International Development Questions

15th July 2020

James Cleverly answers MPs’ questions to the Department for International Development.


Climate Justice: ODA Allocation

What steps her Department is taking to prioritise climate justice in the allocation of official development assistance to developing countries recovering from the effect of the covid-19 pandemic. [904774]

Next year, the United Kingdom will proudly host COP26—a clear demonstration of the UK’s commitment to tackling climate change and our desire to secure global action. Development and diplomacy together will be integral to our work. We recognise that there are few global threats more serious than climate change, and its impact will hit the poorest and most vulnerable hardest. It is vital that we build back better from covid-19. We are prioritising activity that delivers clean, resilient, inclusive recovery, and the Government are committed to that task.

One of the greatest achievements of our overseas development aid programme has been working towards improving the position of women, but biodiversity loss has laid extra burdens on women, who, for example, have to walk further for fresh food or water. What steps will the Minister take to mitigate biodiversity loss in developing countries and reduce the burden on women?

The hon. Lady makes an incredibly important and accurate point. The fact that my noble Friend Lord Goldsmith is a Minister across the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, the Department for International Development and the Foreign and Commonwealth Office shows the integrated approach that this Government take. Our work on development, our diplomatic work and our work to protect biodiversity and the environment all work together to ensure that women and other people who are vulnerable are not hit harder by changes to our climate.

Thank you, Mr Speaker. The Minister may talk the talk, but the hypocrisy is staggering. His Government continue to funnel billions into fossil fuel projects, including £1 billion in Mozambique. Their own impact assessment is damning, saying that it would lead to permanent loss of natural resources, food scarcity and displacement, undoing the very resilience that DFID aid is there to help build. Does he agree that this flies in the face of climate justice and undermines the very people it is his job to protect?

I welcome the hon. Lady to her place. This Government are absolutely committed to ensuring that we build back better, protect the environment and protect the most vulnerable people in the world. Last year, the Prime Minister announced that the UK would provide £1.44 billion over the next four years to the green climate fund, doubling our commitment to the largest international fund dedicated to supporting developing countries to adopt low-carbon, climate-resilient technologies. That makes the UK the largest single contributor in the world to that fund.



Topical Questions

Nestlé has withdrawn Fairtrade cocoa from its Kit-Kat products, costing some of the poorest farmers £20 million a year during the global crisis due to the pandemic. Will the Minister join me and the Co-operative party in urging Nestlé to restore cocoa from Fairtrade farmers in their Kit-Kats to give the poorest farmers a break and to create a Fairtrade chocolate Kit-Kat? [904819]

I draw the House’s attention to my former role as chair of the Trade Out of Poverty all-party parliamentary group. The hon. Gentleman raises an important point about the importance of fair trade as well as free trade. Now that the United Kingdom has left the European Union and we are able to define our own trade policy, we will ensure that fairness is at the heart of all the trade that we do around the world.



Last week, China and Russia vetoed the United Nations Security Council’s approving aid to Syria from Turkey. How will the United Kingdom continue to help those in need in Syria? [904817]

The United Kingdom is disappointed about the reduction in aid corridors in Syria. We are pleased that the cross-border humanitarian access will continue through Bab al-Hawa, but we are appalled that Russia exercised its veto and restricted aid through Bab al-Salam. The UK remains committed to supporting Syrians, who are the victims of the egregious politicisation of humanitarian aid, and we recently announced £300 million to the Syrian pledging conference.


Five hundred and sixteen—that is the number of known breaches of international law in Yemen by Saudi forces, an increase of at least 200 in recent years. Yet last week, the Government claimed they were only isolated events and no pattern existed, as they resumed selling weapons that are killing Yemeni civilians. Given the DFID-FCO merger, can the Minister please explain how they reconcile that with UK stated aims to provide water, food, sanitation and peace to Yemen—and exactly how many breaches of international law are required to establish a pattern? [904822]

The UK Government welcome Saudi Arabia’s unilateral ceasefire in Yemen, and we are disappointed that the Houthis have not engaged with that ceasefire. The United Kingdom’s arms control regime is one of the most robust in the world, and we will ensure that we continue to support the people of Yemen and NGOs working in Yemen, as we have done with our recent funding announcements.



Children have a basic human right to education, yet there is huge concern that Palestinian children use textbooks that promote and encourage violence. I welcome the Government’s work pushing for an international review of the curriculum ahead of the new academic year. Will my right hon. Friend provide an update on the progress of the interim report into the content of these textbooks, and will he confirm that the findings will be made public and acted on swiftly? [904818]

The first call that my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State made when she entered post was to the Education Minister in the Palestinian Authority to register our disquiet over the points that my hon. Friend has raised. We will continue to ensure that Palestinian children are educated with our support through the United Nations Relief and Works Agency—half of them are girls—but we will also ensure that that education does not encourage violence or prejudice against Jewish peoples.



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