Andrew Mitchell MP "Ministers must be careful not to undermine the UK’s international leadership"

Writing to The Times on 11 June, former DFID Secretary of State defended the 0.7% target. He argues that Ministers must be careful that highly questionable spending does not undermine the UK’s international leadership as a development superpower.

Foreign Aid Target

Sir, Your leading article “Vanity Target”(Jun 7) assumes that the British development money is being spent on questionable projects because there is insufficient genuine development need to absorb the 0.7 per cent of GDP budget. Nothing could be further from the truth. Britain could spend the 0.7 per cent development budget many times over, boosting the good progress being made on promoting better government, tackling conflict, vaccinating children, building economic prosperity, promoting family planning and getting girls (and boys) into school.

The report from the Independent Commission on Aid Impact (the watchdog that I set up in 2010 to represent the interests of the British taxpayers and ensure transparency for spending by the Department for International Development) shows that in trying to define as much spending as possible as overseas development assistance, the government is in danger of bringing the whole process into disrepute.

It is entirely proper that all government expenditure that falls within the agreed definition of aid should be paid for by Dfid, No matter which minister is spending it. But Ministers must be careful that highly questionable spending does not undermine the UK’s international leadership, which is doing so much to combat grinding poverty

Rt Hon Andrew Mitchell MP

International Development Secretary 2010-12, House of Commons