Conservatives plan foreign office raid on DfID

By Margaret Dantas Araujo

Poverty reduction in the world’s poorest and most vulnerable countries is best achieved when DfID is directing the deployment of our aid budget. However, yet another leaked memo has shed light on Tory intentions to bring Dfid cash under the control of the Foreign Office by requesting that UK security be considered in all aid proposals.

The National Security Council, which now overseas all foreign policy, urges that overseas aid be used to maximise UK security, a ruling that may be in direct breach of the International Development Act of 2002.  The memo sent to staff responsible for drawing up aid proposals states, “the ODA budget should make the maximum possible contribution to national security consistent with ODA rules.  Although the NSC will not in most cases direct DfID spend in country, we need to be able to make the case for how our work contributes to national security.”  The document goes on to state, “We need to explain how DfID’s work in fragile states contributes to national security through ‘upstream’ prevention that helps to stop potential threats to the UK developing (including work to improve health and education, provide water build roads, improve governance and security).”

NGOs argue that the use of aid as an arm of foreign policy will divert aid from humanitarian goals focused on improving health and education to defence projects and tying aid to the purchase of British products.
The shadow international development minister, Gareth Thomas, agrees stating, “This document is deeply worrying, as it confirms the fears of many in the international development and humanitarian community that the government plans to securitise the aid budget, and weaken its focus in prioritising resources on the poorest people and countries.”

A previous leaked document showed DfID cutting 80% of its budget commitments including free healthcare. Thomas said: “It is now becoming clearer why the Tories have abandoned over 80 of our key international commitments – including the pledge to put millions more children into school – as less resources will be available, with money being diverted to security priorities.”  It will also allow Tories to continue to claim DfID is ring fenced by shifting funding from the Ministry of Defence and DECC (for climate change adaptation and mitigation) to DfID.

The UN has recently criticised countries for spending the bulk of their aid on post-conflict states.  “The distribution of development assistance remains highly skewed. Although the share of ODA flows allocated to the poorer countries increased somewhat between 2000 and 2007 … most of the increase in ODA since 2000 has been limited to a few post-conflict countries, including Iraq and Afghanistan. Together, these two countries received about a sixth of country allocations from DAC [Development Assistance Committee of OECD] countries, even though they account for less than 2 per cent of the total population of the developing countries. African aid lags far behind commitments and far behind needs.”

The use of aid for geopolitical and commercial interests is in-step with the previous Thatcher/Major Governments which saw aid drop to its lowest levels and oversaw the infamous Pergau Dam scandal.  The Cameron administration looks set to follow suit.  It is now vital to make the case to the Coalition Government that aid should be used for poverty reduction is the world’s poorest countries and not for own selfish motives.

Where is the coalition’s leadership, vision and ambition on aid?

by David Taylor, for Left Foot Forward

Yesterday The Observer reported that it had received an email confirming that only eight of Labour’s 100 commitments are to be saved. They come as part of the Tories’ drive for ‘value for money’ for UK aid, something we at Left Foot Forward have consistently argued is a bonfire of straw men.

Pakistan-floodsAs we reported on Friday, the Department for International Development is already a world leader in aid effectiveness – yet the implementation of the key commitment on Aid Effectiveness is one of 100 that have been dropped.

The Tories said DfID must be independently audited, and we showed that it already is. They said we are wasting away money to Russia and China, and we showed how Labour was already ending those programmes. They claimed DfID wasn’t focused on results, we reported how it was, and how an over reliance on outputs can mean long term solutions are overlooked.

The transparency initiative the Coalition have launched deserves praise. But beyond that, where is the vision? Where is the leadership? Where is the ambition?

We’ve seen the prime minister let the Gleneagles promises on aid be dropped at this year’s G8, no clear plan for the Millennium Development Goals summit which is just weeks away, and now the dropping of key commitments that would have – and in some cases actually have been – making a huge difference to poor people’s lives.

It is no good for DfID to remain silent on these leaked documents when they pose so many questions:

Health and education

• What now for budget sector support? If £8.5 billion and £6bn on education and health respectively are to be dropped, how are governments going to be supported to develop their own national systems (and thus become less reliant in the medium-long term on foreign aid?

• Eight million in school by 2010, 55 million with access to water – what ‘outputs’ based targets are these to be replaced by?

• DfID is to drop its commitment to abolish user fees. Does this mean the Tories will push through support for ‘vouchers’ for private schools and the privatisation of health care as outlined in their Green Paper (and slammed by NGOs)?

