The International Development Committee is appointed by the House of Commons to examine the expenditure, administration, and policy of the Office of the Secretary of State for International Development Committee.
The UK Government has rightly put increasing stress on the importance of governance. Parliaments are a key part of this and are essential to meeting many of DFID’s ambitions for post-2015, including increasing the accountability of Governments, reducing poverty, tackling corruption and preventing conflicts. Many parliaments in developing countries can benefit from parliamentary strengthening, but working with parliaments is difficult and set-backs are common, especially, in Fragile and Conflict Affected Countries. A representative, accountable and effective parliament is an asset in any state, and no less necessary in fragile and challenging countries. A strong parliament which has sufficient resources to scrutinise its government will inevitably ensure greater transparency and better use of state revenues including official development assistance.
We estimate that very roughly about £250 million is spent globally on parliamentary strengthening. DFID is a major contributor, spending approximately £22.5 billion from its bilateral programmes and according to DFID a further £3.5 million can be attributed as its share of multilaterals’ expenditure.
In the past DFID staff have not always felt comfortable working with parliaments, but there have been improvements, including DFID s use of political economy analysis. There have been a number of recent Government initiatives to improve UK parliamentary strengthening, including a review of the Westminster Foundation for Democracy and the appointment of a new CEO for the organisation. The Committee welcomes the Government’s and DFID’s efforts, but believes they should do more.