Andrew Mitchell speaks in a debate about the newly created Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office and highlights the importance of ensuring that our aid budget continues to support the world's poorest women and girls.
We are where we are today, so it is only right to wish every success to both sides of this merger as it launches today. I welcome what the Foreign Secretary has said about the importance of ICAI and of independent evaluation, which drives up transparency, accountability and the interests of the taxpayer in value for money. Does my right hon. Friend agree that the commitment to 0.7%, which he has most helpfully underlined, is inextricably linked to the rules that govern this expenditure, and that we should not—as a country or as a Government—seek to balance the books on the backs of the poorest women and children in the world?
I thank my right hon. Friend for his advice throughout this process, which has been constructive and has drawn on his considerable experience as Secretary of State. He has certainly convinced me and the Government about the importance of ICAI, and I think its mandate can be refined and focused so that we get practical recommendations alongside critical analysis. I take the points that he has made about not just the 0.7%, but the underlying rules. Our commitment, and indeed this was our commitment during the review of official development assistance given the state of GNI, is to make sure that the bottom billion—the very poorest around the world—are prioritised, and that will be the case in the new Department.