Trade

Trade has been moved out of DfID, and now commitments are to be dropped to quadruple support for fair trade, provide £1bn a year for growth and trade, and support the International Labour Organisation on workers’ rights. They have also dropped a pledge to work with international partners to provide $10bn (£6.42bn) a year for infrastructure in Africa.

Shadow international development minister Gareth Thomas told Left Foot Forward that Andrew Mitchell’s decision to drop these crucial commitments was “a massive step backwards for fairer trade for the world’s poorest farmers and producers”, adding:

“This relatively small amount of UK aid spending was helping some of the world’s most vulnerable in Africa, Asia and Latin America. It is a further signal that the coalition is failing to show real leadership on development.”

• Labour removed forced trade liberalisation as a requirement of UK aid – will aid be kept untied from commercial interests as promised in the coalition’s Programme for Government?

• Why drop support for aid for infrastructure, growth and trade when they provide long term routes out of poverty?

Climate Change

The Programme for Government said nothing on climate change finance. The leaked documents suggest they will keep Labour’s Fast Start climate finance commitment, but they are dropping a raft of other measures.

• How is the Coalition to address climate change, when it is dropping a strategic review on how to integrate climate change adaptation into our aid programmes? Or when it drops commitments to help developing countries develop low carbon technologies and reduce deforestation?

• Will future climate aid be additional – or is just going to be sucked from existing funds?

Conflict and humanitarian aid

• Why has support an International Arms Trade Treaty been dropped when the commitment was one promised in the coalition’s Programme for Government?

• Why is the Government to scrap support to the UN’s Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF) – just at a time when the UN is struggling to raise the funds needed to deal with the devastating floods in Pakistan?

The Government promised the aid budget would be ring fenced; if these commitments are to be cut, where and how then is the money to be spent?

Mitchell has said aid should be redirected from other projects to Afghanistan. He’s now dropped a commitment to allocate aid on the principles of “country income and population size”. So how is aid to be distributed in future, exactly how much will be redirected to Afghanistan?

And who is going to spend it? Will aid be re-directed to the MoD, or to the Home Office to pay for immigration costs and student visas, as OECD guidelines allow? Last month the Labour Campaign for International Development (LCID) wrote a letter to the Treasury to ask if the level of aid spent through DfID will remain at 88 per cent – they have still not replied.

Mitchell recently described one of his party’s manifesto commitments on aid as “the sort of thing you say in opposition then rather regret in government… ” some of the world’s most poorest people may yet feel the same about the coalition’s entire approach to aid.

• Donate to the Disasters Emergency Committee Pakistan floods appeal by logging on to http://tinyurl.com/pak-floods

New Statesman: Mitchell’s “silent withdrawal” of aid budget ringfencing

This from the New Statesman, full story here:

In a recent interview with the New Statesman, Mitchell admitted that the promise to ringfence the development budget was “the sort of thing you make in opposition, then rather regret in government.” As the autumn spending review looms, the pressure on departments to find spending cuts is growing, and it seems that even the supposedly protected development budget is not safe. Despite what Mitchell calls the “double duty” imposed on his department by its protected status, a silent withdrawal from the ringfencing policy seems to be underway.

Mitchell’s ‘ouput-based’ crusade risks trying DfID in knots

by David Taylor, for Left Foot Forward

Earlier today Left Foot Forward publishedleaked document from the Department for International Development showing a list of nearly 100 public commitments recommended for the chop. But behind the headlines, International Development Secretary Andrew Mitchell’s “focus on outputs and outcomes” raises two key questions.

Firstly, if close to 100 ‘input’ based commitments are to be dropped – what are the ‘output’ based commitments that will replace them if DfID is to avoid failing its commitments to the world’s poor?

The Coalition Programme committed DfID to support actions to achieve the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) by prioritising aid projects that ensured access to clean water, sanitation, healthcare, and education. Fast forward two months, and DfID is proposing to drop commitments to spend £8.5 billion on education, £6 billion on health, and £1 billion on water and sanitation. And not just ‘inputs’ too – output-based commitments to help 8 million children go to school in Africa and 55 million people gain access to water and sanitation too.

So how exactly is the Coalition to make progress on the MDGs in the absences of these commitments? The signs are worrying. The upcoming UN Summit on the MDGs should be an opportunity to continue Britain’s leadership in this area. Yet despite repeated questioning in Parliament, the Coalition has failed to set out clear red-lines and objectives for the Summit, merely talking about how they seek agreement on an ‘action agenda’. In a Parliamentary Answer Andrew Mitchell admitted that he and Nick Clegg have only met once formally to discuss the Summit.

