Clause 3 - Humanitarian Assistance

Part of International Development Bill – in a Public Bill Committee am 6:45 pm ar 13 Mawrth 2001.

Danfonwch hysbysiad imi am ddadleuon fel hyn

Photo of Chris Mullin Chris Mullin Parliamentary Under-Secretary, Department for International Development 6:45, 13 Mawrth 2001

Clause 3 enables the Secretary of State to provide humanitarian assistance in response to disaster or other emergencies. Assistance under the clause is not limited to development assistance as defined under clause 1, nor is there any requirement for the assistance to be likely to contribute to a reduction in poverty. The clause does not use the term ``humanitarian assistance'', which consequently is not defined in the Bill. Instead, the clause refers to natural or man-made disaster or other emergency and limits the purpose of assistance to alleviating their effects on the population of a country outside the United Kingdom.

The amendment would place the Secretary of State under a duty to apply standards of effectiveness and probity to any organisation or person who acts on her behalf in the provision of humanitarian assistance. It is unnecessary because it is already open to the Secretary of State to impose standards on those who carry out activities on her behalf. The Department already devotes significant resources to ensuring that our partners, systems and procedures meet the requirements of effectiveness and probity that are set out in the Department's humanitarian guidelines. Indirect assistance is also subject to the same scrutiny as direct assistance by our internal audit department at the National Audit Office and by Parliament through the International Development Committee and the Public Accounts Committee. The International Development Committee's recent assessment of our response to the Kosovo crisis is an example of the thorough scrutiny given to both indirect and direct help.

The amendment is undesirable because it would place statutory constraints on the Secretary of State's response to a crisis, which could prevent her from taking quick and effective action. It might also require a layer of bureaucracy that would add no value but would delay DFID approval of proposals. I must therefore ask that the amendment be withdrawn.