An open letter to coalition politicans about DfID

Dear MP,

As a constituent of yours, I wonder if I could ask you for your opinions and those of your party about the Department for International Development.

DfID is one of the few departments that had its budget ring fenced in the Comprehensive Spending Review. Could I ask why the department is considered to be so important that it should be handled in such a way?

Is there an international legal aspect that forces the government to carry on giving aid away, even to those countries that are obviously rich enough to help themselves? I'm thinking about India and China as two particular examples that have nuclear weapons and space programmes. As far as I can gather it's only promises not contracts and the UK could do with the money to help with its own problems.

Is there some moral aspect that makes the Conservatives believe it proper to carry on giving aid away, even to those countries who are corrupt or where there is no state to handle the aid and where the aid does not reach those in need. I'm thinking about Somalia as a specific example. My understanding from a Christian point of view is that it helps to take the timber for your own eye before helping someone with a splinter in theirs. The state of the UK is such that to be able to give aid in the future, we need to ensure that we can survive the short term.

Is there some moral aspect that means that giving aid such as economic development assistance and advocacy/lobbying/marketing/etc is equal in terms of priority to that of giving humanitarian aid in times of disasters? The DfID currently only gives around 10% of its aid as humanitarian aid, with the rest being money to support "worthy" but grandiose projects which provide questionable benefits to the people of such countries. Such big grandiose schemes usually have a very high administrative cost due mainly to corruption, bribes, high salaries, mismanagement, and such like.

A better way to raise poorer countries standards would be to trade with them in an open and free market. By paying for the goods they produce they can use the money to build their economy. Initially they would be on relatively low wages but as they traded and their products were bought by more and more consumers, the employee's wages would increase as more companies got in on the act and paid more to hire from the limited pool of skilled employees.Witness the wage increases that are going on in China.

Do the Conservatives believe that a department such as DfID where waste and mismanagement are endemic as deserving of a continuation of the budget in times when everyone else is cutting back. Examples of waste are that of the £1.2m given by DfID to the TUC, a wholly British organisation and £1/4m on taxis.

I put forward a proposal that DfID should be scrapped in its entirety. All money that would have gone to the DfID should be spread across all other departments to lessen the tax rises that are being implemented to cover the increasing[1] public spending requirements. An insurance fund of 25% of DfID's original budget should be setup in its place to pay for any humanitarian aid when international disasters occur.


[Update: Third para from end updated with missing sentence]


  1. Before I copy-'n-paste to my MP, would you advise how the 3rd-from-last para ends?

  2. Thanks Joe for pointing out the mistake. Updated. Comes from writing in Word, then copy/pasting then adding a bit more, then getting distracted.