Secondly, why the obsession with “outputs”, when DfID is already considered a world leader in aid effectiveness?

Just last month a major independent review by the OECD praised DfID’s effectiveness under Labour. It said:

“[DfID has gained] national and international recognition for its professionalism and ability to deliver its aid programme effectively…

“The UK performs well against the key aid effectiveness indicators … DFID’s ability to implement its aid effectiveness commitments is supported by its decentralised model, and by significant use of general and sector budget support.”

In addition, the One campaign’s 2010 Data report outlined that “the UK leads all other G7 countries on ODA [aid] effectiveness”.

The new Coalition government risk putting this leadership at risk. A move towards ‘results’ based aid may seem appealing as pressure intensifies to demonstrate value for money, particularly when the aid budget is growing whilst other departments are cut. But as NGOs including Save the Children have pointed out, this can actually reduce aid effectiveness:

“[Results based aid] works best for interventions that involve a discrete output, such as the construction of a road, and less well for more complex structural changes – like civil service reform – where judgements about progress are more subjective.”

Today’s leaked documents are deeply worrying. DfID’s recommendation to drop key commitments is bad enough – but Mitchell’s push for ‘results’ is a crusade against straw men that risks trying DfID in knots, reducing the effectiveness of UK aid and failing to achieve the one thing he seems to care about most – value for money.

Steve Cockburn asks: value for money – for who?

Writing for Progressonline, Steve Cockburn (LCID executive member), questions whether the recent calls from the Government to get value for money is truthfully aimed at furthering the interests of British foreign policy, rather than alleviating poverty.

Some recent Government decisions back up Steve’s argument:

One recent warning sign is the decision to spend what could amount to around £200 million of aid money on an airport on the British Overseas Territory of St Helena, a project supported by Lord Ashcroft and slammed by Denis MacShane as “a scandal of Pergau Dam proportions”.

As we at LCID have asked before, Steve asks:

Might this be the first big example of the new government using the aid budget as a cross-departmental subsidy, to cover things you might imagine should really come from elsewhere?

The question is a particularly valid one, and one that has not yet received a proper answer from the Government. You can read the full text of Steve’s article here.

Questions grow over DfID’s ‘ring-fenced’ budget

Rumours over the security of DfID’s budget have been mounting over the last few weeks. Today in the Guardian, Madeleine Bunting raises questions over the pressure coming from the Right for Cameron’s government to change their approach to the international development budget.

The Coalition Government came to power promising to ring-fence international development spending, yet doubts have already begun to emerge over the ways in which money will be spent and, now, whether the pressure to cut will overwhelm Cameron and his team.

Such a move would not only run counter to 13 years of progressive aid policy, but jeopardise the UK’s reputation as a leader in international development.

Interestingly, Bunting notes that:

“The best defence of DfID he can’t – won’t – use. It’s a department which went from strength to strength under a succession of passionately committed ministers under Labour and, now not only has a much bigger budget than the Foreign Office but has assumed much of the prestige and status, both at home and abroad, of its former parent department. Last week the Organisation of Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) gave a stunning end-of-term report, praising DfID for its “capable, mission-driven and decentralised development ministry … [it] makes continuous efforts to improve its efficiency and effectiveness”, and has achieved “national and international recognition for its professionalism and ability to deliver its aid programme”.”

Voices from the Right might, therefore, win over. But this will be nothing short of a betrayal of the world’s poor. The truth of the matter is:

“DfID can point to a string of achievements. British aid pays for 5 million children in primary school, a comparable figure to the number of British primary school children for a fraction of the cost, just 2.5%. Or take the much smaller but fascinating example of M-Pesa, the mobile phone money-transfer scheme launched by a £1m DfID matching grant with Vodaphone. In its first three years in Kenya it expanded to 8 million users; now it is being adopted in countries all over the world, including Afghanistan, to transfer small amounts of money for those who don’t have sufficient resources to be served by the formal banking system. DfID has dozens such stories of how aid has to be part of any sensible strategy for Britain’s role in the world, trying to help countries break out of a poverty trap to achieve prosperity and stability. The sums involved are tiny: DfID’s total budget is £7bn, only 2% of total government spending; it’ a fraction of what the country spends on gambling, alcohol or defence.”

