|Andrew Mitchell MP: Achieving value for money in aid
||[Nov. 18th, 2009|11:14 am]
Here in Britain we are living in the age of austerity. Times are tough. We are having to tighten our belts. But in the developing world, times are infinitely tougher. Children go to bed hungry every night, and are menaced by the floods, droughts and crop failures caused by climate change.
The scale of maternal, newborn and child mortality is particularly shocking. World Vision are right to focus on this issue. Around 9 million children die before the age of five each year. Four million die within their first 28 days. Three million babies die within one week of birth, including up to two million who die on their first day of life. 500,000 women die each year from complications of pregnancy and childbirth. 68 low and middle income countries account for 97 per cent of all maternal, newborn and child deaths worldwide.
The vast majority of these deaths could be easily avoided. A Conservative government will make it a priority to ensure that mothers can access basic health services and clean water. Child and maternal mortality figures are an excellent barometer of the condition of a nation's healthcare system. Progress in tackling maternal and child mortality will be a crucial measure of the effectiveness of our efforts to improve healthcare systems.
The Conservative Party is committed to reaching, by 2013, the internationally-agreed goal of spending 0.7% of national income as aid. This period of economic hardship is not a time to turn our backs on the poorest in the world, but to reaffirm our commitments to them. But just because the aid budget is growing, it will not be exempt from the line-by-line scrutiny and value for money tests that a Conservative government will impose everywhere and on everything. Our bargain with the taxpayer is this: in return for your contribution of hard-earned money, it is our duty to spend every penny well.
That is why we will replace Labour's complacent system of self-evaluation with proper unflinching scrutiny through an Independent Aid Watchdog. That is why we'll expect more bang for our buck, only handing over cash when we see real evidence of development results. That is why we'll reduce or even abolish funding for multilateral agencies if they fail to deliver.
But we know that development is about much more than just aid. The single most important exit from grinding poverty is economic growth and trade. So we will reemphasise the importance of private sector led growth and wealth creation as the only path to prosperity. We believe that it is through Conservative means that we will achieve the progressive ends of international development.
Andrew Mitchell is MP for Sutton Coldfield and Shadow International Development Secretary