More on the DfID leak story, as it emerged last night that Oxfam, Christian Aid and Save the Children sent a joint letter of protest to international development secretary Andrew Mitchell on the leaked cuts.
More on the DfID leak story, as it emerged last night that Oxfam, Christian Aid and Save the Children sent a joint letter of protest to international development secretary Andrew Mitchell on the leaked cuts, news which follows yesterday’s report on Left Foot Forward that more questions were being asked of Mr Mitchell and also Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg.
The Mirror’s deputy political editor Jason Beattie reports that the aid groups are now demanding a meeting with Mr Mitchell when he returns from a trip to view flood devastation in Pakistan. War on Want’s John Hilary accused Tories of a “slash and burn” approach to the aid budget.
The Department for International Development confirmed to the Mirror they have received the letter: “We have received a letter and are in regular touch with aid charities. All programmes are under review to ensure they have the greatest impact on poverty.”
In addition, Left Foot Forward has learned that Labour members of the International Development Committee are calling on Mr Mitchell to explain himself in front of the committee at the earliest opportunity. According to the dates of the leaked documents (29 June) Mitchell was apparently considering dropping the commitments when he appeared at the Committee back on 15 July – but made no indication of this in his answers.
Ann McKechin, committee member and chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group for Debt, Aid & Trade, told Left Foot Forward:
“Labour MPs on the International Development Select Committee, including myself, are very concerned with the change in direction that these leaked documents represent to DfID’s priorities.
“When Andrew Mitchell appeared before the Select Committee just a few weeks ago he gave no indication of the scale of the changes they appear to be proposing. It is on this basis that we have written to the Chair Malcolm Bruce urging him to recall Andrew Mitchell to the Committee in September, to explain himself and clarify his previous evidence.”
Like this article? Sign up to Left Foot Forward's weekday email for the latest progressive news and comment - and support campaigning journalism by making a donation today.
“What worries me about what the Government is doing is that they saying they are protecting aid funding, but there is evidence they are going to start diverting this money elsewhere to other deparments, maybe to the foreign office, maybe to Ministry of Defence, maybe elsewhere. This would be a profound mistake.
“This is money that was put in place to help some of the poorest people, it is about our moral responsibility and they should never forget that. I’m very worried to hear that they are talking about dropping the commitment to abolishing user fees for going to school or for the health care.
“What I fear is that we are seeing maintenance of some of the commitments [to reach the 0.7 per cent target of Gross National Income to be spent on overseas aid] on paper, but actually the spirit of those commitments is being going to be undermined by what they are doing.
“So you’ve got to commit to the 0.7%, but you’ve also got to do it upholding our moral responsiblities, and our values of social justice and public services free at the point of use.”