New UK Secretary of State for International Development
Anne-Marie Trevelyan MP is the seventh appointment as Secretary of State for International Development(DFID) since the start of Coalition Government in 2010, and the fourth in a year.
Her appointment comes as a relief to members of the international development community in the UK who feared that the senior Minister level role, with a seat at the Cabinet table, was about to disappear. This may of course still happen, but in the short term at least the continued existence of an independent Department for International Development, represented by its Secretary of State in Cabinet, seems secure.
The recent appointment of seven junior Ministers, all of them with dual reporting roles to the Foreign Secretary and International Development Secretary, (apart from Zac Goldsmith whose brief spans three departments) does though seem to presage the outcome of the Integrated Review of Security, Defence, Development and Foreign Policy (see Prime Minister’s statement of 26 February here.
In a free-ranging discussion at the roundtable meeting at DFID, East Kilbride, the Secretary of State spoke of her particular interests in water security and in girls’ education. She welcomed the Integrated Review although said that it presented real challenges for Whitehall. It offered an opportunity to ‘re-set’ and find better ways to drive policy effectiveness, without being limited by departmental barriers. The Integrated Review would set a clear direction of travel for all outward-facing UK Government departments and that there was a firm intention in Government not to get stuck at any point along that journey.
On COP26 the UK Government is thinking about how best to focus on renewables and clean energy use. It should be possible to draw in other states and help developing countries to ‘leapfrog’ from where they are now, to a place where they can more easily access and use this new technology.
On funding for small charities, the Secretary of State acknowledged that the DFID Small Charities Challenge was difficult to access and manage, and suggested that a better balance needed to be struck between easing the requirements of the grant programme and minimising the types of risks which concern the Public Accounts Committee.
In response to questions about the divergent nature of national interest as a driver, and poverty reduction, the Secretary of State saw no division between the two. The prime purpose of international aid and development was to support countries to move out of poverty and dependence into a situation where they could become our trading partners, and that would be in our national interest.
The Secretary of State previously served as Minister of State (Ministry of Defence) (Minister for the Armed Forces). Her biography is here.