British MPs want clear-cut conditions on foreign aid

Malcolm Bruce, head of the International Development Committee at the U.K. House of Commons. Photo by:

The International Development Committee of the U.K. House of Commons wants a clear-cut agreement between the government and fragile states on foreign aid.

On Thursday (Jan. 5), the committee, chaired by Liberal Democrat MP Malcolm Bruce, released a report asking the government to set in all agreements specific conditions on governance and the circumstances in which aid would be withdrawn from recipient countries.

Bruce said there are “considerable risks” — like money getting squandered — in spending aid money in fragile states.

“The Government must be frank and open about this if it wants to convince the public that its approach is the right one, both morally and politically,” he said.

U.K. Secretary of State for International Development Andrew Mitchell, meanwhile, said: “We make absolutely clear to countries that transparency and good governance are vital. We are prepared to withhold funding through governments when our standards are not met, as we have done in Malawi.”

The Department of International Development’s 2011-2015 operational plans for fragile states such as Ethiopia, Sudan, Tanzania, Afghanistan, Nigeria, Democratic Republic of Congo and Ghana, however, do not include such specifics.

The United Kingdom suspended its aid to Malawi last year due to concerns involving extravagant spending and human rights violations. U.K. aid to Nigeria, one of the countries set for a big aid increase this year, has reportedly been in jeopardy because of a proposed bill criminalizing gay marriage in the country.

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About the author

  • Jenny Lei Ravelo

    Jenny Lei Ravelo is a Devex Senior Reporter based in Manila. She covers global health, with a particular focus on the World Health Organization, and other development and humanitarian aid trends in Asia Pacific. Prior to Devex, she wrote for ABS-CBN, one of the largest broadcasting networks in the Philippines, and was a copy editor for various international scientific journals. She received her journalism degree from the University of Santo Tomas.