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An open letter to Rt Hon Sir Mike Penning, MP
I am writing to you regarding the Prime Minister’s decision to amalgamate the Department for International Development with the Foreign Office. As you know one of the principle reasons for setting up and maintaining a separate Department for International Development is to ensure that aid in the short and long term is driven by the needs of the poor. The amalgamation of the two Department’s, which in effect will be a takeover by the Foreign Office as it is a much bigger Department with more clout, will risk that all future decisions on aid will be seen through its lenses. Whilst recognising that any Government will wish to promote British trade overseas, by bringing the two together and confusing their objectives, we risk weakening the excellent work that has been done by this Department over many years.
There is also a moral imperative here. In April 2017 you rightly said:
I give my personal support to this commitment. The Prime Minister has also committed to this figure. We can be proud of the fact that our country has committed to spending 0.7% of our national income on international aid. Quite simply, it is the moral, responsible and humanitarian thing to do, it is also in our interest to help the poorest people in the world as much as we can.
Whilst recognising that the 0.7% aid target will continue to be met , which as you say is the moral, responsible and humanitarian action to take, the poorest people in the world are most helped when part of the UK’s wealth is available to respond to the needs of the poor and that a Government department acts independently of others to help achieve this.
Can I ask please that you write to the Prime Minister to express the very real concern of Christian Aid with this decision and that you personally endorse this as you have other letters we have written in the past. Can I also ask that you request an outline of how, in this new structure, the Government will ensure that the priority in any decisions that are made in the future continue to be the needs of the poor.
Thank you for your help.
(Paul Tucker is Chair of Kings Langley Christian Aid)
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