Select Committee on International Development First Special Report



103. In concluding we wish to emphasise again the cooperative and productive relationship which has been established with the Department for International Development. Both in the United Kingdom and, in particular, overseas we have been struck by the repeated praise for DFID's work and initiatives. We have seen our work both as ensuring that DFID maintains and improves its standards of development assistance, but also as an advocate, alongside DFID, of the needs of the poor. In this Parliament DFID has been transformed from an aid agency into a development agency, with a mandate to press for a developmental perspective across Whitehall. The Committee has attempted also to pursue "cross-cutting" issues which bear on the work of other government departments, and has thus engaged with a number of government departments in addition to DFID.

104. There are areas of work which we hope in the future to develop. One is a closer examination of some of DFID's programmes. A way to do this might be to take evidence on the independent evaluations of DFID's work which are occasionally published by the Department. These often take a thematic look at a number of related programmes, for example in reproductive health, and it could well be possible to organise some evidence sessions around such a professional evaluation.

105. We consider that the significant number of Reports produced, the debates on those Reports in the House, the regular taking of oral evidence on development issues, and the calling for information and opinion from DFID, have resulted in development being far more consistently and fully considered by Parliament than has ever been the case previously. On a number of occasions, for example with reference to HIV/AIDS, DFID procurement practice, and disability, the Department has acknowledged that the Committee has made the Department consider issues afresh or for the first time. The Committee's work has thus been an important exercise in accountability — not only for DFID, which received only limited scrutiny as the Overseas Development Agency in previous Parliaments, but also for the multilateral agencies to which DFID contributes and which have until now not been used to such parliamentary examination.

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Prepared 24 January 2001