Calls to scrap DfID’s budget, or the Department itself, have come from some notable Tory grandees, but they are, quite simply wrong. Andrew Mitchell would do well to ignore them. 

You can read the article in full on The Guardian website.

UPDATE: There is a second article in The Guardian today calling on the Government to protect aid. According to Larry Elliott, Labour’s legacy is strong: “It was not just that Labour worked hard at home and abroad to push for debt relief and a doubling of G8 aid, it was also that Brown and Tony Blair changed the political weather when it came to development.”

Alan Duncan: at it again

Paul Waugh has a lovely Alan Duncan snippet from Bill Gates’ visit to Parliament last week. After being told that his talk to the All Party Parliamentary Group on Overseas Development would be under Chatham House Rules, Duncan recounted his MP’s on ‘rations’ comment that was secretly taped after the expenses scandal.

“And that’s why I’m here at DfID!” Dunky finished with a flourish.

Of course no politician should be denied the chance to use humour – however weak – but taken in the context of murmurings from DfID mandarins about Duncan’s performance, or lack of it, there is a legitimate question mark over his commitment to the job.

Perhaps being second-in-command at DfID is simply not good enough for Mr. Duncan? It is unlikely many tears would be shed if he decided that were the case.

Foreign Office “planning a raid on DfID’s cash and on its turf”

The Financial Times website today carries a disturbing story on the future of DfID funding. This comes just weeks after an election when the now-Government pledged to ringfence DfID funding and that principle’s affirmation in the Coalition Document.

According to Sue Cameron at the FT, the Foreign Office is “planning a raid on [DfID’s] cash and on its turf.” She says:

“They talk of a “bleed” of Difid money to teams that include FCO and Defence Ministry people – not least in places like Iraq and Afghanistan. “Nothing will be taken out of the Difid budget,” one diplomat assured me. “It’ll just be spent on things over which Difid has no control.” And it is hard to see what Difid can do about it.”

LCID has already warned of the dangers of diverting DfID money that would better be spent on Overseas Development Aid, in a letter printed in the Guardian. Yet, Sue Cameron states that Andrew Mitchell, Secretary of State for International Development, is only free to act in his role “within the strategy set by Hague.”

Every penny diverted from poverty alleviation causes harm. It is becoming ever-clearer that the pre-election promise to ringfence the development budget was a false one. As the new Government’s policies come into action, LCID will be scrutinising them, to hold the Government to account on its poverty alleviation promises.

The full article can be found on the FT website.

By Tim Nicholls

Read Douglas Alexander’s speech to LCID

On Tuesday 29 June, Douglas Alexander spoke at an LCID event about the future of International Development. You can read the full text of his speech here:

“Thank you David for that kind introduction – and for the valuable work you and other members of the Labour Campaign for International Development have undertaken in recent months, as well as during the election campaign.

I know that you will continue to provide both valuable policy thinking and campaigning enthusiasm on these issues in the months and years ahead.

As many of you will be aware, it is now almost five years to the day since the remarkable Make Poverty History march took place in Edinburgh, and the Live 8 concerts took place around the world.

That day in Edinburgh, for me personally – and I’m sure for many of you – was truly inspirational.

Returning to a city where I had lived for a decade, pushing my daughter in her pram, carrying my son on my shoulders – and I’m proud to say supported by seven bus-loads of people from my Paisley constituency – I had the sense of seeing a familiar city in a new light.

The view of Edinburgh castle from Princes’ street – a view I’d seen a thousand times before – was, on that day, transformed by the banner that spanned the length of the castle, and declared our common mission: “Make Poverty History”.

A sea of white filled the Meadows, and then spilled out into the streets of Edinburgh to create a symbolic white band around the city.

Around the world, thousands more gathered in fields and stadiums to join the millions wearing white bands – demanding that the G8 leaders take action.

As I walked with that vast crowd past the Assembly Hall, I had cause to also remember another demonstration which had taken place 17 years earlier.

I was a student then, protesting outside that same Hall as Margaret Thatcher arrived to address the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland.

Thinking about those two very different demonstrations – separated by almost two decades – yet in that single place, I was struck by the transformative power of politics, and by the determination of people inspired by a just cause.

But most of all, I was struck by the way in which the events of that sunny July day five years ago swept aside any notion that there ever was ‘no such thing as society’.

Five years on, we find ourselves in sadly less auspicious circumstances.

But nevertheless, with much progress to recognise and celebrate.

