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Andrew Mitchell: Conservatives promise transparency in aid spending

Speaking at the Conservative Party Conference, Shadow International Development Secretary, Andrew Mitchell said:

"Well as you've seen and heard today we had an extraordinary time in Rwanda.

No-one presumed that we could lift Rwanda from poverty in two weeks.

We made a very modest contribution in a country which has suffered so much.

But we learned a great deal about what needs to be done to support progress in the developing world.

Our four Conservative doctors saw hundreds of patients, many of whom had never seen a doctor in their lives.

We are twinning Rwandan schools with schools in our constituencies. And we founded Rwanda's first cricket academy.

Doubtless they'll soon join that long list of countries beating us at our national game!

I know some people called our Project Umubano a photo opportunity.

But I call it compassionate Conservatism in action.

And I want to say how delighted we all were that David Cameron was able to come and be a part of it.

He had made a commitment to the people of Rwanda and he saw that commitment through.

That is what I call leadership.


As our doctors saw in Rwanda, tackling killer diseases is a key priority for British aid.

We need urgently to strengthen healthcare systems in poor counties. And we are making progress.

But is it not a scandal that there are more doctors from Sierra Leone practising in Chicago than in the whole of Sierra Leone?

There are many in Britain who are determined to do something about this -¬ often personally.

Every doctor I have ever met who has worked in a developing country speaks of the huge benefits ¬ - personal and professional ¬- which they have gained.

Experience abroad makes them better doctors for British patients.

But this Labour government, through the fiasco of Modernising Medical Careers, has destroyed the opportunity for young doctors to work in the developing world.

So I can announce to Conference today that we will reduce the barriers that British health professionals face when they want to work in poor countries.

A Conservative Government will establish a new Health Systems Partnership Fund.

Worth £5m a year to begin with, it will help fund international placements for British health workers but also support strong, enduring links between the NHS and health systems in poor countries.

This will be good for Britain, good for health workers who want to make a contribution and good for the developing world.


Last year at our Conference I announced that the next Conservative Government would set up an Independent Aid Evaluation Agency.

After months of Conservative pressure we finally got a commitment from the Government in the House of Commons.

But on close inspection the Government's proposal is a half-hearted, watered down version of what this Conference championed last year.

A toothless wimp of an Evaluation Agency.

So let me be clear.

We are absolutely committed to reaching the UN's target for aid spending by 2013.

But for us this is a means to an end, not an end in itself.

Aid should pay for results - not for promises of action or fine-sounding strategy documents.

It should be linked to clear, independently-audited evidence of progress on the ground.

We need performance-based aid, actually rewarding results.

So I say today:

We must move from the Government's obsession with inputs to our commitment to outcomes.

No more putting aid in, crossing our fingers, and hoping for the best.

I challenge the Government to adopt this agenda.

This will be the next Conservative government's priority for international development:


All our efforts have been motivated by a single dominant theme - how to make British aid work better.


As well as championing effectiveness in aid spending, we will also stand up for transparency.

Transparency makes everyone an independent aid watchdog.

When a brave individual in Uganda examined the figures on the Global Fund website and suspected corruption. he blew the whistle, exposing a major scam.

This wouldn't have been possible without the Global Fund's culture of transparency and openness.

DfID's website under Labour is almost completely useless.

On the other hand the World Bank has an anti-corruption hotline on the front page of its website.

Anyone, around the world, who suspects corruption can call it.

A Conservative Government will establish an anti-corruption hotline on its first day in office.


I know that some people will be thinking that at a time like this of economic uncertainty, social breakdown and rising violent crime, the Conservative Party should concentrate on our own backyard.

There was once a time when events in far-flung countries like Rwanda had little impact on life here at home.

But times have changed.

As well as being a moral obligation, there is no doubt that it is in our national interest to tackle global poverty.

In a globalised world, the fate of countries like Burma is our fate too.

We see that most dramatically in the flow of migrants.

Over the past 10 years, some 2.5 million people have entered this country.

A number¬ unprecedented in our history.

Some have been legal, coming from Eastern Europe.

Many have been illegal, thanks to Labour's chaotic immigration and asylum failures.

But virtually all of them have had a single, simple motive: ¬to escape poverty, war and famine and to build a richer and safer life abroad.

And who can blame them?

The truth is this: if we don't deal with the problems of poverty, disease and conflict in Africa.

.then we will have to deal with them here in Britain.

Unless we grapple with these countries,

unless we give hope to ordinary people that their children will live a better life; the young, the clever and the strong will flee rather then stay at home and work to rescue their homeland.

Of course, in these countries change must ultimately come from within. But we have to do so much more to support the heroes who are working for that change but all too often lose out to leaders who are simply evil.


Compare what President Kagame of Rwanda is doing for his country with what Robert Mugabe has done to Zimbabwe.

While one leader has led his country back from the abyss, the other has brought the bread basket of Africa to the brink of ruin.

While one has united, the other has divided.

While one governed for the nation, the other has governed only for himself and his cronies.

There could be no clearer demonstration of the central lesson of international development: that the key to success or failure is the quality of leadership.

The people of Zimbabwe have been betrayed. They deserve better.

We all know how people enslaved by rotten rulers lose out on life.

In the last year David Cameron and I have seen this in the camps of Darfur, in Al Salaam and Abu Shouk where people have fled the attack helicopters and the drunken militias who rape their women, destroy their crops and set fire to their homes.

I saw this in March this year in the border camps of Burma where ethnic cleansing is taking place.

Where hundreds of thousands live in fear of a repulsive regime which confines the democratically elected leader of that country under house arrest.

A regime that has sought to silence the brave monks and Burmese people who speak up for human rights and democracy.

People like Zoya Phan.

Their voice must never be silenced.


You know, all the things I have talked about today are united by one idea.


It is the principle that David Cameron has championed with such passion.

The simple idea that we are all in this together.

That we all have a responsibility to do our bit,¬ not just to leave it to the Government or to someone else.

A responsibility to protect the people of Zimbabwe, Burma and Darfur and everywhere else where evil and conflict are the essence of everyday life.

An obligation to end the scandal of unique, precious, talented human beings dying painfully but needlessly from preventable diseases.

There is a golden thread that unites President Kagame and Zoya and those refugees in Darfur, with everyone in this hall.

Their interests are our interests.

Their cause is our cause.

And together we can prevail."

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