I am very pleased to announce that I have accepted a role as Shadow Minister for International Development. I will be working with Kate Osamor to lead on Labour’s strategy on international development, and to hold the Department for International Development (DFID) to account in terms of how Britain’s foreign aid budget is being spent.
Labour is committed to the principle of spending 0.7 per cent of gross national income on special development assistance, and of ensuring that foreign aid is spent effectively and accountably on programmes which assist towards the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Although the Tories have also committed to this, there are signs that many of their MPs and Ministers do not fully support the 0.7 per cent target, and Labour will be fighting against any threats to maintaining this level of spending.
We believe in developing a targeted development agenda based on the principles of redistribution, social justice, women’s rights and poverty reduction. During the last Parliament, we led on scrutinising the work of the Commonwealth Development Corporation (CDC), the private equity company owned by DFID, which is now a major vehicle for the delivery of Britain’s foreign aid targets. Whilst Labour is supportive of some aspects of the work done by the CDC, we have been concerned by reports from campaigning organisations such as Oxfam and Global Justice Now, which highlight examples of the CDC being used to channel funding towards businesses in middle-income countries, rather than focusing explicitly on poverty reduction.
In this Parliament, I look forward to working closely with the rest of the Shadow Front Bench, the international development select committee, as well as charities and NGOs, to develop Labour’s international development strategy and to hold the government to account on their actions. I will bring to the role my long experience of working alongside Parliamentarians from across the world within the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association, and my work with the Inter-Parliamentary Union. In addition, I have a long history of campaigning for women’s rights both at home and internationally, and this will be another priority for me in the new role.