And so, in my remarks today, I would like to cover three main areas:

Firstly, the progress I believe the world has made since 2005, and that I am proud we helped deliver as a Labour government;

Secondly, what I think the major challenges are that we now face both domestically and globally following the summits of this past weekend;

And, thirdly, my assessment of the early days of this new government and where I think we will need to watch them most closely.

Since that declaration of global solidarity in July 2005 – which many have called the ‘high water mark’ of the global anti-poverty movement – I believe it is fair to say that we have seen significant progress, albeit not enough.

A Labour government led the way by cancelling debt, trebling the aid budget, and becoming in the words of the ONE campaign the “leader in the G7 on aid effectiveness”.

But we have also seen turbulent times and new challenges emerge.

The world has been engulfed as never expected by the greatest financial and economic crisis for generations – directly putting millions back into poverty, and creating pressure for donor governments across Europe and the world to myopically, but predictably, slash aid funding.

At the same time – the urgency of tackling the climate crisis has become ever more evident – and yet the international will to do so ever more elusive.

A world trade deal that could lift millions out of poverty has remained in the deep freeze.

Conflict and fragility has continued to plague and stunt the progress of too many lives.

The creaking international system itself has been placed under ever greater strain.

And here, in this country, despite the warm words about a ‘consensus’ let us be brutally honest about the context we now face.

I genuinely fear that behind the words from this coalition on the headline aid promise, there remain many hidden threats.

The context of declining public support for aid, likely to continue in the coming period of divisive and damaging cuts in domestic spending, will provide challenges for the development movement greater than I think many realise.

It will be a particular challenge for the new government – one large part of it still deeply rooted in a particular dogma – to resist the temptation to divert our aid from its proper purposes, implement ideologically driven schemes, and to take a headline grabbing approach to ‘prove themselves’.

An X-Factor style online vote for which countries get aid, for example, doesn’t sit well with a promise to increase the effectiveness of our aid.

And they will hardly be helped by the significant number of aid sceptics now filling the government benches.

I will say more about the new government, but let us first look back at what today we should celebrate.

The march of progress is not inevitable.

It requires political choice and political leadership.

Bravery some would say.

So as we face uncertain times, let us recall what political choice and leadership can deliver.

The agreements made at Gleneagles, made in part because of the great public expectation which was generated on the G8 and developing country governments by the global anti-poverty movement have contributed to real progress for some of the world’s poorest people.

The recent DATA report highlights:

Malaria – where the world has exceeded the Gleneagles goal of delivering 100 million bed-nets, with 200 million delivered between 2006 and 2009.

Child Survival – where the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunisations (GAVI) alone has averted 5.4 million future child deaths by working together with donors and developing country governments.

Education, where the savings from debt relief, development assistance, and scaled-up prioritization, means that 42 million more children have enrolled in school.

However, as Oxfam has pointed out, around 40 per cent of the promised aid increase made at Gleneagles has not been delivered.

This means there is as much as a $20 billion hole in the promise the G8 made back in 2005 – enough to put every child in school or stop millions of children dying of malaria.

The 60% we helped deliver has made a huge difference – but the shortfall is literally costing lives.

Despite the inevitable ups and downs of the recent election campaign, there are always chinks of light that remind you why you are in politics, and what a difference you can make.

On a particularly difficult day – and trust me there were a few of those – during the campaign, I was shown a story in the Guardian.

It came from a country that as recently as 15 years ago faced the deadly maelstrom of conflict and poverty in its most acute form – Sierra Leone.

It reported on how the government of President Koroma, with the support of NGOs and our Labour government, had been able to make healthcare free for pregnant women and children in his country.

Literally thousands of lives will and may have already been saved by this simple leap forward.

That is why it was so urgent for G8 leaders to focus and take action on maternal mortality and child health at their summit in Canada this past weekend.

Every year, approximately 350,000 mothers die from complications during child birth and 8.8 million children die before their fifth birthday.

But the results of this G8 summit were woefully inadequate – with Oxfam describing the initiative launched as “lower than our lowest expectations”.

Given the context – I was not surprised.

But I was still outraged.

Summits often do not deliver all that they should.

But David Cameron needs to think long and hard about whether he believes that the package he and other leaders agreed there was even remotely adequate.

Blaming other leaders and using strong words is not enough.

Britain should be both leading by example and putting in the hard graft.

It is questionable whether the new government is doing either.

And on top of this there was a serious step backwards.

Save the Children were moved to describe as truly ‘shameful’ the dropping of the historic Gleneagles targets to increase aid at the G8 summit.

