Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Secretary dodges attempts to appear before Committee
14 October 2020
The Secretary of State at the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office has avoided scrutiny by the International Development Committee since his department took responsibility for the majority of UK aid spending.
- Letter of 6 October from Foreign Secretary on accountability to Parliament
- Letter of 14 October from Chair to Foreign Secretary on accountability to Parliament
The Department for International Development (DFID) was merged with the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) at the beginning of September. Since the merger was announced in June, the Foreign Secretary offered twice, in writing, to discuss the new department and the expected cut in aid spend. Repeated attempts to take up these offers have been declined. More recently the Committee expressed a willingness to work around the Foreign Secretary’s diary but received a further unsatisfactory response. The Committee has been equally unsuccessful in attempts to secure other Ministers from the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO). This is against the backdrop of the Prime Minister’s recent comments in front of the Liaison Committee stressing he ‘relished parliamentary scrutiny of foreign aid.
Since the International Development Committee formed at the start of this Parliament, and prior to the merger, MPs heard from Development Secretary at the time, Anne-Marie Trevelyan, twice, and five senior DFID officials across several evidence sessions. The Committee heard from James Cleverly, joint DFID/FCO Minister once.
International Development Committee Chair, Sarah Champion MP, said:
“UK aid spend is vitally important and rarely a matter of partisan politics. But we do need to show the British public that what is being spent is being done so for the right reasons, and that it offers value for money. The Government’s repeated refusal to appear before my Committee is unacceptable.
“It was this Government’s choice – against evidence suggesting it was a bad idea for the UK’s global standing – to give the Foreign Office responsibility of development spend. As the Secretary of State in charge of this newly ballooned remit, Mr Raab must stand up to the scrutiny that Parliament has decided comes with the role.
“My Committee isn’t going anywhere yet. For as long as we are the Committee scrutinising Government aid spend, Ministers have a duty to be accountable to the Commons. Failure to do so feels like contempt of Parliament.”
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