Rt Hon Priti Patel MP, DFID Secretary of State: Conservative Conference Speech 2017

You can watch the Secretary of State's keynote speech at Conservative Conference 2017 on the BBC here.

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Conference, good afternoon.

Britain has always been a bold and confident nation.

We are unafraid to stand up for what we believe in.

In our history, we’ve helped to end the slave trade, defeat dictators, and champion democracy around the world.

And today, we are leading the fight to end poverty, eradicate disease and help refugees survive brutal conflicts.

Influence is about knowing what you believe in.

Having the confidence to project British values internationally.

Looking outwards not inwards and utilising our unique history and our position as a force for good.

Using British values to shape a better world and create hope and optimism for the future.

When people across the globe see UK aid supplies arriving in their village or refugee camp – proudly marked with the Union flag – they know that Britain is on their side.

Our heroic Armed Forces forces and aid experts are serving around the world, from Nigeria, to Afghanistan, to South Sudan and the hurricane relief efforts across the Caribbean.

They are providing a badge of hope to millions, shaping a better and safer world.

Each and every one of them deserves our thanks.

We all know that money spent by Ministers and civil servants does not belong to them.

It belongs to you – the very taxpayers who have worked hard for it.

As Margaret Thatcher once said: “Pennies do not come from heaven. They have to be earned here on earth.”

The public are right to be angry when they hear stories about wasted aid.

They naturally think that their Government is throwing away their hard-earned cash.

That is why under my leadership, my priority is to make sure that aid delivers value for money.

My Ministers have scrutinised every aspect of DFID’s spending

I have removed programmes which did not stand up to scrutiny.

Where partnerships weren’t working, I have ended them.

Where legitimate concerns have been raised over poor spending, I have taken action.

And where other Government Departments need to improve their aid spending, I am challenging them to raise their game and be accountable to UK taxpayers.

I am delivering close to £500 million pounds of savings.

And I have been ruthless in closing programmes that did not meet the standards I have set.

I am expanding the use of Payment by Results.

That means performance based funding.

If they don’t deliver, we won’t pay.

I am taking back control of our spending and decision-making.

Making sure we use British values to bring hope and optimism to millions across the world.

I would like to thank the Ministers who are supporting this improvement: Michael Bates, Rory Stewart and Alistair Burt.

I also want to pay tribute to James Wharton, my former Africa Minister, who until the General Election, helped to drive essential change across DFID.

He was an outstanding Minister, and I know that he’ll be back in frontline politics again.

When it comes to getting value for money, the job is not yet done.

Today, I am announcing the conclusion of a comprehensive review of DFID’s relationships with suppliers.

I am setting out tough reforms that will encourage the private sector to work with DFID and end the appalling practice of fat cats profiteering from the aid budget.

I am introducing a tough Code of Conduct, with legally enforceable sanctions for non-compliance, to root out unethical behaviour.

I‘m taking the toughest approach in Whitehall to crack down on contract costs.

I‘m cutting red tape and simplifying the bidding process to help small British firms win with DFID and create jobs up and down the UK.

On my watch I will end the crony-market where a handful of suppliers, would win contract after contract, which blocked innovation and competition.

I will always put the interests of taxpayers and the world’s poor ahead of consultants and middle-men.

I am leading global efforts to reform the way the whole world does development and aid.

Two weeks ago I announced a new regime of performance-related funding for the United Nations and its agencies.

From next year 30% of our funding will be conditional on improved results and reform.

But that’s not all.

For years the United Nations has ignored the shocking scandal of sexual abuse and the exploitation of children.

This must end.

I have told them that all future funding is subject to them implementing the highest standards of child protection; investigating all allegations; and securing prosecutions of those responsible for these crimes.

If they don’t make the grade, believe me, they won’t get the aid.

I will continue to challenge the aid system to ensure that the international rules remain relevant to our changing world.

As Hurricane Irma graphically demonstrated, they need to be flexible, so aid gets to the right place at the right time.

That equally applies to our British citizens in our British territories.

In today’s world of new threats and extremist ideologies – and I’m not just talking about Mr Corbyn – we must be bold and unapologetic in standing up for our values.

Conservatives do not talk Britain down.

We are the party that raises horizons, transforms lives and secures a better future.