Gleneagles, it should be remembered, took place at a difficult time too – when minds could easily have turned from such global challenges, given the tragic punctuation of the summit by the taking of innocent life on 7/7.

But despite those terrible events, and the unwillingness of some leaders to make any form of commitment, the efforts of Tony Blair and Gordon Brown, buoyed by millions of campaigners around the world, still achieved the historic promise to increase aid by $50 billion by 2010, with $25 billion of this going to Africa.

And they agreed crucial steps forward on debt relief.

What a contrast with Muskoka and Toronto.

David Cameron, writing in Canada’s Globe and Mail newspaper shortly before this weekend’s summits said:

“I come to the G8 and G20 in Muskoka and Toronto with a clear commitment to make sure these summits deliver for people. Too often, these international meetings fail to live up to the hype and the promises made.”

Yet the new Prime Minister seemed all too willing to let other G8 leaders sweep their failures under the carpet by dropping the historic Gleneagles agreements from the final communiqué.

We are told that during the negotiations, Downing Street admitted to the Guardian that the Prime Minister had simply “not fought” for the commitments to be included.

As Oxfam’s Mark Fried said:

“The only promise that counts is the Gleneagles one to increase aid by $50 billion by 2010 and that is the one they have abandoned today.”

So can David Cameron tell us how many phone calls and meetings he actually held with other world leaders about maintaining the Gleneagles promises? Or did he merely give up?

His silence has been deafening.

And what of the G20?

I will of course welcome any attention that the new and larger grouping pays to international development and tackling poverty.

I believe it is vital that as the G20 discuss the wider global economic architecture, that the concerns of the poorest countries are forefront, and that issues like tax or the regulation and taxation of the financial markets are treated as development issues – in the way we attempted to do at the London G20.

I do however have some skepticism about another forum the “Working Group on Development” being created under the auspices of the G20 at the same time as the G8 has abrogated its responsibilities.

The G8 and G20 outcomes and discussions of this weekend highlight starkly some of the key contextual challenges we face.

Difficult and fragile economic times – which rightly must occupy significant attention – but where development and the poorest countries can be easily squeezed out.

International institutions and groupings which remain not yet fit for purpose.

A worrying, if unsurprising, change in public opinion on issues like global poverty and climate change, and the attendant ability of the global movement to connect with people in these economically tough times.

Five Years on we have no Live 8.

No Make Poverty History marchers in Edinburgh.

Instead the likes of Dambisa Moyo, Melanie Phillips and other commentators stalk the airwaves, column inches and blogs offering their trenchant views.

There also remain serious policy challenges.

Challenges, which unless we adequately respond to them, based on both our moral values and common interest, mean that we will both fail to do right by the bottom billion in this world, and continue to sow the seeds of instability and un-sustainability.

We need to reach beyond the easy myopia which often besets publics and politics in difficult times.

To step back and recognise the nature of the threats we still face.

This is why I argued in our last White Paper in 2009 that we must not turn away in fear and isolationism.

Whilst we rightly focus on tackling this global economic crisis today – we must also take the long view – as people like Nick Stern have done on the economics of climate change.

We need to help fashion a world economy which is better regulated, greener and fairer to all. Where growth and prosperity is generated, and poverty alleviated – but not at the expense of people or the planet on which we all depend.

We need to create a world where the skills and energies of the private sector are harnessed for the benefit of all, but where their excesses are not treated as an acceptable by-product.

Where we resist an easy retreat into protectionism, not pretending that globalisation has not happened – but at the same time ensuring that more open trade delivers fairer outcome.

Where we help tackle the conflict and insecurity which blights the lives of so many ordinary people, particularly women and girls, with a broad based concept of stabilisation, conflict prevention and peace-building – that treats security and justice as basic services.

And where we maintain our promises to deliver the aid which catalyses development and realises rights – puts children into school, helps mothers have safer births, and which ensures clean drinking water is available.

None of our goals can be reached by spending aid alone – though supporting basic building blocks through our aid remains essential.

None can be reached by the UK alone – but the UK must play its part.

None can be reached without a proper analysis of conflict, politics and sustainability – nor without understanding the impact of gender.

None will be reached unless we take a transformative and holistic approach to development, looking at the wider global economy and issues like tax.

That is why I remain sceptical about some of the approach offered up so far by the new government – who in the past have failed to provide an adequate answer to many of these challenges.

I am also concerned if the development sector here in the UK thinks it should simply lower its standards and expectations, because the Tories are in power.

