Why did DfID spend £2m on the Pope’s visit to the UK?

The Department for International Development (DfID) spent nearly £2m on the Pope's visit to the UK. It represents close to one-fifth of the cost.

A Written Ministerial Statement today reveals that the Department for International Development (DfID) spent nearly £2m on the Pope’s successful visit to the UK. The document states that £1.85m was transferred to the Foreign & Commonwealth Office “in respect of the papal visit.”

This follows a written Parliamentary Answer by Lord Sassoon on 11 November which said:

“Ministers agreed that costs of the state visit falling to the Government would be divided among departments with an interest in the visit and involved in the planning process.”

Left Foot Forward asked DfID what the justification for this was. A spokesperson said:

“The Catholic Church’s huge global influence plays a vital role in the international fight against poverty. The visit took place just days before the critical UN MDG Summit in New York, and was an opportunity for the Pope to speak out on behalf of the billion Catholics across the world and put pressure on world leaders to take action against global poverty.

“The Pope’s influence has been illustrated through previous interventions such as his letter to G8 leaders ahead of the L’Aquila Summit last year, calling for action on hunger. G8 leaders responded with a US$ 20 billion food security initiative.”

With the total cost of the papal visit reported to be £10 million, DfID’s contribution represents almost one-fifth of the total – higher than might have been expected for a department geared at international development.

Only last week during International Development Questions, Conservative MP Gary Streeter questioned whether the advocacy departments of NGOs represented value for money. Perhaps he should ask his own Government whether it’s really a wise use of DfID money to pay nearly £2 million to host a speech?

The Coalition has recently widened the definition of what counts as aid. This example sets a very poor precedent indeed for that change.

28 Responses to “Why did DfID spend £2m on the Pope’s visit to the UK?”

  1. Liam McKee

    RT @leftfootfwd: Why did DfID spend £2m on the Pope's visit to the UK? //bit.ly/gm5HfR

  2. Guppi Bola

    RT @leftfootfwd: Why did DfID spend £2m on the Pope's visit to the UK? //bit.ly/gm5HfR

  3. LCID

    RT @leftfootfwd: Why did DfID spend £2m on the Pope's visit to the UK? //bit.ly/gm5HfR

  4. LCID

    Why did DfID spend £2m on the Pope's visit to the UK? @LeftFootFwd investigates: //bit.ly/gm5HfR

  5. David Taylor

    Why did DfID spend £2m on the Pope's visit to the UK? I investigate for @leftfootfwd – //bit.ly/gm5HfR

  6. LCID

    Does £2m for a speech represent value for money for UK aid? The Coalition seems to think so… //fb.me/y6LROeuA

  7. Pope On Tour

    Why did DfID spend £2m on the Pope's visit to the UK?: … Pope's successful visit to the UK. The document state… //bit.ly/g0m0QD

  8. kate blagojevic

    ripples of rage running round @wdmuk office RT @leftfootfwd Why did DfID spend £2m on the Pope's visit to the UK? //bit.ly/gm5HfR

  9. World Development

    Why did DfID spend £2 million on the Pope's visit to the UK? //bit.ly/i9Qepq

  10. Elena Blackmore

    RT @wdmuk: Why did DfID spend £2 million on the Pope's visit to the UK? //bit.ly/i9Qepq

  11. Jiesheng

    This is as bad as Labour sending aid to countries that didnt necessarily need aid–Iraq for example

    See //www.globaleconomicgovernance.org/wp-content/uploads/Woods_Shifting%20Politics%20of%20Foreign%20Aid.pdf

    You can highlight the Tory’s shortcomings but Labour wasn’t exactly the squeaky clean creme de le creme in fighting poverty–eg. Why did it not criticise the PRSPs and rather support it? Why did it publish a pro-globalisation White Paper?Why were there reports of misused aid in Africa?

  12. Mike O'Brien

    RT @leftfootfwd: Why did DfID spend £2m on the Pope's visit to the UK? //bit.ly/gm5HfR

  13. athinkingman

    RT @leftfootfwd: Why did DfID spend £2m on the Pope's visit to the UK? //bit.ly/gm5HfR (via @mob61uk)

  14. leonie

    Why did DfID spend £2m on the Pope's visit to the UK? | Left Foot Forward //t.co/7BQ86FH Absolutely incredible.

  15. Sutton Coldfield CLP

    DfID spent £2m on the Pope's visit, perhaps we should ask our MP why the Vatican needs international aid?: //tinyurl.com/32rb7qn

  16. Pope On Tour

    Why did DfID spend £2m on the Pope's visit to the UK? | Left Foot …: The Department for International Developm… //bit.ly/fxD7H1

  17. David Nash

    whilst Labour wasn’t squeaky clean on its DfID record, it at least tried to promote poverty reduction in a practical way, investing in grassroots actions in developing countries. Frankly, the British government paying for a papal visit is quite shocking in the first place, but to use aid money to fund it is just beyond belief. I knew that the coalition was trying to take DfID money to support the Defence budget, but didn’t realise that it also was being used to pay for police and transport.

    I don’t know why I’m so surprised – it is a matter of history that Labour set up departments for overseas development and the Tories shut them down. Only a matter of time…

  18. Malcolm Evison

    RT @leftfootfwd: Why did DfID spend £2m on the Pope's visit to the UK? //bit.ly/fYgxib

  19. oneworlduk

    Anyone have thoughts on this from @leftfootfwd? Why did @DfID_UK spend £2m on the Pope’s visit to the UK? //bit.ly/dU63Y9

  20. LCID

    This is how we broke Pope's visit story back in November… //fb.me/z0ZajxzH

  21. Serena O'Sullivan

    RT @LabourCID: This is how we broke Pope's visit story back in November… //fb.me/z0ZajxzH

  22. LCID

    @GdnDevelopment we broke this story back in November for @leftfootfwd – //fb.me/z0ZajxzH (correct link)

  23. LCID

    @bristolpaul //fb.me/z0ZajxzH on @leftfootfwd

  24. Government review of UK aid - goals and reaction | Left Foot Forward

    […] Development further warned there was “a clear risk the aid budget will be raided by the MoD, as it was for the Pope’s visit“; cutting aid to Niger at a time of famine was “deeply irresponsible” and in […]

  25. Tory MP calls for DfID budget to be raided to pay for BBC | Left Foot Forward

    […] despite other raids on DfID’s budget, responsibility for the World Service was spared from DfID at the Comprehensive Spending Review […]

  26. Treasury avoiding questions about Clegg’s ambitious investment plans | Left Foot Forward

    […] Forward as, in the past, we have had no trouble speaking to the Department for Work and Pensions, the Department for International Development or the Department for education when researching […]

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