Thank you to those who have written to me about the importance of International Aid.
This is an area of interest for me. Through my work in the Armed Forces I have seen first hand the benefits that it can bring. I have also seen where money has been wasted.
The government has kept its commitment to spend 0.7% of GDP on international Aid.
Between 2011 and 2015, the Department for International Development (DfID) supported over 11 million children in school and helped more than 60 million people get access to clean water, better sanitation and improved hygiene. DfID is also leading the global effort to save millions of girls from child marriage and Female Genital Mutilation. These are significant victories and important campaigns.
There is, however, a serious need to be cautious of how money is spent. We must be more diligent in ensuring that development money is spent more effectively and is not lost in a rush to meet targets. I have had conversations with officials from both DfiD and the Foreign Office and they have privately confirmed that money is sometimes spent to meet targets rather than on the basis of targeting need. This is neither ethical nor efficient.
I also believe - and this is not Government policy - that funding for the World Service of the BBC should be done through DfID. Much aid work today is not about saving lives but about developing civil societies and institutions such as a free media. In addition, I also believe that DfID needs to do more to support security assistance programmes. On occasions, development programmes come to nothing because societies lack basic security.