We need to hold them to account.

Firstly, on aid – both in terms of volumes and how it is used.

They have been at pains to repeatedly insist in recent weeks – that they fully intend to meet the 0.7% aid target by 2013.

But let’s look a little closer.

The Tories matched our pledge of legislation in the first session of this new parliament.

Yet despite repeated questioning, we still have no timetable for legislation, and merely the mention of a ‘parliamentary motion’ in the Queen’s Speech.

Why this should be the case, when a draft Bill had already been scrutinised by the all-party international development select committee in the last parliament remains a mystery to me.

Then there is the question of the definition of aid.

Andrew Mitchell repeatedly says how he intends to keep the definition of aid in line with the OECD DAC guidelines.

But we always took a more restrictive interpretation of those guidelines.

For example – we didn’t think it right to include student or refugee costs in our aid.

No assurances have been forthcoming from Mr Mitchell on this front.

Secondly – there is the question of where and how aid money is in fact allocated within Whitehall, and on what it is spent on.

We had always taken the view that the majority of our aid money should, very naturally, be being programmed and allocated by DFID – with a small but legitimate portion allocated by departments like the FCO and DECC.

And so we were joined, by the now Scottish Secretary, Michael Moore of the Liberal Democrats, in warning during the election campaign of the very real ‘danger’ – that the Tories’ lack of commitments on limiting the use of aid as climate finance, or for military or security linked work – meant that large sums could end up being diverted, but still count as ‘aid’.

Sadly – the Lib Dems appear to have completely rolled over on these crucial issues.

In the coalition ‘Programme for Government’ we see no mention of additionality in climate finance – despite the fact that climate finance is such a crucial issue in the climate negotiations.

Nick Stern has pointed out that unless we make the investment in tackling climate change and its impacts now we risk even greater costs in the future.

But we must not merely ‘rob Peter to pay Paul’ by diverting significant amounts of aid, from for example ensuring better healthcare in poorer countries.

That is why we had made clear in government that from 2013 we would ensure additional sources of climate finance were provided, with no more than 10% of our aid spending being allocated to this purpose.

And the Lib Dems had in the past called for complete additionality.

But, like their promises on VAT domestically this now appears to have been another promise they have conveniently and shamelessly forgotten.

Worryingly too – we see the Tory proposal for the highly unclear ‘military led stabilisation force’.

We already took a pragmatic but appropriate approach to stabilisation – and recognised the complementary but distinct roles which development, diplomacy and defence should play in places like Afghanistan.

The risk is that by over-militarising our concept of stabilisation, the wider analysis of conflict prevention and management, and the restoration of security and justice, which we sought to place at the heart of our White Paper in 2009, could be lost.

And, leading charities have highlighted concerns about a potential blurring of military and humanitarian or development operations in Afghanistan under such a force.

Whatever this government may claim in headline statements, or say about transparency – the problem is in the small print.

The Tories must not be allowed to divert our attentions, while they divert our aid.

Thirdly, it will come as no great surprise to me, if one of the early acts of this new government is to abandon our commitments to promoting free health and education.

Instead of steps forward such as those I described in Sierra Leone – we could see ill-advised and ideological voucher schemes, or other forms of private subsidy that fail to catalyse wider changes, and are more likely to exclude the marginalised and the poorest.

And even if Andrew Mitchell talks about the importance of education, Liam Fox’s ill-judged comments that we were “We are not in Afghanistan for the sake of the education policy in a broken 13th-century country” reveal the tenor and attitude of some of his Cabinet colleagues to international development.

Fourthly, there is the question of effort and engagement.

As I have already touched on in relation to the G8 Summit – when it comes to the level of international negotiations and diplomacy it requires real and sustained effort and personal engagement at the highest levels to make a difference.

So it is again revealing that when questioned in Prime Ministers Questions last week, David Cameron could not confirm whether he had even spoken to President Zuma, other African leaders or even other donors before the crucial summit on education on 7 July.

Finally, Andrew Mitchell has launched a review of multilateral and bilateral funding from DFID.

This in itself is no bad thing, and a process we regularly engaged in.

Yet, as with much announced by this new government – there was already pre-briefing going on to the newspapers that some players were going to do well – and others not so.

I question whether the government will take a truly balanced and entirely merit-based approach to the review on that basis.

Can we really trust a eurosceptic Tory party to properly assess the relative effectiveness of the World Bank versus the European Union as a multilateral partner?

