Government guilty of 'arrogant behaviour' over aid spending change, committee chair says

The government has been accused of an “arrogant” pattern of behaviour after it changed the way it presents its proposed spending plans on international aid.

Sarah Champion, chair of the House of Commons International Development Committee chair and the Labour MP for Rotherham, said the government should show more respect for her committee by providing better detail about departmental plans and spending.

Champion made her call following a change in the way the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office presented its aid expenditure.

The plans now come under a single budget line called “strategic priorities and other programme spending”.

In previous years, this spending would have been broken down into several categories which would provide more detail on how aid money was spent, according to the IDC.

Champion said the change meant that the committee would not be able to properly fulfill its democratic role of scrutinising aid spending.

“This is not the first time the Foreign Office has tried to fob us off with dodgy information on what it is up to,” she said.

“Lumping spending plans together, rather than breaking down the details, may seem like a technical issue, but it is not.

“The tactic makes it almost impossible to scrutinise, meaning my committee cannot see where the priorities should be when it comes to supporting the poorest parts of the world and helping the UK taxpayer get the best value for money from the aid budget.

“Quite frankly, this pattern of behaviour is arrogant. It is bordering on showing contempt for my committee – and by extension towards the democratic parliamentary tradition of holding the government to account for its actions.”

A group of international aid organisations warned in January that the government was making decisions on programme cuts to international aid programmes behind closed doors and without proper scrutiny or consultation.

The FCDO has been approached for comment.

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