Frank Field MP
Your MP for Birkenhead
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In defence of DfID and overseas aid

05 April 2017

Matthew d’Ancona asks who the Tories will blame once Britain has left the EU (The Eurocrat’s days are numbered, 3 April). The overseas aid budget is an obvious target and Priti Patel, the secretary of state for international development, needs a defence strategy. Ms Patel inherits a department that has a record of poorly targeted spending, which she is valiantly trying to turn around.

The task is huge – not least because she has one of the few Whitehall budgets that grow in real terms each year. One way of meeting our target to spend 0.7% of GDP on overseas aid, in a way that builds support among voters who want a guarantee on the best housekeeping of their hard-earned money, would be to establish, say, a Commonwealth venture capital fund, into which that part of the 0.7% that Ms Patel has cause to believe is misspent, or fraudulently used, could be paid. This fund would then be used for job-creating investment programmes in the Commonwealth as and when the need was proved, and not arbitrarily governed by the need to spend money by the end of the financial year. This strategy begins to prepare Britain for life after Brexit and adds a layer of defence to the DfID’s budget against those Tories whose main political target to date has been the EU.

Frank Field MP
Labour, Birkenhead


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