TORY MPs turned on their spendthrift government yesterday for shelling out £1 billion a year of taxpayers’ cash on consultants for its foreign aid department.
Philip Davies hit out at the “waste and excess” during a Department for International Development (DfID) question session in the Commons.
But he also urged the government to turn its back on its foreign aid commitment — 0.7 per cent of gross national income — “when the money could be much better spent at home.”
Secretary International Development Priti Patel said that her department is “looking at” the spending on consultants after it was revealed that the fees have doubled since 2012 in an investigation by the Times newspaper.
Ms Patel said: “Like all Conservatives, I too want to focus on making sure that every penny of taxpayers’ money goes to helping the world’s poorest, and that is exactly the mission of our department.
“But at the same time, you will know that overseas development assistance saves lives and transforms lives.”
Fellow Tory MP Christopher Chope urged the department to use Brexit as an opportunity to boost trade with developing countries outside the EU. The most “sustainable aid is aid through trade,” he added.
This comes after shadow international development secretary Kate Osamor challenged the department over its lack of transparency in its private equity arm Commonwealth Development Corporation (CDC).
The CDC Bill passed its third reading in the Commons on Tuesday. Peers will now consider the Bill allowing DfID to quadruple the amount of money it could splash out on projects of dubious merit such as private healthcare, shopping centres, hotels and substandard private schools abroad.
About £1.5 billion of the foreign aid budget is already effectively privatised and it could soon rise to £6bn of spending unscrutinised by MPs. The Bill would also permit the limit to rise to £12bn without the need for further primary regulation.
Campaign group Global Justice Now said that the foreign aid budget should be used to help end poverty by directing the funds to poor communities rather than investing in private schemes.
Global Justice Now aid campaigner Aisha Dodwell said: “Building shopping malls and luxury hotels across Asia and Africa might bring a good return on investment for the CDC Group but it certainly isn’t meeting basic development goals like raising people out of poverty or providing access to basic public services like education and healthcare.
“Sliding billions of pounds of taxpayers’ money into the clutches of private equity operators is much more about the government’s obsession with free-market mania than it is about achieving important and beneficial development goals.”