Diane speaking at a recent adjournment debate she secured on the
overseas aid and UK based consultants
I am strongly committed to the idea of aid and I support the government commitment to having 0.7% of GDP set aside for aid. This country has a proud record on aid both in terms of personal donations from the British Public and also from successive British Governments.
However, what has given me great concern recently is the emergence of so called “Lords of Poverty”. These are management consultants who are taking enormous salaries from the DFID (Department for International Development) budget in their role as management consultants. They are based in the UK and not in the UK and they tend to subscribe to a right wing ideology.
It seems that the aid budget is being increasingly politicised. Clean water projects are vital but many are being rejected. They may not be new or exciting but they provide a life saving service, this surely is what aid should be about and where money should be prioritised. In comparison management consultants which don’t have people on the ground but instead have armies of consultants in the UK are getting large amounts of funding.
The fact that giant consultancies such as Triple Line and KPMG are being awarded contracts in the tens of millions of pounds but grass roots projects which offer fundamental services such as clean water are not being given funding by DFID is a worrying development.
The new Secretary of State for International Development has launched an inquiry in to this and this is most welcome.
Recently I secured a debate in Westminster Hall on this issue, where I debated with a minister for International Development, Lynne Featherstone.
Here is an extract:
“For the whole time I have been a Member of Parliament, this country has had one of the best records for aid, including individual donations, of any country in Europe. It has had a great record under some Conservative Ministers and some Labour Ministers. We have every reason to be proud of that. The new phenomenon of increasing amounts of money going to UK-based management consultancies—some people say it is an ideological move, but I would not—far from building a constituency in this country for high and continuing levels of aid, bids fair to undermine it. We are a better country because we meet our commitments on aid. The very least the Government can do is to ensure transparency and accountability, and to assure the British public that they are receiving the maximum value for every penny of that aid.
In a world where small, vulnerable island states are buffeted by climate change, small countries in Africa are at the mercy of the commodities markets, and China, sometimes unscrupulously, is moving into areas where Britain was once the most influential foreign donor and partner, ensuring that our aid budget is spent effectively could not be more important. I urge the Government to examine the issues, and to introduce an internal inquiry, and I assure the Minister that I will return to the subject over the course of this Parliament.”