I have received numerous emails from constituents who are concerned about the merger of the Department for International Development (DFID) and the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO).
As you know, the Prime Minister has announced that the FCO and DFID will merge to create a new overseas department. The new Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) 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 that the UK has been at the heart of the international effort to tackle Covid-19, which shows the good that this country can do through our international engagement. The current crisis shows just how important it is that 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 that 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 that this merger will mean that, within the new Department, we will see all the idealism and sense of mission that comes from DFID, alongside an understanding of the need to project UK values, UK policies and UK interests overseas. Our values are not just right in themselves, but also the best route to lasting stability and growth.
I understand the concerns that have been raised by my constituents and will feed this back to ministers as we move forward.