We know that trade, investment and free markets provide the route out of poverty.

And as we look to support prosperity in developing countries and growth in the UK, Brexit is the opportunity to secure our place in the world.

Britain can reassert itself as a global beacon for free trade, enterprise and free markets.

Earlier this year I launched DFID’s first-ever Economic Development Strategy and set out a vision for how the private sector can boost jobs, growth and development.

My objective is clear.

I’m not here to endlessly hand out money.

I will help people and countries stand on their own two feet.

Like Mary in Ethiopia who now works full-time in the new industrial zone in Hawassa.

Thanks to DFID, she can now provide for her family.

Also millions of girls around the world are now able to go to school.

And the job of everyone working in development must be to end aid dependency.

We are offering a hand-up, not a hand-out.

That’s why I’m working with colleagues across Government to promote economic development.

In Nigeria, we are working to create real jobs and tackle the scourge of modern day slavery.

Our trade Department is creating new trading links in some of the poorest countries in the world.

I want the countries who receive aid today be our trading partners of tomorrow.

We made a clear commitment on aid in our manifesto.

We will honour it.

The money I’ve saved from closing programmes, is going on projects such as the fight against Neglected Tropical Diseases.

We will deliver over a billion treatments to fight cruel, avoidable infections such as trachoma, Guinea-worm and river blindness.

Britain is leading the way on clearing landmines globally.

And I am placing a new international emphasis on improving the lives of people with disability.

That’s not all.

Across this country there are thousands of small charities led by inspirational people, doing amazing work around the world.

But for years, they have found it impossible to access UK aid, because the aid budget supported big international charities.

That is why I’m opening up the aid budget to the Best of British charities up and down the country.

Using British values and expertise to shape a better world.

This Conservative Government is leading the way in eradicating polio from the face of the earth, forever.

And I want to pay tribute to the thousands of Rotarians across the world – and in this audience – who have led the fight against polio.

Earlier this year, the world faced the terrifying prospect of four famines.

We succeeded in getting the rest of the world to pull their weight.

It was Global Britain that raised the alarm and pushed the international community to step up and deliver a life-saving response.

That saved millions of lives, and I will continue to challenge others to do more.

Compare that with Labour’s approach to the world.

Last week, at their conference, Mr Corbyn failed to condemn North Korea for abusing human rights and flouting international rules by launching missiles.

He failed to condemn Venezuela – where the regime he has held up as a beacon for others to follow, is viciously stamping out all opposition.

He failed to condemn the terror his friends in Hamas have unleashed upon the Israeli people.

And not once did he confront or condemn his supporters who have launched a wave of anti-Semitism, bullying, and abuse against anyone who does not subscribe to their extremist views.

And as he stood in Brighton, of all places, he once again failed to apologise for standing side-by-side with the IRA terrorists who brutally murdered and maimed. Disgraceful.

Our approach is different from Labour’s, because our values are different from Labour’s.

They believe that wealth is created by governments and bureaucracies.

We believe that wealth is created by people and enterprise.

I believe in people, markets and freedom.

This is what will genuinely serve the interests of the many and not the few.

The Labour Party, despite what they say, does not stand for the many.

It stands for the vested interests and narrow dogma of the few.

Exploiting the hopes and fears of young people, only to go on and lie to them.

Celebrating the state-sponsored theft of the property held by private citizens.

And when it comes to international relations, they have just one principle.

To turn a blind eye and refuse to speak out as their socialist friends and comrades unleash violence and repression against people and communities.

Shame on them, shame on the Labour Party and shame on their vile brand of socialism.

It is our responsibility to stop them from getting anywhere near the door of Number 10.

They are not fit to represent Britain or the British people.

That is why what you do is so important.

From me, from all of my colleagues in Cabinet and Parliament, I want to say a huge thank you.

Because it’s your hard work and campaigning that made all the difference.

You delivered us the highest Conservative vote for many years – some 13.6 million people who backed us at the ballot box.

So, we know what we need to do.

We must set out the positive case for Conservative values across all areas of policy.

Explain why our ideas will create the society that we all want to see and live in.

Not just for us, for our children and for their children.

One which is open, tolerant and extends opportunity for all.

British Conservative values are my values.

And I will use them to shape a better country and a better world for all.

Thank you.