I have had constituents keenly email me on this matter and I want to provide you with my thoughts on this, along with the latest information I have from the Government.
As you know, the Prime Minister has now announced the FCO and DFID will merge to create a new overseas department: the new Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO). This new department will place UK Aid at the heart of what it does, leveraging the development expertise of DFID through the reach of the FCO’s global network. The merger is set to be completed by September and the new department will be led by the Foreign Secretary.
I am proud the UK has been at the heart of the international effort to tackle Covid-19, which shows the good this country can do through our international engagement. The current crisis shows just how important it is development and diplomatic efforts are fused together more closely, in order to maximise our international impact and make the biggest difference to people’s lives.
I welcome the Prime Minister’s reassurance this is not about rolling back commitments on international development, but about pursuing them with greater effect and that reducing poverty will remain central to the UK’s international work. The UK remains committed to spending 0.7 per cent of GNI on international development, being the only G7 country to have enshrined this in legislation. I am glad this merger will mean that, within the new Department, we will see all the idealism and sense of mission which comes from DFID, alongside an understanding of the need to project UK values, UK policies and UK interests overseas.
As the world becomes ever more complex, I agree with the Government we need single cross-government strategies for every country, driven by the overarching strategy set by the National Security Council and implemented on the ground by an Ambassador or High Commissioner heading all of the Government’s work in-country. For example, Her Majesty’s Trade Commissioners will come under the line management of Ambassadors.
I understand the concerns some constituents have raised on this and I will be feeding this back to ministers as we move forward.
I hope this was helpful.