and dishonest Labour ethical type foreign policies enacted in 1997.

Mirtha Tidville said...

This is one complete waste of money that should be begins at home...Do something useful like start to pay off Broons debts or use it to protect us all and re instate Liebour defence cuts

Tanzania Watch said...

The proposals are a good start, but the devil really is in the detail. Few of your readers will be aware of the Department for International Development's 'budget support' policy. This involves pumping cash directly into the beneficiary government's treasury rather than spending it on specific projects or trusted organisations. Budget support was hailed by DFID as an innovation when they introduced it.

In line with Andrew Mitchell's proposals, we've been keeping a close eye on what has been happening in one country - Tanzania - which received £103.5m of budget support funding from DFID in this financial year, out of a total of £140m of UK aid to the country.

To cut a long and very sorry story short, the policy has been like throwing petrol on a fire. Tanzania is a deeply corrupt country and politicans and officials couldn't believe their luck when DFID decided to hand over cash which was virtually impossible to monitor. As is the case with DFID funding to Afghanistan and Iraq, much of the money is simply being stolen.

At Twitter - @tanzaniawatch - you can find out where how of millions of your money (or at least, of money your government is borrowing) are being squandered in Tanzania. Find out, for example, how travel allowance expenditure for civil servants and politicians has rocketed out of control since budget support was introduced (it now equals the total teacher pay bill).

Budget support is a great idea in the theoretical world of the development economists who drive aid policy.

But in the real world it makes no sense at all unless, that is, your main aim is simply to shift more money to Africa as quickly as possible. As many Africans have been pointing out, aid is making Africa poorer, not richer, and radical change is needed. DFID's contention that budget support ' had made a major contribution to good macro economic management' is, to put it politely, deluded in the extreme. Even Tanzania's President says that 'A significant amount of Government money is diverted to personal use each year by corrupt senior public officials' !

Apologies for the length of this, but please follow us - the detail is important here. We don't have to wait for an election - outsiders can, and should start reviewing this government's actions straight away and the web provides us with the tools to do so.

Infoholic UK said...


You've been too close to the front-line for too long if you think that changing from spending £9 billion on over a hundred countries, some of whom don't need it, to spending £9 billion on slightly less than a hundred countries, some of whom don't need it, is even approaching radical.

Jimmy said...

"It would help formulate overall foreign policy on a national security council alongside the foreign and defence secretaries. "

Wouldn't it have been simpler just to say that instead of money we'll give them BAE gift vouchers?

Anonymous said...

Of course it seems insane to provide aid to countries which have used public funds to develop their own nuclear weapons and, in the case of India, space programme.

However, these are countries political and diplomatic goals are more important than development.

A Taliban government in Pakistan - still a very real prospect - would be disastrous. It's not an overstatement to suggest it could trigger another world war. Part of the reason we support Pakistan is to help the existing government to stay in power.

For similar reasons, funding Pakistan while withdrawing aid from India probably isn't an option.

Scary Biscuits said...

Infoholic's right. Iain's been too long in the Westminster village if he thinks this is 'really Tory'. Just look at the arguments above to realise how superficial a change this really is. It ranks alongside the party's commitment to abolish RDA's; only now it transpires that all they're really going to do is rename them. Sir Humphrey is SO looking forward to working with the heirs to Blair.

A really Conservative approach to the DfID would be to close it altogether. Who are the Tories or anybody else to take money off ordinary people, including the very poor, and then arbitarily send it abroad. Why are we having localism in education with Gove's reforms but localism in giving to the poor is too complex for ordinary taxpayers so the government has to do it for them. Saying the the Tory list of foreign kleptocrats will be marginally less dodgy than the previous lot's is missing the point.