The Bishop of St Albans received the following written answers on 25th January 2023:
The Lord Bishop of St Albans asked His Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of the implications of China’s Belt and Road Initiative on countries in the Horn of Africa.
Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon (Con): China is an important source of aid, finance and investment for many countries in sub-Saharan Africa, including in the Horn of Africa. This includes activity under the Belt and Road Initiative. We are working with partners including the G7 to ensure low and middle income countries have an alternative to strategic dependence on China or any other country. The UK offers wide-ranging partnerships to African countries that support a freer, safer, healthier, greener and more prosperous continent. Through British Investment Partnerships, we are providing honest, reliable investment that creates jobs, boosts economic growth and draws countries closer to major free-market democracies.
On 9th December the Bishop of Newcastle asked a question in the House of Lords during exchanges on funding for developing a malaria vaccine:
The Lord Bishop of Newcastle: My Lords, I thank the Minister for his answers, but I am concerned that he cannot give a specific commitment that the cut in development aid funding will not affect the development of this vaccine.
Does the Minister accept that now is not the time to slacken our efforts in the search for a malaria vaccine? We have heard of hopeful improvements before, but history has shown that complacency and slacking off will lead to resurgence.
Does the Minister also accept that it has taken us more than four decades to recover the ground lost since the 1970s, when anti-malaria funding dried up, and that we must not allow that to happen again?
On 2nd December 2020 in the House of Lords the Bishop of St Albans responded to a Ministerial statement about the cut in overseas aid:
The Lord Bishop of St Albans [V]: My Lords, I ask the Minister to answer the question from the noble Lord, Lord Collins: will Her Majesty’s Government include a sunset clause in any legislation amending the International Development Act?
Secondly, do the Government intend to produce and publish any impact assessment of the reduction in spending on official development assistance?
On 11th November Lord Bruce of Bennachie asked the Government “further to the economic impact of the Covid-19 pandemic, what assessment they have made of (1) their foreign aid, and (2) their development spending, commitments.” The Bishop of Winchester asked a further question:
The Lord Bishop of Winchester [V]: My Lords, protecting freedom of religion or belief remains a pertinent issue in the developing world when more than 80% of the world’s population identify with a religion or belief system. My diocese has historic links with the Church of the Province of Myanmar, and during the pandemic many of its clergy have been providing volunteer support in understaffed hospitals. Can the Minister assure the House that, despite the almost £3 billion cut in the UK’s foreign aid budget, Her Majesty’s Government will continue to prioritise international freedom of religion and belief and recognise the contribution of religious groups in the development and support of their communities, particularly in times of crisis? Continue reading “Bishop of Winchester asks Government to continue to prioritise freedom of religion and belief overseas”
On 2nd September 2020 the Bishop of Bristol, Rt Revd Vivienne Faull, asked a question to Government on its commitment to the 0.7% GNI development aid target. The Minister had given a commitment to the fulfilling the Government’s obligations under law to the target in earlier exchanges:
The Lord Bishop of Bristol: My Lords, I have personally seen through the Anglican Communion’s worldwide partnerships the positive impact that the UK’s overseas aid has made to alleviating poverty. I share the concerns of other Peers about the reports of the Government’s intent to overturn the legal commitment to spend 0.7% of gross national income on aid. At the risk of tedium, I hope that the Minister will continue to give this House assurances that the Government have no such plans, which would reduce the UK’s impact under the UN sustainable development goals. Continue reading “Bishop of Bristol asks Government for assurances that 0.7% aid commitment will stay”
On 13th July Lord Chidgey asked Her Majesty’s Government “what assessment they have made of the impact of (1) the COVID-19 pandemic, and (2) desert locusts, on food security in countries in east Africa, and in particular in (a) Sudan, and (b) South Sudan”. The Rt Revd Nick Holtam, Bishop of Salisbury asked a follow up question, focusing on overseas aid.
The Lord Bishop of Salisbury: With the economy of Sudan collapsing and inflation rocketing, the Anglican Archbishop of Khartoum said recently that people would rather die of Covid-19 than of hunger. In South Sudan the Anglican Archbishop of Juba said that mortality rates were already high and, in response to the virus, hygiene and social isolation are difficult—indeed, almost impossible. The diocese of Salisbury has a long-standing partnership with the Anglican churches in those countries and we have launched an emergency appeal this month for at least £50,000 for hygiene and food. What are the British Government doing to support the improvement of hygiene and food in those countries? What does the Minister think we are learning about the motivation for our giving aid to these countries?
On 18th June 2020 a Government statement on the proposed merger of the Department for International Development and the Foreign Office, was repeated in the House of Lords. The Bishop of Peterborough, Rt Revd Donald Allister, responded:
The Lord Bishop of Peterborough: My Lords, I thank the Leader of the House for answering questions on this matter. On these Benches, we affirm the Government’s right to organise themselves as they think best for the common good. We look forward to greater integration between foreign and development policy and values, and we warmly commend the continued 0.7% commitment. I am grateful to have heard the noble Baroness’s assurance that the Government will remain committed to the OECD DAC rules—it would be lovely to have that repeated. Can we have another assurance that the Government will preserve the primary focus of UK aid as poverty reduction? Continue reading “Bishop of Peterborough welcomes Government continuing commitments to UK aid”
On 18th May 2020 a virtual sitting of the House of Lords debated a motion from Baroness Sugg, “That the Virtual Proceedings do consider the international response to COVID-19.” The Bishop of Durham, Rt Revd Paul Butler, and the Bishop of St Albans, Rt Revd Alan Smith, spoke in the debate:
The Lord Bishop of Durham: My Lords, thankfully, the virus appears to be spreading slowly in most African countries, with Lesotho declaring its first case only last week. However, the World Bank forecasts that Covid-19 could push 49 million people into extreme poverty. The economic impact on some poorer nations could be more detrimental than the health threat. The aid Her Majesty’s Government committed at the international pledging event will be vital for the poorest nations, but our international response must be sustainable, which requires trade, not simply aid. What actions have Her Majesty’s Government taken to ensure that good free trade agreements are made with poorer nations?
On 13th May, the Rt Revd Nick Baines, Bishop of Leeds, received a written answer from Lord Agnew of Oulton on the debt of developing countries.
Bishop of Leeds:HL3475To ask Her Majesty’s Government what steps they are taking to ensure private creditors comply with the agreement reached by G20 leaders on 15 April to suspend debt payments owed by 77 of the world’s poorest countries, in particular those debts that fall under UK jurisdiction.