Wednesday, 26 October 2016 05:30

AID BUDGET 'Not a political pawn for trade deals

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An SNP MP has criticised Priti Patel, the International Development Secretary, for attempting to turn the UK’s international aid budget into ‘a political bargaining chip’ and yet another example of the UK government’s ‘inward-looking agenda’.

Patrick Grady MP criticised comments made during Priti Patel’s visit to Africa where she suggested that the UK government could use its aid budget and programmes as ‘soft power’ when it comes to free trade agreements. The Secretary also suggested that aid funding could be cut unless it proves to be value for money and in the UK’s national interest.

The criticism follows on from Priti Patel’s previous comments where she hinted at scrapping the Department for International Development (DFID) that she now heads.  

Patrick Grady, SNP spokesperson on International Development, commented:

"It's important that aid money is spent effectively and transparently, and the focus must be on helping the poorest and most vulnerable people around the world.

"United Nations and other multilateral agencies have huge experience in responding to emergencies and supporting long-term development. It's not clear why Priti Patel has suddenly decided to start calling their effectiveness into question. She has repeatedly threatened to withdraw aid from ineffective projects, without so far giving any concrete examples of either inefficiency or what her preferred definition of effectiveness is.

“Priti Patel’s latest comments are yet another worrying sign of the direction the Tory government intend to take DFID. The SNP are clear – the aid budget is not a political pawn to be used as the Secretary described as ‘soft power’ for the UK government for potential future trade deals. The aid budget is as it says in the name – for aid.

"The Conservative government's increasing ideological and sceptical rhetoric on aid seems to be further evidence of its inward-looking agenda which seems to be about putting up barriers between the UK and the rest of the world, rather than being a progressive force for good."