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Chair urges Parliamentary support for Committee to scrutinise foreign aid across Government departments

15 September 2020

International Development Committee Chair, Sarah Champion, has written to MPs and Peers making the case for maintaining a Committee with cross-Government remit to scrutinise Government aid spend.

The letter, which was sent on Monday, makes the case that the ODA (Official Development Assistance) budget – which this year looks likely to be £13 billion – must continue to demonstrate value for money. Even before the merger of the Department for International Development (DFID) and the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO), aid spend extended far beyond DFID and is currently spent by over a dozen other government departments and bodies. The International Development Committee, with support from the Independent Commission for Aid Impact, is instrumental in scrutinising UK aid across Government.

Therefore, the International Development Committee is proposing that its remit is maintained and strengthened to cover all ODA spend across Government in a stand-alone Committee.

Chair's comments

International Development Committee Chair, Sarah Champion MP, said:

“We are calling for an international development committee fit for our time. Aid funding is increasingly being spent across Government, parliamentary scrutiny needs to reflect that and those Ministers of aid giving departments must be held to account. As the UK renegotiates its position in the world, MPs need more parliamentary oversight, not less.

“The Government states that its preferred position is for select committees to mirror departments. However, the scale of the international development budget justifies a committee looking solely at ODA. The danger is the vast scope of FCDO policy will totally eclipse international development, and that too goes for parliamentary scrutiny.

“It is for Parliament to decide on establishing – and winding up – select committees, and that is why I have written to MPs and Peers to make them aware of the situation. Effective scrutiny is a central tenet of our roles as Parliamentarians. We cannot allow the Government to dodge the difficult questions when it comes to foreign aid spend.”

Proposal from the IDC: an ODA Committee

The proposed formal remit of anew ODA Committee is:

Official Development Assistance Committee

  1. There shall be a select committee, called the Official Development Assistance Committee, to:-
    (a) examine the expenditure of official development assistance (ODA) by government departments, and
    (b) consider the work of the Independent Commission on Aid Impact
  2. The committee shall consist of eleven members.
  3. Unless the House otherwise orders, each Member nominated to the committee shall continue to be a member of it for the remainder of the Parliament.
  4. The committee shall have power- (a) to send for persons, papers and records, to sit notwithstanding any adjournment of the House, to adjourn from place to place, and to report from time to time; and (b) to appoint specialist advisers to supply information which is not readily available or to elucidate matters of complexity within the committee’s order of reference.

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