Andrew Mitchell in one of his first speeches as Secretary of State earlier this month talked of exporting Cameron’s “Big Society” to the global level.

He says that his “approach will move from doing development to people to doing development with people – and to people doing development for themselves.”

The idea that DFID, or indeed many of Britain’s leading charities ‘do’ development to poor people, bears little relationship to reality.

Country-led development was a principle Labour established when DFID was created, and that we have endeavoured to put into practise.

Andrew Mitchell talks of ‘change’ – but the truth is that I believe that the Conservatives have found that much of what they see in DFID actually works well. Indeed as he admitted:

“I have been struck by how much DFID contributes to Britain’s global reputation. How it has broken new ground in international development and often succeeded where others have failed.”

I was also struck – by how insubstantial his first major overseas speech was – to the Carnegie Foundation in Washington this week, despite the vitally important topic of gender and development it sought to address.

Indeed, I can’t recollect someone travelling so far to say so little.

These speeches have begged more questions than they answered.

Where is the clear forward agenda – aside from a few headline grabbing initiatives or re-packaging of things we were already doing?

With just weeks to go, where are the clear objectives and red lines for the UN Summit in September? As opposed to vague agendas?

Where is the detailed vision about how tackling climate change and promoting development could be aligned in the future as opposed to vacuous platitudes.

He talks of the importance of measures ‘beyond aid’.

Yet where is the strategy on the crucial issue of tax and development – such as how we could take forward steps on multilateral and automatic exchange of tax information or measures on country by country reporting?

Leadership in international development involves more than having a bonfire of straw men.

So, let us be clear.

Even from opposition, it still falls today for Labour to offer the intellectual leadership and global advocacy on international development.

The challenge facing us today is to both defend the progress we have seen, and attempt to go further, but to do so in the tough environment of the post-financial crisis world.

So let me conclude, by appealing for your help, and by urging that we must re-energise a global movement to secure those ends.

We must not settle for second best. To set our standards low.

I want the Labour Party and groups like the Labour Campaign for International Development to be at the heart of that process here in Britain, and to work with our sister parties abroad to do the same.

We must hold this government to account.

And we must work with those of like mind, by reaching out to those who share our passion for global justice.

So let me return to where I began this evening.

I truly believe that what 2005 taught us was that when a dynamic, independent and vibrant global civil society campaign, connected with politics and politicians who instinctively shared the same values and ambitions, even when constrained at times by the nature of government – great things can be done.

Some will contest this point.

But I think it is important to recognise that our delivery on our aid and development promises was made by choice – not chance.

By people like Tony Blair, Gordon Brown, Clare Short and Hilary Benn – buoyed by the knowledge that thousands were backing them.

Times are tough – but we can make that difference again.

And to that task, let us re-dedicate ourselves tonight.”

The Tories should introduce the Robin Hood Tax if they truly want to help the poor

The emergency budget is to be on June 22 and David Cameron has already begun to try and soften the ground. The pain, he states, will be felt by everyone. This is worrying and could be avoided by the introduction of the Robin Hood Tax, says the ippr.

One of the ways of raising much needed funds is through taxation. Liberal Democrats campaigned on a platform to raise employee contributions to national insurance. Conservatives, on the other hand, favour raising VAT to as high as 20%, which would be regressive.

Taxing corporations is another means of raising funds, however, it has several drawbacks, including passing the cost on to its consumers, cutting labour costs and leaving the UK. Nor would its reach be felt meaningfully beyond our shores. Many feel that the financial sector should be taxed to a greater extent given that they have caused the recession.

The most effective way to tax the financial sector is through a Robin Hood tax.

Such a tax would help ease the effects of the recession in the UK and across the globe, as half would be dedicated to international development.

Who would be most affected by this tax? Clearly, it would be those who make frequent trades, namely investment banks and hedge funds in the developed world. Such a tax could recognise that the effects of capital flows are felt (both positively and negatively) across the globe, and most keenly in the developing world. Pension funds and insurance companies, would also be affected but, they tend to trade less frequently and thus would pay a smaller proportion.

Bob Neil MP revealed in the House of Commons June 10th that the poorest will face the largest burden of paying down the debt. This is in direct contrast to Cameron’s promises to protect the poor. A tax on financial transactions would raise approximately £25 billion; more than twice the amount that could be raised from increasing VAT to 20%. It is not just the less well off at home who would suffer from the suspected Tory plans, but millions overseas who will be deprived of financial support that they so desperately need.

By Margaret Dantas Araujo