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International Development Questions

19th April 2018

Harriett Baldwin answers questions from MPs on the work of the Department for International Development.

Women and Children’s Education

David Evennett (Bexleyheath and Crayford) (Con)
3. What steps she is taking to help enable access to education for women and children in developing countries. [904703]

The Minister of State, Department for International Development (Harriett Baldwin)
The UK is a major investor in education generally and in girls’ education specifically. Yesterday, the Prime Minister committed ​£212 million through the Girls’ Education Challenge to ensure that almost 1 million girls across the Commonwealth, including the most marginalised, can get the quality education they need to fulfil their potential.

David Evennett
I thank my hon. Friend for the work that she is doing in this important field. I join her in celebrating the Girls’ Education Challenge—the programme supported so strongly by her Department. Will she update the House on the future of this programme going forward?

Harriett Baldwin
My right hon. Friend is right to highlight the amazing work of the Girls’ Education Challenge, which is the world’s largest girls’ education programme. Yesterday’s announcement of £212 million will support 920,000 girls in Commonwealth countries and give 53,000 highly marginalised adolescent girls in Commonwealth countries the opportunity to have a second chance at learning.

Kate Green (Stretford and Urmston) (Lab)
Does the Minister agree that one thing that inhibits girls’ access to education is early motherhood? What steps are the Government taking to ensure excellent family planning and contraceptive services in developing countries?

Harriett Baldwin
We remain strongly committed to our family planning programme, under which we work in a variety of different ways, whether through provision of family planning services directly or advice to girls in schools, to try to ensure that girls are not getting pregnant during their education.

Dame Caroline Spelman (Meriden) (Con)
Sadly, parents in developing countries are sometimes persuaded to give up their children to orphanages on the promise of a good education. The charity Home for Good told me this morning that the Australian Parliament is looking at measures to tackle orphanage trafficking as part of its modern slavery legislation. Does DFID have any plans to amend our legislation similarly?

Harriett Baldwin
DFID’s policy on orphanages is not to fund those establishments. On my right hon. Friend’s point about whether UK legislation, which has led the world in tackling the terrible issue of trafficking, should be amended, we will certainly be discussing that with Home Office colleagues.

Mr Barry Sheerman (Huddersfield) (Lab/Co-op)
Does the Minister agree that one of the most disruptive things in a family’s education is when a member of that family is killed by the greatest epidemic of our times—unnecessary, preventable road deaths, which kill 1.3 million people a year on our planet?

Harriett Baldwin
I pay tribute to the hon. Gentleman for his amazing work as a United Nations envoy on this important issue. It is important not only that children can go to school but that they can get to school safely. That is why DFID funds a range of different programmes to tackle the problem.


Technology: Developing Countries

Stephen Metcalfe (South Basildon and East Thurrock) (Con)
6. What steps she is taking to support the development of technology in developing countries. [904706]

The Minister of State, Department for International Development (Harriett Baldwin)
Our investments in technologies are saving and changing lives all over the world. Half of DFID’s £397 million annual research budget is focused on new technologies in developing countries in the health, agriculture, climate, clean energy, water, education and humanitarian response sectors.

Stephen Metcalfe
Over the years, I have been fortunate to see at first hand how some of our aid budget has helped to develop technologies and engineer solutions that have changed people’s lives around the world. Can the Minister tell the House, however, whether any of the technologies that have been invented using our aid budget have been of direct benefit to people here in the UK?

Harriett Baldwin
I welcome the interest of the former Chair of the Science and Technology Committee in this important work and commend the Committee to hear from the team involved, because there are a range of different examples. Diseases know no boundaries, and the UK’s development of a test for TB is a good example.

Ian C. Lucas (Wrexham) (Lab)
Wales and Lesotho share the precious asset of water. Will the Minister support my initiative to bring together Welsh Water— the not-for-profit water company in Wales—and the Government of Lesotho to work on providing technological solutions to the problems that we share?

Harriett Baldwin
That is a wonderful example of the way in which Welsh Water and Lesotho water companies can work together to ensure that everyone has access to clean water.

Several hon. Members rose—

Mr Speaker
We are running out of time—in a single sentence, Vicky Ford.

Vicky Ford (Chelmsford) (Con)
10. Last weekend, the Government announced that they would spend another £25 million on cleaning up plastic from the seas ​and on new research into that. Developing countries are responsible for half of the plastic in our seas, but less than 1% of our overseas aid budget goes on helping those countries with waste management. Should we increase that percentage? [904710]

Harriett Baldwin
I know that my hon. Friend tried to give up plastic for Lent and saw what a challenge it is, which is why we were so delighted to announce over the weekend further funding for research that will help tackle the prevalence of plastic not only in developing countries but here at home.

Mr Gregory Campbell (East Londonderry) (DUP)
In sub-Saharan Africa, one of the most comprehensive issues is the provision of clean water to many hundreds of thousands of people, and many small charities are doing that. Will the Minister work closely with them to ensure the provision of technology to develop that in future?

Harriett Baldwin
In paying tribute to the wonderful work that those small charities do around the world, I draw hon. Members’ attention to our Small Charities Challenge Fund, which is an open window through which they can bid for additional funding.


Topical Questions

David Linden (Glasgow East) (SNP)
T7. I draw the attention of the House to my entry in the Register of Members’ Financial Interests. Last year, I visited Tanzania, ​where we heard of the desire to get young girls into education. One of the major barriers is period poverty. What are the Government doing to help to solve that issue? [904722]

The Minister for Africa (Harriett Baldwin)
The hon. Gentleman is right to highlight that important issue. I can assure him that there are some 5,000 schools where the Girls’ Education Challenge is supporting many, many girls in their menstrual protection.


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